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False Flags: The Secret History of Al Qaeda – Part Three: The War of Terror

Corbett • 09/12/2022

America’s decades-long debacle in the Middle East—from the invasion, occupation and eventual choatic retreat from Afghanistan to the illegal invasion of Iraq and the rise of ISIS to the regime change operations in Libya and Syria—had been portrayed as a “failure” of military planning.

But, when viewed in its proper context, the war on terror was no failure. In fact, waged on fictitious grounds against a shadow enemy, the great military campaign of the 21st century was not a war on terror at all. It was a war of terror, a pretext for the construction of an international security grid in the name of fighting a bogeyman that never existed in the first place.

And by that metric, the war of terror was successful beyond its planners’ wildest dreams. . .

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TRANSCRIPT

“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect.”

Jonathan Swift

INTRODUCTION

Kabul, Afghanistan. August 29th, 2021.

A white 1996 Toyota Corolla races down the dusty streets of the Afghan capital.

Just days earlier, a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport had killed thirteen US Marines and dozens of Afghans. American forces, on high alert, track the Corolla from above. An American MQ-9 Reaper drone hovers high up, monitoring the driver—Zemari Ahmadi—as he stops at a suspected ISIS safe house and loads the car with explosives before continuing his journey to the airport.

But Ahmadi never reaches his destination. At 4:50 PM, the order is given and the Reaper drone launches a hellfire missile at the vehicle, killing the would-be terrorist and destroying his explosive payload.

The media, focused on the conflict in Afghanistan for the first time in years, air live coverage of the Pentagon’s announcement: In the waning hours of America’s two-decade-long military presence in Afghanistan, another terror threat has been liquidated and more innocent lives have been saved.

GEN. WILLIAM TAYLOR: Yesterday, US military forces conducted an over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation against an ISIS-K planner and facilitator. The air strike occurred in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan. I can confirm, as more information has come in, that two high-profile ISIS targets were killed and one was wounded and we know of zero civilian casualties.

SOURCE: Military officials hold news conference at Pentagon after drone strike

But as the smoke cleared on the scene of the strike, some grisly truths began to emerge: Ahmadi had not been a terrorist. He was not on his way to set off a suicide bomb at the Kabul Airport. The car didn’t even have explosives.

In reality, Ahmadi had been an aid worker for an American NGO distributing food to malnourished Afghans. He wasn’t on his way to the airport; he was arriving home after a day at the office. The “suspicious packages” that the drone operators had watched him load into his car were in fact water bottles that Ahmadi was bringing home because his neighbourhood was dealing with a water shortage.

In perhaps the greatest irony, Ahmadi had applied for a special visa to emigrate to the US with his family just days before his death. Now, that family was devastated, torn apart by an explosion that left Ahmadi and nine of his relatives—including a two-year-old—dead.

Finally forced to admit that every part of the drone strike story had been a lie, the Pentagon called it a “tragic mistake.” And, after a three-month self-investigation, it was decided that no one involved in that “mistake” would receive any punishment for killing 10 innocent Afghans.

The story of the killing of Zemari Ahmadi is the story of the War on Terror in a nutshell. Ahmadi’s death was cast as a “tragic mistake” for which no one was to blame, just as America’s decades-long debacle in the Middle East—from the invasion, occupation and eventual choatic retreat from Afghanistan to the illegal invasion of Iraq and the rise of ISIS to the regime change operations in Libya and Syria—had been a “failure” of military planning.

But, when viewed in its proper context, the war on terror was no failure. In fact, waged on fictitious grounds against a shadow enemy, the great military campaign of the 21st century was not a war on terror at all. It was a war of terror, a pretext for the construction of an international security grid in the name of fighting a bogeyman that never existed in the first place.

And by that metric, the war of terror was successful beyond its planners’ wildest dreams.

Part Three: The War of Terror

For many in the general public, the war on terror was a direct consequence of 9/11, and that war began with George W. Bush’s address to Congress on September 20, 2001:

GEORGE W. BUSH:  Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them. Our war on terror begins with Al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.

SOURCE: President Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001

Some even believe that the war ended with Barack Obama’s declaration of May 23, 2013:

BARACK OBAMA: Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless “global war on terror,” but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.

SOURCE: Remarks by the President at the National Defense University

But, as convenient as these statements are for creating bookends for the story of the war on terror, they do not tell the real story of that war. In fact, the origins of the global war on terror go back much further than the general public has been led to believe.

In 1962, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, led by General Lyman Lemnitzer, issued a startling proposal to President John F. Kennedy on how to get the public on board with military invention in Cuba to remove Fidel Castro from power. Called Operation Northwoods, the plan suggested a number of staged provocations, secretly committed by the US itself but blamed on Castro, including: blowing up a US ship in Guantanomo Bay and blaming the incident on the Cuban government; staging terror attacks in the United States to be blamed on Cuban terrorists; and even painting up a remote-controlled plane to resemble a passenger jet and destroying it over Cuba.

The incredible plan, rejected by Kennedy, who subsequently refused to renew Lemnitzer’s term as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was classified and was not revealed to the public until 2001, just months before 9/11.

JAMES BAMFORD: The idea was to create a pretext to show that the there was an attack by Cuba on the United States. And the idea was to have US personnel from the CIA and other places secretly create terrorism in the United States. The document actually said people would be shot on American streets, bombs would be blown up. And again, all this the evidence would be laid to point the finger at Castro.

One other idea was they were going to—they had a very complex plan where they were going to take an aircraft and load it with CIA people that looked like college students, fly it over to—have it take off from an airport in Miami with a lot of publicity and then it would—quickly after it got into the air—land at a secret CIA base. At that same time, an identical plane would take off from that CIA base, except this plane would be empty and it would be remotely piloted from the ground. It would be a drone plane that would be very similar to the passenger plane that had just taken off.

And once the plane was over Cuba, there was going to be a tape recorder that would have played a distress call to a microphone saying, “Help, we’re being shot at!” And a few minutes later—once the plane was over the Caribbean Sea after it passed over Cuba—somebody would have pressed the button on the ground, blowing up the plane. And they would have blamed Cuba for killing a plane load of American college students.

SOURCE: Operation Northwoods explained by James Bamford

But even after its rejection, the Northwoods idea of using spectacular terror attacks as the justification for a widescale war continued to be employed by military planners.

In November 1998, Philip Zelikow—who would go on to chair the 9/11 Commission—co-wrote an article in Foreign Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations’ publication, with Ashton Carter, the future Secretary of Defense under President Obama, and John Deutsch, the former director of the CIA. Titled “Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger,” the article warns of a potential “transforming event,” such as an attack on the World Trade Center:

“Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently.”

The solution to this impending threat of catastrophic terrorism, Zelikow and his co-authors argue, is to take that threat seriously—as the US government did in 1940 when it “pondered what kind of forces it would need to wage a global war”—and to create new offices for coordinating homeland security and waging pre-emptive strikes against potential terrorists around the world.

Then, unnoticed by much of the public, the global war on terror was first proposed on live TV on the morning of 9/11. At 11:28 AM New York time, as the blanket of dust from the freshly exploded towers was still settling on Manhattan and much of the world was still trying to process what was happening, a guest on BBC World News laid out the dawning of the new age of global terror with remarkable foresight. But this prediction was not delivered by a US government official or an American intelligence agent or a Washington Beltway insider. It was delivered by Ehud Barak, the former Prime Minister of Israel.

PRESENTER: Joining me now here in the BBC World studio is the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who’s in London at the moment. Mr. Barak, welcome to BBC World. First, your reaction, having heard what’s happened. At least four planes have been hijacked and there may be more.

EHUD BARAK: The world will not be the same from today on. It’s an attack against our whole civilization. I don’t know who is responsible. I believe we will know in 12 hours.

If it is a kind of bin Laden organization, and even if it’s something else, I believe that this is the time to deploy a globally concerted effort led by the United States, the UK, Europe and Russia against all sources of terror—the same kind of struggle that our forefathers launched against the piracy on the high seas.

SOURCE: September 11, 2001 – 11:28am EDT (4:28pm BST) – BBC World News

In the chaos of September 11, 2001, mere minutes after the destruction of the Twin Towers, the global viewing public was presented all the key takeaways of 9/11: that “this is the time to deploy a globally concerted effort led by the United States”; that “the world will not be the same from today on”; and, of course, that we “don’t know who was responsible,” although “we will know in 12 hours.” But the name immediately implanted in the minds of the audience—not for the first nor the last time on that long day of news coverage—was that of Osama bin Laden.

In the following days, these takeaways became the talking points for the US government and its allies around the world. Before the day was over, President Bush was already laying the rhetorical groundwork for the coming war, vowing that “we stand together to win the war against terrorism.” By the end of the week, the American public was being prepared for a conflict much bigger than a conventional war: “This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while.”

