Category: syria

Saving Syria’s Children: Was BBC license fee money used to support an Islamist terror group protection-racket?

By Daniel Margrain

  In Saving Syria’s Children the logo of Salafist terror group, Ahrar al-Sham, is visible on the front of one the vehicles in Pannell and Conway’s security convoy (Source: Robert Stuart).

For many years I have been following Robert Stuart’s exhaustive and detailed exposition of the possible fabrications behind the infamous BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. The documentary was made in response to the alleged dropping of an incendiary bomb containing a “napalm-type” substance on the playground of the Urm al-Kubra school near Aleppo.

The BBC team comprising reporter, Ian Pannell and cameraman, Darren Conway were inside Syria when the alleged attack happened. They reported on, and filmed, the incoming casualties arriving at the Atareb hospital on 26 August 2013. The footage formed the basis of the documentary.

Stuart contends that the filmed sequences were largely, if not entirely, staged. Scenes from the documentary were shown as part of a brief BBC News at Ten broadcast report by Pannell and Conway which contained harrowing scenes of teenage boys and young men, their skin apparently in tatters, racing into what the report describes as “a basic hospital funded by handouts” to be treated for burns. In one particularly disturbing scene a tableau of young men writhe, drool and groan, seemingly in great distress.

My first impression after having seen the film was that it was contrived and staffed by actors. What initially led me to this conclusion were the actions of the central figure, Mohammed Asi, who looked directly into the camera for several moments before raising his arm, at which point the group around him instantly became animated before moaning in unison.

Many other anomalies and contradictions too numerous to mention here in detail were evident throughout the Panorama documentary and the related reports. These included:

– Conflicting and contradictory accounts.

– A “victim” who appeared to be grinning.

– Implausible demeanours of alleged victims.

– Questions as to the authenticity of the alleged burns to victims by experienced doctors.

– Apparent choreographed behaviour.

– Unconvincing injuries.

– Testimonies that challenged the BBC version of events.

I attended Robert Stuart’s most recent public presentation of his findings in London which can be viewed here

Saving Syria’s Children made reference to two British female doctors, Rola Hallam a ‘volunteer’ for the ‘charity’ Hand-in-Hand-for Syria, and (former?) BBC TV presenter, Saleyha Ahsan.

Dr Rola’s father, Dr Mousa al-Kurdi, is a senior Syrian opposition member, while her on-site colleague, Dr Ahsan, is a former captain in the British Army Medical Corps. All of this information was hidden from the public by the BBC.

The British state broadcaster has not addressed any of the legitimate issues raised by Stuart. All of the anomalies and contradictions highlighted call into question the authenticity of the entire alleged attack.

The researcher has presented his findings in open public forums on numerous occasions and has not been threatened, legally, with any injunctions or forms of legal redress which would almost certainly have been the case had the allegations been false.

Most recently, Stuart has argued, convincingly, that Pannell and Conway were given protection by the ISIS-affiliated Salafist terror group, Ahrar al-Sham. On 22 November, 2017, Stuart reported the activities of Pannell and Conway – that amounted to colluding with executioners – to Britain’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

Not only is it shocking that the British public helped fund the production of anti-Syrian government propaganda in the form of Saving Syria’s Children, but that they also inadvertently helped support an Islamist terrorist protection racket to enable this to happen.

It appears to be increasingly clear that BBC licence fee money was used to allow the safe passage of Pannell and Conway to and from the location where Saving Syria’s Children was being filmed.

The actions of the BBC are not only inexcusable, but they have the potential to pose a serious risk to national security and to further undermine what little remains of the trust the public has in the national state broadcaster to report accurately and objectively on issues of national importance.

It is clear that the BBC not only colluded in the production of false UK government propaganda intended to influence a vote in parliament to commit British troops to Syria in yet another illegal war, but that they did so by engaging in a sophisticated and well-planned series of events that involved the active participation of Islamist terrorists and their sympathizers.

While the UK foreign office and high-ranking government ministers are eager to publicly condemn terrorist atrocities committed against UK citizens on British soil, what has not been widely acknowledged is the extent to which the British state is complicit in furthering the terrorists objectives in Syria. This has serious potential implications for all UK citizens in terms of helping to facilitate ‘blow-back’ on the streets of our towns and cities.

Evidence produced from independent journalists like Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and others who have exposed the nefarious activities of UK-funded ‘humanitarian’ organisations like the White Helmets and Hand in Hand, add to accusation that the role of the BBC is that of a propaganda conduit for UK imperial power in the countries these groups operate. After having studied Robert Stuart’s analysis in detail, it is difficult to arrive at any other conclusion.

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Why the corporate media continue to obfuscate in relation to Assad sarin attack claims

By Daniel Margrain

“A new report from the UN has found that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are to blame for a deadly chemical attack that killed more than 90 people in a rebel village earlier this year”, proclaimed a recent Independent article.

Contradicting what the paper alluded was a definitive statement of fact, the article continued:

“The investigation from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), released on Thursday [October 26], said that experts are confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017”.

UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, was quick to emphasize the former interpretation when he stated:

“The independent [OPCW] report from expert investigators reach a clear conclusion: the Assad regime used sarin nerve gas against the people of Khan Sheikhoun in Syria on 4 April with tragic consequences for hundreds of victims.”

However, Russian officials claimed that the reports methodology, that included the sequence and storage of material evidence, the use of fake evidence and biased sources, was flawed.

The Russian claims appear to be credible. Details outlined by Moon of Alabama indicate that the alleged gas attack was used by the US government as their justification to launch an illegal missile strike on Syria’s al-Shayrat airbase on April 7, three days later. The decision to attack the airbase, in other words, had already been made; that it preceded the justification, which was being retrofitted to an act of aggression.

It’s a measure of the extent to which the mass media have become embedded within the deep state of government that president Trump, with near-unanimous journalistic support, was able to launch the April 7 attack on the airbase. Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News (April 10, 2017), for example, stated without evidence to support her assertion, that the US attack was “in retaliation to a sarin gas attack by president Assad”.

