Al-Assad Forces on Facebook
As expatriated Syrian activists use Facebook and other social networking sites to express their thoughts and keep in touch with Syrians on the ground, the Assad regime continues to harass them both in real life and online.
Activists relay stories on a daily basis that describe their hacked Facebook accounts and revealing posts that praise Bashar al-Assad and threaten their lives.
Hadeel Kouki, a Syrian dissident based in Cairo, was one of the activists targeted by forces in the regime, physically and on a virtual level.
Hadeel was arrested three times and brutally tortured for a total of 65 days until she was able to escape to Turkey and relocate to Cairo. A few days ago, her friends as well as thousands of fans on Facebook were surprised to see pro-Assad posts on her account.
The hacker wrote:
"God, Syria, and Bashar [a common chant that regime forces say while attacking peaceful protesters in Syria]. If you are man enough, you can gain the control back over the account."
This is not the first time that Hadeel's account has been a target of attack by Assad’s cyber thugs.
The “Syrian Electronic Army” Facebook page that Assad recently praised in a speech, has been removed by Facebook several times. The forces behind this page lead the regime’s online hacking operations in addition to conducting attacks on public pages and posting pro-Assad statements on them.
Haider Suleiman heads the regime’s electronic operation. His father, Bahjat Suleiman, is a highly ranked intelligence officer who currently serves as the ambassador to Jordan.
Several activists in Syria who prefer to remain anonymous told Movements.org that they are not satisfied with Facebook’s efforts to stop the team of Syrian hackers. “Hacking someone’s Facebook account could bring about fatal results in a country like Syria despite all the protections that we take," Hadeel added. “We need a quick way to be in touch with Facebook in order to get our hacked accounts back."