Taliban negotiators Abdul Latif Mansoor (L), Shahabuddin Delawar (C) and Suhail Shaheen (R) attend a press conference in Moscow on July 9, 2021 ( AFP / Dimitar DILKOFF)

Satirical image of Taliban official holding a Chairman Mao book is doctored from a news photo

Copyright AFP 2017-2021. All rights reserved.

A photo appearing to show a Taliban official holding up a Mao Zedong book at a press conference has been shared hundreds of times on social media platforms, alongside a claim it shows the Taliban giving credit to the Chinese communist's book for their military victory. The claim is satirical: the photo has been doctored to include the book.

The photo was published here on Twitter on August 16, 2021.

The post's simplified-Chinese caption reads: "The reporter asked the Taliban's person in charge: What made you able to occupy the whole country of Afghanistan so quickly?"

The photo appears to show Taliban negotiator Shahabuddin Delawar holding up a Chinese-language volume of "Selected Works of Mao Zedong" during a press conference.

A screenshot, taken on August 17, 2021, of the misleading post ( AFP)

The book is a collection of the written works of Communist China's founding leader ranging from the years 1926–1957.

The press conference, at which the Taliban claimed that 85% of Afghanistan's territory was under their control, took place in Moscow in July, as reported by AFP here.

A selection of comments under the misleading tweet suggested that social media users were misled by the photo.

One commented: "The choice of the people, the choice of history."

Others wrote: "It's the Afghan people who chose us" and "[They] even understand Chinese, brilliant".

A screenshot, taken on August 17, 2021, of comments under the misleading post

The same photo was also shared on Twitter here and here and on Facebook here alongside a similar claim.

However, the claim is satirical: the book was digitally inserted into the photo.

A reverse image search on Google found the original photo published here by Reuters news agency on July 9, 2021.

A screenshot, taken on August 18, 2021, of the original photo on Reuters ( AFP)

The photo caption reads: "Members of Taliban political office Abdul Latif Mansoor (L), Shahabuddin Delawar (C) and Suhail Shaheen attend a news conference in Moscow, Russia July 9, 2021."

Below is a screenshot comparison of the doctored photo (L) and the photo published by Reuters (R):

A screenshot comparison of the doctored photo (L) and the photo published by Reuters (R) ( AFP)

The press conference was also live-streamed in this YouTube video here by Ruptly, a Russian video news agency. The full video of the press conference does not show the Taliban negotiator holding up a book by Mao.

Afghanistan