Her name is Rehana. She is not just a girl, but she’s a brave warrior. She fights alongside the Kurds and protects her people from ISIS, killing over 100 IS terrorists in Northern Syria. In her famous picture she wears a smile, a peace sign, and a military uniform. Rehana’s image has exploded across social media including followers from all over the world who know her as Angel of Kobane. But is this famous news story of a female hero real or is Rehana just a myth?
The truth is…it’s still unclear. What we do know is that the smiling woman in the picture features a real girl from Kobane, but the reality of her story is far from what it’s portrayed to be.
Her real name is still unknown, but a Swedish journalist Carl Drott, had met the young women, while in Kobane, moments before the photo was taken. In a recent BBC article, Drott explains that she is not a front line fighter in the Kurdish army at all. The woman known as Rehana was actually a member of the Kurdish police force, and the photo was taken at a ceremony for volunteers. Drott said “She came up to me and said she used to study law in Aleppo but that Islamic State had killed her father so she had decided to join these forces herself”. Drott later states he was unable to catch her name or speak to her further after the ceremony had ended and the photograph was taken.
The possibility of the Angel of Kobani killing 100 ISIS terrorists is quite unlikely, but the image represents much more. It symbolizes what the fearful people want to believe. The Kurds pose a strong threat to ISIS, and their military is currently fighting off the advancements of the terrorist group into Turkey through the city of Kobane, Syria. This photo and others like it give the people hope and stories to tell, when there is so little information and truth available to them.
In recent news, ISIS posted a picture to their twitter of a rebel holding the head of a young woman and claimed to have beheaded Rehana. Social media quickly reacted and rumors rapidly spread. Friends of the photographed woman have come forth to the media announcing that “Rehana” is alive and well in Turkey. They have told the media that her name is not Rehana and the picture posted by ISIS was of a different woman.
The “Rehana” photo shows the power of social media and propaganda in our technological age. Mythical war heroes and propaganda have existed for hundreds of years, but the Internet and social media have given it a new platform, extending the impact of propaganda far beyond a local audience. The amount of journalists in Kobane is limited, making true accounts of the war hard to come by, so the question still lingers, is there a Rehana out there? IS she alive? If so, is she the courageous heroine her followers speak of?