Posts falsely claim 'Saudi Arabia deployed fighter jets and troops to help Indonesia invade Australia'

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A video has been viewed hundreds of times in social media posts that falsely claim Saudi Arabia has deployed fighter planes and troops to Indonesia to help the Southeast Asian country "invade Australia" due to the territorial conflict over Ashmore Reef. The false posts go on to claim that other Gulf countries are also sending fighter jets to Indonesia. In fact, the narrated text in the misleading video has been taken from a news article about Saudi sending fighters and troops to invade Yemen in 2015. As of December 17, 2022, there have been no official reports about Saudi Arabia deploying troops to Indonesia.

The three-minute nine-second video was posted here on YouTube on December 7, 2022. It has been viewed more than 17,000 times.

"God is great!! Thousands of Saudi Arabia's Troops Finally Arrive in Indonesia's Soil to Help Country of Same Faith" reads the post's Indonesian-language title.

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on December 15, 2022

The video shows clips of fighter jets before cutting to an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

At the start of the video, a female narrator says: "Today, Saudi Arabia started to deploy 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers to Indonesia."

And at the video's one-minute 17-second mark, she says: "The deployment of many fighter jets was reported by Middle East media Al Arabiya, on Tuesday, November 29, 2022.

"Apart from Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf countries, as well as Iran, will take part in the military invasion in Australia next month.

"The report also stated that leaders of four countries had agreed that, if Australia did not give assurance over Pulau Pasir until December, a major assault would be launched against the country."

The clip was posted after Indonesian media, including state-run news agency Antara, reported in October 2022 that an Indonesian fisherman said he would file a lawsuit against Australia over its "ownership of Pulau Pasir" -- a reference to Australia's Ashmore Reef.

The reef is part of MoU Box, an area in the Australian waters in the Timor Sea. Indonesian traditional fishers are allowed to access the area based on a 1974 agreement between the two neighbouring countries.

The claim also circulated alongside a similar video on YouTube here, here and here; as well as on Facebook here, racking up more than 286,000 views.

However, the claim is false.

Manipulated report

A Google search using several keywords found the female narrator in the misleading videos reads an altered Indonesian news article about Saudi Arabia's military involvement in Yemen.

The report, published by Indonesian media outlet Sindonews on March 26, 2015, is titled: "Saudi Arabia Deploys 100 Fighter Jets and 150 Thousand Troops to Yemen."

The video in the false posts includes narration altered from the original report, for example, "Yemen" is replaced with "Indonesia".

In the clip, the narrator says: "Today, Saudi Arabia started to deploy 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers to Indonesia".

However, the original Sindonews report reads: "Saudi Arabia has deployed around 100 fighter jets and 150,000 soldiers to Yemen for a war against the Houthi militia."

Later, the narrator can be heard saying: "The deployment of many fighter jets was reported by Middle East media Al Arabiya, on Tuesday, November 29, 2022", but in the original report, the date was "Thursday, March 26, 2015".

According to the misleading video, "Apart from Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf countries, as well as Iran, will take part in the military invasion in Australia next month".

However, in the Sindonews report, it reads: "Apart from Saudi Arabia, some other Gulf countries, as well as Egypt, took part in the military invasion in Yemen".

The narrator can be heard saying: "The report also stated that leaders of four countries had agreed that, if Australia did not give assurance over Ashmore Reef until December, a major assault would be launched against the country". But the original article reads: "The report also stated that some Houthi leaders have died in the military aggression."

Al Arabiya's report on Saudi Arabia's military intervention in Yemen can be read here.

Video of Saudi crown prince

At its 30-second mark, the misleading video shows an interview with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

A reverse image search on Google found the video actually shows him talking to journalists during a state visit to India in 2019, as published by Hindustan Times, an Indian newspaper, on YouTube here on February 20, 2019.

The post's caption reads: "President Ram Nath Kovind accorded ceremonial welcome to Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday ahead of his scheduled bilateral talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Prince Salman arrived in the national capital on Tuesday evening on a two-day visit to India.

"At the Rashtrapati Bhawan, Prince Salman said, 'Today we want to be sure that this relation is maintained and improved for the sake of both countries. With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India.'"

In the genuine video, Prince Mohammed can be seen standing between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then president Kovind.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the genuine video from Hindustan Times (right):

Screenshot comparison of the video in the misleading post (left) and the genuine video from Hindustan Times (right)

The video of bin Salman's visit to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, also known as the Rashtrapati Bhavan -- the Indian president's official residence -- was also tweeted by India's public broadcaster DD News on the same day.

As of December 17, 2022, there have been no official reports of any territorial conflict between Indonesia and Australia over Ashmore Reef or Saudi Arabia's military deployment to Indonesia.

AFP previously debunked a false claim that Russia deployed troops to help Indonesia fight Australia over Ashmore Reef, as well as other false claims about the non-existent war between Indonesia and Australia.