Be careful with these images taken out of context

Since the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan after taking the capital of Kabul on August 15, 2021, the team of Observers from FRANCE has been following the event through images posted on social media. As with any big news story, multiple photos and videos have been posted despite being fake, old, or taken out of context. On our Twitter page, @ InfoIntoxF24, we have kept up with misinformation and posted live verifications.

These are some of those images that have been shared with false or misleading information online in recent weeks.

Is this a video of former President Ashraf Ghani fleeing the country?

Former President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan after the Taliban surrounded Kabul on August 15, explaining in a post on his Facebook page that he wanted to avoid a “bloodbath.”

Around the same time, a video of Ashraf Ghani getting on a plane was widely shared on Twitter, with many saying it showed the former president’s last moments before leaving Afghanistan.

A Twitter post on August 16 shows a video of Ashraf Ghani getting on a plane, with the caption: “The escape of a president: Ashraf Ghani’s last seconds on Afghan soil before boarding a commercial flight from Kamair, filmed by a local agency “. The actual video dates from July 15 and shows Ghani leaving for a conference in Uzbekistan. © Twitter

But in reality, Ashraf Ghani’s departure was not filmed. This video comes from July 15, 2021, when the former president was leaving for a conference on South and Central Asian relations. The conference would take place the following day in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani with Heads of High-Level Government Delegations to Attend the South and Central Asia Conference: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities During a two-day visit to the Republic of Uzbekistan 🇺🇿 During the visit, attendance and expenses in 1/2

– Mohammad Amiri (@AmirKalantarM) July 15, 2021 A video posted to Twitter on July 15, 2021 shows Ashraf Ghani leaving for a conference in Uzbekistan. Did the Taliban really raise their flag over the presidential palace?

Another image was widely shared on Twitter during the siege of Kabul by the Taliban on August 15. It shows the Taliban flag (white with the Islamic profession of faith, or shahada, written in black Arabic calligraphy) flying over the presidential palace.

Left: Screenshot of a Twitter post from August 16, 2021 with the caption “(Terrible) photo of the night” over a Photoshopped image of the Taliban flag. Right: A Twitter post from March 8, 2020 with the original video, showing the Afghan flag over the presidential palace. © Observers / Twitter

Although the Taliban had seized the presidential palace in Kabul on August 15, this image is false. It’s a Photoshopped screenshot of a video where the Afghan tricolor flies over the palace. The original video was posted in March 2020 on Twitter.

This does not mean that the Taliban did not remove the Afghan flags across the country and replace them with their own. People took to the streets to reinstall the Afghan national flag in various cities in eastern Afghanistan on August 18, in protests that were harshly repressed by the Taliban.

Do these photos show Afghan women in chains by the Taliban?

Several photos have been posted on social media to illustrate the Taliban’s treatment of women after recapturing Afghanistan. The situation of women in Afghanistan is currently extremely worrying, however many of these photos and videos were edited or taken out of context.

In this first image, widely shared in English, a woman stands with her wrists tied with a chain held by a man.

A photo posted to Twitter on August 19, 2021 shows a woman chained by a man. However, this image actually shows a theatrical performance during a protest by Kurdish activists in London on October 17, 2014. © Twitter

You can find the actual context of this photo with a quick reverse image search. On October 17, 2014, Kurdish activists in London staged a protest with a “mock Islamic State sex slave market,” according to a BBC article written about the event.

One of the activists, Ari Murad, explained on Twitter that he took this photo in 2014. He also filmed the performance and posted it on his Facebook page.

In another image, three women are seen walking away from the camera with chains around their ankles, held by a man walking in front of them. The photo was shared on Twitter in the days after the Taliban siege of Kabul.

Left: Screenshot of a Twitter post from August 17, 2021, showing three women chained up with the caption “The future of women in Afghanistan.” Right: The original image, seen here, published by the Associated Press, taken by photographer Murat Duzyol in February 2003 in Erbil, Iraq. © Observers / Twitter / Associated Press

But in fact, the chains on the women’s ankles were edited in the photo. A quick search of the reverse image shows that the original photo, without the chains, was taken in February 2003 in Erbil, Iraq by photographer Murat Duzyol. It was posted on the Trek Earth photography website.

Both India Today and AP verified this image. The photographer explained to India Today:

The man was part of a meeting of condolences for the killed Iraqi civilians after a Friday prayer in Erbil. When people returned to their homes, such a composition appeared randomly on the street. It was an instant and completely natural snapshot. The women obviously knew each other, but I’m not sure they knew the man.

