There is only one thing worse than not being read, and that is being read (by AQIS and ISIS)

Within hours of me showing that the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor had been destroyed by the Islamic State (or factions within the Islamic State) @conflictantiq, the comparison image had been appropriated by abualtidore @abualtidore: ‘[the] Armenian Church in #DeirEzzor [has been] destroyed by #USA Coalition Airstrikes’. (Since then, his account has been suspended.) Others spread that line, including accounts associated with Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and the Islamic State itself.

'ISIS have destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor' (c) Sam Hardy, Twitter, 1.41pm, 27th September 2014

‘ISIS have destroyed the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor’
(c) Sam Hardy, Twitter, 1.41pm, 27th September 2014

'Armenian Church in #DeirEzzor destroyed by #USA Coalition Airstrikes' (c) abualtidore, Twitter, 5.06pm, 27th September 2014

‘Armenian Church in #DeirEzzor destroyed by #USA Coalition Airstrikes’
(c) abualtidore, Twitter, 5.06pm, 27th September 2014

“@Abu_Umar8246: American planes bombed the #Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, #Syria: http://twitter.com/Abu_Umar8246/status/515945318614323200/photo/” Usa are the real terrorists [Childish Randino, Twitter, 9.06pm, 27th September 2014 – Childish Randino linked to Abu Umar’s locked/protected tweet]

'#American planes bombed the Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, #Syria. #Soldiers_of_Anti_Christ_Dajjal' (c) AQIS_Bangla, Twitter, 6.24pm, 28th September 2014

‘#American planes bombed the Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, #Syria. #Soldiers_of_Anti_Christ_Dajjal’
(c) AQIS_Bangla, Twitter, 6.24pm, 28th September 2014

'The US-led coalition warplanes bombard the #Armenian church in Deir Al-Zour. #Syria' (c) Omar Daraghmeh, Twitter, 12.25pm, 29th September 2014

‘The US-led coalition warplanes bombard the #Armenian church in Deir Al-Zour. #Syria’
(c) Omar Daraghmeh, Twitter, 12.25pm, 29th September 2014

'#MENA #Syria: the Western-Arab coalition airplanes bomb the Armenian Church of Der_alzor, Syria' (c) Asmaa Abed, Facebook, 4.27pm, 29th September 2014

‘#MENA #Syria: the Western-Arab coalition airplanes bomb the Armenian Church of Der_alzor, Syria’
(c) Asmaa Abed, Facebook, 4.27pm, 29th September 2014

#MENA #Syria: the Western-Arab coalition airplanes bomb the Armenian Church of Der_alzor, Syria http://t.co/HWqQjFeGg8 [Asmaa Abed, Twitter, 4.27pm, 29th September 2014 – her tweet linked to her Facebook post]

'আমেরিকা গির্জার উপরই বোমা হামলা করে বসল American planes bombed the Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, Syria' (c) আল-খিলাফাহ ইসলামিক স্টেইট - Al Khilafah - Islamic State, Facebook, 6.15pm, 29th September 2014

‘আমেরিকা গির্জার উপরই বোমা হামলা করে বসল American planes bombed the Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, Syria’
(c) আল-খিলাফাহ ইসলামিক স্টেইট – Al Khilafah – Islamic State, Facebook, 6.15pm, 29th September 2014

আমেরিকা গির্জার উপরই বোমা হামলা করে বসল American planes bombed the Armenian Church in Deir Az-Zour, Syria http://t.co/N45pisXdNz [Abu Zahrah Al Muhajir, Twitter, 6.15pm, 29th September 2014 – his tweet linked to the Islamic State’s Facebook post]

'#US_Strikes_Muslims @Pontifex Confirmed: U.S. strikes the Armenian Church at Deir ez-Zor #Syria' (c) risk ability, Twitter, 2.09am, 30th September 2014

‘#US_Strikes_Muslims @Pontifex Confirmed: U.S. strikes the Armenian Church at Deir ez-Zor #Syria’
(c) risk ability, Twitter, 2.09am, 30th September 2014

I read a tweet that claimed that it was hit in a U.S. attack…. I found the tweet in the end. 🙂 The original source account is locked. (bunun ABD saldırısında vurulduğunu iddia eden bir tweet okumuştum…. tweeti buldum sonunda 🙂 Esas kaynak hesabı kilitlemiş. https://twitter.com/randmohammed1/status/515955660450566146) [Yahya, Twitter, 10.51am, 12pm, 30th September 2014 – his tweet linked to Childish Randino’s one]

The Armenian Genocide Memorial Church could not have been destroyed by an air strike

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) recorded regime air strikes and aerial bombardment in the countryside and al-Mayadin city of Deir Ez-Zor Province on the 8th and 9th of September; and it recorded coalition air strikes in Deir Ez-Zor Province, around the city of al-Bokamal city and elsewhere in the countryside on the 24th and 25th; but it reported no air strikes in Deir Ez-Zor City by either regime or coalition on the 21st (or at any other time in the weeks before or since the destruction of the church).

Rudaw dated the air strikes back to the 23rd; Syria Deeply dated the air strikes back to the 22nd; but I have not seen any reports that there were air strikes on the province, let alone the city, on the 21st of September. And the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Memorial Church is in the heart of the city.

Armenian Martyrs' Church, al-Roshdeyah, Deir ez-Zur, Syria on Google Maps (30th September 2014)

Armenian Martyrs’ Church, al-Roshdeyah, Deir ez-Zur, Syria on Google Maps (30th September 2014)

Despite tactical blurring/shifting of identification/allegiances, despite the sharing of other cities, it appears that Islamist organisations fought over Deir ez-Zor (though weaker groups may have submitted to the Islamic State and remained in the city). Since the area is under Islamic State control, and any other groups operate under Islamic State authority, it is reasonable to assume that the Islamic State destroyed the church. (Others have confirmed their responsibility with local sources.)

Google is your fairweather friend

When jj @swatzutphen insisted that the church had been ‘destroyed by ISIS’, abualtidore @abualtidore challenged him to ‘tell me one Church or Synagouge [sic – synagogue] destroyed by #Islamicstate’. jj @swatzutphen unfortunately showed him the Al Arabiya report that ‘ISIS [had burned a] 1,800-year-old church in Mosul’, which I had debunked. And abualtidore knew that.

'LOOOOOL Alarabiya taken the Church burning from Egypt' (c) abualtidore, Twitter, 5.41pm, 27th September 2014

‘LOOOOOL Alarabiya taken the Church burning from Egypt’
(c) abualtidore, Twitter, 5.41pm, 27th September 2014

Within two minutes, abualtidore refuted jj’s source by citing my blog: ‘LOOOOOL Alarabiya [had] taken [the image of] the Church burning from Egypt http://t.co/WDSVOyns3t‘. Particularly frustratingly, in that post, I had reiterated that it was reckless to publish false news. Al Arabiya has still neither withdrawn nor corrected the article. This episode all too clearly demonstrates the dangers of publishing false evidence. Apart from the other harms, violent movements can use false reports to undermine genuine reports and thereby foster support and participation from people who feel excluded and maligned.

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