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Houla 'Massacre' and Information Warfare

Earlier today, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora made a claim that echoed worldwide, proclaiming a “massacre” by the Israelis in the city of Houla in southern Lebanon, claiming that 40 were slaughtered. His words, founded in error, traveled fast and can be seen as an example of Information Warfare, though less likely on the part of PM Siniora and more on the part of those who fed him information from Houla.

Immediately, his claims spanned the globe.

Reuters via The Washington Post
Bahrain News Agency
Islamic Republic News Agency
The Daily Telegraph

Mr. Siniora’s claims even made it to the pages of ThreatsWatch today as we cautiously noted "Lebanon’s Prime Minister Siniora called today’s Israeli airstrike in the southern village of Houla a “massacre” and said that 40 were killed."

With such a rapid outcry followed by the immediate dissemination of the words of a head of state, news outlets like The Daily Telegraph and ThreatsWatch are forced to ammend their coverage.

"The massacre in Houla, it turned out that there was one person killed," Mr Siniora said.

"They thought that the whole building smashed on the heads of about 40 people ... thank God they have been saved."

But, as is the aim in Information Warfare, the damage is done in the minds of the public, as statements of revision do not travel with nearly the amount of zeal as the original sensational words and claims.

It’s not just doctored pictures that do harm in the war against Hizballah. Words are a far more longstanding tool and their use and consumption should both be exercised with care.