We’ve been here before

The release of the latest OPCW-UN report follows on the heels of another similarly flawed August, 2015 OPCW-UN report in connection with Security Council resolution 2235. The report which was aimed at introducing new sanctions against Syria didn’t make the claims subsequently attributed to it by the corporate media, namely that between April, 2014 and August, 2015 the Assad government was definitively responsible for three chemical attacks using chlorine.

Referring to the August, 2015 reports many caveats and reservations, security analyst Charles Shoebridge argued that the evidence “wasn’t sufficiently good to declare that Syria had dropped chlorine to a standard that could be considered “strong”, or “overwhelming”, adding that “investigators were largely reliant on reports from the [pro-rebel terror organisation] the White Helmets.”

Furthermore, independent journalist Gareth Porter inferred that U.N. investigators increasingly make their conclusions fall in line with Western propaganda after he exposed distortions contained in a March 1, 2017 report by the United Nations’ “Independent International Commission of Inquiry which claimed that an airstrike on a humanitarian aid convoy in the west of Aleppo City on September. 19, 2016, was undertaken by Syrian government planes. Porter revealed that the reports findings, also based on White Helmets testimonies, were “full of internal contradictions.”

Purveyor of propaganda

Despite the reservations as to the veracity of previous UN reports outlined, Boris Johnson’s eagerness to uncritically promote the latest OPCW offering is indicative of his role as a purveyor of UK government propaganda.

He has form in this regard. In September last year, for example, Johnson engaged in a piece of foreign office-produced theatre. The UK foreign secretary claimed the government had earmarked £2.3 billion towards supporting human rights organisations in Syria.

The money, however, was almost certainly channeled into promoting sophisticated propaganda campaigns and the funding of mercenary forces. The ultimate objective, as French foreign minister Roland Dumas admitted, is regime change in Syria that the UK government have “prepared, conceived and organised.”

However, impending defeat for the West in Syria prompted rhetorical flourishes from mainstream reporters and politicians alike that have shifted from the surreal to the absurd. Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, for example, described the liberation of Aleppo as a “tragedy”.

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“Liberation” & the false flag thesis: The west’s collusion with Islamist terrorism

The UK government’s failure to answer questions relating to the alleged sarin gas attack hints at a cover-up

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for pics of sarin gas attack claims

On April 4, 2017, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad was accused of intentionally deploying poison gas in Khan Seikhoun in Idlib province in the north of the country, In response to the alleged attack, and with near-unanimous journalistic support, the United States government launched an illegal missile strike on Syria’s al-Shayrat airbase three days later (April 7, 2017).

Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News (April 10, 2017) stated as if it was a fact that President Trump’s unauthorized attack on the airbase was “in retaliation to a sarin gas attack by president Assad”. Among those joining in the chorus proclaiming Assad’s ‘guilt’ as if they were as one, was the New York Times. Reporter, Michael B Gordon, who co-authored that papers infamous fake aluminum tube story of September 8, 2002 as part of the media’s propaganda offensive leading up to the 2003 U.S-led Iraq invasion, published (along with co-author Anne Barnard) another propaganda piece.

Showing no scepticism that the Syrian military was responsible for the gas attack, the authors cited the widely discredited $100m-funded terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets, as the basis for their story. Meanwhile, Jonathan Freedland, without a shred of evidence, wrote in the Guardian: “We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad”. Three days later on twitter (April 7, 2017) George Monbiot exclaimed: “We can be 99% sure the chemical weapons attack came from Syrian govt.”

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the alleged attack amid the fog of anti-Assad propaganda, I wrote an extensive article which raises a number of issues regarding the authenticity of the various claims made. More recently, journalist Peter Hitchens announced to his readers in his Mail on Sunday column (April 30, 2017), that he had sent a series of questions to the Foreign Office (FCO) about their apparent confidence with regards to Assad’s guilt over the sarin gas attack claims. In Hitchen’s view, the answers he received – which he has been prevented from publishing – were “useless, unrevealing and unresponsive”.

Three days later (May 3, 2017), Hitchens published the said questions, which the FCO “won’t or can’t answer”, in his Mail column. The questions the journalist poses are thoughtful, perceptive and often detailed. They include legitimate requests to the UK government to clarify contradictory statements and accounts. The fact that the FCO refused to answer them satisfactorily, or allow them to be published, hints very strongly at a government cover-up.

These are the questions Hitchen’s asked upon which he received worthless replies:

“In his article in the Sunday Telegraph of 16th April 2017, the Foreign Secretary states that:

‘British scientists have analysed samples from the victims of the [Khan Sheikhoun] attack.’

Where and when did they do this?

What assurances did they have of the provenance of the samples?

Who controlled the custody chain, and vouched for it?

How did they know that the samples were at no stage handled by persons with a propaganda interest in a certain outcome?

Were they at any stage under the control of Tahrir al-Sham, formerly Jabhat Fateh Al Sham (previously the Jabhat Al-Nusra), or any other part of that faction?

If not, how did they leave Syria?

Under whose custody were they between Khan Sheikhoun and the Syrian border?

How do we know?

He also says : ‘These have tested positive for sarin or a sarin-like substance.’

Eyewitness reports (cited in evidence by the Foreign Secretary) speak of ‘clouds of smoke’ (Independent 05/04/2017) and say ‘We could smell it from 500 metres away.’(Guardian 07/04/2017) and ‘The smell reached us here in the centre; it smelled like rotten food.’ (Daily Telegraph 06/04/2017).

Sarin is odourless and invisible. Videos of the attack also show responders without protective clothing, handling victims, which would be highly dangerous in dealing with victims of sarin. Does the Foreign Secretary have any view on the apparent contradiction here?

The Foreign Secretary also writes:

The UK, the US and all our key allies are of one mind: we believe that this was highly likely to be an attack by Assad, on his own people, using poison gas weapons that were banned almost 100 years ago, under the 1925 Geneva protocol. In view of this horrific evidence, the world last week once again had a choice, just as we did after the gas attack at Ghouta in 2013.

This is doubly interesting.

‘Highly likely’ is well short of a declaration that the matter is in fact proven. Yet the United Kingdom has endorsed a missile attack on a sovereign country by the United States, the pretext or reason for which was given as the alleged gas attack, which the Foreign secretary himself categorises not as proven fact but as ‘highly likely’, allegedly by the Assad government on Khan Sheikhoun.

What is the status of this attack under international law? Under which part of the UN charter is it lawful? If it *is* lawful in the case of such an action being proven, then is a belief that the alleged action by the Syrian state is ‘highly likely’ sufficient?

Who, if anybody, does the Foreign Secretary say is responsible for the Ghouta attack? On what basis does he say this?”

These are extremely important questions that need answering in order for the public to ascertain what the UK government’s role was in the events that led to the illegal US attack on Syria. The public need and demand answers to these legitimate questions to avoid a potential eventuality in which Theresa May’s government drags the country into yet another unnecessary war based on false pretenses.

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Why the latest claims against Assad are a pack of lies

By Daniel Margrain

Image result for anti-assad propaganda

“This article should be published in a more widely read media outlet. You have summarized the skeptical case extremely effectively”

(Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton)

With a critical public increasingly turning to social media to scrutinize the claims of the mainstream as well as the credibility of the assertions made by the various NGOs and government-funded human rights organisations, it’s arguably becoming more difficult for the corporate press to pass their propaganda off as legitimate news.

This is particularly the case during periods when the establishment pushes for military conflicts. One salutary lesson from the Iraq debacle, is that the public appear not to be so readily fooled. Or are they?

It’s a measure of the extent to which the mass media barely stray from their paymasters tune, that president Trump, with near-unanimous journalistic support, was able to launch an illegal missile strike on Syria on April 7, 2017. Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News (April 10, 2017) stated that the attack on the al-Shayrat airbase was “in retaliation to a sarin gas attack by president Assad” (three days earlier). However, for the reasons outlined below, such a scenario seems highly unlikely.

New York Times reporter, Michael B Gordon, who co-authored that papers infamous fake aluminum tube story of September 8, 2002 as part of the media’s propaganda offensive leading up to the 2003 U.S-led Iraq invasion, published (along with co-author Anne Barnard), the latest chemical weapons fake news story intended to fit with the establishment narrative on Syria.

Lack of scepticism

Showing no scepticism that the Syrian military was responsible for intentionally deploying poison gas in Khan Seikhoun, the authors cited the widely discredited $100m-funded terrorist-enablers, the White Helmets, as the basis for their story. Meanwhile, the doyen of neocon drum-beating war propaganda in Britain, Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian, wrote a day after the alleged April 4 attack: “We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.” What these ‘signs’ are were not specified in the article.

Even the usually cautious Guardian journalist George Monbiot appears to be eager for military action. On Twitter (April 7, 2017) Monbiot claimed: “We can be 99% sure the chemical weapons attack came from Syrian govt.” Three days later, media analysts Media Lens challenged Monbiot by citing the views of former UN weapons inspectors, Hans Blix and Scott Ritter, both of whom contradicted Monbiot’s assertion. “What do you know that Hans Blix and Scott Ritter don’t know?”, inquired the analysts. Monbiot failed to reply.

Apparently it hadn’t occurred to these, and practically all the other mainstream journalists (with the notable exception of Peter Oborne and Peter Hitchens), that Assad’s motive for undertaking such an attack was weak. As investigative reporter Robert Parry, who broke many of the Iran-Contra stories, argued:

“Since Assad’s forces have gained a decisive upper-hand over the rebels, why would he risk stirring up international outrage at this juncture? On the other hand, the desperate rebels might view the horrific scenes from the chemical-weapons deployment as a last-minute game-changer.”

A second major inconsistency in the official narrative are the contradictory claims relating to the sarin issue. Charles Shoebridge referred to a Guardian article that claims sarin was used, but he counters the claim by stating: “Yet, a rescuer tells its reporter “we could smell it 500m away”. The intelligence and terrorism expert was quick to point out that sarin is odorless (unless contaminated). Blogger Mark J Doran astutely remarked: “Now, who is going be stuck with lousy, impure sarin? A nation state or a terrorist group?”

Meanwhile, independent investigative journalist Gareth Porter pointed out that neurological symptoms that mimic those of sarin can be achieved by phosphine gas when in contact with moisture and the smell is similar to what was reported by eyewitnesses in Khan Seikhoun.

Then there has been the willingness of the media to cite what is clearly an untrustworthy source, ‘British doctor’, Shajul Islam. Despite  having been struck off the British medical register for misconduct in March 2016, the media have quoted or shown Islam in their reports where he has been depicted as a key witness to the alleged gas attack and hence helped augment the unsubstantiated media narrative. In 2012 Shajul Islam was charged with terror offences in a British court.

Peter Hitchens takes up the story:

“He was accused of imprisoning John Cantlie, a British photographer, and a Dutchman, Jeroen Oerlemans. Both men were held by a militant group in Syria and both were wounded when they tried to escape. Shajul Islam, it was alleged, was among their captors. Shajul Islam’s trial collapsed in 2013, when it was revealed that Mr Cantlie had been abducted once again, and could not give evidence.

Mr Oerlemans refused to give evidence for fear that it would further endanger Mr Cantlie. Mr Oerlemans has since been killed in Libya. So the supposedly benevolent medical man at the scene of the alleged atrocity turns out to be a struck-off doctor who was once put on trial for kidnapping.”

