No, these photos do not show a bomb-making factory used by terrorists in northern Sri Lanka

A series of photographs have been shared thousands of times in multiple Facebook posts published in May 2019 alongside a claim the images show a bomb-making factory used by terrorists in northern Sri Lanka. The claim is false; nine of the 10 photographs used in the misleading post have been taken from reports about Islamic State (IS) factories in Libya and Iraq.

The photos were shared in this Facebook post on May 10, 2019 which has been shared more than 15,000 times.

Below is a screenshot of the misleading post:

Screenshot of the misleading post

The post’s Sinhalese caption translates to English as: "This is what the government is hiding from you, saying don’t show as news. Today, a bomb factory on a 30-acre farm belonging to terrorist Zaharan found in the Puthukkudiyiruppu area. (Do not scold every Muslims. Everyone is not at fault, these are mistakes of our impotent government).”

The post was published after a series of terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka on April 21 left 257 people dead. Here is an AFP report about the bombings.

“Zaharan” is a reference to Zaharan Hashim, an Islamic cleric who has been linked to the suicide bombings. Here is an AFP report on Hashim.

Puthukkudiyiruppu is a town in Mullaitivu district in northern Sri Lanka.

The same photos were published on Facebook here, here and here with a similar claim.

The claim is false; nine of the ten photographs used in the misleading post have been taken from media reports about an Islamic State (IS) factories found in Libya and Iraq.

A reverse image search on Google found four out of the ten photos in the misleading post were published in this article by UK newspaper The Daily Mail on August 2, 2016.

The headline states: ‘Inside an ISIS bomb-making factory in Libya: Metal bolts for suicide vests, shaved BEARDS left by disguised militants’.

Below is the screenshot of the four photos in the misleading post (L) and Daily Mail photos (R):

Another reverse image search found two photos in the misleading post were taken from this Daily Mail article published on April 1, 2017.

The headline states: “ISIS car bomb factory discovered in Mosul where 'jihadis pack vehicles with deadly CHLORINE and paint trucks bright colours to fool US spy drones'”.

Below is a screenshot of the two photos in the misleading post (L) and the Daily Mail photos (R):

Another photo in the misleading posts was taken from this Daily Mail article published on 30 June, 2017.

The headline states: “Inside the ISIS drone factory: Seized Mosul warehouse reveals the jihadis' crude reconnaissance planes and deadly four-wheeled robot bombs.”

The photograph is credited to Getty Images and the same image appears on the Getty Images website here.

Below is a screenshot the misleading photo (L) and the Getty Images photo on the Daily Mail website (R):

Another photo from the misleading posts was taken from this article published on news.com.au on December 8, 2016 about an ISIS car bomb factory discovered near Mosul, Iraq.

The caption states: “Tools of the trade inside the ISIS car bomb factory.”

Below is a screenshot the misleading photo (L) and news.com.au photo (R) 
 

This photo in the misleading posts was found in this tweet published on October 19, 2018, by Jason Buttrill, who describes himself on his Twitter profile as a former intelligence analyst for the US Department of Defense.

Below is a screenshot of his tweet:

Buttrill told AFP that he took the photo in Nienveh Northern Iraq on December 8, 2016.

AFP was not able to locate this photo published in the misleading posts elsewhere online.

Sri Lanka police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said police had identified 17 safehouses and seven training facilities used by terrorists involved in the Easter Sunday attacks, he said in an audio statement sent to AFP’s Colombo bureau on May 15, 2019. 

None of the sites listed in the statement were in Puthukkudiyiruppu.