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Syria: Regime Affiliates Try to Frame Muslim Brotherhood for Damascus Car Bombs

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

Official Syrian media outlets yesterday published a statement allegedly issued by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) taking responsibility for the twin car bomb attacks that caused heavy casualties on Friday. The statement came from an alleged MB website.

The statement was used by regime-aligned media as evidence that the MB was behind the atrocious attach, while the authorities claimed Al Qaeda was responsible for the attack shortly after the explosions took place. Several irregularities and inconsistencies in the regime's story prompted Syrian netizens to investigate the matter further.

The URL was one of the first reasons to raise suspicion; the website is new, created less than a month ago on 30 November, and is not blocked in Syria. The official website of the MB, which has been online for more than five years despite being blocked in Syria, is http://www.ikhwansyria.com. Furthermore, the language of the alleged statement was poor and had several outrageous grammar mistakes that is uncharacteristic of Islamic groups, which usually have a superb command of Arabic due to extensive study of the Qur'an.

The newly-created website also had a number of odd headlines that were highly charged with sectarianism that were unrelated to the video added under them, and had misspelled the name of the leader of the MB in Syria.

Checking the official website of the MB, one finds a long statement[ar] indicting the attacks and reiterating commitment to nonviolent forms of protest.

Syrian activists searched for the site's registration info using the whois domain lookup and found the website registered under a fake name and a poorly disguised phone number: only the country code was changed. Personal info can be faked when registering a domain, but you'll need a working email address to register a domain.

Searching for that email on Facebook, activists found it associated with a Syrian man in Aleppo, Emile Kas Nasrallah. They then sent him a friend request, which he approved. Checking his profile, they found that he was the son of Bassel Kas Nasrallah, an adviser of the Grand Mufti of Syria, Muhammed Bader Hassoun. Needless to say, Hassoun was appointed by Assad and is an advocate of the regime.

 

The above findings clearly show that the fake statement and website are easily traced back to regime affiliates. Many opposition members, activists, and protesters believe the regime is responsible for the explosions. They argue that only the regime benefits from those explosions that occurred only one day after an Arab League delegation of monitors was allowed into the country.

Since the activists broke the story, Nasrallah has tried to cover the traces and shut down the fake website. Activists had already took screenshots of all the info. Shortly after breaking the story, journalist Eiad Shurbaji, who had been arrested for sometime earlier this year, has said that he's been receiving countless death threats and threats of physical violence.

The fake statement and website initially fooled international media, including AP, to report the story of the MB claiming responsibility for the bombings. The coverage was later updated to mention that the MB denied any relation to the bombings.

This post is part of our special coverage Syria Protests 2011.

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