A virtual life of glory

This post follows on from my recent write-up on Sweetie – a digital creation of the Dutch charity used to expose men involved in dubious online activities of a sexual nature.

Let me introduce to you Rehana – a 25 years old female Kurdish fighter whose heroic feats during the defence of the Iraqi border town of Kobane have made the news worldwide.


According to the social media reports Rehana has killed more than 100 ISIS terrorists. Adding insult to injury is the fact that according to some interpretations of Islam male warriors killed by females will not go to Paradise to embrace the promised virgins. Bummer.

However, Rehana’s luck may have run out as she was reportedly captured and beheaded by ISIS. A graphic picture documenting it has been posted online where you are free to go and see it (I will not post it on da-boss). Looks like this was just another episode showing the brutal futility of war, where acts of individual heroisms are followed by more gruesome violence. But Rehana will live on in peoples’ memories – admired by some and hated by others.

If you are abhorred by Rehana’s fate I have good news for you. The story presented above is largely fictional. While, unlike Sweetie, Rehana is a real person (although probably with a different name) her claimed heroics are not. As reported by BBC:


In fact the woman now known as “Rehana” was photographed at an event in Kobane on 22 August – months before her image began trending. She was at a ceremony for volunteers and was wearing a military style uniform. The Swedish journalist Carl Drott was the only international journalist in Kobane at the time and had a short exchange with her before the ceremony. He says she was not a front line fighter at all, volunteering instead with the home guard or police force of Kobane. He says its therefore unlikely she has killed huge numbers of the enemy. “She came up to me and said she used to study law in Aleppo but that Islamic State had killed her father so she had decided to join these forces herself,” Drott says. “I tried to speak to her afterwards but never managed to find her or get her name.” (The name “Rehana” seems to have come later and is not a common Kurdish name).

So how and why did Rehana come to such a prominence?

“She captivated everyone with her pretty eyes and blonde hair. She has a huge fan base,” says the Kurdish blogger Ruwayda Mustafah. “Everyone that I come across admires her because she symbolises what everyone wants to see. That women and men are standing up against barbaric force in the region.”

But how come Rehana, who was not a frontline fighter, ended up getting captured and killed by ISIS? Well, it looks like she did not:


Speaking of ISIS’ sickening propaganda photograph, a journalist who was based in Kobane as recently as last week said the dead woman is not Rehana but another Kurdish resistance fighter. ‘She is my friend and I confirm that she is alive. And the picture of beheaded female fighter is not Rehana’s picture,’ he told MailOnline, speaking on condition of anonymity.

So a young good-looking female student from Aleppo, under a false name, enjoyed a period of virtual glory in the media spotlight, only to suffer a violent (and equally virtual) death at the hands of ISIS. And in the World we are living in this is headline news.


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