A video of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is doing the rounds on social media with the claim that the United States had threatened Iraq with coronavirus in 1990. It is being passed off an as evidence to claim, “Corvid-19 is a US biological weapon.”
A tweet by a user who goes by the handle African Revolt, said: “Listen to Saddam Hussein was in a 1990 meeting with his cabinet, telling them how America was threatening Iraq with Corona Virus”. It may be noted that the name of the disease COVID-19 has been misspelt as CORVID-19. Corvid is a family of birds.
Listen to Saddam Hussein was in a 1990 meeting with his cabinet, telling them how America was threatening Iraq with Corona Virus. This prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Corvid-19 is a US biological weapon. pic.twitter.com/ZojPlcc5bw
— African Revolt (@Africarevolt) March 17, 2020
Several users have also requested Alt News on its official mobile application to fact-check this video.
The video is also circulating in the Pakistani social media ecosystem with an Urdu text.
نوے کی دہائی میں صدام حسین ایک میٹنگ میں بتا رہے ہیں کہ امریکہ نے عراق پر کورونا وائرس چھوڑنے کی دھمکی دی ہے pic.twitter.com/QgZGxDzGyV
— Ijazbhutta (@Ijazbhuttaa) March 15, 2020
Using the digital verification tool InVid, Alt News obtained multiple key-frames of the video. With a reverse of one of the key-frames on Russian search engine Yandex, we found a video of the same meeting posted by the YouTube channel of The Associated Press’s archive on July 21, 2015. We watched the video frame-by-frame and were able to establish that it is the same video. In the comparison posted below, we have matched two frames – one from the AP’s video and another from the viral video – to establish that it has been clipped from the latter.
If one compares the audio and the video of the original footage with the viral video, it can be said that the 2:03-minute video has been manufactured by repeating visuals from the 1:18-minute original video. Moreover, it was also found that audio in the viral video has been superimposed and edited to give a false impression that Saddam Hussein had referred to the word “coronavirus” in the “1990s”. While there is not a single mention of the word “virus” in the original video, one can listen to the multiple mentions of the word “virus” in the manufactured clip.
The relevant portion can be heard from 30 seconds in the video posted below. Right before Hussein begins to laugh, the previous visuals are repeated in the viral clip. Moreover, Hussein’s voice does not match the voice in the viral clip.
The fact that Saddam Hussein doesn’t refer to ‘virus’ or ‘coronavirus’ also can be corroborated with the details given along with the AP video. According to AP’s transcription, Saddam Hussein said, “If God wills it and we have to run after the enemy, then we will do it.” It is noteworthy that time, date and location of the address couldn’t be ascertained.
Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was toppled by a US-led invasion in 2003. In 2006, Hussein was hanged in Baghdad for ordering the killing of 148 Shiites in the city of Dujail in 1982.
In conclusion, a clip featuring Hussein was manufactured to claim that the US had threatened Iraq with “biological weapon” COVID-19 in the year 1990. However, there is no mention of the word “virus” let alone “coronavirus” in the original footage available with the AP’s archive.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, repetitive misinformation aims to convince people that the virus is a biological weapon even though scientific research says that it had a natural origin. A statement by public health scientists published in The Lancet says, “We stand together to strongly condemn conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin. Scientists from multiple countries have published and analysed genomes of the causative agent, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), and they overwhelmingly conclude that this coronavirus originated in wildlife, as have so many other emerging pathogens.” It is likely that infected bats and/or pangolins from the wet livestock market of Wuhan are the original source of the virus.