Is Amina Arraf Story A Hoax?
I blogged about the disappearance of Syrian blogger Amina Abdalla. Now there are reports that Abdalla may not even exist.
But although many Syrian activists said they had corresponded with Arraf online, none acknowledged actually meeting her. A friend in Montreal, Sandra Bagaria, who started a campaign for Arraf’s release and said she knew her well, said she had corresponded with Arraf only by e-mail. Photographs of Arraf released by the friend and on her Web site are of a woman in London, Jelena Lecic, who said her identity had been stolen, according to a statement from the woman’s publicist.
The cousin, Rania Ismail, whose Facebook page identifies her as a “fulltime mommy” in Lilburn, Ga., did not respond to e-mails, although she had previously corresponded with journalists. Spokesman Mark Toner said the State Department was “seeking to confirm the details of [Arraf’s] case — including her citizenship.”
A British woman, Jelena Lecic, said the photos of Arraf/Abdalla are actually of her.
But when news of Arraf's disappearance broke, Just said Lecic saw her photo alongside the story in London's Guardian newspaper. It was one of the same photos her friend had spotted on Facebook a year ago under a different profile name: Amina Abdalla Arraf.
Lecic called The Guardian to request the photo be taken down, only to find it replaced with another photo of her.
“I pray that Amina is safely returned to her family but I want to make it quite clear that I am not her despite my photographs being attached to this story,” Lecic said in a press release.
Arraf's Facebook profile and blog show a great deal of knowledge about the Syrian anti-government movement. There are those that believe that Araf used a fake photo and name to hide her true identity. If it is a hoax then it is an elaborate one.