January 29, 2007


Lebanese bloggers Rampurple and Jeha, who both show up at times in my comments section, busted Hezbollah and Michel Aoun for peddling a blatantly doctored photograph on Hezbollah's An Manar TV channel.

Here is a screen shot of Aoun holding up the photo on TV.

Aoun Propaganda Screen Shot.jpg

Below is the photo. It supposedly shows a (Christian) Lebanese Forces “militia man” in the lower-left corner pointing a weapon at Lebanese soldiers. Notice the cross on his sleeve. The man and the cross were photoshopped in.

AntiLF Propaganda Photo.jpg

Here is the real picture.

Real Picture Before Doctoring.jpg

And here is the picture that was used as bad photoshop fodder. It was taken during last summer’s war and was itself criticized as propaganda for its inaccurate caption. Notice the cross on the sleeve isn't there. That's because this man is Hezbollah, not a member of the Christian Lebanese Forces.

Fake Photo Fodder.jpg

Hats off to Lebanese bloggers for exposing this one. Busting propagandists for fauxtography isn’t just for Americans any more.

UPDATE and CORRECTION: Lebanese blogger Nancy says Aoun and Hezbollah were busted on television by Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. So this isn't just a blogosphere thing. And N10452 posted this at Rampurple's site, not Rampurple herself. Credit where it's due.

UPDATE: Beirut's Daily Star picked up the story.

UPDATE: Apologies to EU Referendum. I should have said "Westerners," not "Americans."

UPDATE: A reader created and emailed a nice animated gif file.


Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 01:17 AM


Good work! Aoun is now exposed and it shows that he is being used! Listening to Aoun's speaches and press conference It is in no doubt, Aoun is suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer!

Posted by: GK at January 29, 2007 04:21 AM

call it "fake but accurate". brainwashing is more work than most people realize. now, let's just wait and see how they will try to pin this on israel (maybe they can photoshop some of those "poisonous balloons" into the picture).

Posted by: abu yussif at January 29, 2007 04:25 AM

It looks like AP and Reuters are asleep at the wheel.

I did not see this picture shown there.

Posted by: leo at January 29, 2007 05:52 AM

Good work Jeha and rampurple! HB keeps going to the same well -- they've been busted, but doesn't seem to faze them. Has this photofraud expose been picked up by other Arab news outlets? I'd think the Saudis, etc would like to discredit HB and its allies.

Posted by: Pam at January 29, 2007 06:28 AM

WooHoo - Big Time Congratulations!

Maybe we can get someone to make a flashing GIF with the photoshopped gunman and his phony cross flickering in and out. Like they did for the Dan Rather memos.

Posted by: jdwill at January 29, 2007 06:56 AM


" Busting propagandists for fauxtography isn’t just for Americans any more. "

Did you miss Green Helmet Guy from our friends at EU Referendum? ;^)

Posted by: AlanC at January 29, 2007 06:59 AM

The garbage dump gunner strikes again. I wouldn't be surprised if TIME features it with undisputed quotes from Hezbollah and Aoun.

Great reporting, rampurple and Jeha.

Posted by: mary at January 29, 2007 07:43 AM

Fantastic job on Rampurple and Jeha for picking it up...but Hezb need to brush up on their graphic design skills as this is a really poor fake. For one thing, the image quality of the LF gunman is so much better than that of the soldiers in the background.

Also, couldn't they have made up a more believable scenario than a lone LF man pointing his gun at a whole crowd of Lebanese soldiers non chalantly milling around and ambling over a wall?

I actually thought Hezb's propaganda efforts post the July war were pretty slick, for example the "New Middle East" banners and quotes from Condi that they placed amid the ruins in South Beirut.

This by comparison is so amateurish, if I was a consipracy theorist, I'd think it was planted to make Aoun look like an idiot. (I'm not and from what I read here and elsewhere, he needs no help on that front!)

Posted by: Dirk at January 29, 2007 07:59 AM

Awesome. The Lebanese are such natural allies for Israel... I wish for this to happen already.

