On Teusday, the Guardian Express, a local community news forum in Nevada, reported that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been arrested and held for seven hours on Monday by the Revolutionary Guard's intelligence unit. According to the article:
"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was arrested Monday while on a visit to a book fair in Tehran, where he was held for seven hours and questioned by the Revolutionary Guards' intelligence unit. According to a source within the guards' unit, Ahmadinejad was intercepted while on his way to a meeting at the supreme leader’s office. His security team was stripped of communication devices and Ahmadinejad was questioned about documents that may be detrimental to the regime. He was warned, essentially, to keep his mouth shut about all matters that could harm the regime going into the upcoming presidential election."
Wow, I thought, this is pretty big news! Naturally I was curious as to how other news organisations were reporting the story. Problem is, they weren't reporting it. Surely Al Jazeera or the Guardian (the British one, obviously) would have something to say about this. But they didn't, because the whole thing seems to have been a hoax.
The story on the Guardian Express, written by someone under the name randy77 (always an encouraging sign), was almost entirely plagiarized from a piece written by Reza Kahlili on WorldNet Daily. Kahlili's "exclusive" about Admadinejad's arrest is entirely based on an unnamed "source within the Revolutionary Guard’s intelligence unit." The story was even picked up by The Daily Beast, which to date has only gone as far as to correct its previous claim that the source of the story was the Guardian (the British one). It still says that "sourcing of the Guardian Express article could not be confirmed." Except that it could be, by reading the article in question. The Daily Mail has also repeated Khalili's claims.
According to Nima Shirazi, who writes for Wide Asleep in America, as well as Mondoweiss, and is the editor of the online magazine Muftah, the story is simply anti-Iran propaganda. Kahlili (not his real name) is apparently a "serial liar and propagandist beloved by the Bomb Iran crowd [and] claims he is a former CIA agent who infiltrated the highest echelons of the Iranian intelligence apparatus."
Khalili "consistently publishes scoops on the right-wing loony-toon website WorldNetDaily that contain no factual information, save that a country called Iran does actually exist." Back in 2010 he argued that "There should be no doubt they’re [Iran] going to commit the most horrendous suicide bombing in human history. They will attack Israel, European capitals and the Persian Gulf region at the same time, then they will hide in a bunker [until a religious prophecy is fulfilled]… and kill the rest of the nonbelievers.”
Meir Javendafar has also called into question Khalili's story, saying that he would "not give credibility to his latest report" given "Kahlili’s other highly questionable reports."
So rather than simply re-posting Khalili's story, the Guardian Express, the Daily Beast, and the Daily Mail would have done better to have a closer look and see if there were any facts involved. Perhaps Khalili's "exclusive" was exclusive for a reason. Hint: because it most likely wasn't true.