In a story going viral on social media, John McCain is supposedly pictured with members of the extremist armed group ISIS, which everyone from Obama to Hezbollah is now calling the worst terrorists on earth. 
But the guy on the right is actually Mouaz Moustafa the executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force. When I posted the article above on Facebook, he had this to say: 
 It’s so upsetting to keep seeing this photo among other photos calling me and the guys in the picture ISIS.

1-ISIS killed some of those in the picture.

2-I wear a kuffyiah because I’m Palestinian and take it with me everywhere.
3-ISIS killed two of my staff a 24 yr old and a 29 yr old because they work with me and my organization they were both Sunni Arabs one spoke 5 languages, ISIS called them as they consider me apostates

3-those in the picture are Free Syria Army from a battalion called northern storm extreme enemies of ISIS 

4- please be informed before sharing complete BS

I usually don’t reply because it’s not worth my time but I just wanted to let you all know that these are complete fabrications. Thanks guys for listening…
But a perusal 29-year-old Mouaz’s Facebook page reveals he may be up to some shady activity. Like wearing hoodies and Palestine garments:
And posing with endangered species:

For a full debunk of the ISIS photo see this article.
And here’s an interview with Mouaz, who is based in DC, talking about the McCain meeting on CNN

Now does all this mean the US and its allies have nothing to do with ISIS or did nothing to provoke the circumstances–military and financial–that led to its rise? Of course not. But the haphazard demonization of ISIS by some of its staunchest foes may also be contributing to their fear-mongering and sometimes convenient prominence.
***

Special thanks to my great friend (and fellow journalist you should follow) Reem Akkad for introducing me to Mouaz over Facebook. See, social media does work… sometimes.
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Habib Battah
Habib Battah is an investigative journalist and founder of the news site beirutreport.com. Battah has covered Lebanon and the Middle East for over 15 years and teaches journalism and media studies at the American University of Beirut. He is a contributor to Monocle, The Guardian, BBC World, Al Jazeera and others, a former fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University and two-time recipient of the Samir Kassir Press Freedom Award. Battah's investigative work was recently recognized for outstanding local reporting by the Columbia University Oakes Award for Environmental Reporting. Battah earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.A. in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University.

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