CNN, CBC: Fake image of a young child – again

We dot the i’s and cross the t’s: No, four-year-old Marwan fleeing Syria was not “alone” in the desert. The modus operandi behind the pervasive hoaxes being disseminated by the monopoly media augmented by anti-social media to facilitate intervention and subversion of sovereign countries

2014.2.19.Fake image of kid in desert

Media-CulpaAN IMAGE claimed by CNN journalists and rebroadcast on the state-owned CBC as well as CTV on February 17 to be of a 4-year-old Syrian child discovered alone near the Jordanian borders while his leg was cut and bandaged with plastic bags, is apparently part of a different image, where the family of the child are seen walking ahead of him and his leg is fine, euronews (and here), the London Guardian and the website Friends of Syria report. A CBC blog by John Bowman of also admitted later on Feb. 18 that “the fact that his family was just metres away was left behind.”

The method used was Twitter, the anti-social media. Twitter was used to quickly promote the photo in such a way that it could not be immediately verified. By the time the cruel hoax was exposed, the image had been circulated around the world.

Andrew Harper, head of the UN Refugee Agency’s mission in Jordan, posted the photo of the young refugee, whom the UN called “Marwan,” on Twitter Sunday night, Feb. 16. The picture was then retweeted by Hala Gorani, a reporter and anchor for CNN International, on Monday as “news”. Gorani later added another tweet 30 minutes later saying that, according to the UNHCR, Marwan was found in the Jordanian desert, with his possession in a small plastic bag. According to her tweet, “the boy was found “crossing the desert alone after being separated from family fleeing Syria.” The dramatic story went viral in the monopoly media; overnight it became the poster child to justify “humanitarian intervention.”

However, an examination of Harper’s tweets turned up another photo (pictured) taken a half hour before he posted the image of Marwan showing a group of refugees. Harper’s original tweet stated that Marwan was “temporarily separated” – a fact omitted by the CNN anchor.

“The scene looked similar and the stated location was also the Jordanian-Syrian border. The luggage seen in the left hand side of the photograph of Marwan, meanwhile, suggested that — if the photographs were related — the boy was near the main body of refugees.”

Euronews reports that a discussion thread initiated on the Open Newsroom G+, a journalistic community dedicated to verifying online news, mentions that Guardian journalist Shiv Malik, quoting a UNHCR press officer on the scene, said the child was “20 steps” ahead of his family.

Under the pretext of the high ideals of providing “non-lethal” and “humanitarian aid”, the Harper Government, an agent in the destruction of Syria, is funnelling tens of millions of dollars to fuel the US-NATO sponsored insurgency inside Syria. One of the channels is precisely the vast UNHCR Za’atari Refugee Camp inside Jordan near the Syrian border, visited by both Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper recently as part of his trip to Israel as well as Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird in August 2012, at which time France was building a military hospital in the Za’atari camp to treat the rebel forces. Both Harper and Baird had photos taken of them posing with children. Even innocent children are grist for the mill.

This is identical disinformation to that used for decades to justify the dispossession of the Palestinians; incite and support Israeli genocide to occupy, rule and scatter a people, then pose as “humanitarian” by sending a few dollars for refugee camps that became permanent. The difference of course is that the US and NATO are using the refugees and the refugee camps as “human shields” to camouflage covet military operations to subvert and destabilize a sovereign country hostile to the interests of Washington.

The fake photo of an innocent child is not unique. In January 2014 a fake photo of a Syrian boy sleeping between the graves of his parents that also went viral was deliberately staged.

Photo circulated by Western media of what was purported to a little boy from Syria sleeping between the graves of his parents. Twitter: @abdulaziz_Photo

Photo circulated by Western media of what was purported to a little boy from Syria sleeping between the graves of his parents. Twitter: @abdulaziz_Photo

It turned out then that it was actually a photo made by a photographer, Abdel Aziz Al-Atibi, in Saudi Arabia with his nephew for an ongoing art project but someone decided to use it for propaganda purposes. The boy pictured is a Saudi, not a Syrian.