Posted by: AG in Houston at January 29, 2007 08:51 AM

This is almost funny... Aoun caught red-handed like this - And now there is a Youtube Photoshop video discussing this about too! LOL

But does anyone know what Aoun had said while holding up this picture on TV there? I was wondering if Aoun gave any reference to that guy that was photoshopped into this scene.

Posted by: Cindy at January 29, 2007 09:30 AM

it wasn't rampurple who exposed them it was Samir Geagea through a TV speech.
N10452 from the ouwet site posted it there and on rampurple as he is contributor.

Posted by: Nancy at January 29, 2007 09:46 AM

Dumb question, Michael, but has this travesty been exposed to the public in Lebanon? Or is it just on Rampurple and Jeha's blogs?

I'd LOVE for this stuff to not be swept under the carpet in Lebanon (and these things tend to be). Hell, I'd love to see Saniora and co. bringing this up everytime Aoun opens his mouth. Kinda like how GW Bush and co. brought up John Kerry's infamous "I voted for it before i voted against it" quote. That kind of stuff has a way of sinking into the popular psyche a lot more effectively than the bland generic speeches we hear from March 14 leadership on most days.

Posted by: BadVilbel at January 29, 2007 10:20 AM

wow, God bless the blogsphere! this is great stuff.

Posted by: Frieda at January 29, 2007 10:53 AM

I honestly am not sure of who exposed him but this news spread throughout the Lebanese blogosphere and a lot of people were making fun of it.

N10452 was the person who DID post it on my blog.

It was not Samir Geagea though. Samir Geagea discussed a different picture. One that Al Akhbar newspaper published which showed an armed man and the caption said that the man is from Sadem... which used to be a special unit in the LF similar to the commandos. Michel Aoun's press conference followed Geagea's press conference.

Posted by: rampurple at January 29, 2007 11:28 AM

So much for all those who claim that Hezbollah never lies and is an accurate source for news, and that any attempts to shut them down stop the flow of truth. I do, however, wonder where the doctored picture originated, since I've seen the garbage dump gunner before. They should've known better....

Maybe it was Karl Rove!

Posted by: calbaer at January 29, 2007 11:35 AM

here is one link showing that it was the LF who exposed Aoun,just google it


Posted by: Nancy at January 29, 2007 11:38 AM

Hey, talking about giving credit where it's due - more than one week after MJT's great story featuring the 'I heart' billboards in Lebanon.... the same story appeared on a Time Magazine blog.

Hmmmmmm... fautography, plagiarism, what next?

Posted by: mertel at January 29, 2007 11:39 AM


Which Time Magazine blog?

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 11:47 AM


I don't know why you are arguing this. Antoine Zahra lashed out at Aoun on Sunday meanwhile the story was all over the internet on Saturday, including our blog. It was not Samir Geagea or Antoine Zahra who exposed Aoun. If you really do care who did I would consider applying the effort to find out to ease your mind. I don't think it matters who exposed him... am just glad someone did. It's not so difficult to see anyways.

A friend of mine who is a FPMer is quite pissed at the situation. He doesn't understand how FPM did such a mistake. Apparently someone told him that they had received 16 pics right before the press conference was about to start and did not have the time to go through them. It isn't the first time the FPM commit such mistakes though. A while back they had a picture of a bmw that was splattered with orange paint. They claimed it was in Canada and was owned by a fellow FPMer who got attacked. Later someone else showed the same pic, of a different site, posted a few years ago, and in a totally different country.

Posted by: rampurple at January 29, 2007 11:52 AM

this blatant propaganda needs to be continually exposed...and it won't be our press that will do it...keep up the great work!

Posted by: ric ottaiano at January 29, 2007 11:54 AM

Oops, sorry, link didn't work. It was this one:


I also note their lead story today shows is the same as yours, poster several hours after yours, although it is apparently being widely circulated in the blogosphere....

Posted by: mertel at January 29, 2007 12:00 PM


True; it has started with an LF site picking it up, and other sites highltiing other fakes.

I quoted all of them to the best of my ability, and linked to them .... Still, I am a bit embarrassed that I took so much of the credit

Posted by: Jeha at January 29, 2007 12:08 PM

The last picture is a fake too. Looks like This is a double-wammy. I have the real photo of that area. It's a hizbollah security agent, a tottaly different looking one, wearing sunglasses and holding another type of AK47 pointing to the sky.

