Does a "real tweet" from a Twitter account called "Taliban Public Relations Department, Commentary" proclaim that Afghanistan has the second-largest collection of Humvees behind the United States? No, that's not true: There is no proof that the tweet cited on social media is from the PR arm of the Taliban. Also, another post on the same Twitter account appears to mock the group. An Afghan expert told Lead Stories that it appears to be satire.
This is a real tweet...
How does this make you feel America?
(Disclaimer Checkers) - I cannot confirm what the Taliban says is true about being second in collection only to the United States, but they could be...
This is what the post on Instagram looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Fri Mar 24 16:27:29 2023 UTC)
Our glorious nation has the second-largest collection of Humvees, trailing only the United States. Thanks to the #Americans, we are better equipped and armed to confront the #Americans in any future conflict.
This is what the post on Twitter looked like at the time of writing:
(Source: Twitter screenshot taken on Fri Mar 24 17:00:32 2023 UTC)
Another tweet on @TalibanPRD initially appeared to shed some light on the identity of those running the account. The post appears below:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Mar 27 18:27:00 2023 UTC)
Sher Jan Ahmadzai, director of the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said in a March 24, 2023, email chain with Lead Stories that the post doesn't provide any real clues as to who's running things:
Abdul and Ahmad are not anyone's names. They are the first words of any Muslim name. So it seems whoever is [the] person running the account is not authentic.
A third post on the account sheds additional light on the intent of whoever is behind @TAlibanPRD. The tweet appears to be mocking the Taliban. Either that or the posters don't understand the typically uncomplimentary term "toxic masculinity." Here's the post:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Mon Mar 27 18:46:27 2023 UTC)
Ahmadzai agreed in a separate March 28, 2023, email to Lead Stories that the post appears to be making fun of the Taliban.
The Twitter account seems to be satire masterfully concealed as Taliban supporter account. The material/ content disseminated are presented as Taliban's. However, it's difficult to state who controls it.
In a March 27, 2023, email, U.S. Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Phillip Ventura provided this response to a Lead Stories query about the social media claim. He said:
The Department of Defense is not in a position to verify the authenticity of Twitter accounts beyond those we maintain ourselves. Regarding the content of the message, I would offer that the U.S. was in Afghanistan for many years. We are not naïve and have seen a variety of imagery depicting equipment - like Humvees - that was appropriated to the Afghan Security Forces or left behind and ended up in Taliban hands. All of this equipment was specific to a low-tech insurgency and will not be of great strategic use to any force.
Other Lead Stories fact checks involving the Taliban can be found here.