The claim about the “fatwa” was made on Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed channel
(New TV) at least as early as December 29. Al-Jadeed does not provide
any evidence of the “fatwa” or say when, where or by what means it was
supposedly issued. As of now, no one has produced any evidence that
the “fatwa” exists, which means that no responsible news organization
should behave as if it does.
News of the “fatwa” was then disseminated widely on social media in
Arabic, particularly by personas eager to discredit opponents of the
After that, Iran's English-language based Press TV published a report citing Al-Jadeed channel:
Iran’s English-language Press TV carried a report on the alleged fatwa
on its website. However it is not the Iranian report that appears to
have been the most influential.
The original video of Al Jadeed channel was edited and posted on youtube (link) by a Syrian pro goverment twitter user:
Effort to discredit Syrian opposition
On 29 December a Twitter user
called @Eretz_Zen tweeted the New TV video except now with English
subtitles and a logo with the words “Eretz Zen” obscuring the New TV
Twitter user @Eretz_Zen’s bio claims to be “A secular Syrian opposed
to having my country turned into a Taliban-like state.” This is of
course completely unverifiable
On 1 January, RadicalIslam.org (a website run by clarion project) forwarded the report (Link):
Zionist and Islamophobic connections
On 1 January the English-subtitled “Eretz Zen” video was embedded in a
report on the website RadicalIslam.org with the headline “Cleric
Issues Fatwa Allowing Gang Rape of Syrian Women.”
RadicalIslam.org states that it is supported by the Clarion Fund,
which several years ago distributed tens of millions of copies of a
virulently anti-Muslim film titled Obsession: Radical Islam’s War
Against the West.
As Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton reported, Clarion Fund is closely tied
to the Israeli organization Aish HaTorah, and the group is at the
center of a web of ultra far-right Islamophobic, Zionist and
anti-Palestinian organizations. One of its “advisors” has been
notorious anti-Islamic and anti-Palestinian agitator Daniel Pipes.
Another key figure in this anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic network
is Frank Gaffney, another Clarion Fund advisor. Gaffney’s Center for
Security Policy sponsors Latma TV, an Israeli “satirical” show
responsible for producing virulently anti-African propaganda and
disseminating the Norway “rape epidemic” hoax.
The report then appeared in Alternet.org and Salon.com. On January 2, Alternet admitted it's false and posted an apology:
AlterNet has posted an apology and analysis of the story’s origins.
On January 2, AlterNet was one of several outlets that published what
turned out to be an article based on a false report. We would like to
apologize to our readers for the error.
Salon also deleted the article:
At approximately 15:30 UTC on 3 January 2013, Salon deleted their
story which was sourced from AlterNet.
Primary Source, Electronicintifada.net
... the fatwa was fabricated and widely disseminated by the Syrian regime
and its allies, namely Hezbollah and Iran, to send a twofold message.
The first one is directed to the Syrian conservative community with
the aim of tarnishing and stigmatizing the jihadist rebels, who
allegedly authorized prostitution in the garb of temporary marriages.
The second message is to the international community to lose faith in
the FSA, which mainly comes from Syria’s Sunni majority, and to
question its ability to build a free democratic Syria.