I have the real photo but i need an email to send it to prove it.

It's clear it's fake anyway because who would point his gun at burning tyres? Yes, those are tyre burning in the background.

Posted by: NoN at January 29, 2007 12:17 PM

Mertel, that's not plagiarism. Andrew Butters and I just write about similar things in the same country, that's all. His "poster politics" piece is very different. I have no objections.

Thanks for pointing it out anyway. I have been plagiarized before by a major publisher, and I have a lawyer.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 12:19 PM


check this out.

Posted by: NoN at January 29, 2007 12:23 PM

Hizbulla and Aoun have taken a page from Bush's book. Other politicians have "think tanks," but Hizbulla has a "belief tank." With no facts, there can be no doubt!

Posted by: bill.hill at January 29, 2007 12:24 PM

rampurple, please do not take this personally! It is not an obsession of mine as I have other things to fill up my time (blogging is not my life).And the comment was to MJT not you!I suggest MJT replies back if he is upset as this is his blog!
As for "putting the effort" as you put it, I do that in productive deeds...And it is not my fault if your friend from FPM is upset,he should have done his HW don't you think?

Thanks Jeha for your feeback.

Posted by: Nancy at January 29, 2007 12:26 PM

Nancy :D


1. This is a comment thread on a blog. You stated something that was wrong so I thought it was best that I do correct it. I don't see why you, me or Michael would be upset at any of the above comments.

2. You misunderstood. I offered that I would place an effort to find out who exposed Aoun if you really cared about that issue and not that you should place the effort.

3. My FPM friend has nothing to do with you. It was nothing to do with you. It is a different issue.

4. We all have lives besides blogging.

Posted by: rampurple at January 29, 2007 12:37 PM

Jeha: I am a bit embarrassed that I took so much of the credit

No need to be embarrassed. I know about this from reading your blog and Rampurple's blog. So I linked back to your sites.

Nancy: I suggest MJT replies back if he is upset

I'm not upset at all. Don't worry about it. :)

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 12:39 PM

call it "fake but accurate".

Straight from the Dan Rather book of journalism. It seems Lebanon has its own version of the MSM.

Posted by: Carlos at January 29, 2007 01:05 PM


Well, that "MSM" was Hezbollah's propaganda channel. So it's a bit worse over there.

They do, however, have their own blogosphere that plays a similar role.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 01:08 PM

What are you talking about :)

Rampurple was just trying to clarify you points, no one is taking it personal. As for the credits thing, Ram also corrected and said it was me who posted it, even though it doesnt make any difference to me.

Anyway, i dont know how this discussion ended up here, Aoun is a serious trouble-maker even if he's not here :P

Thank you Michael for posting this post.

Posted by: N10452 at January 29, 2007 01:33 PM

They can't get away with it anymore! When are they gonna learn!

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan at January 29, 2007 01:33 PM

> Busting propagandists for fauxtography isn’t just for Americans any more.

Helen S would like you to know that she and Richard N (of Green Helmet fame) are not Americans.


Posted by: EUReferendumReader at January 29, 2007 01:45 PM


Tempest in a teapot; I acted as a "synthesizer" of information, as I usually do. This time, I guess the synthesis was a biggy.

Posted by: Jeha at January 29, 2007 02:25 PM


Typo... I guess c..c..c..cafeine has its bad side.

Posted by: Jeha at January 29, 2007 02:27 PM

If memory serves, The original photo of the Hizbo aiming a gun at the burning tires was released as "look how tough we are" propaganda, claiming to be a HB soldier aiming at the alleged burning wreckage of a shot down Israeli fighter jet. Zombietime (and perhaps others) exposed it to be a staged photo of a guy pointing a gun at a burning tire dump that had nothing much to do with the war, but sure looked impressive at first glance.
Fauxtography at it's finest!

