Ted Nugent, the one-time rock guitarist turned Second Amendment rights activist, could probably stand to brush up on his Web surfing skills.
A few days ago, Nugent posted a horrific photo on Facebook of a bearded man, bloody knife in hand, squatting behind five gory heads. "One of the subhuman mongrels our president set free," Nugent wrote in the caption. "Feel safer yet?" (Nugent created a controversy earlier this year when he called President Barack Obama a "subhuman mongrel.")
A reader alerted us that Nugent's post was spreading fast (users have shared it more than 100,000 times) so we wanted to check whether the man in the photo is one of the five Taliban leaders released from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
He is not and there is no way that he could be.
The image reportedly was tweeted by the man in the photo on March 15 and not one of the five Taliban prisoners. We say reportedly because the original tweet has since been removed. However, we can use news accounts to piece together what happened -- and why this image is not of the Taliban prisoners.
For starters, the five Taliban officials were released May 31, 2014, more than two months after the image was first released.
Tha man who originally tweeted the image goes by the name Abdurahman. Abdurahman came from Iraq and lived in Holland for 10 years before returning to fight in Syria and Iraq. The image was the source of an article in de Volkskrant, a major Dutch newspaper, on March 17. The article identifies the man in the image as Khalid K. from Almere, Netherlands.
Although the photo itself is no longer available on the Web, the description in the Volkskrant article matches the image in Nugent’s post. An American blog post from March 23 leaves no doubt the images are the same. The site D.C. Clothesline links back to the Volkskrant and includes the photo.
On April 17, Live Leak, a British-based image and video sharing website, carried an entry with the photo. The headline was, "Dutch-Iraqi ISIS terrorist cannibal butcher and behead five Al Qaeda terrorists beheader (sic)."
How'd things get mixed up?
The image returned recently with people claiming it was Mohammad Fazl, one of the five Taliban prisoners swapped in exchange for Bergdahl. The urban myth website Snopes reviewed the revival of the disturbing photo on June 10. It noted that the image had appeared many times on Facebook with the claim that the man was "Mohammad Fazi (sic), just one of those great terrorists that this administration traded for the deserter. He seems like a really proud terrorist in this photo. I sure hope everyone feels safer knowing this guy is now free."
Without using Mohammed Fazl’s name, Nugent apparently borrowed much from such posts. Fazl is a former Taliban deputy defense minister, one of the five men released from Guantanamo.
Mohammed Fazl (left) and Abdurahman (right).
We contacted Nugent’s office for comment and did not hear back.
Nugent said a man squatting behind five heads had been set free by President Barack Obama to secure the freedom of an American soldier. The photo first appeared in mid March, two months before the prisoner swap.
Nugent had plenty of opportunity to learn that the photo was not of one of the five released prisoners. He posted it two days after the connection to the Guantanamo detainees had been debunked.
We rate the claim Pants on Fire.