FACT CHECK: Image Claims To Show The Taliban Hanging A Man From A Helicopter

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook over 300 times allegedly shows the Taliban hanging a man from a helicopter.

Verdict: False

Footage of the incident appears to show the man alive and dangling from the helicopter via a harness. The man was reportedly attempting to attach a Taliban flag to a flag pole from the air.

Fact Check:

Amid the collapse of the Afghan government, the Taliban has taken control of military equipment such as night vision goggles, rifles, Humvees and helicopters originally supplied by the U.S. to Afghan security forces, Reuters reported.

Multiple Facebook users have since been claiming an image of a man dangling from a helicopter by a rope shows an instance of the Taliban using such an aircraft to execute someone. One such Facebook post reads in part, “The Taliban is openly flying our Blackhawk helicopters around with people hanging by their necks from them!” The image seems to be a screen grab of low-quality video footage.

A clearer video of what appears to be the same incident tweeted by AltNews co-founder Mohammed Zubair instead shows the man seeming to be dangling from the helicopter using a harness. In Zubair’s video, the harness looks like it wraps underneath his arms, and the person appears to wave his hand, indicating he was not dead at the time.

“Here’s one more close-up video,” Zubair tweeted. “The person can be seen waving his hand.” (RELATED: No, This Video Does Not Show The People Of Kabul Welcoming The Taliban Into The City)

BBC News reported, citing Afghanistan experts with Taliban sources, that the man was attempting to fix a flag in Kandahar. The outlet also said American-trained winch operators often wear harnesses in a way that the loop is at their backs, which, according to BBC News, could “easily be mistaken for a noose in poor quality video footage.”

Bilal Sarwary, an independent Afghan journalist, tweeted that the man dangling from the helicopter was attempting to “install [a] Taliban flag from the air.” Sarwary cited an Afghan pilot whom he said confirmed to have been flying the helicopter.

“Afghan pilot flying this is someone I have known over the years. He was trained in the US and UAE, he confirmed to me that he flew the Blackhawk helicopter,” Sarwary tweeted. “Taliban fighter seen here was trying to install Taliban flag from air but it didn’t work in the end.”

Talib Times, a now-suspended Twitter account that described itself as the “English language official account of Islamic Emirate Afghanistan,” posted footage of the helicopter dangling the man on Aug. 30. In that tweet, Talib Times made no mention of a hanging or execution via helicopter.

The helicopter in the image shared on Facebook appears to sport an Afghan military marking on its side. The insignia of a triangle within a circle can be seen on the sides of Afghan Air Force helicopters in photos available on Getty Images.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is “not going to comment on a social media video without context, background, a time frame for when the video was shot, or even a clear visual of what is occurring,” DoD spokesperson Eric Pahon told Check Your Fact via email.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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