Resident of Okinawa from Afghanistan falsely rumored as planning act of terrorism

Resident of Okinawa from Afghanistan falsely rumored as planning act of terrorism

On December 24, in Okinawa City Ahmad Milad says, “I do not want to be judged only on being from Afghanistan.”

December 25, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the evening of December 23, false rumors that a male proponent of the extremist organization Islamic State (IS) from Afghanistan would incite terrorism in Mihama, Chatan Town were flying around on social networking sites (SNS) such as Twitter. The post spread had an attached photograph of 30-year-old Ahmad Milad with the words “IS proponent.”

In an interview with Ryukyu Shimpo, Milad said: “I have never planned to engage in terrorism and I have no connection at all to IS. I am shocked and I do not know why [this rumor] was spread.” He mentioned his intent to lodge criminal defamation charges at the beginning of the next week.

Okinawa prefectural police announced that they had found the post itself, but not the origin. Between now and the end of the year prefectural police are strengthening their efforts and closely monitoring common channels. An expert pointed out that this not only involves the person who sent out the false rumor, but those who have allowed it to spread are complicit.

Milad came to Japan seven years ago, and has been living in Okinawa for two years as a used car salesman.

The post in question was made after 7:00 p.m. on December 23, then reproduced and spread in English messages on Twitter to employees of shops run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Even in Japanese messages containing writing such as, “An Islamic State proponent is hinting at an act of terrorism near American Village, targeting officials of the U.S. Armed Forces.” Milad’s profile picture from Facebook was used without his permission and attached to these messages. There were several posts on Twitter, which were retweeted over 800 times.

A friend of Milad’s who attends the same boxing gym, 24-year-old Noriyuki Taira of Okinawa City, accompanied Milad to a consultation of damages with the police concerning defamation charges. Taira said that it is mortifying that his colleague who he practices with has been made out to be a dangerous person. Twenty-year-old Mufasa Hassan of Uruma City, who immigrated with Milad, also attended the consultation. Hassan made the point that, “There is prejudice against Islam and Afghanistan.”

Managing Director Satoru Okuhara of Okuhara Shoji Company, which manages American Village, showed concern over the matter. He said that it is still unknown what the effects of the rumors will be, but that they are worrisome.

Board chairman Masashi Yasukawa of a website that provides informed details on internet troubles said, “Even if they thought it was true, those who spread the rumor [are guilty of] complicity.” He went on to advise that, “It is essential to consider why the [post’s] originator is in possession of the information and the image.” In addition, he insisted that the originator’s credibility must be ascertained.

(English translation by T&CT and Erin Jones)

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