You must be aware about the ongoing brutal battle between Islamic State (IS) forces and their opponents in Iraq, Syria and other places. But this story talks about a ‘fake battle’ that turned very dangerous and even worried people in Saudi Arabia. The battle started on Twitter and ended on Twitter only. IS opponents held celebrations across Karbala after they came to know that Shichwa region was liberated from IS forces.
They just didn’t know that they were being tricked by someone.
You know why? Because the battle of Shichwa never took place. No such place even exists! Awwww shucks!
It all started after a hail of tweets by a London man who tricked both Islamic State supporter and their opponents — supporters of Shia militia fighters in Iraq.
According to BBC , soon after the news broke, Twitter users who support anti-IS forces claimed a famous victory. “Big celebrations in Karbala after the freedom of Shichwa,” said one.
Another claimed “10,000 refugees flee Shichwa to Karbala” and rumours spread that neighbouring countries were being dragged into the fighting.
The fiction was the work of Ahmad al-Mahmoud, an Iraqi who lives in London and runs a Twitter account called @IraqSurveys .
So, why did he do this? He says, one day, he ‘got bored’, and he tweeted that Islamic State had withdrawn from Shichwa. He even shared photo-shopped pictures of news outlets which appeared to show the battle being discussed.
Before he knew it, he had started a trend. “People started adding to it, making maps like Sim City,” he told BBC Trending. Some posted fake news about the fight and one user even made a map of the battlefield.
Soon the message spread outside Iraq. Supporters of Popular Mobilisation Units, the anti-IS Shia militias fighting alongside Iraqi government forces, started boasting about the battle. Then IS supporters planned revenge. People in Saudi Arabia even started to get frightened about the rumours.
However, realising that the joke was getting out of hand, Mahmoud called a halt to the prank after two days.
This is what Mahmoud said when he was interviewed by BBC Trending. “The name of the place Shichwa is actually a joke — it’s Iraqi Arabic for ‘cheese bladder’, a traditional method of making dairy products. It wasn’t something serious. Any Iraqi should have known what a shichwa is,” he said.