Taliban fake news making the rounds on WhatsApp

Again and again, chain letters are circulating on WhatsApp. Sometimes the senders want to grab data, sometimes they just want to stir things up. As in the current case, in which the current situation in Afghanistan is being exploited.

The WhatsApp chain letter that is currently reaching many users is a classic example of fake news. It dices together various events from previous years against the backdrop of current events in Afghanistan. What could be the intention behind such a chain letter is analyzed by atechbook.

What does the latest WhatsApp chain letter say?

It is a message purportedly from a missionary named Judith Carmona from Chihuahua, Mexico, who is currently in Africa. She reports that 229 Christian missionaries have been sentenced to death by Afghan Islamists. The executions have either already taken place “this morning” or are scheduled to take place “tomorrow afternoon,” depending on the version of the WhatsApp chain letter. It calls for the message to be forwarded to as many users as possible so that people can pray together and remember the victims.

Urgent prayer request
Today, unfortunately, just confirmed this terrible news.
How sad !!! Please pray for the 229th Christian missionaries sentenced to death by Afghan Islamists and scheduled to be executed tomorrow afternoon.

Please share this message as soon as possible so that many people can pray.
This message was sent by JUDITH CARMONA, the missionary from Chihuahua who is in Africa.
The whole planet unites in prayer for the brothers and sisters in greatest need. ? ?
If you can pass it on, please join us in urgent prayer, also because the radical Islamic group has just captured Quaragosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq, where hundreds of Christian men, women and children are being beheaded. ? ? ?
JESUS be with them and give them all strength ❗ A prayer blanket is requested. Please take a few minutes and pray for them.
Quaragosh has been taken several times before. They have asked us for prayer, please pass it on to others ? ✝
~ Annette A Jo Communications Geelong SDA Church

WhatsApp chain letter fact check

However, a closer look at the information in the WhatsApp chain letter shows that this is an absolute hoax. For one thing, there is no coverage of such an event or similar occurrences in the current news. On the other hand, a few details are mentioned that absolutely do not fit together in this context.

“The radical Islamic group has just captured Quaragosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq,” the message reads. The town mentioned, properly called Qaraqosh, is actually in Iraq, so it has nothing to do with Afghan forces. It was also once taken in the course of Islamist insurgency – but back in 2014 and then also by ISIS troops, not the Taliban. Two years later, it was recaptured.

Writers apparently want to stir up public opinion

So, it can be seen that the author or authors of the message have thrown together various events, spreading false facts. We can only speculate about the reasons. The only fact is that fake news of this kind is not without danger, since there are always some people who believe the reports and allow themselves to be manipulated by them. The report in the WhatsApp chain letter has nothing to do with the current events in Afghanistan. For this reason, we strongly warn against forwarding it.

By the way, the news is not new either. The content of the WhatsApp chain letter has been circulating online since 2017. The earlier version also allegedly comes from a Judith Carmona, who reported the sentencing of 229 missionaries. If we look even further back, we can even find a report from 2009, but at that time it was still circulated via email and SMS. Here the execution of 22 missionaries by Islamists in Afghanistan is mentioned.

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Detect and delete WhatsApp chain letters

WhatsApp is aware of the problem with chain letters. For this reason, the messenger has now limited the forwarding function of messages to five recipients. Forwarded messages can be recognized by an arrow; a double arrow indicates that a message has even been forwarded particularly often. The double arrow is therefore a good feature for recognizing a WhatsApp chain letter. If you have received one, you should not forward it under any circumstances, but rather delete it.

Sources:

  • Mimikama
  • Snopes