A Fake News Story Leads to Nuclear Threat
Pakistani official lashes out at Israel after bogus online post
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 25, 2016 1:43 PM CST
File photo of a Pakistan army soldier on patrol.   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File)

(Newser) – If 2016 is the year of the fake news story, then it's ending in appropriate fashion: One bogus story has just led to a veiled threat of nuclear retaliation. As the Times of Israel explains, the craziness began when a fake news site, AWD News, ran a fake story in which an Israeli official accuses Pakistan of meddling in Syria and warns that Israel would attack Islamabad with nuclear weapons in response. One clue it's a fake story: The Israeli official quoted is named as defense minister Yoshe Ma'alon, but he left the post months ago. However, this did not deter Pakistani defense chief Khawaja Mohammad Asif, who responded to the fake nuclear threat with a tweet that sounds uncomfortably close to a real one: “Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too."

Israel's defense ministry tweeted back that the story is "entirely false," reports the New York Times. Pakistan hasn't yet responded. This, however, isn't Asif's first threat regarding his country's nuclear arsenal. In September, he warned that Pakistan would consider using tactical nuclear weapons against India if it were threatened by its neighbor, reported the Times of India. For the record, Israel maintains a policy of what the AP terms "nuclear ambiguity:" It has neither confirmed nor denied that it has such an arsenal. (A gunman opened fire in a DC pizzeria over a bogus news story.)

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