Does this video show women protesting en masse in Afghanistan?

A video shared on Twitter purports to show a group of “brave Afghan women” protesting the Taliban in the streets of Kabul.

A video posted on Twitter on August 18, 2021 is titled: “Brave Afghan Women Protest #Taliban in #Kabul # Afghanistan.” The video shows Afghan women protesting against the Taliban, but they were actually in Iran. © Observers / Twitter

This video was not filmed in Afghanistan, but in Iran in the city of Qom on August 16, 2021. Women from the Afghan diaspora organized demonstrations against the Taliban in various Iranian cities (Tehran, Isfahan and Qom), according to Iran International.

We can see other photos and videos of these protests on Twitter. India Today wrote an article about the fake video and geolocated it in collaboration with local journalists from Qom News.

In fact, some Afghan women have come out to protest in small numbers in Kabul, yet others report that they are too scared to even leave home.

Did a CNN journalist radically change her outfit within 24 hours after the Taliban arrived in Kabul?

A viral photo shared on Twitter appears to show two images of journalist Clarissa Ward reporting for CNN from Kabul, before and after the Taliban captured the capital. In the first image, she has bare hair, while in the second, she wears a black scarf on her head, tight around her face.

“Within 24 hours, CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward had to cover herself to get her work done on the streets of Kabul,” French politician Eric Ciotti said on Twitter.

A Twitter post posted by French politician Eric Ciotti on August 16, 2021, showing two screenshots of CNN journalist Clarissa Ward reporting from Afghanistan. © Observers / Twitter

Ward, who is CNN’s chief international correspondent, explained on Twitter that the comparison is inaccurate: The top photo was taken in a private location where she was not asked to cover her hair. The second photo was taken on the street. Ward said she always covered her hair when reporting from the streets of Kabul, although since the Taliban arrived, she has made some changes, such as covering her hair completely and wearing an abaya, a garment that covers the entire body.

This meme is inaccurate. The top photo is inside a private enclosure. The bottom is on the streets of the Taliban in Kabul. I always wore a headscarf on the street in Kabul before, although not with my hair completely covered and abbaya. So there is a difference, but not so marked.

– Clarissa Ward (@clarissaward) August 16, 2021 Be careful with old photos and videos, which sometimes look a lot like current ones

During the first military evacuations from Kabul, photos and videos of the chaos at the airport and crowded planes circulated widely on social media. But some of these images were actually old photos.

Screenshot of a Tweet posted on August 17, 2021 that reads: “Gender equality among #Afghans fleeing the # Taliban, not so much…”. The photo does not actually show evacuations from Kabul, but rather a repatriation flight of Afghan refugees expelled from Turkey in 2018. © Observers / Twitter

This photo of men on a plane was shared on Twitter, with users condemning the apparent lack of gender equality in the evacuation. However, it was not taken during the recent evacuations from Kabul. It dates back to 2018, as seen in this article by Anadolu Ajansi, a Turkish news agency, titled “6,846 illegal immigrants from Afghanistan returned to their country.”

Screenshot of a Tweet posted on August 15, 2021 with the caption “Evacuation of 800 people in a US Air Force plane tonight in Kabul”. Actually, this image was taken on November 17, 2013 in the Philippines during a typhoon evacuation. © Observers / Twitter

A photo of the interior of a US military cargo plane that evacuated 640 Afghans on August 15, 2021, has become a symbol of the frenzied first day of evacuations out of Kabul. But another very similar photo was shared, saying it was also taken in Kabul.

This second photo was actually taken on November 17, 2013, when US forces evacuated 670 people from the Philippines after Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Finally, some violent videos have resurfaced online, said to show the atrocities of the Taliban since they captured Kabul.

Warning: graphic images

This video of a Taliban court lynching a woman was released on August 10, during the Taliban’s swift campaign to take over the country. But the scene actually took place in late 2020 in an area under Taliban control near the western Afghanistan city of Herat. You can find our article on what happened here.

Another video shows a woman being publicly executed, and some online say it shows current events in Afghanistan. However, the video is actually from 2015 and was taken in Syria, when Al-Nusra, a Syrian group affiliated with al-Qaeda, executed a woman accused of adultery, as reported by The Independent and the Daily Mail, and verified by Reuters.

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