Fourth, there is the question as to why the U.S would launch a military strike in the knowledge that it would risk further sarin leaks into the atmosphere. As the writer and musician, Gilad Atzmon, argues:

“It doesn’t take a military analyst to grasp that the American attack on a remote Syrian airfield contradicts every possible military rationale. If America really believed that Assad possessed a WMD stockpile and kept it in al-Shayrat airbase, launching a missile attack that could lead to a release of lethal agents into the air would be the last thing it would do. If America was determined to ‘neutralise’ Assad’s alleged ‘WMD ability’ it would deploy special forces or diplomacy. No one defuses WMD with explosives, bombs or cruise missiles. It is simply unheard of.”

Atzmon adds:

“The first concern that comes to mind is why do you need a saxophonist to deliver the truth every military expert understands very well? Can’t the New York Times or the Guardian reach the same obvious conclusion? It’s obvious enough that if Assad didn’t use WMD when he was losing the war, it would make no sense for him to use it now when a victory is within reach.”

Logical explanation

A far more logical explanation,  given the location, is that chemicals were released into the air by Salafist terrorists to frame the Syrian government. The location of the alleged attack is the al-Qaeda-affiliated controlled, Khan Sheikhoun, in Idlib province. It is from here that the Western-funded White Helmets operate. Rather conveniently, they were soon at the scene of the alleged attack without the necessary protective clothing being filmed hosing down victims.

As Al-Qaeda and their enabler’s are the kinds of people who cut out and eat human organs as well as decapitate heads, they are likely to have little compunction in using Syrian civilians, including children and women, as a form of ‘war porn propaganda’ in order to garner public sympathy as the pretext for Western intervention.

Syrian-based journalist, Tom Dugan, who has been living in the country for the last four years, claims no gas attack happened. Rather, he asserts that the Syrian air force destroyed a terrorist-owned and controlled chemical weapons factory mistaking it for an ammunition dump, and “the chemicals spilled out.” This seems to be the most plausible explanation.

Mr Dugan’s version is markedly similar to the analysis of former DIA colonel, Patrick Lang Donald who, on April 7, 2017 said:

“Trump’s decision to launch cruise missile strikes on a Syrian Air Force Base was based on a lie. In the coming days the American people will learn that the Intelligence Community knew that Syria did not drop a military chemical weapon on innocent civilians in Idlib. Here is what happened:

  1. The Russians briefed the United States on the proposed target. This is a process that started more than two months ago. There is a dedicated phone line that is being used to coordinate and deconflict (i.e., prevent US and Russian air assets from shooting at each other) the upcoming operation.
  2. The United States was fully briefed on the fact that there was a target in Idlib that the Russians believes was a weapons/explosives depot for Islamic rebels.
  3. The Syrian Air Force hit the target with conventional weapons. All involved expected to see a massive secondary explosion. That did not happen. Instead, smoke, chemical smoke, began billowing from the site. It turns out that the Islamic rebels used that site to store chemicals, not sarin, that were deadly. The chemicals included organic phosphates and chlorine and they followed the wind and killed civilians.
  4. There was a strong wind blowing that day and the cloud was driven to a nearby village and caused casualties.
  5. We know it was not sarin. How? Very simple. The so-called “first responders” handled the victims without gloves. If this had been sarin they would have died. Sarin on the skin will kill you. How do I know? I went through “Live Agent” training at Fort McClellan in Alabama.

A third similar account was proffered by another retired Colonel – Lawrence Wilkerson, who was former chief of Staff to General Colin Powell. Here’s what he said in a recent interview:

“I personally think the provocation was a Tonkin Gulf incident….. Most of my sources are telling me, including members of the team that monitors global chemical weapons –including people in Syria, including people in the US Intelligence Community–that what most likely happened …was that they hit a warehouse that they had intended to hit…and this warehouse was alleged to have to ISIS supplies in it, and… some of those supplies were precursors for chemicals….. conventional bombs hit the warehouse, and due to a strong wind, and the explosive power of the bombs, they dispersed these ingredients and killed some people.”

The corroborated testimony above exposes the media’s attempts to take at face value Pentagon propaganda.

On April 12, 2017 Media Lens cited Philip Giraldi, a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, who has an impressive track record in exposing fake government claims. Giraldi commented:

“I am hearing from sources on the ground, in the Middle East, the people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence available are saying that the essential narrative we are all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham. The intelligence confirms pretty much the account the Russians have been giving since last night which is that they hit a warehouse where al Qaida rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties.

“Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear, and people both in the Agency and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he should already have known – but maybe didn’t – and they’re afraid this is moving towards a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict.”

Giraldi added:

“These are essentially sources that are right on top of the issue right in the Middle East. They’re people who are stationed there with the military and the Intelligence agencies that are aware and have seen the intelligence. And, as I say, they are coming back to contacts over here in the US essentially that they astonished at how this is being played by the administration and by the media and in some cases people are considering going public to stop it. They’re that concerned about it, that upset by what’s going on.”

Giraldi concluded:

“There was an attack but it was with conventional weapons – a bomb – and the bomb ignited the chemicals that were already in place that had been put in there. Now bear in mind, Assad had no motive for doing this. If anything, he had a negative motive. Trump said there was no longer any reason to remove him from office, well, this was a big win for him [Assad]. To turn around and use chemical weapons 48 hours later, does not fit any reasonable scenario, although I’ve seen some floated out there, but they are quite ridiculous.”

Another convincing reason to discount the official narrative, is because Assad doesn’t possess any chemical weapons. Even The Wall Street Journal, citing a Hague-based watchdog agency, conceded on June 23, 2014 that “the dangerous substances from Syria’s chemical weapons program, including sulfur mustard and precursors of sarin, have now been removed from the country after a months-long process.”

In an attempt to get some clarity amid the fog of propaganda, Peter Hitchens announced to his readers in his Mail on Sunday column (April 30, 2017), that he had sent a series of questions to the Foreign Office (FCO) about their apparent confidence as to Assad’s guilt. In the view of Hitchens, the answers he received – which he has been prevented from publishing – were “useless, unrevealing and unresponsive”.

Three days later (May 3, 2017), Hitchens published the said questions which the FCO “won’t or can’t answer” in his Mail column. The questions are extremely pertinent that include legitimate requests at clarifying contradictory statements and accounts. The fact that the FCO refused to answer them satisfactorily, or allow them to be published, hints very strongly at a government cover-up.

The plot thickens

On April 11. 2017 in response to the claims and counter claims, Washington released into the public domain a four-page White House Intelligent Report (WHR) by the National Security Council (NSC), purporting to prove the Syrian government’s responsibility for the alleged sarin attack and a rebuttal of Russia’s claim that rebels unleashed the gas to frame the Syrian government. Among the numerous claims of the WHR, was that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with.

But as one commentator pointed out, “any serious examination of the WHR reveals it to be a series of bare assertions without any supporting evidence….and is filled with phrases like “The United States is confident” … “We have confidence in our assessment” … “We assess” … “Our information indicates” … “It is clear” … and so on. In other words, “this is the US government speaking, trust us.”

More importantly, upon its release, the credibility of the WHR was also called into question by the respected US physicist and missile expert Theodore Postol, emeritus professor at MIT. In his detailed analysis released on April 11, 2017 titled A Quick Turnaround Assessment of the White House Intelligence Report about the Nerve Agent Attack in Khan Shaykhun, Syria, professor Postol argues that the physical evidence strongly suggests the delivery system for the nerve gas was a mortar shell placed on the ground, not a bomb dropped from a warplane. Towards the end of his critique, Postol said, “The situation is that the White House has produced a false, obviously misleading and amateurish report.”

Elaborating on his argument in a television interview, the MIT professor said:

“The report, quite frankly, doesn’t meet the laugh test. As an American citizen I want to know who signed it off….I think this is an indication that there is something extremely problematic in the American national system with regard to the use of intelligence.”

Postol added:

“It indicates a willingness on the part of high level people in the White House to distort and to use intelligence claims that are false to make political points and political arguments….I think this report was almost certainly politically-motivated… This is a serious and intolerable situation.”

On April 13, 2017 Postol produced a follow-up critique of the WHR – an Addendum to the first report – in which he asserts that “the assumption that the site of the alleged sarin release had not been tampered with was totally unjustified and no competent analyst would have argued that this assumption was valid.”

Postel goes on to criticise the veracity of the claims the WHR make with regards to the “communications intercepts” and the basis by which other intelligence assessments were made.

In a third paper – all of which have been totally ignored by the corporate Western media – Postol augments his previous papers by citing additional evidence from two selected videos which were uploaded to YouTube in the time period between April 5, 2017 and April 7, 2017.

The MIT professor posits that:

“Analysis of the videos shows that all of the scenes taken at the site where the WHR claims was the location of a sarin release indicate significant tampering with the site.  Since these videos were available roughly one week before the White House report was issued on April 11, this indicates that the office of the WHR made no attempt to utilize the professional intelligence community to obtain accurate data in support of the findings in the report.”

Postol points out that one of the videos indicates that workers in the close vicinity of the alleged bomb site were not wearing any protection of any kind to protect them from sarin poisoning, while others were inadequately protected.

Postol concludes by stating bluntly that “the WHR report was fabricated without input from the professional intelligence community.” He then reiterates the corporate media’s version of events, namely, that on April 4, 2017 a nerve agent attack had occurred in Khan Shaykhun, Syria during the early morning hours locally on that day and that three days later the U.S government carried out a cruise missile attack on Syria ordered by President Trump without any valid intelligence to support it.

Significantly, Postol then states:

“In order to cover up the lack of intelligence to support the president’s action, the National Security Council produced a fraudulent intelligence report on April 11, four days later. The individual responsible for this report was Lieutenant General H. R. McMaster, the National Security Advisor. The McMaster report is completely undermined by a significant body of video evidence taken after the alleged sarin attack and before the US cruise missile attack that unambiguously shows the claims in the WHR could not possibly be true. This cannot be explained as a simple error….

“…This unambiguously indicates a dedicated attempt to manufacture a false claim that intelligence actually supported the president’s decision to attack Syria, and of far more importance, to accuse Russia of being either complicit or a participant in an alleged atrocity.”

Finally Postol repeats a quote from the WHR:

“An open source video also shows where we believe the chemical munition landed—not on a facility filled with weapons, but in the middle of a street in the northern section of Khan Shaykhun [Emphasis Added]. Commercial satellite imagery of that site from April 6, after the allegation, shows a crater in the road that corresponds to the open source video.”

And then adds:

“The data provided in these videos make it clear that the WHR made no good-faith attempt to collect data that could have supported its “confident assessment.” that the Syrian government executed a sarin attack as indicated by the location and characteristics of the crater.”

If Postol’s version of events, which is the basis of Russia’s position (see below), is true (which is extremely likely), it’s almost certainly the case that the rebels on the ground linked to al-Qaeda who control Khan Sheikhoun, are the same people who carried out the alleged false flag attack.

Timing

Another aspect to all this which seems to have been overlooked by many commentators, is the timing of the incident. An observant reader, kindly pointed out to me the discrepancy between the reported time-frames of the gas release and the alleged sarin chemical attack. Lebanese independent investigative journalist, Adel Karim, stated that at 8am on April 4, 2017, journalists linked to radical groups located in Idlib provided him with material that purported to show the consequences of the alleged attack.

The timing of the rebel account of the attack was contradicted by Russian defense ministry spokesman Igor Konoshenkov who claimed that an attack took place between 11.30am and 12.30pm on that day, and that the said attack was directed against a “large terrorist ammunition depot and a concentration of military hardware in the eastern outskirts of Khan Sheikhoun town.”

The above anomaly, therefore, reiterates the contention made by Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem that the first reports of the chemical attack from rebel-affiliated groups “appeared several hours before the government airstrike”. It follows that Karim’s version of events appears credible and the account provided to him by rebel groups in Idlib, is therefore almost certainly bogus.

The Lebanese journalist concludes convincingly that “the decision to attack the Syrian military infrastructure was taken in Washington long before the fabricated events in Khan Sheikhoun and what happened was a “staged falsification” aimed to “justify U.S aggression against Syria.”

Whatever the truth, both the anomaly in regard to the timings of the alleged incident and, more significantly, the testimonies of the various experts cited, are surely significant enough to be worthy of further investigation by Western corporate media outlets such as the BBC. But other than the occasional brief interview with former Syrian ambassador, Peter Ford, no alternative narratives have been aired.

One of the few media outlets who have been prepared to give the oxygen of publicity to opposing viewpoints, however, is RT. Unlike the BBC, the Russian-based broadcaster interviewed Postol at some length on April 12, 2017. They have also questioned – with justification – the integrity of a April 26, 2017 French intelligence report (FIR), which blames the Syrian government for the alleged chemical attack. Charles Shoebridge, remarked on twitter, that “the report relies on ‘signature’ presence of hexamine. Yet UN Syria chemical weapon chief states it isn’t a signature.”

But even more damning is that professor Postol (cited above), pointed out the fact that the FIR focused on an unrelated event in a different location from Khan Sheikhoun where the alleged gas attack was said to have occurred and on a different date (April 29, 2013).

Pattern

The above sequence of events follows a recent pattern of anti-Assad claims exemplified by four similar controversial stories in which the corporate media have attempted to pass off unsubstantiated or independently unverifiable claims as fact. The first of these on February 13, 2017, relates to the findings of a report by Amnesty International which contends that Assad was responsible for the “execution by mass hangings” of up to 13,000 people. The alleged atrocity that evoked in the press comparisons to Nazi concentration camps, was within days criticised for its unsubstantiated and uncorroborated claims.

It should be recalled that it was Amnesty International who uncritically supported the emergence of a fake news story during the first Gulf War in which Iraqi soldiers were said to have taken scores of babies out of incubators in Kuwait City leaving them to die.

The second press release, three days after the mass-execution story aired, concerned the heart-rending case of a Syrian boy who Anne Barnard of the New York Times reported on twitter as having “his legs…cut because of attacks from Assad and Russia.”

It soon transpired, however, that the organization credited with filming the “attacks” was Revolution Syria, a pro-insurgency media outfit who also provided the videos for the equally fraudulent claim that the Russians bombed a school in Haas in October 2016. Dr Barbara McKenzie provides a detailed background to the story which can be read here.

The third piece of false reporting to have emerged, is in connection with Security Council resolution 2235 which highlights the conclusions of a August, 2015 OPCW-UN report. The said report, aimed at introducing new sanctions against Syria (which Russia and China vetoed), didn’t make the claims subsequently attributed to it in the corporate media, namely that between April, 2014 and August, 2015 the Assad government was definitively responsible for three chemical attacks using chlorine.

Charles Shoebridge pointed out on March 1, 2017, that “most media didn’t even seem to bother reading the report”. Shoebridge confirmed that the OPCW-UN investigation contained findings that did not correspond to what the public was being told. Pointing out the reports many caveats and reservations, the analyst said the evidence “wasn’t sufficiently good to declare that Syria had dropped chlorine to a standard that could be considered “strong”, or “overwhelming”, adding that “investigators were largely reliant on reports from the White Helmets.”

Finally, independent journalist Gareth Porter inferred that U.N. investigators increasingly make their conclusions fall in line with Western propaganda after he exposed distortions contained in a March 1, 2017 report by the United Nations’ “Independent International Commission of Inquiry which claimed that an airstrike on a humanitarian aid convoy in the west of Aleppo City on Sept. 19, 2016, was undertaken by Syrian government planes. Porter reveals that the reports findings were based on pro-rebel Syrian White Helmets testimonies that were “full of internal contradictions.”

Extraordinarily, in March, 2016 German journalist Dr. Ulfkotte brought the lies of the mainstream out into the open by confessing live on television that he was forced to publish the works of intelligence agents under his own name, adding that noncompliance with these orders would result in him losing his job. Sharing this information in front of millions of people (reminiscent of the film Network), Ulfkotte said:

“I’ve been a journalist for about 25 years, and I was educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public. But seeing right now within the last months how the German and American media tries to bring war to the people in Europe, to bring war to Russia — this is a point of no return and I’m going to stand up and say it is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do and have done in the past because they are bribed to betray the people, not only in Germany, all over Europe.”

The inability of mainstream journalists to undertake basic fact-checking illuminated by the examples described, reinforce the veracity of Ulfkotte’s claims that corporate journalists are “educated to lie, to betray, and not to tell the truth to the public.” But more than that, it amounts to a stark admission that the corruption at the heart of the elite media and political establishment is systemic. As Mark Doran on Twitter put it: “Our corrupt politics, our international crime, and our ‘free media’ form a seamless whole.” The goal of this consolidation of power is to secure yet another middle east resource grab.

Daniel Margrain is a freelance writer based in London. He has a masters degree in Globalization, Culture & the City from Goldsmiths. His articles have appeared in numerous on-line publications and blogs.

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Jonathan Freedland: Britain’s Greatest Stenographer?

Image result for jonathan freedland, pics

By Daniel Margrain

In his latest article for the Guardian (April 5, 2017), Jonathan Freedland provides a commentary in support of the near-consensus view among the corporate mass media that Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad’s government was responsible for the latest chemical gas atrocity in Idlib province in the north of the country. “We almost certainly know who did it. Every sign points to the regime of Bashar al-Assad.” says Freedland. What these ‘signs’ are were not specified in the article.

