The use of children as instruments of media propaganda is not new, especially in the context of the Syrian conflict. What is astonishing and unknown, however, is that this image exploitation, aimed at moving and sensitising public opinion, is created by the parents themselves. This is the incredible story of little Bana al-Abed. Only seven years old, her Twitter account has become, in the months before the liberation of Aleppo from the terrorists, concluded last December, one of the most followed and discussed social profiles.
From the account of the adorable Bana al-Abed, from September 2016, are starting calls in favor of a military action against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and the Russian Federation. Bana twitted from al-Muasalat, a neighborhood placed in the North-East of Aleppo, at that time occupied by the terrorists. The freelance journalist Eva Barlett recently reconstructed the connections between little girl’s parents and the Islamist. Because behind those innocent eyes, which seemed to denounce the horrors of war, there is much more.
From Syria to Turkey
Despite the apocalyptic tweets – «I am talking to the world, I live in East Aleppo. This the time to live or die» – at mid-December Bana and her family were evacuated safely to Idlib by the governmental army, and then they were moved to Turkey, where they got the status of refugees in Ankara. Bana’s account, now counting around 369 followers, continues to attack Assad and the Russian government. The Time magazine listed her among the 25 most influential people of Twitter while, on the last 30th of June, it was announced the publication of a book, published by Simon & Schuster. An apparently incredible story, but it presents a lot of grey areas.
After a lot of criticisms and doubts about the veracity of her tweets, also because of the perfect punctuation and the language too refined – which is unlikely for a eight years old girl – Bana’s mother, Fatema,admitted she is the author of some tweets and that she managed her daughter’s profile. This is proved by the letter directed to Donald Trumpthat Bana herself published on her account , with an explicit request for a western intervention against Assad. Even though it was published uncritically by BBC, it is difficult to believe that a girl of that age could write on her own initiative such a letter with those kind of contents.
The parents and the relationship with Syrian terrorists
As Eva Barlett tells, last June the Syrian journalist Khaled Iskef went to visit Bana’s house, «placed few meters from the former headquarter of Al Nusra (AL Qaida) in Aleppo». And there is more. In the house «Iskef found a notebook documenting the work of Ghassan, Bana’s father, with the terrorist formations during the years». Ghassan al-Abed, indeed, militated in the Sawfa Brigade Islamic, a Salafi formation close to Al Qaida. He roamed the Eye Hospital of Aleppo, used for a long period as a base by the Islamic rebels. According to the neighbors, Ghassan’s father, Mohammed al-Abed, was a well knows weapons trafficker and he used to collaborate with the terrorist formations. The weapons shop of the al-Abeds was placed in the front of a school, near to the headquarter of Al Qaida – now Hayat Tahrir al-Asham – in Aleppo.
Moreover, who followed Bana’s social profile knows that for a long period she has not been going to school. That is because, Eva Barlett points out, in the neighborhoods controlled by the terrorists, schools were used as bases for the militias. According to the investigative journalist Vanessa Beely, among the most authoritative voices on the Syrian conflict, Ghassan al-Abed was the director of the civil register of the eastern council of Aleppo, guided by Abdul Aziz Maghrab, one of the bosses of Al-Nusra and member of the white helmets. So shady relationships those between the parents and the Jihadists, authors of heinous crimes against the population. After that of little Omran, another terrible story in which children are used for war propaganda.