Posted by: lindsey at January 29, 2007 02:36 PM

I'm just glad this information was brought out for all to see...and I appreciate all the help from blogs like Totten's and Rampurple's. Oh, on this Youtube vid, about 51 seconds into it, that guy walks with his gun upright in front of those burning tires.. Why was the dude pointing his gun at burning tires in the first place?? LOL

I came across this other video on Youtube with English Subtitles (and later found Rampurple posted about it too). After watching what took place last week, then watching this video today - it really made me so sad. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQcXHig0cWQ&eurl=

Does anyone know who created this video and why? And do they have a web site?

Posted by: Cindy at January 29, 2007 03:04 PM

Is any of this really that important. Arent there any wider issues to occupy the bored small minds here.

Posted by: Samuel Dikstein at January 29, 2007 03:05 PM

Oops! here is the FIRST video I was talking about with the guy in front of the burning tires

I was laughing so hard I forgot to post it..

Posted by: Cindy at January 29, 2007 03:07 PM

great work. now let the rest of the world know..

Posted by: george whyte at January 29, 2007 03:40 PM

Thank God for Michael Trotten and especially Michelle Malkin. That's all I got to say. How else would we know there was a Jamil Hussein, and a bombed out mosque. Oh wait.

Posted by: naked lunch at January 29, 2007 04:03 PM

Is any of this really that important. Arent there any wider issues to occupy the bored small minds here.

I'm curious as to what you would consider "wider" and more important issues. Let me guess, does it have anything to do with Karl Rove? Haliburton? ChimpyMcHitler? Am I getting warmer?

Posted by: Carlos at January 29, 2007 04:44 PM

Can I ask a dumb question? What was the point of the original fake? That the Christian militia was shooting at the Lebanese Army?

Posted by: Room 237 at January 29, 2007 04:55 PM

So, any chance this will have any kind of ramifications?

Have Aounists woken up after the "party" they allied with to "integrate into the system/disarm peacefully" began violent protest?

No - it looked like they joined in. Happily.

Will the fact that their leader has been exposed as a blatant propagandist change anything?

Highly unlikely, right?

Posted by: SoCalJustice at January 29, 2007 05:03 PM

Not just a Photoshop job, but a bad one.

Do you know how desperately hard it is to get photos from two different shots to match? You're only in luck if they were taken from the same spot at roughly the same time— otherwise, the lighting won't match (fixable), the color won't match (fixable), and the SHADOWS won't match (Houston, we have a problem.)

I work at a photo studio, and recently had to add several people to a group photo. Problem was the lighting was entirely different. I'd have had to repaint them to really get them to blend. I did my best, though, and they only look a little strange. But if you stop to think about it, you'll notice it was faked— and that's a professional job.

They must be hoping that newspaper quality will hide their work, because they didn't even bother to color-match the sucker.

Posted by: B. Durbin at January 29, 2007 05:26 PM

Samuel Dikstein,

You a bored small mind?

Who knew?

Posted by: M. Simon at January 29, 2007 05:59 PM

More like "Animated Gaffe file" if you ask me.

Posted by: Daniel Lewis at January 29, 2007 06:02 PM

bill hill,

I am not sure I get the point in your "anti-Bushism" quip! It is quite presposterous and indeed fraudulent to make such a comparison...Bush is a responsible president of a reponsible nation, which is under attack from the kind of thugs we are facing up to and it is high time that liberals like you recognize that war is not just an anomaly or the work of some freak. Examples of this in history abound and we must deal with them more responsibly...

Posted by: aboujahl at January 29, 2007 07:34 PM

"bill hill,
I am not sure I get the point in your "anti-Bushism" quip!"

The point is that no matter what happens, you blame it on Bush. It works kinda like anti-semitism.

Posted by: Gary Rosen at January 29, 2007 10:17 PM

Funnier was what occurred on Future TV (Hariri's channel): on a split screen, they were showing people throwing stones and being thugs. The news reader started commenting about how these were the opposition, violent, thugs, etc. Just generally putting them down. As he was talking, the protesters started shouting slogans against Nasrallah and Hezbollah and started burning a Hezbollah flag. These were, in fact, Government supporters. That must have been the quickest lie to be exposed in history.