The boy in the photo is the photographer's nephew and it was taken for a conceptual art project that Al-Taibi was working on. Twitter: @abdulaziz_Photo

The boy in the photo is the photographer’s nephew and it was taken for a conceptual art project that Al-Taibi was working on. Twitter: @abdulaziz_Photo

“It’s absurd how people (i.e., media) can easily be manipulated without going back to the source and the facts,” Al-Atibi told about how easily the photo was manipulated and went viral under the wrong caption.

On August 7, 2011 CNN helped spread a lurid hoax that a number of premature babies died in their incubators when Syrian forces cut off electricity to hospitals during their assault on the city of Hama: “Rights group: 8 babies die after power cut to Syrian hospital.” The story was originally manufactured by the so-called Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) and initially circulated by CNN Arabic. A link to CNN may have then be posted on the SOHR website, giving it the appearance of added credibility.  According to an exposé published by Ali Abunimah on Electronic Intifada at the time, evidence suggested that “it is a cruel hoax, and the pictures of the ‘dead babies’ widely circulated online are false.” He found out that the picture circulating with many of the alarmist report of dozens of dead babies in Syria showed a bunch of babies who were alive, hopefully well, and living in Egypt: “The image apparently first appeared on the website of the Egyptian newspaper al-Badil al-Jadid in two stories on 6 April and 7 April about overcrowding and poor conditions in the maternity ward of the al-Shabti hospital in Alexandria.” The hoax was further spread by anti-social media like Twitter.

The deceptions are reminiscent of the false reports of invading Iraqi troops throwing babies out of incubators in Kuwait in August 1990 — disinformation that was used to build public support and urgency for the 1991 Persian Gulf War. These claims were part of an elaborate propaganda effort by the Washington PR consultancy Hill & Knowlton hired by the Kuwaiti government.

How many hoaxes are being perpetrated? Since 2011, innumerable atrocity videos spread on Youtube augmented with Twitter plugs by the so-called “Syrian opposition,” which are reported by the monopoly media at face value, many on the front page, have been shown to be fake.

What is taking place is far more serious than propaganda attempts to fool the gullible. “Such massive exercises in disinformation have become par for the course making the world a truly irrational place,” Pauline Easton wrote recently in TML Daily (“The Old World Passes Away to Be Replaced by Anarchy and Violence — A Dangerous Situation Indeed,’ June 30, 2013). “Issues become so confused and overwhelming that no known frame of reference renders them comprehensible or actionable. People are not supposed to see the forest for the trees and therefore become paralyzed and incapable of doing anything about the unfolding events.”

Reporting on the modus operandi of the disinformation, English journalist Charlie Skelton reported in the Guardian (“The Syrian Opposition: Who’s Doing the Talking?” Guardian, July 12, 2012) “the spokespeople, the ‘experts on Syria’, the ‘democracy activists’ … The people who ‘urge’ and ‘warn’ and ‘call for action’” against the Assad regime are themselves part of a sophisticated and well-heeled propaganda campaign to allow NATO forces to give Syria the same medicine administered to Libya in 2011. “They’re selling the idea of military intervention and regime change,” Skelton reported.

It should be also kept in mind that John Baird visited the headquarters of Google and Twitter in Silicon Valley, California, on February 7th where he mapped out how “digital diplomacy” will be added to the weapons of subversion already being used by the Harper government on a global basis. According to a news release circulated by his department, Baird said “Using social media and insights from big-data analytics, we can engage in direct diplomacy, not just elite diplomacy. Social media mapping exercises at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada have helped us to reach out to civic actors who seek to bring about positive social and political change in the countries they live in.”

The Twitter service being embraced by the Harper government is integrated with the U.S. state military and espionage agencies. The service plays an increasing role in U.S.-led regime change and fomenting of violent tribal, religious, ethnic and other clashes. The U.S. imperialists have successfully used Twitter and Vine to spread gossip, rumours and disinformation in small unchallengeable and unverifiable chunks of words and video. This has aided the U.S. espionage agents and military to generate chaos and upheaval in targeted countries. This activity is also aimed at generating support for big power intervention in sovereign countries such as Syria and Venezuela under the imperialist hoax of “responsibility to protect.” (TML Daily, November 13, 2013)

The current state of disinformation, anarchy and violence must be rejected. New anti-imperialist nation states that vest sovereignty in the people and do not permit hooliganism at home and abroad must be brought into being.

– Tony Seed

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Filed under Media, Journalism & Disinformation

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