False posts about Filipino worker killed in Kuwait misuse old news clips

Old video clips from Kuwait have racked up over one million views in posts that falsely claim they show interviews with people who witnessed the killing of a Filipino woman in the Gulf nation in January 2023. But the clips have appeared in media reports since late 2021 about a vendor who was killed in Kuwait following a dispute with his customers.

A nine-minute video showing various clips of people being interviewed by a journalist has been viewed more than 500,000 times after it was shared on TikTok on January 28, 2023.

"Here are the stories of eyewitnesses," reads the video's Tagalog-language text overlay. "This is where the remains of our fellow citizen jullibee (sic) Ranara were dumped."

Screenshot of false post taken on February 2, 2023

Filipino domestic worker Jullebee Ranara was found dead in Kuwait on January 22, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople told Philippine media. She did not provide further details about the exact location Ranara's remains were found.

In a separate interview with CNN Philippines, Ople said the suspect in the killing was the 17-year-old son of Ranara's employers.

The suspect "has been arrested and is currently in detention", the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait said on January 29. It described Ranara's death as "brutal and tragic".

Similar videos have also been viewed more than 650,000 times alongside the false claim on Facebook here, here and here.

Comments from some users suggested they believed the video was related to Ranara's case.

"Thank you Miss Kuwaiti reporter for this video," one wrote.

"What hurts more is, they say here that she was allegedly rammed by a vehicle twice before she was burnt," another commented.

But the interview clips predate Ranara's killing by more than one year.

Unrelated killing

Keyword searches on Twitter found the clips correspond to reports published on November 1, 2021 by Kuwaiti news organisations AlQabas and SNAA News here and here.

The reports described the killing of a man in late October of that year who was identified as an "Asian" expatriate working as a vendor at a mobile grocery shop in Kuwait's Ar Rahiyah area, just outside Al Jahra city. The man was reportedly run over by a car after he chased customers who refused to pay their bill.

The AlQabas report corresponds to the video in the false post's opening seven seconds and from its one-minute 11-second mark.

Its Arabic-language title translates to English as: "AlQabas at the crime scene in Rahiyah…and two packs of cigarettes are the reason".

It shows a journalist interviewing people who reportedly witnessed the killing of the vendor.

The SNAA News clips correspond to the video in the false posts at its eight-second mark and from its five-minute 26-second mark. These clips were both captioned: "A worker in a mobile grocery store talks about his suffering with customers."

Below are screenshot comparisons of the video in the false posts (left) and their corresponding frames from the old news reports (right):

Screenshot comparisons of the video in the false posts (left) and their corresponding frames from the Kuwaiti news reports (right).

Two suspects aged 14 and 17 years old were arrested more than one year after the killing of the vendor, who was identified as a Bangladeshi national in reports by Kuwaiti media 7eyad and Mediacourt on January 10, 2023.

According to the reports, police seized the car used in the crime but a third suspect -- an 18-year-old who was reportedly driving the vehicle that rammed the vendor -- remained at large.

AFP has previously debunked misinformation that has circulated online about Ranara's killing here and here.

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