Alalam does not have any evidence that the Islamic State has destroyed Sufi shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria, September 2014

Since some of Alalam’s false evidence was slightly less obvious than the rest (in the last post), I felt I should debunk it properly. Alalam News Channel‘s photos have been recycled from the documentation of earlier acts of violence in Syria in 2013, Iraq in 2014 and Libya in 2012. I won’t be online much for the next two or three weeks.

Is this the first evidence of the destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria in September 2014?

Alalam News Channel’s first piece of evidence was this photo of a bulldozer in the process of destroying a tomb.

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria (c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria
(c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

The first piece of alleged evidence is actually evidence of the destruction of tombs in Mosul, Iraq in June 2014

In fact, as Christopher Jones’s translation and analysis showed at the time, that photo documented the destruction of the “Tomb of the Girl” (Qabr al-Bint – in fact, the tomb of Sunni medieval historian Ali Ibn al-Athir) in Mosul in June 2014.

Christopher Jones's (5th July 2014) corroboration of the Islamic State's destruction of the Tomb of the Girl

Christopher Jones’s (5th July 2014) corroboration of the Islamic State’s destruction of the Tomb of the Girl

Is this some evidence of the destruction of Sufi shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria in September 2014?

Alalam’s second piece of evidence was this photograph of a devastated mosque.

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria (c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria
(c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

The second piece of alleged evidence is actually evidence of the destruction of shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria in October 2013

This was the most difficult to debunk and made me doubt my original post. (And there may have been some genuine confusion, as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had tried to explain that it had already identified the destruction of some such shrines.)

The search results suggested that the image had been published by the 17th of June 2013 at the latest; but Google had associated that image with that article because it was the headline photo for another article amongst the automatically and constantly generated list of related stories.

Google image search results for Alalam's (14th September 2014) evidence

Google image search results for Alalam’s (14th September 2014) evidence

automatically (and constantly) generated links to related articles on Dam Press for a report from 17th June 2013

automatically (and constantly) generated links to related articles on Dam Press for a report from 17th June 2013

In fact, as documented in Al Arabi and the Daily Star (Lebanon), it showed the shrine of Sheikh Issa Abdul-Qader al-Rifai in Busaira, the capital city of Deir Ezzor province, which was destroyed on the 13th of October 2013, and which was identified through a video and a photo that were secured by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. In Al Arabi’s own report of the recent claims, this photo was the only “evidence” that Al Arabi presented.

A militant group blew up Sufi shrines in eastern Syria (c) Al Arabi, 14th October 2013

A militant group blew up Sufi shrines in eastern Syria
(c) Al Arabi, 14th October 2013

Is there any evidence of the destruction of Sufi shrines in Deir Ezzor, Syria in September 2014?

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria (c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

False evidence of destruction of Sufi tombs in Deir Ezzor, Syria
(c) Alalam News, 14th September 2014

The third piece of alleged evidence is actually evidence of the destruction of Sufi mosques in Tripoli, Libya in August 2012

Amongst others, the AFP, Channel 4 News and Hürriyet Daily News have published this photograph/video frame as evidence of the destruction of the Al Sha’ab shrine in Tripoli, Libya on the 23rd of August 2012; crucially, Brown Moses confirmed it with open source evidence.

'I don't suppose the men who attacked the Al Sha'ab shrine in Tripoli with jackhammers and a bulldozer on Saturday have heard of William Dowsing. But I see him as their spiritual ancestor.' (c) Hilsum, Channel 4 News, 28th August 2012

‘I don’t suppose the men who attacked the Al Sha’ab shrine in Tripoli with jackhammers and a bulldozer on Saturday have heard of William Dowsing. But I see him as their spiritual ancestor.’
(c) Hilsum, Channel 4 News, 28th August 2012

Thirty-three-and-a-third?

This photo can allegedly be traced back at least as far as 2008. City Pulse Nigeria explained (and provided dead/dysfunctional links) to debunk the claim that Angola had banned Islam.

One such discrepancy is that a Google Images search shows that a photograph published by numerous news outlets this month that purportedly depicts the minaret of an Angolan mosque being dismantled in October 2012 had been used at least as early Jan. 23, 2008, when the Housing [and] Land Rights Network posted it to illustrate an article about the destruction of Bedouin homes in Israel.

False evidence of mosque destruction in Angola (c) Malawi Voice, 26th November 2013

False evidence of mosque destruction in Angola
(c) Malawi Voice, 26th November 2013

Debunking of false evidence of destruction of mosques in Angola (c) City Pulse Nigeria, 26th November 2013

Debunking of false evidence of destruction of mosques in Angola
(c) City Pulse Nigeria, 26th November 2013

I suspect that this was a false positive. Perhaps they misidentified the limited remains of the building. Eliot Higgins (Brown Moses) shared a series of photos that had been shared by an Associate Field Investigator for Libya at Conflict Armament Research, Damien Spleeters; according to EXIF data, they had been taken by a Reuters-supplying photographer in Libya, Ismail Zitouny, on the 25th of August 2012.

EXIF data on image of Salafi destruction of Sufi Sha'ab mosque in Tripoli, Libya (c) Ismail Zitouny, 25th August 2012

EXIF data on image of Salafi destruction of Sufi Sha’ab mosque in Tripoli, Libya
(c) Ismail Zitouny, 25th August 2012

EXIF data on image of Salafi destruction of Sufi Sha'ab mosque in Tripoli, Libya (c) Ismail Zitouny, 25th August 2012

EXIF data on image of Salafi destruction of Sufi Sha’ab mosque in Tripoli, Libya
(c) Ismail Zitouny, 25th August 2012

Notes

The Islamic State has also been known as the Caliphate, Da’ash, Da’esh, Da’ish, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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