A very strange video has gone viral on social media in Afghanistan. It purports to show a clip from a Pakistani television station, which itself features an amateur-looking video of what we are told is a gravesite. Ghoulish sounds are heard. The text on screen claims that the sounds are coming from the tomb of Maualan Sami ul-Haq, a Pakistani cleric, the “Father of the Taliban”, who was killed on November 1.
Sami ul-Haq, a former senator, was a prominent cleric who taught some of Taliban’s leaders. He was stabbed to death by attackers at his home in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
The text in the video says that the footage shows Sami ul-Haq’s “punishment of the grave”. This is an Islamic concept whereby souls of sinners are punished as soon as they enter their graves.
The most popular upload of this video has been viewed more than one million times on Facebook.
Video predates cleric’s death
There is a simple reason that this video cannot possibly show Sami ul-Haq’s grave: it was posted online multiple times in October, before his death in November. For example: here, on October 15.
The unidentified author of this video went to great lengths to try to convince people that it showed the “punishment of the grave”. He dressed up the footage in graphics proclaiming “breaking news” and bearing the logo of the Pakistani TV channel ARY News.
This is what ARY's beraking news graphis actually look like.
Moreover, the author used a Persian term for the word “latest” – and while Persian and Urdu are very similar, this particular word is not commonly used in Urdu.
Next step: listen carefully. Those creepy, ghoulish sounds you hear? They have been added to the video. How do we know this? Because the sound at the very start of the video – something akin to rattling chains, following by ghoulish cries – repeats again after 59 seconds. It’s the exact same soundtrack, on a loop.
Same video, different hoaxes
Reverse search tools did not turn up the original video, so we don’t know what the original soundtrack contained (But if you find it, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org !).
We did, however, find many other occurrences of the manipulated video, which were used to spread a variety of hoaxes.
Here, on a Kuwaiti man’s Twitter account, we are told that miners heard strange sounds when they were working at a gold mine.
And here, on an Afghan Facebook page, we are told that strange noises were heard in an unnamed person’s grave.