Evidence-fabricating in asymmetric conflicts: How weak actors prove false propaganda narratives

Or Honig*, Ariel Reichard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


As part of their common efforts to undermine public support for their militarily-stronger adversaries’ war efforts, insurgents and other militarily weak actors often accuse governments of fighting in a brutal manner and of committing brutal acts such as deliberately targeting innocent civilians. While sometimes there is sufficient evidence to support this claim of the government’s deliberate brutality, other times militarily-weak actors will lack sufficient evidence to support this allegation. In such situation of lack of evidence, instead of making only those minimal allegations which can still be support by existing available facts, some weak actors decide nevertheless to make unsubstantiated claims and resort to fabricating the necessary evidence. This behavior presents a challenge not only for many counterinsurgent governments but also for the larger international community (most notably by diverting attention away from real atrocities). We identify some of the most common evidence-forging techniques recently employed by weak actors designed to create the factual basis to support of their chosen (often false) narratives of government brutality. The study also discusses some implications for international actors to prevent rewarding faking of atrocities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-318
Number of pages22
JournalStudies in Conflict and Terrorism
Issue number4
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2018


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