Hashtag #lasttweet began to appear on Twitter frequently in recent weeks as Syrian government troops engaged the final phase of the liberation of the city of Aleppo.
The personage of Bana al-Abed, a seven-year resident of the largest city in Syria, was the first to create an large-scale Internet sensation designed to discredit the process of the government and army of Syria recapturing the eastern districts of Aleppo which has been controlled by jihadist paramilitaries for some five years. A Twitter account was registered in September, 2016, amid intensified fighting in Aleppo. There are many details of the horrors of war on her Twitter page. The girl blames not the terrorists waging war from their bases in eastern Aleppo but the Syrian government and its allies. Tweets are actively retweeted and not only by the Syrian opposition, but also by the mainstream Western media. For example, The Washington Post called Bana the Syrian Anne Frank (the Jewish girl who died in Nazi-occupied Netherlands and whose diary became renowned).
At the same time, there are strange nuances in the Bana Twitter account. First, tweets appear very frequently. It seems that the little girl posts the information about the situation in the city 24/7. AYet Aleppo is a city of constant fighting, where electricity and water supply are constantly interrupted and food and medicine are often in short supply. Even less reliable are Internet and cell phone networks due to damaged infrastructure. Second, her account is written in perfect English. Third, celebrities, Western journalists and popular Syrian opposition bloggers contribute to the viral dissemination of Bana’s posts. It took just three hours to collect more than 3,700 likes and more than 5,000 retweets after the publication of one of the first tweets of Bana. According to Social Rank website service, the request “Who was your first follower?” shows the first subscriber of Bana was an Al-Jazeera journalist, Abdul Aziz Ahmed.
J.K. Rowling promised to send the girl a Harry Potter book and by doing so the writer made a very good advertisement for the Twitter campaign of Bana. Despite the fact that Syria has always had a high level of literacy of the population (more than 90 percent, in fact), Aleppo has been in the throes of foreign-instigated war for five years. So it is a stretch, to say the least, to imagine that the seven-year-old child has such a good command of English that she could even begin to read a book of many hundreds pages of complex and supernatural mystery in its original language.
Speaking further of language, Syrian activist Maytham Al Ashkar, who is originally from Al-Zahraa in northern Syria, lives currently in Beirut but often travels to Damascus and Aleppo contacted the seven-year-old Twitter star, Bana Alabed, on November 27, offering to evacuate her family from eastern Aleppo. After a month, someone who identified herself as Bana’s mother responded. When he was contacted by Bana’s account, Al-Ashkar started to chat in Arabic, the mother tongue of all Syrians. It quickly became evident that the person behind the account preferred English as a language of communication.
According to the media, Bana’s mother studied law. That means that she has studied the Syrian curriculum for 12 years, which is all in Arabic, and then studied for four years at university, where all the subjects are taught in Arabic. How could a respondent on the Twitter account claiming to be the mother not be completely proficient in Arabic?
The girl and her mother declined the offer of assistance for their evacuation from eastern Aleppo which the journalist was offering. Maytham Al Ashkar conclluded that the girl is just a face, a tool used by the British intelligence (British – because of the strong relationship between the Bana Twitter account and the White Helmets agency which is funded and sponsored by Western governments and agencies, including in the UK).
It should be further noted that not only Bana writes these tweets but also her mother Fatima al-Abed who is a teacher at a local school. It is Bana’s mother who helps her daughter to write so grammatically correct. Nevertheless, all this raises a number of other controversial issues: who and where from is really writing on behalf of Bana? Inside Syria Media Center has further tried to investigate the Bana project.
On November 27, Bana reported that her home had been destroyed by shelling. The house is allegedly located in Joured Awaad quarter in the eastern part of Aleppo. Meanwhile, about 20 shellings unleashed by the anti-government forces were registered in the provinces of Aleppo on November 26. None were registered for Joured Awaad. The armed groups of the fired multiple launch rocket systems against Bayada and Salah al-Din quarters of the Aleppo city. In addition, terrorists of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and ISIS several times fired multiple launch rocket systems, tube artillery, mortars and small arms against Shurfa inhabited area, Binyamin, Dahiya al-Assad, Jamaiyah Fahat, Amri, Ashrafiyah, Art Sabah, Akyul, 1070, Hai Zahraa Awwad, Kastello trade center, al-Assad military academy, area of the former military school, and Higma school in the Aleppo city.