Any chances the public had of getting any clarification from an alternative source like the BBC were also dashed. What a great swath of the British public have now come to expect is that the country’s national broadcaster is little more than a propaganda arm of the state. The organisations latest report on the incident via their middle east website does nothing to dispel such a claim.

As expected, the basis for their assertion that Assad was responsible for the incident were statements made by White House officials and UK-based NGOs. From Iraq to Libya, and now Syria, this kind of reliance on partial and unreliable sources represents, an only too familiar pattern.

Surely, the public can expect a more honest and critical evaluation of events from the nations premium left of centre and liberal ‘progressive’ broadsheet, the Guardian, right? Well, actually, no.

As with the BBC, Freedland discounts the far more likely and rational explanation proffered by the UK governments official enemies, Damascus and Moscow. Echoed by UK security analyst, Charles Shoebridge, the rationale underlying this explanation is that it’s extremely unlikely that Assad would engage in such a self-destructive action.

This is because the world-wide condemnation that would follow one day in advance of a UN EU conference in Brussels beginning today (April 5, 2017) – the stated intention of which is to bring about peace – would run contrary to such a strategy. Logically, the only people who would benefit from the disruption of such a meeting would be Assad’s extremist political opponents.

Furthermore, as Shoebridge suggests, Assad cannot, from his perspective, be said to be motivated by any need to deflect from what is currently an advantageous position, militarily. The people who benefit from this kind of attack the most are the Western-backed ‘rebel’ terrorists “because they gain a major political advantage at a time when they are struggling both politically and geo-strategically.”

It should also be recalled, that until very recently the Trump administration’s stated position was the rejection of Obama’s policy of regime change in Syria. Rather, he was more concerned with destroying Assad’s terrorist enemies. Conveniently, the gas attack provided the pretext for a shifting of policy back towards regime change. As the former ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, put it:

“If the Jihadists wanted to complicate Trump’s task of making American policy more sensible, they wouldn’t have gone about it any way other than to amount a piece of fake news like this.”

A slight variation on this interpretation of events was posited by Craig Murray, another former UK ambassador, who stated:

“Assad had seen his position go from strength to strength, thanks to Putin’s astute deployment of Russia’s limited military power. Militarily the balance had swung dramatically in Assad’s favour, while Trump had said the unsayable and acknowledged that putting Syria into the hands of Wahabbist crazies was not in the United States interest. So I cannot conceive that Assad would risk throwing all of this away for the sake of a militarily insignificant small chemical weapons attack. It would be an act of the most extreme folly.”

None of this is deemed worthy of any column inches by Freedland. Instead, he plumps for a “more credible” individual as a means of supporting his case in the form of an ex-British army captain and one of the current directors of the UK NGO, Doctors Under Fire.

Another director of this organization is BBC Newsnight and Channel 4 News favourite, David Nott, a much in demand ‘media-savvy’ surgeon who, like the Western-funded “humanitarian” NGO the White Helmets, seemingly takes every photo opportunity to be pictured alongside suffering children for propaganda affect.

For journalists like Freedland, whose role is essentially that of a Whitehall stenographer, it’s apparently inconceivable that UK funded NGOs like Doctors Under Fire, the White Helmets and Hand In Hand For Syria, could present a major conflict of interest in respect to his reportage.

Freedland correctly states that “for six long bloody years, atrocities have been continued in Syria”, but he’s careful not to apportion any blame for the said atrocities on the shoulders of the West’s proxies and mercenary forces who the UK government help financially support, fund and train. These forces include ISIS, al-Qaeda and their various offshoots and affiliates.

The Guardian journalist then goes on to interpret US Secretary of State’s Rex Tillerson’s support for the self-determination rights of the Syrian people to be free from the influence of external foreign powers, as a negative. Furthermore, he is contemptuous of Trump’s UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, for her stated rejection (since changed) of illegal regime change in Syria.

Freedland then casually dismisses Russia’s legitimate case in February for a veto against UN sanctions based on unsubstantiated allegations regarding Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Finally, he goes on to claim that “more than 400,000 have been killed [in Syria]…” asserting that “Assad has himself broken international law”. Freedland failed to back-up either claim, but rather, pronounced Assad guilty of committing this latest atrocity even though no evidence whatsoever has been provided. This also applies to all previous claims where the Syrian president has been accused of using chemical weapons.

Extraordinary journalistic claims demand extraordinary evidence. Freedland adheres to the former but is remiss in terms of the latter. This latest in a long line of fake news from the once respected Guardian, is nothing more than government propaganda dressed up as investigative journalism. Is it any wonder that the paper’s sales are in a terminal state of decline?

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Al-Qaeda Win the Oscar for ‘Best Documentary Short’

By Daniel Margrain

Barry Jenkins receiving the award for Best Picture for Moonlight

It was hard to avoid the mix-up that occurred at the Oscar ceremony because it made the headlines on every major corporate news channel. Never mind the fact that human beings are dying of famine in Yemen or are being killed by bombs raining down on them supplied by BAE whose head is vice-chair of the BBC Trust. Never mind that four million other people are without water in Chile, or that current Arctic sea ice extent has reached a record 36th-time low for 2017 alone.

Never mind any of these things, just remember that what’s important is that Warren Beatty or whoever, messed up in front of a bunch of self-congratulatory narcissists. Many of these privileged people take almost every opportunity they can to bash a president who has stated publicly that he wants a good relationship with a country that has most effectively dealt a hammer blow to Salafist-inspired terrorists in Syria. Is it any wonder that Trump had no intention of showing up to the ceremony, particularly as he probably had insider knowledge as to who won the Oscar for the Best Documentary Short category? That particular accolade went to the Netflix-produced The White Helmets. The photographic evidence linking the White Helmets to the various Salafist terrorist groups in Syria is overwhelming.

