With Bana now in semi-retirement at the age of eight and reduced to signing her name to autobiographies, the Syria Campaign has put the pitcher back into the same well in order to produce Nour, the six-year old karate kid, again from Aleppo.
The Syria Campaign describes itself as a global advocacy group looking out for the interests of Syrian civilians, which 1) provides communication materials which can “shift the public narrative on Syria” and 2) runs “large-scale campaigns that elevate the voices of Syrians and deliver real impact on the ground”. In fact the Syria campaign was created by the Soros PR company Purpose, the “purpose” here being to run propaganda campaigns, for example on behalf of fraudulent entities such as the White Helmets. Now they seem to have launched a campaign of their very own.
The subject is Nour, a six-year old apparently headed for stardom through her skill with karate. According to her press release as published in Buzzfeed, Nour is being trained to be a karate champion by her father, who has apparently spent the last of his savings on buying her a suitable outfit. In late 2016, at the height of the siege to take Aleppo, her family fled the city and moved to the neighboring countryside village of Kafr Karmiya/Kermiya (Buzzfeed Kafr Kermin), in Idlib province.
Nour is intended to be the new Bana Alabed, even younger and cuter, with the image of Bana at her desk now replaced by shots of Nour in action. As with Bana and the White Helmets, Nour is the subject of a swept-up campaign. Video and photography have high production values, like all materials emanating from terrorist held Syria, well provided with state of the art equipment. The photographs provided to the media are more the portfolio of a top-class adult model than snapshots of a little girl.
As with Bana, a small child is exploited for the purposes of the war narrative, with no concern for the short or long-term effects on the child. Six year old Nour tells the camera, “I want to be the world champion, I want to be famous and after I get famous I want to get more famous”. Has this child already been told she is headed for stardom, like Bana Alabed?
The press release was provided by photographer Yehya Alrejjo. On 3 August Alrejjo posted on Facebook 12 beautiful photos of Nour, crediting himself and Anadolu Agency, a Turkish news network that heavily promoted the Bana Project.
On 5 August Yehya shared the Arabic version of the Nour video, originally posted the same day by the pro-insurgency SNN Shaam News Network. SNN’s comments on the post make it clear that SNN was responsible for the video, without Alrejjo’s participation. SNN confesses that filming took two tortuous days, though the little girl was a delight to be with (Nour is Arabic for “Light”).
The Arabic video gives the child’s full name, Nour Setut, and refers to the “revolution” rather than the “civil war” preferred in the English version.
On 8 August Alrejjo shared a post from Mohammed Abdullah, which provided the text for the press release. Mohammed Abdullah’s Facebook biography describes him as a “campaign assistant” with the Syria Campaign, having previously worked for Al Jazeera, Reuters, Apple and George Soros’s Mercy Corps. However the text did not originate with Abdullah, who was sharing in his turn a post on the main Facebook page of the New York-based Syria Campaign.
On 9 August several Turkish-language news outlets simultaneously broke the Nour story, including Anadolu Agency, Memleket, and Sputnik. The English version seems to have appeared first when Buzzfeed published it on 16 August. On the same day, MSN published the video; unlike the Buzzfeed version, this included a shot of the FSA flag.
BBC Arabic has also published the story, on 22 August.
The Terrorist Connection
A glance at the relevant Facebook pages shows that all the personnel and organisations associated with this production have an affiliation with the insurgency against the Syrian government.
Nour’s father is Wassim Setut. He is not particularly active on Facebook but has shared several posts relating to the White Helmets, e.g. the well-known video about Omran posted by the Syrian Revolution Network, a network based in Idlib, on 18 August 2016, and in July this year a picture of a child with a White Helmet. On 5 August he shared Alrejjo’s Nour album, reposting from the Syrian Revolution Network.
Location, location, location
According to Wassim’s Facebook biography, he is a former instructor at the Irtiqa Foundation in Gaziantep, Turkey. At present he is employed as a sports instructor with the Bonyan Organisation, also in Gaziantep, and with the Alaksa Foundation, location unknown, though this spelling of al Aqsa could well be Turkish.
If we return to photographer Alrejjo, his facebook biography shows that he is presently employed as a ‘team member” by the Alwafa Youth Community Group, Gaziantep. On 30 July 2017, Alrejjo posted a video about the way Turkish police treat “Syrians who are escaping from ISIS or the siege”, which is also consistent with a Turkish location.
SNN who made the video, claim to be based in Damascus. The twitter account under its Turkish name, Şam Haber Ağı, however, puts its location as Istanbul. Given its Syrian focus, it is extremely likely that SNN has a base in Gaziantep.
There are also discrepancies in the news reports, which sometimes imply that Nour is still training in Aleppo, instead of Kafr Karmiya where she is supposed to have been living for at least eight or nine months. It is tempting to put this down to sloppiness in reporting, however even the photographer seems unsure where Nour is supposed to be, as this tweet strongly implies that his photographs were taken in Aleppo.
There can be little doubt that Nour Setut is living in Gaziantep, not Kafr Karmaya as is claimed.
The Bana story was a complete fabrication, aside from the basic facts about the girl Bana: the claim that a child who could not speak a word of English could write the same language with perfect idiom, tweeting about geopolitics, the tooth fairy and Manchester United, and reading Harry Potter in English to her pre-school brothers.
In the case of Nour Setut the story of a little girl from Aleppo learning karate from her father, appears to be authentic. However, it is in the nature of the propaganda war on Syria, and the vast amounts of money made available to anyone with an idea, that the tale has to be perverted and embellished. The child has to be moved from Gaziantep back to Syria, to Idlib province, presumably so there can be horror stories of “Russia/Assad” bombing the last karate champion in Idlib. Furthermore the child has to undergo the full star treatment, with glossy pictures of her draped over rocks and rubble. Miri Wood’s term “war porn” has never seemed so apt.
Syria: More Mourning of Aleppo Reunification via “The Last”s (Miri Wood on war porn and the “lasts” of Aleppo)