A Syrian man under the alias Hussain Jabri is fast gaining notoriety for making prank calls to officials and supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.
Jabri who also calls himself Abu Zuhair (father of Zuhair) has gained a huge following on YouTube and Facebook for the phone calls he makes to these officials in which he poses ‘innocent’ questions only to deride the people on the other end of the line.
“When are you going to Iran, Tehran?” Jabri sarcastically asks one of the officials in one of his phone calls that he video tapes and then posts on social media sites.
At times, Jabri gets confrontational. “Just when the Syrian people started speaking, armored vehicles took to the streets,” he says to the head of police in Hama.
There are other instances Jabri takes on a different personality altogether. Once he pretended to be an employee from the ministry of finance in a phone call to the ministry of interior. Then, he requested the finance ministry to pay for dues over new recruits of the gang-like male protectors of the regime, the Shabiha.
At many times, Jabri’s phone-calls are riddled with swear-words or soon blow into in full verbal matches but to the shock of many, he has been able to get an alleged ‘confession.’
Jabri called Bashar Awadh, an intelligence lieutenant who ‘confessed’ to the killing of the well-known, 26-year-old activist Ghayath Matar, who, according to Human Rights Watch, died in detention after being tortured in September, 2011.
The so-called confession came 10 minutes into the conversation, which started with Jabri’s pretending to be a person calling from a music company to ask about Matar.
Angrily, Awadh, who said that he was a Sunni, slammed Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a companion to the Prophet, and alluded to Matar being dead.
But soon, Awadh, said that Matar was begging him to save his life. The lieutenant threatened death for whoever is against the regime.
The video dated September 24, 2011, was able to get more 62,618 likes on YouTube.
Activists rebuff Jabri’s unacceptable ways
While Jabri roused the attention of many, several activists have criticized him for using foul language, saying that it does not represent the opposition or Syrian culture.
Some even said he was no different to the Syrian regime saying his videos see him threatening Shabiha members in the same way the militia has been known to do to others. In one case Jabri called one Shabiha member to ask about his missing brother and threatened to send his son in a gunny bag, prompting people to question to whether Jabri has more powers – and support –beyond the internet.
Jabri defends his use of foul language saying that he does so to provoke the Shabiha and lure them into making confessions.
In a less than one minute video, he tried to call the office of President Bashar al-Assad and ridiculed the Syrian leader, but the person on the other end hung up.
(Translated by Dina al-Shibeeb)