Several social media users have posted a video that shows armed men shooting at people on the streets and taking them hostage. The longer version ends with a person’s throat being allegedly slit. This video is widely shared on WhatsApp with the claim that it is from the streets of Afghanistan in the backdrop of the Taliban’s takeover.

Twitter user @UmaShankar2054 posted a two-minute version of the video and pointed out that this is “Sharia law”.

A longer version of the video is begin shared on WhatsApp. We received multiple requests to verify this claim on Alt News WhatsApp Helpline number (76000 11160).

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Alt News viewed the longer version of the video and noticed multiple improbable elements that suggest that the video might not be a real hostage situation.

1) At the 0:48 mark, we see a masked man is speaking with a hostage. Both men have mics. In fact, the former is holding a notepad (possibly the script). A few seconds later, at the 0:57 mark, a man appears on screen and adjusts the hostage’s mic.

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2) At the 1:26 and 4:15 mark, we can see a camera person and a photographer on screen. In fact, they can be seen on multiple instances in the video.

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In order to verify the viral video, Alt News spoke with an individual fluent in Pushto. He confirmed that the video is staged and said the logo on the top left belongs to a channel called ‘Afghan International’.

Alt News found that YouTube channel Afghan International had uploaded this video in September 2019. As per the description, the video represents an allegory of artists being beaten in the Jalrez district situated in Maidan Wardak province of Afghanistan.

Here is a keyframe analysis of the viral video with the video on Afghan International. The image has been cropped to focus on the logo on the top left corner in both videos.

Multiple regional Twitter users posted about this event, including journalists, in September 2019. (1, 2, 3)

A quick keyword search on Google shows that Jalrez is frequently featured in the news. According to The New York Times, a part of Jalrez is made up of Pashtun, the ethnic group most closely associated with the Taliban.

Gandhara, an English language news outlet covering stories from Afghanistan and Pakistan, reported that the Taliban seized control of Jalrez in May

A 2019 video of a street play in Afghanistan’s Jalrez district is being shared as the Taliban shooting Afghani people in the backdrop of the recent takeover. The video was also fact-checked by Boomlive. It must be pointed out that there have been reports of recent violence in Afghanistan.

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About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.