note: updated below
Whoever perpetrated this fraud should be ashamed but somehow, I doubt they are not. For the past two weeks glbt activists, pro-democracy activists, Syrian/Egyptian/etc. human rights activists and the rest of us have been tweeting about the fate of Amina, believing that she had been dragged from her home by the Syrian regime.
Good old fashioned sleuth-work by Electronic Intifada and the Washington Post have found:
The information presented below connects the “Amina” blogger to two people in real life: Thomas (Tom) J MacMaster and Britta Froelicher who are married to each other.
The Electronic Intifada wrote to MacMaster requesting to speak to him about “Amina,” to which he responded, “Thanks, but as I have stated before, it is neither my wife nor me.”
A follow up email from The Electronic Intifada to MacMaster asking to speak to him so that we could present the information we have met with the following response:
Unfortunately, we’re on vacation so I wouldn’t be able to do so. We have already been ‘confronted’ by the Washington post with these and have denied them and will continue to do so.”
We do not know what information The Washington Post may have confronted MacMaster with and whether it is the same information presented here. In a final response to The Electronic Intifada, MacMaster wrote:
I am not the blogger in question. Whomever that person ‘really’ is, I have doubtless interacted with her at some point. I do not know further than that about her. When I first read the news story, I momentarily thought I had an idea who she was. As time has progressed that seems much less likely. I understand there are a number of unusual coincidences regarding the blogger and either me or my wife. Those are, as far as I am aware, simply unusual. I am not going to make more of that.
MacMaster has acknowledged certain “coincidences” but as mentioned refused to grant us an opportunity to go through them in detail in an attempt to explain or debunk them. We present below the information we wanted to discuss with MacMaster.
“Amina’s” home address is the same as MacMaster’s address
On a private Yahoo discussion group named “thecrescentland” that was run and operated by “Amina” and has since been closed down, the following name and physical address information was displayed, according to a person who was a member of that group:
Amina Arraf & Ian Lazarus
c/o Mr & Mrs Abdallah Arraf-Omari
5646 Crestwood Dr, SW
Stone Mountain, GA 30087
There is, however, no evidence of an Amina Arraf, Ian Lazarus or Mr & Mrs Abdallah Arraf-Omari ever owning or occupying this address.
According to State of Georgia property records, the house at that address has been owned by Thomas MacMaster for many years. On 29 November 2007, MacMaster quit-claimed a share of ownership in the property to Britta Froelicher. MacMaster and Froelicher are the current owners of the property according to State property records.
The Gay Girl in Damascus website now has an apology up admitting that the site and the person called Amina is a hoax: