It is a tough time to be a professional journalist. Apparently even the terrorists have learned that fact-checking is virtually non-existent on certain kinds of stories (specifically those that can be used to embarrass the Bush administration). Case in point: this AP story about an alleged captured US soldier.
Iraqi militants claimed in a Web statement Tuesday to have taken an American soldier hostage and threatened to behead him in 72 hours unless the Americans release Iraqi prisoners.The head and the gun barrel are the key points here. Take a close look at the picture. Something look funny about the head? Does it seem odd that the rifle is floating in mid-air without any visible means of support? Without even a shadow of the individual holding it?
The posting, on a Web site that frequently carried militants' statements, included a photo of what appeared to be an American soldier in desert fatigues seated with his hands tied behind his back.
A gun barrel was pointed at his head, and he is seated in front of a black banner emblazoned with the Islamic profession of faith, "There is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet."
UPDATE: CNN is on the story:
The U.S. military said Tuesday that no American soldiers have been reported missing in Iraq after a Web statement claimed that an American soldier had been taken hostage."Questions were raised."
The authenticity of the statement and photo, purporting to show a hostage with a gun to his head, could not be verified, and questions were raised about the photo's authenticity.
In Baghdad, Staff Sgt. Nick Minecci of the U.S. military's press office in Baghdad said "no units have reported anyone missing."
The posting, on a Web site that frequently carries militants' statements, included a photo of what that statement said was an American soldier, wearing desert fatigues and seated on a concrete floor with his hands tied behind his back.
The figure in the photo appeared stiff and expressionless.
Liam Cusack, of the toy manufacturer Dragon Models USA, Inc., said the image of the soldier portrayed in the photo bore a striking resemblance to a military action figure made by the company.
UPDATE: No scam story is complete without the infamous animated gif.
UPDATE: Now it looks like they got Mr. Bill.