Fake News: Former Speaker Paul Ryan Is NOT Photographed With ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Former Speaker Paul Ryan Is NOT Photographed With ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi

Was former House Speaker Paul Ryan photographed with ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? No, that's not true: A photo purportedly of the former Republican house leader with the now-dead ISIS leader is actually a photo of Ryan with Syrian activist Mouaz Moustafa. There is no evidence or reasons otherwise to believe that Paul Ryan ever met al-Baghdadi, who spent the previous decade in hiding as he built his ISIS "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. Those claiming Ryan was friends with al-Baghdadi used it to explain why Ryan "hates Trump and supported Obama's policies."

The claim originated from a post (archived here) published by Uncle Jazz Knows -- a Facebook page that says its mission is "Spreading the truth about Washington and the traitors who are destroying U.S." -- on October 28, 2019, which showed the selfie photo with the message:

Paul Ryan and Mr. ISIS AL-Baghdadi. Making more sense now why he hates Trump and supported Obama's policies? Obama let this FILTH out of PRISON. and TRUMP KILLED HIS ASS...Uncle Jazz DISGUSTED!

This is what social media users saw:

The idea that Paul Ryan and former President Barack Obama have been pals with al-Baghdadi is a bizarre conspiracy theory that has been included in several false memes shared on social media since the ISIS leader was killed by American soldiers on October 26, 2019. One false claim is that Obama freed al-Baghdadi from a U.S. military prison in 2009. Lead Stories debunked that claim in a story titled "Fake News: Barack Obama Did NOT Free Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi From GitMo And Return Him To The Middle East".

The fake claim that Paul Ryan, who lead Republicans in the house until his retirement at the end of 2018, was friends with the ISIS leader is purportedly proven by this photo:


This photo, which appears to be a "selfie" snapped by Moustafa, can be seen in an anti-Ryan article titled "Speaker Paul Ryan Embraces Top Muslim Brotherhood Lobbyist" which identified the people as Ryan and Moustafa. This is another photo of Moustafa included in his biography on the World Bank website:


Another way you can be sure this is not al-Baghdadi is to look at these rare image of al-Baghdadi from 2014 and more recently. He does not look like the man in the selfie with Ryan:


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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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