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Twitter suspends fake handle of Oman Princess spreading anti-India rumours, Pakistan's ISI's role suspected

Twitter suspends fake handle of Oman Princess spreading anti-India rumours, Pakistan's ISI's role suspected

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 25 Apr 2020, 09:05 am

New Delhi/IBNS: Micro-blogging site Twitter has suspended a fake account that was allegedly used by Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to spread false news about India in the Gulf region, media reports said.

The entire controversy started on Wednesday when a Twitter account named @SayyidaMona had posted that Oman government will expel one million workers living in Oman if the "persecution" of Muslims in India is not stopped.

Indian PM Narendra Modi was also tagged with the post.

A fact check by IBNS found the account as fake. It has since been suspended by Twitter.

"Oman stands with its Muslim brothers and sisters in India. If the Indian Govt doesn't stop the persecution of Muslims, then 1 million workers living in Oman may be expelled. I  will take up this issue with the Sultan of Oman @narendramodi," the fake account tweeted.

Indian security agencies say ISI has been spreading hatred against India and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Gulf countries by using several fake accounts on social media platforms, reported the news channel Wion.

According to reports, the intelligence agencies have prepared a dossier of Pakistan's involvement in activities of spreading anti-India messages through fake or hacked accounts on social media. 

Investigators have said that fake accounts are being created in the name of royal family members of Gulf countries to spread hatred against India.

This revelation comes after another twitter account ID @pak_fauj was found to have changed its name to Mona bint Fahd al Said @SayyidaMona a member of the Oman royal family. This account has also been used to spread anti-India propaganda, Wion reported.

Several anti-India tweets on ties between India and the Gulf were posted from the twitter handle.

Several Pakistani media personnel have shared them.

The dossier prepared by security agencies and accessed by Zee News reveals that hundreds of such Twitter accounts have been used to spread hatred against India and are being operated from Pakistan, but have assumed identities of persons from Gulf nations to push the narrative that there is a backlash against Indian government in Gulf.

An Indian security official told Wion, "How ISI executed the fake news campaign; it first dug out old tweets put out by Indians in Gulf with negative references to Muslims and through ISI handles popularised it. It adopted two methods for popularising- fake handles purportedly belonging to high profile people in Gulf like royal family and journalists."

A cyber expert Jiten Jain told the news channel, "Interesting aspect was that those ISI handles that were claiming that they were India or Pakistan based, started showing themselves to be Gulf based to push the narrative that there is a backlash against Indian govt in Gulf. ISI is using name of royal families to spread hatred against India."

Sayyida Mona bint Fahd al Said, the Omani princess whose name was used by the impersonator, issued a clarification on Wednesday saying she had no connection with the tweets.

The tweets posted by a person impersonating an Omani princess were aimed at disturbing social harmony in India and disturbing New Delhi’s ties with countries in West Asia, people familiar with developments said on Thursday as reported by Hindustan Times.

The people cited above, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said it was “deeply regrettable” that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was levelling accusations of Islamophobia against India. They described these accusations as factually inaccurate and misleading, reported the Indian newspaper.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, Sayyida Mona has clarified that the Twitter account is fake and has no connection to her.

“First of all, I thank you for your concern to verify what was published through an account impersonating me, which you are sure that I have no connection with," she said in the statement as reported by The Arabian Stories.

“With full trust in all of you in strengthening awareness among all regarding such activities, which are not acceptable to the Omani society. I would like to confirm again that my presence in social media is restricted to the following accounts: @hhmonaalsaid on Instagram and @MohaFahad13 on Twitter,” she said.

Munu Mahawar, Indian Ambassador to Oman, also thanked the princess for the clarification.

"Amb Munu Mahawar @AmbMunu : India and Oman share a very special relationship based on mutual understanding and trust. Those trying to create differences should realise the absolute futility of their efforts. They will never succeed," tweeted the Indian Embassy in Oman.

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