Fact Check: Greta Thunberg Did NOT Wear Hamas Headband, Hold ISIS Flag In Photo

Fact Check

  • by: Ed Payne
Fact Check: Greta Thunberg Did NOT Wear Hamas Headband, Hold ISIS Flag In Photo Edited Picture

Did Greta Thunberg wear a Hamas headband and hold an Islamic State flag in an image that appeared on social media? No, that's not true: The picture showing the Swedish climate activist has been changed from the original using photo editing. While Thunberg does support a ceasefire in Gaza and "Justice for Palestine," based on posts on her social media accounts, there's no evidence she supports the militant Palestinian nationalist and Islamist movement Hamas or the ISIS terrorist group.

The claims appeared in a post (archived here) on X (formerly Twitter) by Dr. Eli David on December 22, 2023. The post's caption said:

Thank you @GretaThunberg

This is what the post looked like on X at the time of writing:


(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Dec 22 16:20:30 2023 UTC)

Altered photo

The picture of Thunberg wearing the Hamas headband and holding the Islamic State flag appears to have been created via photo editing. Lead Stories found a version of the original image by doing a reverse image search using Google Lens (archived here). The result was a November 12, 2023, article about Thunberg (archived here) on The Times of Northwest Indiana website. That image appears below:

greta cropped.png

(Source: The Times of Northwest Indiana screenshot taken on Fri Dec 22 17:39:28 2023 UTC)

Lead Stories then was able to find an uncropped version of the image in an October 23, 2023, article in the Toronto Sun (archived here). The caption for the image says:

Climate activist Greta Thunberg (front, right) is pictured with other activist in this photo, which was posted to social media. She has removed this picture from her social media accounts, citing concerns it was unknowingly hurtful toward Jewish people.

This is what the original image looked like on the Toronto Sun website at the time of writing:


(Source: Toronto Sun screenshot taken on Fri Dec 22 18:03:06 2023 UTC)

The same image appears on the Forbes website (archived here) and elsewhere online (archived here) under a Google search with the terms "Greta Thunberg and Gaza."

Picture insert

As a final comparison, Lead Stories overlaid the photo-edited version of the image from the post on X on the original image found on the Toronto Sun website. It appears below:


(Source: X and Toronto Sun screenshots taken on Fri Dec 22 2023 UTC)

Google searches

A Google News search (archived here) on December 22, 2023, using the terms "Greta Thunberg wears Hamas headband and holds Islamic State flag" found no results matching the claims in the post on X.

A regular Google search (archived here) also found no results matching the claims but did provide a long list of articles criticizing Thunberg for her pro-Palestinian post.

Read more

Lead Stories has debunked other false claims involving Thunberg here.

Other Lead Stories fact checks about the 2023 Hamas-Israel war can be found here.

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  Ed Payne

Ed Payne is a staff writer at Lead Stories. He is an Emmy Award-winning journalist as part of CNN’s coverage of 9/11. Ed worked at CNN for nearly 24 years with the CNN Radio Network and CNN Digital. Most recently, he was a Digital Senior Producer for Gray Television’s Digital Content Center, the company’s digital news hub for 100+ TV stations. Ed also worked as a writer and editor for WebMD. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Ed is the author of two children’s book series: “The Daily Rounds of a Hound” and “Vail’s Tales.” 

Read more about or contact Ed Payne

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