Lesson: Lebanese news channels are hardly to be trusted when it comes to internal political disputes. Only the facts that they all agree on can you be sure are correct. Everything else is propaganda of one form or another to discredit their opponents. Unfortunately, since foreign news services often take the word of (partisan) local news, (a hardly disinterested) government or (partisan) local reporters, then the world hardly gets an accurate picture either.

Posted by: A.G at January 29, 2007 11:22 PM

That's funny, AG, and not surprising at all.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 29, 2007 11:41 PM


Speaking of fake stories, I'm surprised you wouldn't do a lead story about the "poisonous Zionist balloons" in South Lebanon. Are you embarassed that the majority of your precious, western-minded Lebanese believed that ridiculous story?

Posted by: Martha Stewart at January 29, 2007 11:42 PM

Nothing worse than a photographer or reporter being summoned or prompted to a site to ‘document’ propagandists’ claims. As a de facto witness, why caption a picture with “An Israeli Air Force F16 has alledgedly been shot down” if there was not a single photo taken on site that day that even remotely resembled even a single part of an F16?
Photographers need to remember that with captions they become witnesses and messengers, and not to ‘allege’ in their captions more than what a photo factually shows. TIME magazine bought the photographer’s captioned implication—and without that implication the photo was not as valuable. Get real, Bruno.

A picture once was worth a thousand words, but with photoshopping or sometimes with many hours separating a claimed event or if the photo op is carefully guided—look here, now, where the props are, but not over there, let’s try that again, take three—one must ask instead how many pictures and video setups/clips are nothing but a thousand lies. Welcome to Hezbollywood!

Posted by: JAS at January 30, 2007 12:39 AM

"Martha Stewart": Are you embarassed that the majority of your precious, western-minded Lebanese believed that ridiculous story?

If that were the case I wouldn't have linked to Jeha today. He mentioned it at the very top of his post. Click the link and see for yourself.

Don't tell me what to write about.

And don't psychoanalyze me based on what I don't write about. There are an unlimited number of things I didn't write about today, and it doesn't mean a goddamn thing that I skipped over any of them.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2007 12:55 AM

Hezbollah’s Founder lashes out at Hezbollah (I can't point at the original article, because the naratet page has changed and I can't find the article) Anyway note the last paragraph:

Hizbullah founder and ex leader Sheikh Subhi Tufaili on Saturday accused Iran of stirring trouble between Shiites and Sunnis to destroy both Iraq and Lebanon, urging Shiites to mend fences with the majority Sunni sect.

Tufaili at a news conference said Shiites are "small minorities scattered in the vast sea of the Islamic world. It is in their interest to be allies for the majority and to mend fences with Sunnis."

"Otherwise, we will destroy even our future… this is crazy…we'll be slaughtered like sheep even in Lebanon. This is a reality."

He said Iran's spiritual leader Ali Khamenei has a dual policy. "In Iraq, he destroys Iraq under the slogan of alliance with America and in Lebanon he destroys Lebanon under the slogan that says the Sunnis are the allies of America."

He stressed Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is the person who carries out Khamenei's policy.

I am an ex-secretary general for Hizbullah and I know that Sayyed Hassan is in charge of carrying Sayyed Khamenei's policy in Lebanon. Sayyed Abdul Aziz al Hakim is the person who executes Khamenei's policy in Iraq."

He accused Hizbullah, of which he was fired more than eight years ago after disagreeing with the Iranian leadership, of forming its own state in Lebanon and "the resistance is its weapon."

"There cannot be two states and two weapons, that of Hizbullah and that of the government. We need to unify the weapons under one command. Two states would lead to war," he said.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 30, 2007 01:14 AM

Josh Scholar,

Technically, Sheikh Subhi Tufaili is not the "founder" of hezbollah, but he had been there from the beginning, and has been sidelined by Nasrallah... In any case, the irony of this thing is that Nasrallah is more moderate than Tufaili.

That's what makes it even worse.

Posted by: Jeha at January 30, 2007 02:29 AM

Naharnet link to Tufaili's attack on Nasrallah

Posted by: bs_detector at January 30, 2007 02:36 AM

A great story on fauxphotography in the Middle East, but why is there no mention of exactly what General Aoun said on television when he was using the faux photo to make his point?

