Syria: is Ali Habib dead? Murdered? A lot of rumors but no serious sources so far…

This morning at 10:00 local time the Israeli DEBKAfile published a report that Ali Habib, the recently replaced Syrian minister of defense had been found dead and that associates to Bashar al-Assad was behind the killing. On twitter this news spread like a wildfire. Later today the Israeli newspage Ynet had this article on the possible death of Ali Habib. Ynet did not mention DEBKAfile as their source, but insteat pointed to an unnamed website connected to the Syrian opposition.

As far as I know DEBKAfile is not considered a serious news outlet. They have not mentioned their sources. Neither has Ynet.

Both Hala Gorani (CNN) and Brian Withaker (Guardian) has picked up this rumor and are giving it credibility on twitter. “@HalaGorani: Seeing reports Ali Habib, the Defense Minister Assad sacked yesterday, was found dead/died in his home. #Working #Syria“, “@Brian_Whit: Several reports now saying General Ali Habib, the defence minister who was replaced yesterday, is dead. #syria

Ian Black – Guardian (@ian_black) has on twitter made the following comment: “ali habib, sacked syrian defence minister is “more than alive” according to damascus source who saw him this morning”

So far no serious news organization have confirmed the death of Ali Habib let alone that he was executed/assassinated/murdered. What we have is a case of the Syrian/Damascus rumormill that started spinning, something I remember after the assassination of Imad Mughniyah and when Assef Shawkat dropped out of view among other. Yes, amplified by DEBKAfile and twitter.


About Leif Eriksson

Leif Eriksson has worked in the field of asylum at the Swedish Migration Agency specializing in the Middle East, Schengen and the Dublin Regulation, as Migration Attaché and head of the migration section at the Swedish Embassy in Damascus 2005 - 2008, as a resettlement consultant at the UNHCR branch office in Damascus 2008 - 2009, Consul at the Swedish Consulate General in Jerusalem 2012 - 2013 and associate RSD/RST officer at UNHCR in Beirut 2013 - 2014. He currently lives in Tbilisi, Georgia.
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4 Responses to Syria: is Ali Habib dead? Murdered? A lot of rumors but no serious sources so far…

  1. Taylor says:

    And you’ve just continued to spread the rumor by formulating an article and posting it on the net. This so those of us who do not utilize twitter will see it, thereby continuing the rumor. So whose worse? Seems to me, you are.

    • I am sorry you feel that way. I hope it has nothing to do with me quoting Hala Gorani’s tweet.

      1. The “news” was posted on internet, not twitter. 2. The “news” was amplified on twitter. 3. Serious journalist added credibility to what was, and is, a rumor. 4. Another journalist claimed that his sources had seen Ali Habib alive. 5. The publications – DEBKAfile and Ynet do not provide their sources, something I point out. 6. No serious news outlet has confirmed Ali Habibs demise.

      If this is spreading rumor I am guilty as charged.

  2. Taylor says:

    Again, my issue is with your article giving credence to the entire matter.
    How can you blame journalist for doing their job? Asking questions. As for Hala Gorani, seems as though once she found the answer she moved on. As for Brian Whitaker, I can see where his tweet went beyond. But the fact that two respected journalist found the same information, shows you that something was out there. They asked questions, a job they get paid to do.
    The fact the you have an issue with journalist doing there job. And then you go and do the very same thing you have criticized them of doing, is completely hypocritical.

  3. Do I have an issue that DEBKAfile is taken seriously. Absolutely. Do I think one should check one’s sources and their credibility before publishing. Absolutely. Do I think twitter was used by serious journalists two amplify a rumor. Absolutely. This is what the post is about. I am critical that Twitter has been used to amplifiy a rumor that only weakend the information on what was going in in Syria. Hypocritical? Then you do not understand what my post is about. Your beef seems to be that I was critical of two journalist, one being Hala Gorani. I am sure that this post will not change your mind; we will have agree to disagree. I pointed out @ian_black’s tweet for Hala Gorani, which she then retweeted – and as you say – moved on. I suggest you do the same thing.

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