NOT REAL NEWS: A look at what didn’t happen this week

A roundup of some of the most popular but completely untrue stories and visuals of the week. None of these is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media. The Associated Press checked them out. Here are the real facts:

CLAIM: Joe Biden, while vice president, leaked the identities of special ops SEAL Team 6 who captured Osama bin Laden.

THE FACTS: Biden, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, did not leak the names of those involved in the 2011 raid that killed the al-Qaida leader despite posts circulating widely on social media. The claim, which has circulated before, surfaced again this week following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State group, during an Oct. 26 U.S. special operations raid. The death of bin Laden, who was sought for the Sept. 11 attacks, was announced on May 1, 2011, after a Navy SEAL team raided his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, killing him, his son and several others. On May 3, 2011, Biden gave an address at the 50th anniversary dinner for the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based foreign policy think tank, where he mentioned the Navy SEAL team that killed bin-Laden. He first acknowledged the night’s honorees, including U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, now retired, who he said would speak more about the Navy SEALs and their raid on bin Laden. Biden went on to praise the team that carried out the mission, including the SEALs. But he did not mention team members by name. Social media users began blaming Biden for identifying participants in the raid after 15 members of SEAL Team 6 were killed in August 2011 when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their helicopter in Afghanistan.

CLAIM: President Barack Obama freed al-Baghdadi from prison during his presidency.

THE FACTS: The Islamic State group leader, who died in an Oct. 26 raid by U.S. forces, was not released in the Middle East under Obama, who served two terms, from 2009 to 2017. The false claim resurfaced after news of the raid on his hideout in Syria. The false claim also circulated on social media in 2014. Posts with the false claim resurfaced on Monday on Facebook and Twitter following President Donald Trump’s announcement Sunday that al-Baghdadi had died after being cornered by U.S. special operations forces. According to the Pentagon, al-Baghdadi was detained by U.S forces in 2004 and sent to Camp Bucca prison in Iraq for anti-U.S. militant activities. He was released after 10 months and then joined the al-Qaida branch in Iraq. At the time of his release, George W. Bush was the U.S. president. Following the deaths of senior leaders in the group, he rose to lead IS in Iraq. Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Sean Robertson confirmed to The Associated Press that Al-Baghdadi was released from Camp Bucca after being held for ten months. He said there is no information indicating he was imprisoned again and released in 2009, as some false items online have claimed.

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