And, in the following week, Bush confirmed what the public had been told since the moment of the live televised strike on the World Trade Center:

JON SCOTT: We just saw on live television as a second plane flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center. Now, given what has been going on around the world, some of the key suspects come to mind: Osama bin Laden. Who knows what?

SOURCE: Original News Broadcast on 9/11/01

BUSH: Americans are asking: Who attacked our country? The evidence we have gathered all points to a collection of loosely affiliated terrorist organizations known as Al Qaeda.

SOURCE: President Bush’s address to a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001

By the end of the month, the public had heard so many authoritative pronouncements about “the evidence” pointing to bin Laden’s responsibility for the 9/11 attacks that few noticed when the US government declined to release a promised white paper outlining that evidence—a decision prompted by a “lack of solid information” about the plot, according to government sources cited by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh. Instead, the presentation of such evidence was outsourced—as so much of the dirty work in the global war on terror would be—to a third-party nation-state: the United Kingdom.

On September 30, 2001, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair appeared on the BBC’s Breakfast with Frost program to declare he had been shown “absolutely powerful, incontrovertible evidence of [bin Laden’s] link to the events of the 11th of September,” but because the evidence came from “sensitive sources” he could not simply reveal it to the public. Rather, the UK government would release a report laying out its case against Osama in great detail.

That dossier, titled “Responsibility for the terrorist atrocities in the United States,” was released on October 4th and was touted by the press as “the clearest case yet of Osama bin Laden’s involvement in the September 11 attacks.” The document opens, however, by noting that it “does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Osama bin Laden in a court of law.” The first 60 points of the report provide general background information about bin Laden and previous terror attacks attributed to Al Qaeda, and the last ten points, dealing with “Osama bin Laden and the 11 September attacks,” are almost incomprehensibly vague.

It claims that “at least three” of the hijackers have been identified as “associates of Al Qaeda,” without listing how this conclusion was arrived at or even who these associates are.

It claims that the attack “follows the modus operandi” of Al Qaeda and is “entirely consistent” with the planning of previous attacks attributed to the group.

And, most remarkably, it states that “[t]here is evidence of a very specific nature relating to the guilt of bin Laden and his associates that is too sensitive to release.”

At almost the exact same time, momentous events were taking place in Europe, where the North Atlantic Council, NATO’s main decision-making body, was receiving a classified briefing from a US State Department operative.

LORD ROBERTSON: This morning, the United States briefed the North Atlantic Council on the results of their investigation into who was responsible for the horrific terrorist attacks which took place on 11 September.

The briefing was given by Ambassador Frank Taylor, the United States Department of State Coordinator for Counter-terrorism.

[. . .]

The briefing addressed the events of 11 September themselves, the results of the investigation so far, what is known about Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda organization and their involvement in the attacks and in previous terrorist activity, and the links between Al Qaeda and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The facts are clear and compelling. The information presented points conclusively to an Al Qaeda role in the 11 September attacks.

SOURCE: Statement by NATO Secretary General, Lord Robertson, October 2, 2001

This was no ordinary briefing. The result of that briefing was that for the first time in its history, NATO invoked Article 5 of its charter—the self-defence clause that compels the organization to assist any member nation that is attacked by an outside force. By “proving” that bin Laden had committed the attack in connection with the Taliban, the United States could launch the war on terror and compel NATO to assist in its invasion of Afghanistan.

LORD ROBERTSON: On the basis of this briefing, it has now been determined that the attack against the United States on 11 September was directed from abroad and shall therefore be regarded as an action covered by Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, which states that an armed attack on one or more of the Allies in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.

I want to reiterate that the United States of America can rely on the full support of its 18 NATO allies in the campaign against terrorism.

Given the stakes involved, questions long swirled around this mysterious, classified briefing. What had Ambassador Frank Taylor told the North Atlantic Council that was so compelling? What information persuaded the world’s largest and most powerful military alliance to launch an invasion of another nation? The public, it seemed, would never know.

LORD ROBERTSON: Today’s was a classified briefing and so I cannot give you all the details. Briefings are also being given directly by the United States to the Allies in their capitals.

