The 19-second video published by the New York Times last week showing the moment an Iranian missile hit a passenger jet has prompted much social media skepticism.
Questions arise about the improbable timing and circumstances of recording the precise moment when the plane was hit.
The newspaper ran the splash story on January 9, the day after a Ukrainian airliner was brought down near Tehran. It was headlined: ‘Video Shows Ukrainian Plane Being Hit Over Iran’. All 176 people onboard were killed. Two days later, the Iranian military admitted that one of its air defense units had fired at the plane in the mistaken belief that it was an incoming enemy cruise missile.
“A smoking gun” was how NY Times’ journalist Christiaan Triebert described the video in a tweet. Triebert works in the visual investigations team at the paper. In the same tweet, he thanked – “a very big shout out” – to an Iranian national by the name of Nariman Gharib “who provided it [the video] to the NY Times, and the videographer, who would like to remain anonymous”.
The footage i’ve got from a source – the moment the missile hit the #Flight752. I can’t verify the video yet! but please let me know if you find anything. I’m in contact with the person who send this video to see if I can get a version of video which has a meta data on it pic.twitter.com/HtesW5uecB
— 🤖Nariman (@NarimanGharib) January 9, 2020
The anonymous videographer is the person who caught the 19-second clip which shows a missile striking Flight PS752 shortly after take-off from Tehran’s Imam Khomenei airport at around 6.15 am. This person, who remains silent during the filming while smoking a cigarette (the smoke briefly wafts over the screen), is standing in the suburb of Parand looking northwest. His location was verified by the NY Times using satellite data. The rapid way the newspaper’s technical resources were marshaled raises a curious question about how a seemingly random video submission was afforded such punctilious attention.
But the big question which many people on social media are asking is: why was this “videographer” standing in a derelict industrial area outside Tehran at around six o’clock in the morning with a mobile phone camera training on a fixed angle to the darkened sky?