Spirit Of The Beehive

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Spirit Of The Beehive

Postby toucana on October 20th, 2018, 8:56 am 

One intriguing aspect of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is whether it was connected to his recent work with a group of on-live activists known as ‘The Bee Army’ according to a lengthy article published by The Independent.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/jamal-khashoggi-saudi-arabia-cyberwar-trolls-bee-army-missing-journalist-turkey-us-a8591051.html

The group known in arabic as Geish al-Nahla جيش النحلة or ‘Army of the Bee’ is said to be an “online army” of Saudi activists fighting a misinformation cyberwar, according to friends who fear Jamal Khashoggi may have been targeted because of his support.  They say he recently gave $5,000 (£3,800) to Geish al-Nahla .

It is the brainchild of Mr Khashoggi’s friend Omar Abdulaziz, 27, a Canada-based Saudi activist, who claims he was also targeted with a plan to make him disappear. Saudi Arabia did not respond to requests about Mr Abdulaziz .

Mr Abdulaziz, who has claimed asylum in Canada, told The Independent the regime had tapped his phone and so knew of Mr Khashoggi’s involvement. Other members in the 600-strong “Bee movement” also believe Mr Khashoggi was targeted because he had helped them.

“Part of what made [the regime] angry with Jamal was because he was specifically working on this project targeting social media. He was the one who was funding us,” Mr Abdulaziz said.

Mr Abdulaziz claimed he was targeted by a similar plan to disappear him in May when prominent Saudi figures tried to lure him to his embassy in Canada. When he refused to go he was targeted by spyware in an email which tracked his phone calls, after which he was told to stop his online activism. He claims his two younger brothers and eight friends were then arrested to further intimidate him. 

On 21 September Mr Khashoggi made a public, albeit cryptic, declaration of support for the movement. Using the Bee Army’s first tentative hashtag “what do you know about bees” he tweeted “They love their home country and defend it with truth and rights,” which got liked and retweeted nearly a 1000 times.

Abdulaziz al-Almoayyad, another Saudi dissident in exile explained:
“If people write any opinion or information on Twitter the government will know who they are, even if they use an alias,” Mr Almoayyad said.  

The Bee Army gave people a “safe alternative” by teaching them how to use encrypted browsers and virtual private networks (VPNs). 

“We also give them phone numbers so they can safely activate an anonymous Twitter account. By doing that we gave Saudi activists a safe way to express themselves,” he added.


Dr. Marc Owen Jones, a lecturer in the history of the Gulf Arabian Peninsula at Exeter University who has monitored Saudi bots for two years, said he has seen a massive surge in pro-regime Twitter activity, and the creation of troll accounts, since Mr Khashoggi went missing.
There was such a huge spike in October in bot accounts and the use of the hashtags praising the crown prince, it’s absurd,” he said.

“There are points where on some days there are 10s of 1000s of tweets from Saudi bots or trolls in Arabic,” he added.

The hashtag announcing Mr Khashoggi’s “kidnapping” disappeared from the list of top trends in Saudi Arabia after just a few hours, implying an army of trolls had worked to deliberately bury it. 

Dr Jones said that some of the Saudi organisations he believes to be behind the most prolific creation of automatic accounts have purchased specific software to help them. One of them is Saudi 24, a Saudi news outlet that boasted millions of Twitter followers until it was suspended by Twitter on Thursday.

By following the metadata from the bots Dr Jones traced a lot of these accounts back to an Alexandria-based Egyptian programmer called Ali Mohammed Saleh, who has publicly advertised software designed to create Twitter accounts automatically.

On Mr Saleh’s page, which includes links to Saudi 24’s Twitter account, he also advertised software that allowed him to automate dozens more “new sites” that are designed to look like credible new agencies.

Many of these accounts have been behind tweets and pieces trying to drown out criticism of Saudi Arabia with praise of the crown prince. They have also published content discrediting Mr Khashoggi by saying he was a traitor, an Islamist or a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

"In Saudi it is almost certain there is some sort of troll farm. It would be naive not to assume this," he said. 

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toucana
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Re: Spirit Of The Beehive

Postby wolfhnd on October 20th, 2018, 12:12 pm 

Maybe you have finally found something that slows the winning. Conservatives are not talking about this story. I suspect however that after the U.S. being in bed with the Saudis for 50 years that even this story could backfire on the left.
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Re: Spirit Of The Beehive

Postby toucana on October 20th, 2018, 2:34 pm 

My thread titles aren't chosen entirely at random. El Espíritu de la Colmena (The Spirit Of The Beehive) was a Spanish film directed by Victor Erice and released in 1973.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spirit_of_the_Beehive

It's set in Spain in 1940 at the time of the ascendancy of General Franco, and is regarded as a masterpiece of modern Spanish cinema. You might want to watch it some day.
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