Posted by: a Duoist at January 30, 2007 03:14 AM

a Duoist,

There was no mention of this, precisely because he used fake photos to make his point. You cannot use doctored evidence to make a case, no matter how justified it may be.

This is how simple scientific and factual discourse proceeds.

Posted by: Jeha at January 30, 2007 03:46 AM

Aoun wants re-election? What is he nuts?! He had my vote 2 years ago. No way am I voting for him again!
I am sure many ex-FPMers agree with me that he has lost massive support.

Posted by: Joseph at January 30, 2007 08:55 AM

Before accusing anyone, why don't you check all the parties involved. Why don't you check who is the real liar? This is what journalism is about. Finding the truth!

Posted by: Captain at January 30, 2007 09:10 AM

That's pathetically blatant. As soon as I saw the image I knew it matched that previous fauxtography, just from memory.

Posted by: Mark at January 30, 2007 10:22 AM

Maybe we can get someone to make a flashing GIF ...

Thank you, whomever. God, I love the Internet and weblogs.

Posted by: jdwill at January 30, 2007 11:54 AM

Josch Scholar,
I dont think you should give much importance to Tufeili's speech.
The man was Iran's most loyal ally in the region, and was very supportive of the Palestinian cause and is wanted from the Lebanese government if i am not mistaken.

He founded Hezbollah in 1982 after splitting from Amal who refused to bow for the Iranians.

Toufeily mainly accuses Nasrallah of changing the rules of the game, and i believe it was Syria's aim to put aside Toufeily and get Nasrallah.

Why ?

Because Syria has been working on a peace treaty with Israel for years ( hint Golan heights) and wants a leader such as Nasrallah that will neutralize the Palestinians and control the borders.

Sultan Abou el Aynayn, responsible of the Fata7 Branch in Lebanon regularly bashed Hezbollah for not allowing them to launch attacks against the Israelies from Lebanon.

Another interesting fact is the exchange of prisoners that occured last year or the one before, where as all those who got freed were low ranked and hard-core followers of Hezbollah, while high ranked responsibles in Palestine, Jordan were excluded.

Finally, a quote that resumes maybe this situation, by the Syrian foreign minister about Hezbollah:
"The party is truly a resistance but will not stand in the way of peace in the region"

Posted by: N10452 at January 30, 2007 01:39 PM

Sultan Abou el Aynayn, responsible of the Fata7 Branch in Lebanon regularly bashed Hezbollah for not allowing them to launch attacks against the Israelies from Lebanon.

Ahh, maybe I remember some strange thing where he critisized Nasrallah for attacking Israel but also said that Hezbollah should focus on "freeing Jerusalem". One wonders what "freeing Jerusalem" means if not attacking Israel.

Posted by: Josh Scholar at January 30, 2007 02:13 PM

Michael J and all -

Here is the problem.

1) All people and gov'ts at some point lie. Sometimes big lies, sometimes white lies, sometimes lies to save the lives of people they have in the field, and in the case of the Middle East and old Soviet Union, underhanded malevolent lies. Like Arafat murdering his own Lietenant in Fatah in the 70's and then sitting across a table with Mahai Pacepa and Soviet Diplomats and crying about the evil Zionists... and then laughing about it to Pacepa after the dinner. (Red Horizons)

2) As LGF pointed out, this time/s the photoshops were poor and caught... however, in the future they'll get better and better... just as Hezbollah put scopes in basements and machine guns in houses.... their photoshops in the future will be better more sophisticated and more malevolently dangerous.... With all of the Goerbellsesque propoganda already half or more so bought in the Middle East let alone Europe by the way, about Israel and Jooooos it is sadly just a matter of time.

And we will all continue to hear left wing wackos like Chomsky, Finkelstein and the like minimize the level of lying and state that the US lies are worse.....

This train is headed down a 1 way track... we all fin know it too

Best Regards,

Mike Nargizian

Posted by: Mike Nargizian at January 30, 2007 02:33 PM
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