Beirut Blast Conspiracy Tales Abound on Social Media


Within hours of the Beirut mega-blast, conspiracy theories on what caused the disaster in the Lebanese capital spread like wildfire on social media.

The August 4 detonation of an abandoned shipment of ammonium nitrate in Beirut port's Hangar 12, after an initial blast and fire, cost more than 170 lives, injured thousands and left hundreds of thousands temporarily homeless.

Images and videos were posted within minutes on social media of the atomic bomb-like explosion and its apocalyptic aftermath across the Mediterranean metropolis.

In the absence of clear-cut answers and pending the results of an official investigation, some postings have served to feed disinformation.

- Missile attack? -

A video showing a missile in the sky was quickly touted as proof of an attack by Lebanon's former wartime enemy and neighbor Israel.

But verification by AFP shows the missile image was digitally pasted into the video, after several earlier postings of the same footage which showed no such projectile.

A separate posting of a rocket crashing into another site in Beirut port is marked as "filmed by thermal camera".

But a filter was found to have been added to the footage and a missile inserted.

To back up the finger-pointing at Israel, with which Lebanon technically remains at war, online videos allegedly show a drone dropping an unidentified object over the port, seconds before the blast.

It has been authenticated but with no connection to August 4, and linked in fact to Israeli drones over south Lebanon days earlier, according to several local media.

A photograph of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holding a map of Beirut to indicate the port has been added to the mix.

But the picture dates back to September 2018 and shows Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly condemning alleged "secret sites" of Hizbullah.

He was pointing at a zone near Beirut international airport, several kilometers (miles) away from the port.

The Beirut blast created a crater 43 meters (140 feet) deep, according to a Lebanese security source, citing an assessment by French experts in pyrotechnics.

But doctored photographs have cropped up on social media among the abundance of shots of actual widespread destruction across Beirut.

One shows rows of totally burnt-out "imported cars" -- an image in fact taken in eastern China's Hebei province after a 2015 blast at a chemical warehouse.

The crater it left behind is falsely identified as the scene at Beirut port.

Among other rigged photos suggesting international solidarity with Beirut have been fake images of Cairo pyramids and Tunis clock tower lit up in the colors of the Lebanese flag.

Comments 4
Missing logik 12 August 2020, 17:55

The fake news and accusations, assumptions, investigations and assessments are irrelevant, and they are meant to blur your mind and shift our thinking away from the root cause of destruction. Wake up people! You are all responsible! Rise from the ashes and march towards their palaces and drag them down to the streets!

Default-user-icon Najib Baadarani (Guest) 12 August 2020, 18:00

Forget conspiracy theories because there are scientific facts that need explanation.
All explosions are chemical reactions - fact. The product is energy and gas dispersing into the environment and atmosphere. Because the Ammonium Nitrate was on firm ground, the energy, shock waves and gas will disperse upwards and sideways to a lesser extent.
I can accept cracks on the ground but what caused the big, deep crater?
Show me the crater in the Hiroshima bomb that was ten times more powerful.
I don’t advocate a conspiracy, but a scientific explanation is required; not the sort shorthand comments you published. I am anti-Lebanese establishment and Hizbollah in particular but I am also a highly educated man who cannot fathom your argument either.

Thumb tric.portugal 12 August 2020, 18:34

it was a torped and came from the muediterranic sea...the targuet is the cristhianity in Lebanon!! after what hyappenning to the cristhians in Levant...

Thumb tric.portugal 12 August 2020, 18:36

only agence france press do not consider the hipoteses of a terrorist atack against the cristhians in Lebanon...but if the ange france press always was against the the Catholics and venerate Meca...we can see that clear in Paris!!!