Indian news outlets misidentified an unrelated photo of a Taliban fighter pictured with a gun sitting at an office desk and claimed it was a picture of Haji Mohammad Idris, the newly appointed acting governor of Afghanistan's central bank -- Da Afghanistan Bank.
The Taliban recently announced a new interim government in Afghanistan with names that include wanted terror suspects and Islamist hardliners.
BOOM compared photos of Haji Mohammad Idris alias Maulvi Abdul Qahir posted by Afghanistan's Central Bank with the viral photo and found that both do not match and are two different people. Additionally, we also reached out to an Afghan journalist who confirmed that the man pictured with a gun is not Idris but a common Talib.
This is the latest instance where Indian news outlets have misrepresented images and videos on the crisis unfolding in Afghanistan after the takeover of the country by the hardline Islamist group.
India Today and Aaj Tak aired a photo of a man sitting with his gun and a laptop at an office desk and claimed it showed the new interim governor Idris. The caption read, "Taliban appoints Haji Mohammad Idris as the new governor of the Afghanistan's central bank -- Da Afghanistan Bank."
The same was also shared on India Today's Facebook page, and by its affiliate channel.
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The photo used by Indian news outlets has been viral at least since August 18, 2021, with various captions stating that it shows a Taliban militant working with his gun, after the takeover of Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, by the Taliban.
The photo was also doing the rounds on meme websites like 9gag with funny captions.
The Facebook page of Afghanistan's central bank - Da Afghanistan Bank on August 23, 2021, posted photos of a meeting in which Idris can be seen sitting at the head of the table. The caption when translated also identifies the head of the bank as Haji Mohammad Idris also known as Maulvi Abdul Qahir.
The translated posted reads, "...In this meeting, Mr. Molavi Abdul Qahir, who is famous for Haji Mohammad Idris as the head of Afghanistan Bank, Molvi Abdul Qadir is famous for Ahmad and Molavi Noor Ahmad Agha as the deputies of this bank..."
Idris can also be seen in this photo tweeted by the Afghan central bank, wearing a black turban.
On comparing the photo of the man with the gun and Idris's photo, it is clear that their facial features and structure do not match and that they are two different people.
We also found reports with photos of Idris on his appointment as the new acting governor of the bank. The photo in the below report matches with the man in the photo posted by Da Afghanistan Bank.
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BOOM reached out to a local journalist from Afghanistan who confirmed that the man in the viral photo is not Idris. He added that the man in the photo posted by Da Afghanistan Bank on Facebook is Idris's picture.
"No, he is not head of the central bank. He is a common Talib," the local reporter told BOOM.
A Reuters article citing a senior Taliban official said the following about Idris. "Idris is from the northern province of Jawzjan, and had long experience working on financial issues with the previous leader of the movement, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, who was killed in a drone strike in 2016. While Idris had no public profile outside the movement and no formal financial training or higher education, he was head of the movement's finance section and respected for his expertise."
We were able to identify the blue flag seen in the viral photo as that of Afghanistan's revenue department suggesting the photo was taken at a government office. However, we could not establish the identity of the man.
BOOM has been debunking viral misinformation and disinformation since the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. You can view our fact-check articles in the thread below.
(Additional reporting by Swasti Chatterjee and Sujith A)
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