Earlier today a news agency with ties to the Iranian government, Fars, reported a “huge explosion” in Isfahan, near a suspected nuke site. The BBC, Haaretz and others picked up on the report. Immediately, there was speculation: was Israel somehow involved?
A little while later, Fars posted a small photo on its Web site. Allegedly it’s a photo of the scene of the explosion. There’s thick dark smoke billowing into the sky, but it sure doesn’t look like a nuke site. Maybe the photo was a way to blunt the speculation about an Israel attack?
Almost immediately, a Twitter user, @NickXHall, noticed that the photo is a fake. The same photo was posted elsewhere in October, on a Web site called Intelligence World, purporting to show the results of a grenade attack in Kashmir. A Google search confirmed that the photo was up on Intelligence World two weeks ago.
A few minutes after that, Fars took the story offline. Now the page says “the story can not be found.” But a twitterer posted a screen grab of the page with the fake photo so we can compare the two…
Update: according to an emailer: “That photo is used as a stock photo on Fars website, they’re known for doing that on breaking news.” In some ways that’s even worse.