Social media platform X fails to remove posts falsely naming man as Parnell Square attacker

Abdelhafid Bensaada is suing a conversative news site for falsely linking him to the attack in Dublin city centre last November

The social media giant X, formerly known as Twitter, has failed to remove dozens of posts falsely identifying an innocent man as the suspect in the Parnell Square stabbing attack last November.

Abdelhafid Bensaada, an Algerian national, was falsely named online as the man who stabbed three young children and a carer as they stood outside Gaelscoil Choláiste Mhuire in the city centre.

Another man, Riad Bouchaker, is currently facing trial for the attacks after being detained at the scene.

The Garda moved quickly to refute allegations Mr Bensaada had anything to do with the attacks after various websites and social media users started claiming he was the attacker on November 30th. The Garda also provided him with protection and security advice.


Some posts naming him as the suspect were quickly deleted after the Garda made clear he had no involvement. However, as of this week, four months after the attack, a large number remain online and accessible on X.

It is understood X was made aware of the issue shortly after the false claims started to circulate on its platform. However, to date it has failed or refused to remove about 30 posts naming and associating Mr Bensaada with the attack.

Some of the still-live posts threaten violence against Mr Bensaada, while others claim prominent politicians intervened to allow him remain in Ireland following the start of deportation proceedings.

A number of posts also name a charity they claim assisted the Algerian man. Several of the posts come from prominent far-right accounts with large followings.

In one instance, a social media user set up an account in the name of Mr Bensaada which falsely claims “I am the main Algerian suspect for the Dublin child knife attack”.

The account remains live, despite X’s rules against impersonation accounts.

On November 30th, Derek Blighe, a well-known far-right campaigner, created a post naming Mr Bensaada and talking about the “nightmare his citizenship has brought to our shores” but not referring directly to the stabbing. It too remains on the site.

Other social media platforms have been proactive in removing false references to Mr Bensaada as the attacker. There are currently no such public mentions on TikTok, Facebook or Instagram.

X did not respond to queries this week on the posts or what action it has taken to remove them

The issue is not confined to X. Mr Bensaada continues to be named as the attacker on a number of websites associated with the far right, including one dedicated to the “QAnon” conspiracy theory. This site names a charity it claims assisted the man and lists the charity’s staff members.

The posts are likely to form part of Mr Bensaada’s defamation case against the conservative news site Gript which was lodged last month.

Most of the posts falsely naming Mr Bensaada as the attacker were created after Gript and its editor, John McGuirk, published a lengthy article falsely claiming Mr Bensaada was the attacker.

The article did not name Mr Bensaada but it included enough detail about his interactions with the State’s asylum process that social media users quickly figured out his identity.

On the evening the article appeared, the Garda Press Office released a statement calling it “highly inaccurate”. The website removed it a short time later.

In its statement after the publication of the article, the Garda said: “The individual referenced in the article is not a person of interest in the investigation into the knife attack of last Thursday.

“An Garda Síochána has contacted the online news outlet and the outlet has agreed to remove the article.

“An Garda Síochána is aware of some social media posts resulting from the article that purport to identify the individual and has put in place measures to ensure the safety of the individual.”

Gript did not contact the Garda Press Office before publishing the article, the Garda said.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times