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9-year-old commercial picture not showing Raisi’s ill-fated helicopter

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Claim: There have been claims that the helicopter conveying Iranian President Raisi was struck by a space laser, leading to the sudden death of all passengers on board.

9-year-old commercial picture not showing Raisi’s ill-fated helicopter

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Following Sunday’s fatal crash of a helicopter conveying Iranian President Ebrahimi Raisi and Monday’s arrest warrant application of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, amidst hostilities between the Islamic Republic of Iran and a fellow Middle Eastern country, Israel. There have been insinuations about the possible causes of the air mishap.

In April, there was heightened tension between the two regional rivals when Israel bombed an Iranian diplomatic building in Syria. In response to the attack in Syria, Iran sent hundreds of drones and missiles to Israel. Israel would later retaliate. Amidst these hostilities and mutual suspicion, many possible causes of the crash have been suggested.

While there were reports of unfavourable weather conditions in the area when the crash occurred on Sunday afternoon (local time), this was evident in a trending video of the rescue mission posted by state-affiliated Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), where the atmosphere was foggy. There are allegations that the Islamic country’s rivals attacked the helicopter.

A user of X (formerly Twitter), @DianaWallace888, posted that the ill-fated helicopter was “shot out of the sky by a space laser!” She accompanied her texts with a picture of a helicopter on fire mid-air with a projectile hanging by its side. This tweet has garnered up to 3000 comments and over 11,200 reposts. The post was liked by over 57,700 users of X and viewed by over 13 million users of X across the world.

In their reaction to the post, @1stepAndleeb said, “It’s Scary that the US has been showcasing this technology in Hollywood movies for decades. They don’t hide their intentions; we dismiss it as science fiction and conspiracy theories (sic).”

Another X user, @Mrbiggyjoe, asked Wallace for evidence of her claim when he posted, “Hope you have evidence to back up this false claim of yours?” Another user, @DayoOjo, however, countered @Mrbiggyjoe, asking @Mrbiggyjoe for evidence to back his claim. One @valentina_sime_ said there was no way the US government didn’t have a hand in the accident.

9-year-old commercial picture not showing Raisi’s ill-fated helicopter

The controversy prompted DUBAWA to fact-check the alleged picture of the crash to determine if a space laser downed it.

Verification

DUBAWA’s checks show this is not the first time the picture shared by Wallace has been linked to a helicopter crash. A fact-check by an Indian media outlet, India Today, showed that the same picture had previously been alleged to be that of a helicopter conveying pilgrims that crashed in Uttarakhand, a northern Indian state, in 2022.

Further checks by DUBAWA revealed that the picture first surfaced online in March 2015 when iStockPhoto, an online licensed photo sales platform, uploaded it.

9-year-old commercial picture not showing Raisi’s ill-fated helicopter

Also, pictures of the ill-fated helicopter before the accident shared by IRNA showed that its tail was painted blue solely. However, the photo attached to Wallace’s tweet has blue and white colours on the helicopter’s tail. While the landing skids in IRNA’s picture also show white landing skids, @DianaWallace888’s shows black landing skids.

9-year-old commercial picture not showing Raisi’s ill-fated helicopter

Iain Boyd, a defense expert at the University of Colorado Boulder, United States, highlights the limitations of laser weapons. The weapons function less effectively in rain, fog, and smoke. Since it was foggy on Sunday in the area where the crash occurred, it was unlikely that a laser weapon would have been deployed.

Conclusion

The claim that the helicopter conveying the Late President Ebrahim Raisi of Iran was attacked cannot be immediately confirmed as there is no sufficient evidence to prove it. The accompanying picture is, however, not from the Sunday incident since there is evidence of its existence since March 2015, more than nine years before Raisi’s unfortunate death.

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