Viral Forbes cover featuring former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal is fake

By: Rahul Adhikari
November 10 2023

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Viral Forbes cover featuring former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal is fake

Social media posts claiming Forbes magazine featured former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal on the cover of its magazine. (Source: X (L)/Facebook (R )/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict Fake

The viral Forbes magazine cover featuring former Hamas head Khaled Mashal has been fabricated. It was likely originally created as a satirical post.

Claim ID 7c5b9f8a

What is the claim?

A post circulating on social media shows a digitally manipulated Foreges magazine cover featuring former Hamas chief Khaled Mashal.The viral image shows what appears to be a Forbes cover dated October 7, 2023, featuring a photo of Mashal. The cover reads, “Khaled Mashal $5,000,000,000 BILLIONAIRE: Made his fortune defrauding his people and the generosity of the world. A licensed thief who leaves his people hungry for bread and water. Calls himself a "liberator” but in fact he is the one who steals their Freedom and a better future.” 

Several users have shared the post across social media, criticizing Mashal and calling him a “thief.” One such post on X (formerly Twitter) has garnered over 209,000 views and 4,900 likes. Numerous Instagram users also appeared to believe this is a genuine cover published by Forbes. Archived versions of the viral posts can be found here, here, and here.

Screenshots of the viral posts on social media. (Source: X (L)/Facebook (R )/Modified by Logically Facts)

However, a digitally altered Forbes cover, which seems to have been initially shared as satire, has been circulated as a real cover.

What did we find?

We noted that "Gaza" is written on the top of the cover beside the date, suggesting that the cover is from an edition released in Gaza. However, the publication does not have any presence in Gaza. Forbes Israel does not have an edition featuring Mashal on the cover either.

By reviewing all Forbes editions published since February 28, 2018 on the Forbes Magazine Store, we found that no cover featuring Mashal has been published to date. The latest October/November 2023 edition features an image of Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, titled “ZUCK GROWS UP.”

Screenshot of the Forbes magazine covers. (Source: Forbes Magazine Store)

We also reviewed all the region-specific global editions of Forbes magazine, including the 27 language editions published in the last three months, and concluded that Forbes had not released any magazine cover featuring Mashal in any of its October/November 2023 editions or recently in any of its 45 editions.

We also noticed what appeared to be a barcode on the viral magazine cover without any numbers. This was unusual, as barcodes generally come with numbers printed alongside. The Forbes magazine covers available on the official site, which displayed barcodes, had numbers printed alongside. This further confirmed that the viral cover was fake.  

Logically Facts also contacted Forbes for clarification on the viral cover. Bill Hankes, Chief Communications Officer at Forbes, confirmed that the Forbes cover featuring Mashal is not authentic.

The origin of the image

A reverse image search revealed that the viral image was first shared on X on November 3, in a post criticizing Mashal. 

The next day, on November 4, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel shared the same cover on LinkedIn, with a disclaimer in the post's caption that reads, "(The magazine cover is satire and illustrative)." The foreign ministry also shared the post on X and noted that it was satirical. 

Screenshot of the LinkedIn post shared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel. (Source: LinkedIn)

Logically Facts has contacted the Israel ministry to clarify whether they created the image.

While it is unclear who created the satirical magazine cover, multiple users have since shared the post on social media without the disclaimer. 

Who is Khaled Mashal?

Mashal is a former leader of the Palestinian political organization Hamas. He was the head of Hamas’s Politburo, its main decision-making body from 1996 to 2017.

The verdict

A digitally manipulated Forbes magazine cover featuring former Hamas chief Mashal has been misrepresented as a genuine one released by the publication. Forbes has not published any such cover. The image was purportedly intended to be satire but has been shared by many on social media without that context. Therefore, we have marked this claim as false.

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