Iraq’s human rights minister issued a statement Tuesday saying that the bodies of 150 women had been found in two mass graves in Fallujah. He said they belonged to women who were executed by the Islamic State group for refusing to have sex with jihadists. Several Arabic language media outlets quickly relayed his statement, but there was a problem: they used a fake photo to illustrate it.
The photo that illustrates the articles – the first of which appeared on Al Arabiya’s website – shows what look like corpses draped in black plastic tarp. It could have been taken anywhere. However, it certainly wasn’t taken in the past few days: a quick Google reverse image search shows that it was first published online back in 2013 in an article by Islam Today. The article explains that a mass grave had been found in Tawergha, Libya. The photo was then reused by several other media outlets earlier this year to accompany articles about bodies found near Baghdad.
After Twitter users exposed this problem, Al-Arabiya took the article with the offending photo off its website. However, it still remains up on several other Arabic-language news sites.
As for the alleged massacre denounced by Iraq’s human rights minister, no images have surfaced, and no one has been able to independently verify it as of yet.