NEWS
28/10/2019 10:22 GMT | Updated 28/10/2019 12:22 GMT

Was Trump's Al-Baghdadi Raid Situation Room Picture Staged?

It wasn't long after Trump's announcement that rumours began to circulate about his picture being staged – but was that actually the case?

The authenticity of claims made by Donald Trump about watching the military operation which killed ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been called into question after confusion around the time stamp on a photograph.

Almost as soon as the picture of the US president and security officials in the White House’s situation room emerged, rumours began to circulate that the picture – which has been widely compared to a similar picture of Obama during the US military’s successful attack on Osama Bin Laden – had been staged. 

Handout . / Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L), U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper (3rd R), along with members of the national security team, watch as U.S. Special Operations forces close in on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the Situation Room of the White House. 

A tweet written by Pete Souza, Obama’s official White House photographer and the man behind the similar picture of Trump’s predecessor, quickly went viral when he pointed out an apparent discrepancy between the photo’s time stamp and the reported time of the operation. 

Rumours that the picture must have been staged were bolstered by reports that Trump had been spotted on the golf course at around 3.30pm Washington time, when the military’s attack on al-Baghdadi was initially believed to have begun. 

The time stamp on the photo read 5.05pm, implying perhaps the US president hadn’t been in the room during the historic moment. 

Trump was widely mocked for the perceived error, with social media users accusing him of attempting to recreate the now-iconic picture of Obama during his presidency. 

It later emerged, however, that perhaps the picture hadn’t been staged after all.

The New York Times, as well as several other media outlets, reported that helicopters took off from a base in Erbil, Iraq at around midnight local time, meaning US officials would have been watching from Washington at approximately 5pm. 

A website that tracks Trump’s golfing trips claimed the president had finished playing at a course shortly after 3.30pm in Virginia. The Mirror reported that Trump’s official schedule showed him returning to the White House by 4.30pm, half an hour before the operation began.