The Washington Post reported on March 8th, 2018 that a filmmaker who emigrated to the United States from Syria had been involved in creating a film that would be on the order of Schindler’s List for its portrayal of the terrible war and awful conditions in his homeland. It appeared, one night in Istanbul, that he was about to get a big break to help him make the movie. They were to meet someone, a businessman, who said he wanted to fund this project, called The Tunnel.
But then, as the director reached for the phone offered by the businessman, someone stabbed Bayazid, getting him in the shoulder through the passenger’s side window. Mr. Bayazid said that his partner, a cinematographer who was with him, stepped on the gas and they raced to a hospital.
This incident, according to Mr. Bayazid, was an assassination attempt, organized by none other than President Bashir al-Assad of Syria, in an attempt to make sure the truth about him and his country never saw the light of day.
On October 10, 2017, Muhhammad Bayazid’s story made international news, through its broadcast by the BBC, the Guardian and other outlets. The director was lauded as a hero, and a brave storyteller. And, donations flowed for The Tunnel, ostensibly so it could be finally made.
…But then a twist happened.
Videos began to surface, showing Mr. Bayazid chatting with a man in Arabic, with the content of the discussions being the plans to get Bayazid stabbed in Istanbul, to create a scam situation. In one of these discussions, Bayazid is allegedly heard saying:
When there is danger or harm, it accomplishes several things: The first is media buzz. When that happens, within a period of 48 hours, you and I are going to be the two most famous people in the Middle East.”
However, this is notably inconvenient for the contingent of people who are united in their desire to get al-Assad out of Syria. If Mr. Bayazid’s story was a setup and a hoax, it could dramatically undercut the case these people (mostly from America) are making in their cause.
And now, for the real twist.
The Washington Post reports that this situation is lighting up the Internet from Damascus to Washington, but it is worth noting that this is not quite true. At the time of this writing, English reports concerning this situation really have only circulated in the last two days, BUT, the original release of this situation being a possible hoax is dated November 2, 2017.
It would seem that there is essentially a double hoax being perpetrated here.
First, this is old news, with several references to it having arisen in November last year, but the Post’s coverage of this piece gave it new life and so the British and American papers are buzzing about it.
The purpose? Here one can only speculate. The goals of the Washington Post have been rather focused as of late towards trying to get rid of President Donald Trump. But when they take a breather from Russiagate, they still need to write sensational stories. This appears to be a relatively minor story that the Post is trying to make into a major story, not to support Bayazid, but actually just for “buzz” just like Bayazid’s own thoughts in the quote above.
If the intention of this recent spate of reporting is to build any kind of case, it appears not to bode well for Mr. Bayazid. He has made award-winning films according to IMDb, If he indeed perpetrated a hoax, news of this will not be helpful to his career, though it will give him a bit of buzz.
As for its geopolitical impact, it seems unlikely that there is, or will be, any. As the Syrian conflict moves towards its resolution, al-Assad is not likely to go anywhere, and it is in fact somewhat likely that he will consolidate his rule over the next few months and years.
This, therefore, seems by all appearances to look like a nothing burger served up by a newspaper that no one is reading credibly anyway. Perhaps this is the wrong assessment, but everything that the research on this matter dug up points to this idea.