At the same time, the activity of the government troops was concentrated in the area to the south of the city of Hanano. So, the question arises: why does the girl insist on her house was fired and ruined while reports show none of the parties opened fire near her house.
It is also unclear why the walls and the furniture in Bana’s room are not affected by the attacks, and always look like new, despite the fact that the girl’s tweets constantly complained that she was frequently moving from one house to another. Moreover, the curtains on her Twitter photos are always tightly closed and the girl is always cleanly dressed.
On November 22, Bana published a video which showed her walking down the street in a terrorist-controlled district. Very few people are seen in the area. Occasional pedestrians quickly move out of sight when they come into camera range They are evidently not comfortable being filmed by what is supposed to be a little girl filming. In this video at the 0.59 mark, a head appears from a corner and immediately disappears. The high quality of the footage, its professional editing with the use of a tripod (the video is really smooth) and its professional editing all strongly suggest that the video was staged/
Bana’s tweets are written in English and the girl keeps alleging that Bashar al-Assad “kills children, bombs schools, shells neighborhoods and hurts Aleppo’s residents”. She constantly accuses the Syrian air force of aggressive actions. The little girl’s account is politically strong with massages that include popular hashtags. However, in her interview to BBC, Fatima al-Abed stressed that Bana’s twitter wasn’t a propaganda campaign and wasn’t linked to the terrorists forces fighting against the Syrian government and people.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of photos not connected to Bana which appear in her Twitter messaging–for instance, the photos of children allegedly killed in the airstrike at a school in Idlib school in late October, 2016. It’s unknown how such footage would have got into the hands of Bana’s parents and why the family would choose not to leave eastern Aleppo for government-controlled areas.
Everything becomes clear when you see the Facebook page of Ghassan, the girl’s father. He has lots of Facebook friends tied to various radical groups fighting in Syria.
Besides, some media reported that Bana’s tweets are written by the popular Syrian opposition blogger Abdel Kafi al-Hamdo (https://twitter.com/Mr_Alhamdo). He is a teacher and activist and created his Twitter account in October, 2016, gaining as many as 17,000 followers.
The information pouring from Bana’s Twitter has been mentioned at a high political level. In his interview to the Danish channel TV2, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stressed that the terrorists and their allies promoted Bana’s tweets.
The Hollywood-stylish Bana’s “death” should also be mentioned. First, the girl’s Twitter became inactive just after the government offensive on east Aleppo intensified. But soon BBC was reporting that the girl and her mother were alive and that they had come to a safe place. The account was restored and a new Tweet appeared: “Under attack. Nowhere to go, every minute feels like death. Pray for us. Goodbye – Fatemah”.
The inactive spell provoked something resembling mass hysteria in social media, with the hashtag #whereisBana quickly becoming trending. At the same time, Bana’s fake accounts started to post messages about her “death”, which were allegedly written by her mother.
As of Dec. 20, it should be noted that the project is still active. “Last tweets” have been repeatedly appearing. Probably, the world will witness other news from Bana, whose messages remind us of the story of “Aleppo’s last hospital”.
Until now Bana remains a mystery. The city is completely under government control but no proof of Bana and her mother’s existence in the city has emerged. It is possible that the girl left Aleppo for Idlib alongside the most radical militants (as pointed out by NBC report) or headed to Turkey in the company of other armed groups. The latter suggestion is supported by the call for help directed at Turkish President Recep Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu that Bana published on Twitter.
Locating Bana and showing that she is safe and can start a new, more quiet life, should be of utmost interest for the Syrian authorities. OLocating the flat in Joured Awwad in eastern Aleppo will show that exploiting the plight of children in a war zone is another propaganda ploy of the Western media.
Well, the latest news shows Bana has met Turkey’s President Erdogan. Perhaps the project will be dead now that Russia, Turkey and Iran are working to facilitate a negotiated end to Syria’s tragic war. Little Bana on Twitter, whoever you are, should be thankful!