Fact Check

Is This a Real Video Showing Taliban Occupying Afghanistan's Parliament?

The Taliban entered Kabul in mid-August 2021, as foreign powers departed.

Published Aug. 16, 2021

Image Via Twitter
A video accurately shows Taliban members wielding weapons and sitting in chairs in Afghanistan’s parliament building.

While it is possible that this video is real, we have not encountered reputable news reports verifying its origins. As such, we will update this post when we learn more.

On Aug. 15, 2021, after a swift takeover of Afghanistan’s major provincial capitals, the Taliban entered Kabul as foreign powers departed, and thousands of Afghans tried to board flights. Two decades after the U.S. military and allied forces toppled the group from power, the Taliban were back, installing themselves in the presidential palace, and, according to one video, finding their own seats in the Afghan parliament.

One video circulating on social media, and across Indian news outlets claims to show Taliban fighters seated in the parliament building, some wielding weapons and others with cell phones. It began spreading ​​after the Taliban took over Kabul.

One man in the video is heard referencing President Ashraf Ghani, who recently fled the country. We spoke to a number of Pashto and Dari speakers, who confirmed that the men in the video were speaking neither language.  Many on social media speculated that the men in the video spoke a local language from the Nuristan province:

The question of what language they were speaking was also raised by BBC journalist Sana Safi.

The current Afghan parliament was inaugurated in December 2015, and supported with funding by the Indian government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi traveled to Kabul himself to inaugurate the building. There are two chambers in the parliament: the lower house, known as the Wolesi Jirga or the House of the People, which has just under 250 seats. The upper house is known as Meshrano Jirga, the House of the Elders or Senate which has around 102 members.

Images of the lower house can be seen below and here:

Images of the upper house can be seen below, here, and in a video of a 2021 session:

We deduced that what is seen in the video was not occurring in the larger chamber of the Wolesi Jirga. The footage appears to have been shot in the Meshrano Jirga, which has similar green upholstery on its seats, the same seating arrangement, and the same backdrop behind the desk.

We have looked closely at media reports from Kabul, and have not yet found a legitimate news agency that could verify the source of this video. We know that the Taliban are effectively in charge of Kabul so it is indeed likely that their members would have occupied the parliament as depicted in these videos. The setting of the video also appears to be from the new building that was inaugurated with the Indian government as recently as 2015, which implies that this footage was shot in the years since.

But given that we do not have any reputable news agencies confirming the source of this video, we rate this claim as “Unproven.” We will update this post and rating if we receive more information.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.