Computer-generated clip falsely shared as 'Huthi attack on US aircraft carrier'

A clip created with computer-generated graphics has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed drone footage of an attack by Yemen's Huthi rebels on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Washington has denied that any of its ships were damaged by the Huthis in the Red Sea, and the clip itself includes several elements that match similar video game footage posted on YouTube.

"Huthi armed forces released a video proving that the USS Eisenhower was bombed," read part of the simplified Chinese caption to a video posted on X on June 4, 2024

The video, viewed thousands of times, appears to show black-and-white aerial footage of missiles striking an aircraft carrier. The overlaid text says it is a US ship attacked by the Huthis.

Screenshot of the false X post, captured on June 25, 2024

The video circulated several days after Huthi rebels claimed that they had launched a missile attack on the USS Eisenhower in the Red Sea on May 31, 2024. Washington has not confirmed the aircraft carrier was targeted.

The Iran-backed Huthis, who control much of Yemen, has carried out scores of drone and missile attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden since November, citing solidarity with Palestinians over the Israel-Hamas war.

US and British forces have responded with strikes against the rebels, who have since declared American and British interests to be targets as well.

The video racked more than 200,000 views after it was shared elsewhere on X here, here and here, and on Weibo, alongside similar claims.

But Washington has dismissed claims the ship was struck, according to reports from the Voice of America. (archived link).

Computer-generated graphics

While AFP was unable to find the original video circulating online, a keyword search led to a similar video posted on YouTube on July 27, 2016.

The clip was posted by an account called "Kelint", who has previously posted clips from video games, and is titled "MQ9 Reaper Blueprint Demo - Unreal Engine 4" (archived link).

Unreal Engine 4 is the fourth iteration of a suite of tools used primarily for video game development, and the clip shows various computer-generated shots of an MQ-9 Reaper drone and the view from its onboard camera.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the falsely shared video (left) and the Kelint YouTube video (right), with corresponding elements highlighted by AFP:

Screenshot comparison of the falsely shared video (left) and the Kelint YouTube video (right)

Kelint told AFP via email on June 19, 2024, that the falsely shared clip was created using his work.

"It's definitely my asset, but this is the first time I saw the video in question," he said.

"It's definitely fake since it still has my 'Created by Kelint' watermark in the corner and also the reload prompt is very gamified."

"Created by Kelint" can be seen in the top-left corner of both videos and "Press R/X to reload" can be seen at the bottom of both videos.

He added his drone model and blueprint can be purchased online by other content creators (archived link).

AFP has previously fact-checked other videos falsely shared as attacks on US ships in the Red Sea here, here and here

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