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Fact-checking more viral footage as evacuations continue from Afghanistan

The VERIFY team is still monitoring viral videos or images coming out of Afghanistan. Here is the latest.
Credit: Screenshot/Various

Editor's Note: This story was updated to reflect Camp Atterbury's approval to provide temporary housing for Afghan evacuees on Aug. 31.

At an Aug. 25 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said approximately 88,000 people had been relocated from Afghanistan on U.S. military and coalition flights. The Taliban on Aug. 15 captured Kabul. The collapse occurred as the United States was attempting to complete a full withdrawal of American troops -- nearly 20 years after the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan

Psaki said in a 24-hour period, there was one flight every 39 minutes out of Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban takeover, VERIFY has researched several images and videos claiming to be from Afghanistan. This is Part 3 of a fact-check of viral images and videos. For Part 1, click here, for Part 2 click here.

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic descriptions and images.


Is this photo of a man handing a baby to a military official real?



Credit: Screenshot/Twitter

Yes, the image is real. The moment was captured by Omar Haidari, a photographer with Reuters.


Omar Haidari, with Reuters, captured the moment on Aug. 19 and posted a video of the baby being handed over a wall at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.

At an Aug. 20 press briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby told reporters: “The parents asked the Marines to look after the baby because the baby was ill. And so the Marine you see, reaching it over the wall, took it to a Norwegian hospital that's at the airport. They treated the child and returned the child to the child's father.”

Reuters Pictures posted a photo of the handover on their Twitter account the same day. Using reverse image search, VERIFY confirmed Haidari as the source, and his photo via Reuters was the earliest instance this specific photo was posted online.

More from VERIFY: No, al-Qaida is not gone from Afghanistan


A VERIFY viewer asked if the facts in this copypasta meme about Afghan refugees at Indiana’s Camp Atterbury true? Copypasta is internet slang for a block of text that gets copied and pasted repeatedly.

Some claims outlined in the meme include:

  • There are more than 1,100 refugees that will arrive “by the end of the week”, with the “intent of approximately 10-12k within the next few weeks.”
  • The “vetting process is porous to put it mildly.”
  • “Security for them will be lax at best.”



Credit: Screenshot/Facebook

As of Aug. 26, the Secretary of Defense has “authorized Fort Lee, Virginia; Fort McCoy, Wisconsin; Fort Bliss, Texas; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey to provide temporary housing and support for up to 50,000 at risk Afghans,” the Indiana National Guard said in a statement. 

On Aug. 31, Camp Atterbury was approved to provide temporary housing for Afghan evacuees. 


On Aug. 26, Jeff Lowry, Master Sgt., Media Relations with the Indiana National Guard Public Affairs Office, told VERIFY Camp Atterbury in Indiana had not been approved at all to support the Afghan evacuee mission. On Aug. 31, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced via livestream that Camp Atterbury would be a temporary home for Afghan evacuees. 

“The Defense Department, through U.S. Northern Command, has agreed to provide to the Department of State transportation and temporary housing, sustainment, and support inside the United States for Afghan special immigrant visa applicants, their families, and other at risk individuals at suitable facilities, in permanent or temporary structures, as quickly as possible,” Lowry said. 

According to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) posted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, screening for refugees includes both “biometric and biographic checks, which occur at multiple stages throughout the process.” A biometric search includes running a FBI fingerprint check, and officials are looking for biographical data, including names, dates of birth and affiliations. 

During an Aug. 24 background press call by administration officials on the Afghan arrival processing, an administrative official confirmed: ‘That process involves biometric and biographic security screenings conducted by our intelligence, law enforcement, and counterterrorism professionals who are working quite literally around the clock to vet all of these Afghans before they’re allowed into the United States.”

At an Aug. 24 press briefing, President Joe Biden said of the Afghanistan evacuations: “We’re conducting thorough security screening in the intermediate stops they’re making for anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States.”

More from VERIFY: Yes, former President Trump made a deal with the Taliban to pull US troops out of Afghanistan by May 2021


VERIFY viewer Tammy asked if this photo showing members of the Taliban posing like the American soldiers on Iwo Jima is real?

The tweet from conservative commentator John Cardillo was viewed thousands of times (an archive can be found here).



Credit: Screenshot/Twitter

Yes, the photo is real. It’s from the Taliban’s Badri 313 Battalion. 


The photo was posted on July 27 by Hemat Mohammad (archived here and here), whose Twitter biography says he is a “Journalist Director & Editor” with the Taliban.

According to Samaa TV, a channel out of Pakistan, the group released propaganda clips showing the new brigade graduating “clad in modern helmets, sunglasses and body armor.” The brigade will be responsible for providing security across Kabul.

Additional photos were posted by @Zabehulah_M33, an account linked to Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid (archived here).

So, the photo is real but VERIFY could not confirm the intent of the image.

More from VERIFY: Yes, fighting terrorism was the original US mission in Afghanistan, but nation-building also became a goal

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