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Amateur pictures... Debunked! Ten images that turned out to be fake

They all sounded convincing at the time: like the picture claiming that the leader of Islamic State group had been killed, or that a Saudi women had gone to Syria in the name of a "sex jihad". But they all turned out to be fake. With the help of our Observers on the ground, throughout 2014 our team got to work debunking dozens of images. Here's a look back at our top ten.

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They all sounded convincing at the time: like the picture claiming that the leader of Islamic State group had been killed, or that a Saudi women had gone to Syria in the name of a "sex jihad". But they all turned out to be fake. With the help of our Observers on the ground, throughout 2014 our team got to work debunking dozens of images. Here's a look back at our top ten.

The terrorist training camp that was nothing more than a Scout camp in Tunisia

Having led an anti-terrorist operation in Monastir in March 2014, Tunisia's interior minister gave a press conference to justify the raid against the backdrop of fierce local opposition. But among the images that were supposed to prove the existence of a terrorist training camp in the region, internet users pointed out that the pictures were in fact those of a Scout camp dating from 2010.

The "Sex jihadist" who was actually a porn actress

in April 2014, conservative Iranian media outlets claimed that this young woman had left Saudi Arabia to carry out a "sex jihad" in Syria. It was claimed that she sought sex with a jihadist fighter in order to fall pregnant. But Iranian internet users didn't fall for it: the photo was actually a clip taken from a pornographic movie, taken entirely out of context. Iran officially supports the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad. It was hoped that this fake story would go some way to discrediting the Syrian opposition.

Photos used to illustrate the fate of children caught up in the Ukrainian conflict

A little girl lost in the war ravaging eastern Ukraine? Not quite. The photo actually dates from 2010, and shows a young girl who had crawled in mud with her dog in Australia. In July, our team revealed several attempts at image manipulation carried out by partisans in the ongoing conflict raging throughout parts of the country. Children are frequently used as propaganda by both sides in a war that pits Ukraine's army against pro-Russian separatists.

No, the Islamic State group has not started producing its own passports

In July, a photo began circulating on social media that claimed to be one of the first passports handed out by the Islamic State organisation. The passport was reportedly among a batch of 11,000 that the group - having rampaged through Syria and Iraq - was preparing to deliver. Yet it all turned out to be fake. This photograph had already been circulating a year earlier. What's more, Islamic State jihadists are hostile to the very idea of fixed borders and hope to build a so-called "caliphate" on the territory of seven countries spread around the region.

The truth about the Israeli army's "fake injuries"

This photo is just one of many that made the rounds on social media sites in July 2014, while Israel carried out its "Operation Protective Edge" in the Gaza Strip. The message was clear: Israel is fooling the world into thinking its soldiers have been injured by coming up with "fake injuries". Yet this image was in fact taken during a security training course several years before this year's particular military operation even started.

A photograph of Baghdadi's dead body circulates on the web

The death of the head of Islamic State group was announced several times on social media networks. In September 2014, the photo on the right-hand side was used as evidence that Abou Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed. But once again, the photo and accompanying information turned out to be fake. The body shown belongs to an Albanian fighter who died in Syria in August 2013. Internet users had simply pasted Baghdadi's face onto the Albanian's body.

An American soldier in the ranks of Islamic State? Nope: just another fake image

In this poor quality photo, an Islamic State fighter appears with a "United States Army" tattoo. This snapshot kicked up a huge fuss when it began circulating online. Yet it's just another example of image manipulation. On the original photo published by Reuters and found by our team, no trace of the tattoo can be found. This fake image sought to back up a conspiracy suggesting that the Islamic State had been created by the United States.

The "composite drawing" of the Iranian acid attacker

 

A few days after several people in the town of Isfahan in Iran were attacked with acid, the image of this man was relayed around Iranian websites. it was claimed that the photo showed the identity of the culprit behind the attacks. It was little more than the photo of a man found at random on the internet. He had nothing to do with the story.

The video of a Syrian child saving a little girl whilst under fire: more fiction than fact

A little boy runs to save a girl under a shower of billets in a city laid to waste by constant warfare. It sounds like something out of a movie... which is in fact what it is. This video, shared on YouTube, quickly became a viral hit. But it didn't happen in Syria: it's actually part of a short film put together in Malta. Rather than immediately shedding light on the true nature of the footage, the Norwegian filmaker behind the clip opted to keep quiet in order to supposedly provoke a debate on the place of children in conflict.

The Ukrainian "kamikaze" girl who never was

The story goes that this young girl threw herself onto a Ukrainian tank with a belt packed with explosives in order to protest Kiev's role in the ongoing conflict. Pro-Russian social media networks were quick to spread the news, using the photo above to illustrate the story that she had bravely blown herself up. The reality is that the photo shows a 19 year-old Russian girl called Polina. She's alive and well, and disgusted by the use of her image.