NewsMobile Decodes: Fake News That Went Viral After Taliban Captured Afghanistan

Taliban, a group of Afghanistan insurgents prominent for their far-right religious ideology made rapid advances across the nation after 20 years of being out of power. They captured major cities like Lashkar Gah, Kandahar, Herat, and on August 15, 2021, they captured Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

Many people including the President of Afghanistan either fled away. This resulted in massive chaos at the Kabul airport which also led to the death of over 5 people. Many people were scared of the bleak future of Afghanistan as the Kabul Presidential palace was captured by the Taliban. Also, on August 26, 2021, twin bomb blasts happened outside Kabul airport which killed at least 60 Afghans and 13 US troops. Despite many promises of by the Taliban chief about forming a moderate government the big question still exists, “What lies ahead for Afghanistan.”

Amid the chaos in Afghanistan, social media is also brimming with several fake news, some of which have been debunked below by NewsMobile:

Fact Check 1

An image showing a woman with a battered face went viral on social media claiming that she is Captain Safiya Ferozi, the second female pilot in Afghanistan’s Air Force.

On doing a fact-check we found the claim to be false. A video news published by The New York Times on December 26, 2015, reported the killing of Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old Muslim woman falsely accused of burning a Quran. She was killed by a mob in central Kabul as hundreds watched and filmed the horrendous event. The video had a glimpse of the photo, which was shared with a false narrative in the present context.

Hence, the woman in the viral image is not Safia Ferozi, but Farkhunda Malikzada who was was killed by a mob in central Kabul in 2015. The details of the fact check can be read here.

Fact Check 2

An image showing a flight with all male passengers went viral claiming that only men were being airlifted from Kabul post the takeover by Taliban.

On doing a Reverse Image Search, we found a report on the website Anadolu Agency, published on April 18, 2018, carrying the same image. The headline of the report read, ‘Turkey deports 778 Afghan refugees’. The caption associated with the image read, “Some 324 Afghan refugees, who had entered Turkish territory illegally, were turned over to the Provincial Directorate of Immigration in Erzurum. (Anadolu Agency).”

Hence, the viral image is old and shows refugees of Afghan origin being deported to Kabul via chartered flights after completing the relevant procedures in the Turkish province of Erzurum and not of males airlifted from Kabul after Taliban takeover. The details of the fact check can be read here.

Fact check 3

A screenshot of a tweet purportedly done by news organisation ‘Al Jazeera’ went viral on social media. The alleged tweet was shared with a disturbing picture of a bleeding woman along with a tweet text that read, “Taliban started abducting minor girls from their home. The parents who are refusing to give their daughters to the Taliban are being killed by Taliban Fighters.”

We observed that the Twitter handle of Al Jazeera had been mis-spelt. The authentic name is “Al Jazeera” whereas the Twitter handle of the viral screenshot read “Al Jajeera”. Also the Twitter handle of Al Jazeera is “@AJENews” but the screenshot shows it as “@AJEnglish”.

we also found that the image associated with the Tweet was old. It was published by AP on March 17, 2016 and the caption read, “Afghan artists reenact the mob killing of Farkhunda Malikzada, 27, an Afghan woman who was beaten to death on March 19, 2015, after being falsely accused of burning a copy of the Koran in Kabul.”

Thus the viral post linked to Al Jazeera tweet on abduction of minor girls is fake. The details of the fact-check can be read here.

Fact check 4

A video showing a man clinging on to the wing of an aircraft went viral on social media with a claim that it shows an Afghan man trying to escape the country after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.

We did a fact-check and found the claim to be fake.

The viral video was uploaded on December 17, 2020, on a YouTube channel,Quần Hoa TV, along with other similarly edited videos.

A  Vietnam news articles defined Mai as the “God of Photoshop.” The article, published in December 2020, also talks about Mai’s aeroplane videos and how they had gone viral on social media.

Hence, a digitally altered video is being shared as an Afghan man trying to escape the country by clinging on to an aeroplane. The details of the fact-check can be read here.

Fact check 5

A video showing a group of men challenging India went viral with a claim that the Taliban has warned India after taking control of Afghanistan.

We found that the video was uploaded on other Facebook pages and YouTube in February 2019 as well. Since, Taliban captured Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, thus the viral video is old and not associated with Taliban capturing Afghanistan.

Also, we found no statements where Taliban has threatened India on Kashmir. We also found a press conference in which the Taliban spokesperson said no threat will be posed to any country from Afghanistan. A detail of the fact-check can be seen here.

Hence, we can conclude that there are many fake images and videos going viral on social media claiming it to be of Afghanistan. Hence, people must cautiously share information only after thoroughly checking the authenticity.

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