Public relations

The nefarious agenda behind the White Helmets operation was initially exposed by brave independent journalists working inside Syria – Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett – both of whom have written extensively on the White Helmets. What follows is a relatively brief synopsis for the benefit of numerous media commentators who are not yet up to speed on the issue. The White Helmets are essentially a public relations project who work in areas of Syria controlled by al-Qaida and their various offshoots. Their primary function is the production of propaganda that involves demonizing the Assad government, the aim of which is to encourage direct foreign military intervention into the country with a view to regime change.

Their strategy has involved writing a Washington Post editorial in addition to being very active on social media where they have a presence on Twitter and Facebook. According to their website, contact to the group is made by email through The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship. Although the organization is highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria, in reality they are a project that have been created by the UK and US governments.

Training of the White Helmets in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier, and the promotion of their activities is undertaken by The Syria Campaign supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. Ubiquitous in the mainstream media’s coverage of the aftermath of bomb damage in Aleppo, have been the images of ‘volunteers’ of the White Helmets rescuing young children trapped in the rubble of buildings allegedly bombed by the Syrian government and its Russian ally forces.

Neutrality

The group, who have some 2,900 members and claim complete neutrality, are said to operate as first responder, search and rescue teams in areas outside of Syrian government control. They are portrayed in the Western media as selfless individuals who rush into the face of danger and feted as being saviours of humanity. Western journalists and human rights groups frequently cite unverified casualty figures and other uncorroborated claims from the White Helmets and therefore take at face value the organization’s self-proclaimed assertions they are an unarmed, impartial and independent NGO whose sources of funding are not derived from any of the conflicting parties in Syria.

The group have produced a slick website in which they push for a No Fly Zone (euphemism for regime change) in Syria. Their public relations campaigns include a short documentary film – which in reality amounts to a self-promotional advertisment – that was shown at a prestigious invitation-only Chatham House event in London. The group were subsequently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Funding

Funding for the White Helmets comes principally from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) who have committed at least $23 million to the group since 2013. In addition, the organization have received £22m from the UK rising to a probable £32m and £7m from Germany. Other substantial funds come from Holland and Japan. Conservative estimates suggest that some $100m dollars in total have been donated to the group.

Essentially, the White Helmets are the most prominent manifestation of what is a highly sophisticated propaganda campaign by the UK government comprising a complex interwoven web that connects the various government departments, NGOs, opposition groups and activists with the corporate media who facilitate and amplify the propaganda in order to help achieve the ultimate objective of regime change in Syria.

High profile advertising campaigns and public relations exercises that involve the production of videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts, have unfortunately persuaded many well-meaning activists that the White Helmets are an independently funded bi-partisan humanitarian group, when in reality they are Salafist sectarian extremists who operate as a front for al- Qaida, ISIS and their various affiliates. Many of the fighting groups tied to the White Helmets are branded with the logos of fighting groups by contractors hired out by the Foreign Office and overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The evidence outlined by Dr Barbara McKenzie is compelling:

“The role played by the British Foreign Office and other government departments in the unremitting propaganda against the Syrian government is unquestionable. The British government is determinedly pursuing its policy of regime change in Syria, and sees gaining public acceptance of that policy through propaganda that demonises the Syrian government and glorifies the armed opposition as essential to achieving that goal.”

Given the extent to which the Foreign Office financially and logistically support the White Helmets in Syria, it was fitting that they congratulated them on their ‘success’ at the Oscars. As Dr Barbara McKenzie put it on Twitter, the Foreign Office were, in effect, congratulating themselves.

Saving Syria’s Children

The fake BBC documentary, Saving Syria’s Children, painstakingly critiqued by Robert Stuart, whose principle purpose was to attempt to persuade British parliamentarians to vote for military intervention, represents the apex of this propaganda process. But having failed in that objective, the propaganda effort was stepped-up. In the autumn of 2013, the UK government embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters.

It was during this time that the media narrative began to shift. Where previously Islamist extremist beheaders were described as ‘Jihadists’ and ‘terrorists’ the more benign terms, ‘rebels’ and ‘Syrian opposition’ were preferred. Speaking on UK Column News (February 27, 2017), Vanessa Beeley, who was one of only a handful of independent investigative journalists on the ground in Syria, said this about the attempts to glorify the White Helmets exemplified by their Oscar ‘success’. I want to quote Beeley extensively because her impassioned plea was emotionally powerful and clearly sincere. What she had to say is of extreme importance:

“Terrorism gets given the red carpet treatment in Hollywood which demonstrates very clearly who we are dealing with. In fact, one positive that comes out of this, is that it fully exposes the elite cartel behind the attempt to dismember Syria. This cartel is essentially Zionism, along with Saudi extremist ideology funded, of course, by the US-UK deep state and supported by the illegal state of Israel, Turkey and various other nations in the region.

The intention is to whitewash terrorist atrocities that are being committed on a daily basis inside Syria and facilitated by the organization that has just been given one of the highest accolades that can be given in the film industry. So for that reason it is also extremely fitting that they are all effectively some of the best actors around at the moment.

The celebration of The White Helmets is tantamount to celebrating the use of children for war porn, the killing of more children in Syria, the support and celebration of the rape of Syrian women, the massacre of entire families, the ethnic cleansing of minorities, the kidnapping and abuse of children and the selling of them to paedophile rings, drug traffickers and pimps. In other words, the Oscars are basically celebrating every evil that has been created by our regimes.

We can no longer sit back and pretend that it’s happening somewhere else and we don’t have an obligation to take a stand against it. It’s time to stand up and be counted. It’s time to stop sitting on the fence. It’s not only about Syria, but about Yemen, Libya, Iraq and Ukraine – about every country that is being infested by this terrorist plague that is being created by our regimes. We are responsible for that and we need to start taking that responsibility seriously and to actually express that outrage.

If you are at a party where people are celebrating the Oscars – speak out! Because until your voices are heard, this is going to continue and these children in Syria – these orphans – are going to continue suffering. We are responsible for that, and that same plague is not that far off from being on our doorsteps. So we need to start making a stand – right now.”

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