Old image of U.S. Navy captain in Afghanistan falsely linked to Israel-Hamas conflict

By: Ishita Goel
January 19 2024

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Old image of U.S. Navy captain in Afghanistan falsely linked to Israel-Hamas conflict

Social media posts claim the image shows the French Embassy receiving the body of a French commander.(Source: Facebook/X/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The photographer told Logically Facts that the image shows a U.S. Navy Sailor paying tribute at Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan’s Kabul in 2009.

Claim ID 77ac5888


On January 12, 2024, the Israeli military said that it had found evidence of the presence of hostages in a tunnel in Khan Younis, a city in the Gaza Strip. Reports indicate that Israel also suspects Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is hiding in one of these tunnels. 

Following the end of a ceasefire in December, Israel has escalated its attacks on Khan Younis, Gaza's second-largest city, designating it a "dangerous combat zone," as reported by Al Jazeera. Israel's ground offensive is particularly focused on this city, believed to be a stronghold of one of Hamas's most significant military brigades, and suspected to be the hiding place of Sinwar in its underground tunnels.

What is the claim?

Amid the ongoing Israeli offensive in Gaza, an image of a soldier kneeling, allegedly paying tribute to fallen soldiers, has gone viral. The image is claimed to depict the French Embassy receiving the body of General ‘Iskandar Landau’, purportedly a commander of the French security firm ‘New Century’, who was supposedly fighting alongside the Israeli army. 

Posts on X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook allege that he was killed, along with five members of the company's special task force, in a bombing in Khan Younis. Some posts identify the commander as General 'Alexandre Lando'. Archived links to these posts are available here, here, here, and here

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

What are the facts?

A reverse image search reveals that the image dates back to 2009.

The U.S. Department of Defense's media repository, DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution Service), posted the image on August 2, 2010, noting that it was taken on February 10, 2009. It was captioned "48th IBCT Georgia Army National Guard at Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan." The description reads, "U.S. Navy Capt. Stephen Cobbe pays his final respects during a Fallen Warrior ceremony at Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, Oct. 2, 2009," and credits Senior Chief Kevin Elliott.

The viral image on the DVIDS website. (Source: Website/Modified by Logically Facts)

Further investigation led to the discovery of the same image on photographer D. Kevin Elliott’s website, ‘D. Kevin Elliott Photography’, under the Afghanistan section. Elliott described his service in Afghanistan from July 2009 to July 2010 as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve working in the Public Affairs Office at Camp Phoenix in Kabul.

Logically Facts contacted Elliott, who confirmed his role as a U.S. Navy Reserve journalist deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. He stated that he took this picture at Camp Phoenix in Kabul during a ceremony for fallen U.S. National Guard soldiers. He clarified that the man in the picture is a U.S. Navy Sailor.

It is clear that the photo is unrelated to the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and dates back to a 2009 incident in Afghanistan.

Although reports suggest that over 4,000 French and Israeli dual nationals are participating in Israel’s war on Gaza, no credible reports confirm the death of a French commander named Iskandar Landau or Alexandre Lando in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The verdict

An image of a U.S. Navy captain paying tribute to fallen soldiers in Afghanistan in 2009 has been mistakenly shared with an unrelated and incorrect context of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Consequently, we have marked this claim as false.

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