Early Wednesday morning, someone claiming to be Hafez Assad, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's 11-year-old son, wrote a Facebook post daring Americans to attack Syria. "I just want them to attack sooo much, because I want them to make this huge mistake of beginning something that they don't know the end of it,” part of the post reads. But is the profile real? There's strong evidence that it is.
While it's impossible to confirm the writer's identity, there are several significant clues that the post is genuine. First, many of the post's “Likes” come from accounts that seem to belong to family members and children of senior members of the Assad government. From the New York Times:
Among them are accounts that seemingly belong to two children of Deputy Vice President Mohammed Nassif Khierbek, Ali and Sally, and to three children of a former deputy defense minister, Assef Shawkat, who was killed in a bombing in July 2012.
The accounts said to belong to the children of Mr. Shawkat — one of his sons,Bassel, and two of his daughters, Anisseh and Boushra — appeared to be authentic, according to a Syrian journalist from Damascus who has extensive knowledge of the country’s ruling elite and spoke on condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns. Mr. Shawkat was married to the sister of Bashar al-Assad, making these three children cousins of Mr. Assad’s son Hafez, who is believed to be the author of the Facebook post.
The profile writer lists himself as a graduate of a Montessori school in Damascus, the same school that the Assad children attend, according to a now-disappeared 2011 Vogue profile of their mother, Asma al-Assad. And Foreign Policy points out that the profile's picture is from a professional photograph used by the Assad family.
Then again, the profile's owner lists the soccer club FC Barcelona as his employer and his college as the University of Oxford, but, of course, it's not far-fetched that an imaginative and ambitious 11-year-old would include such a fantasy career on his Facebook profile.
As the Times notes, if the profile is a hoax, it's either an elaborate and well-researched one involving dozens of fake accounts or it's a forgery so realistic that it tricked actual members of the Assad family.
Fake or real, the post reads like something a loyal Assad supporter would write:
“[The United States] may have the best army in the world, maybe the best airplanes, ships, tanks than ours, but soldiers? No one has soldiers like the ones we do in Syria. America doesn’t have soldiers, what it has is some cowards with new technology who claim themselves liberators.
What did Hezbollah have back then? Some street fighters and some small rockets and a pile of guns, but they had belief, In theirselves and in their country and that’s exactly what’s gonna happen to America if it chooses invasion because they don’t know our land like we do, no one does, victory is ours in the end no matter how much time it takes.”
A screenshot of the full post, with comments and "Likes," is below.
To contact the author of this post, email firstname.lastname@example.org