But then, in 2009, intelwire.com quietly posted a document online under the title “Secret Post-9/11 Briefing to World Leaders.” The document is a US State Department cable addressed to the American embassies in the NATO countries and American allies around the world under the subject line “September 11: Working together to fight the plague of global terrorism and the case against Al Qaeda.” The cable is dated October 1, 2001—the day before Ambassador Taylor’s meeting with the North Atlantic Council—and instructs its recipients to brief their host country’s government on “the information linking the Al Qaeda terrorist network, Osama bin Laden, and the Taliban regime to the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93.”

The document went largely unnoticed until 2018, when Professor Niels Harrit wrote an article, “The Mysterious Frank Taylor Report: The 9/11 Document that Launched US-NATO’s ‘War on Terrorism’ in the Middle East,” connecting the dots between this document and the briefing that Ambassador Taylor gave to the North Atlantic Council.

HARRIT: This is in my mind with no doubt simply the legal basis for eighteen years of perpetual war in the Middle East. This is the basis for NATO’s activation of Article 5. And so what is in the document and what is the evidence? What is the evidence which Lord Robertson calls “clear and compelling”? None. There’s absolutely no evidence in that paper.

SOURCE: The Secret Lie That Started the Afghan War

Much like the UK government dossier, the State Department cable contains no actual evidence of a link between bin Laden and the 9/11 attacks. In fact, the cable is virtually identical to the UK report. After spending a full fifteen pages talking in generalities about terror, about the US government’s officially sanctioned history of Al Qaeda, and of previous attacks attributed to Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, the document finally arrives at “Part III” purporting to demonstrate Al Qaeda’s involvement in the attacks.

But Part III begins by admitting that the investigation into the attacks is “still in the early stage” and that “[t]here are still gaps in our knowledge.” It then goes on to detail circumstantial “evidence,” including the observation that “bin Laden and his associates seemed to be anticipating what we could only identify as an important event or activity.” Finally, the document talks about how the incident is “tactically similar to earlier attacks” because it involved planning and a desire to inflict mass casualties.

And with that complete lack of evidence, the war on terror was launched and the invasion of Afghanistan began.

And so, in October 2001, the bombs began dropping on Afghanistan. The war of terror had officially begun, and the public was told that one of the key objectives of that war was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden.

REPORTER: Do you want bin Laden dead?

BUSH: I want him . . . hell, I want justice. And there’s an old poster out West, as I recall, that said “Wanted: Dead or Alive.”

SOURCE: CNN: 2001, President George W. Bush ‘bin Laden, Wanted dead or alive’

But as we have seen, one of the defining hallmarks of Al Qaeda throughout its reign of terror was its agents’ uncanny ability to cross borders illegally, evade capture repeatedly and generally slip through intelligence agency dragnets unimpeded. This remarkable string of “good luck” included:

  • the “Blind Sheik” Omar Abdel Rahman, who entered the US with CIA support and lived there unmolested even after his green card was revoked;
  • World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef, who entered the US without the proper paperwork, working and living with a suspected terror ring that was under FBI surveillance, and fleeing the country before he was even a person of interest in the WTC investigation;
  • Khalid Al-Mihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, whose entry to the US from an Al Qaeda summit in Malaysia was known about and actively covered up by the CIA and who lived openly in the United States under their real names for over a year, repeatedly calling the Al Qaeda communications hub in Yemen that was being monitored by the NSA;
  • and, most infamously, Al Qaeda “triple agent” Ali Mohammed, whose career as an Egyptian army officer, a “failed” CIA asset, a trusted aide to Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri, a US special forces training officer, a volunteer fighter in Afghanistan, an FBI deep-cover asset, Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard and the trainer of many of Al Qaeda’s terrorists throughout the 1990s is so improbable that it is generally ignored in most histories of Al Qaeda.

As incredible as all of those stories are, however, they pale in comparison to the story that was about to unfold: the “disappearance” of Osama bin Laden, ostensibly the most wanted man on the planet, from under the noses of the American military and intelligence services.

Osama bin Laden’s remarkable post-9/11 “disappearance” actually began on 9/11 itself, when his whereabouts were not a mystery to America or its allies in the region. In fact, his location and activities on the night before 9/11 were well known to the US, although that information would not be revealed to the public until after his “escape.”

BARRY PETERSEN: Everyone remembers what happened on September 11th. Here’s the story of what may have happened the night before. It is a tale as twisted as the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

CBS News has been told that the night before the September 11th terrorist attack, Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan. He was getting medical treatment with the support of the very military that days later pledged its backing for the US war on terror in Afghanistan. Pakistan intelligence sources tell CBS News that bin Laden was spirited into this military hospital in Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis treatment.

