Saudi Dis-info Accounts Jump on Beirut Blast
Almost immediately after the devastating Tuesday explosion that nearly destroyed Beirut and killed at least 137 people, a number of verified Twitter accounts linked to Saudi Arabia started firing off tweets blaming Hezbollah.
Within 24 hours, the hashtag “Hezbollah’s Ammonia Burns Beirut” was trending, even though authorities and the group itself denies any involvement.
Intelligence sources say that the disinformation is being generated and spread by four verified Saudi-linked accounts that have been active in recent years in disinformation campaigns designed to hurt Iranian interests.
Marc Owen Jones, an author and assistant professor of Middle East studies at the Hamad Bin Khalifa University in Doha, Qatar, told The Daily Beast by phone that it is coming primarily from a “core group of influencers” who have verified Twitter accounts, meaning they should have been vetted by the social-media giant.
In just 48 hours since the explosion, he has already found 14,000 interactions involving 9,870 unique accounts spreading lies.
The purpose is to justify to the domestic audience in Saudi Arabia that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization, not to be believed. “With these accusations, the risk is what they may spark,” he says.
Hezbollah’s leader, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, on Friday denied accusations that Hezbollah movement has arms warehoused at Beirut port, calling for an investigation into the biggest explosion to hit the Lebanese capital. He said if political parties trusted the Lebanese military as they say, they should let it investigate the blast, without mentioning an international probe which others have called for.
Source: Daily Beast