CLAIM: On January 5th, CDD received a set of 7 photos and one video on her WhatsApp platform. The seven photos show motorcycles being offloaded from an aircraft in an airport (location not stated) followed by pictures of bike riders in the desert. France24 had previously fact-checked an almost identical series of images, which however, had an audio accompanying the photographs, that claimed “the French army is complicit in acts of violence” perpetrated by the terrorists since it is the origin of the motorbikes and it is sent for the use of terrorist groups operating in West Africa.
Alongside the pictures we received, the included five minute and thirty-second video, showed a group of men interrogating a girl in the Hausa Language. The girl is accused of being involved in terrorism. In what looked like torture, the girl was dipped and pulled out of water. The questioning reveals that she is one out of two girls sent by one Adamu from Maiduguri to kill an unknown and unspecified number of persons.
FACT: Investigations by CDD fact-checkers revealed the origin of the video as unknown. Further analysis by our team shows no evidence of the video being posted online, which means that the dissemination of the footage remains limited to WhatsApp platforms or similar closed messaging apps.
Concerning the seven images, reverse image searches on multiple databases by Fact Checkers at the Centre shows the photos first went viral in Mali. A fact-check by France24 had earlier debunked the claims behind the images in December 2019. The fact check report (read it here) quoted the Malian Army confirming that it received 60 Motorbikes and other equipment from French Operation Barkhane ( Operation Barkhane is an ongoing anti-insurgent operation in Africa’s Sahel region, which commenced August 1st 2014. It consists of a 4,500-strong French force, stationed in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad. The French Military also confirmed her donation of the bikes in a Press Release on its official website on December 4th 2019. (read it here)
The images shared in Mali included an audio message claiming “the French army is complicit in acts of violence” perpetrated by the terrorists since it is the origin of the motorbikes. The Nigerian version of the message which is circulating mainly on WhatsApp instead contains a video which has been confirmed by our Fact-checkers to be unconnected with events in the pictures.
The circulation of these images through WhatsApp, suggesting France supplied motorcycles to terrorists in Nigeria is false as the pictures did not originate from Nigeria.
CDD advises members of the public to verify the information before sharing them. If you receive images or videos bearing stories that are likely to be untrue or fake news. You can check them using the following simple tools following these steps:
- Yandex, a reasonably powerful search engine
- Tin Eye, one of the oldest, and independent
- Baidu, the Chinese web image search engine
- Google Image Search, from google.
Let’s stop Fake News in 2020 as Fake News is a threat to peace and our democracy.