SOURCE: Dan Rather Reports: 9/11 bin Laden At Rawalpindi Hospital September 10th 2001

Despite knowing bin Laden’s precise location and activities right up to the moment of 9/11, however, and despite the fact that the Al Qaeda leader was already a wanted fugitive subject to international arrest warrants and under indictment by a US federal court, bin Laden continued to move around internationally with the full knowledge and complicity of state intelligence services. And, as remarkable as this may seem, bin Laden’s trip to Rawalpindi on the eve of 9/11 was neither the first nor the last time that the US would allow him to evade capture.

In the weeks after the attack, the Taliban offered to try bin Laden in Afghanistan or even hand him over to a third-party country if the US provided them with the same proof of Bin Laden’s guilt for 9/11 that Ambassador Taylor had supposedly provided NATO. Bush turned the offer down. Then, after the invasion of Afghanistan began in October, the Taliban again tried to hand bin Laden over, this time dropping the request for proof of his guilt. Bush again refused.

The war of terror, it turned out, was not about getting Osama. In fact, if bin Laden had been captured or killed, it would have derailed the carefully laid plans for the Bush Administration’s aggressive new foreign policy.

But, having been sold on the simplified version of the war on terror—the one that held the objective of that war was to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and to liquidate the Al Qaeda network—the public believed that the fighting would be short and decisive, like the first Gulf War. After all, how hard would it be for the army of the world’s unrivaled military superpower employing the tools of the most high-tech intelligence community in history to capture a lone fighter on dialysis in the caves of Tora Bora?

Bush administration officials were quick to temper the public’s expectations on this point. This was no ordinary elderly man living in an undefended cave, after all. This was a comic book supervillain, an evil millionaire mastermind directing a terrorist army from his elaborate cave fortress.

TIM RUSSERT: . . . there is constant discussion about him hiding out in caves, and I think many times the American people have a perception that it’s a little hole dug out of a side of a mountain.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Oh, no.

RUSSERT: This is it. This is a fortress! A complex, multi-tiered. Bedrooms and offices on the top, as you can see. Secret exits on the side and on the bottom. Cut deep to avoid thermal detection. A ventilation system to allow people to breathe and to carry on. The entrances large enough to drive trucks and even tanks. Even computer systems and telephone systems. It’s a very sophisticated operation.

RUMSFELD: Oh, you bet. This is serious business. And there’s not one of those, there are many of those!

SOURCE: Bin Laden’s cave according to Rumsfeld

This was a lie, of course. There were no high-tech cave fortresses, no “multi-tiered bedrooms and offices on the top,” no “secret exits on the side,” no ventilation system or computer systems. It was a fabrication, a literal artist’s rendering with as much reality as that of a comic book or a cartoon.

But, as an unfolding drama for the public following the war on their television sets half a world away, this story had enough twists and turns to keep any audience engaged.

The first phase of the war went as predicted. By November, America’s relentless bombing had already routed the Taliban, driving them from Kabul toward Kunduz in the north. There, the trapped fighters—including not only Taliban but Al Qaeda members as well as Pakistani Army officers, intelligence advisers, and volunteers—were saved from certain defeat by a miracle: the arrival of a squadron of Pakistani aircraft that flew in and airlifted them back to Pakistan.

It was later confirmed that the operation—dubbed the “airlift of evil“—was signed off on by the Bush Administration, who had cut a secret deal with Pakistani President Musharraf to let the fighters escape and who “ordered the United States Central Command to set up a special air corridor to help insure the safety of the Pakistani rescue flights.”

But what about Osama bin Laden? As it turns out, his whereabouts were no great mystery to American forces, and, once again, he was allowed to escape.

On the eve of the invasion of Afghanistan in October, the Guardian reported that “Osama bin Laden was in Kabul last week and US and British intelligence agencies have a ‘pretty good idea’ where he is now,” suggesting that “Western intelligence has a much clearer picture of bin Laden’s recent movements than has been admitted.” The report went on to note that bin Laden’s “capture or death would reduce the pressure for wider military action against Afghanistan.” But this intelligence did not lead to bin Laden’s apprehension.

As American forces honed in on Kabul in early November, bin Laden and all of his closest advisors managed to escape to Jalalabad in a very conspicuous late-night convoy. One eyewitness reported: “We don’t understand how they weren’t all killed the night before, because they came in a convoy of at least 1,000 cars and trucks. It was a very dark night, but it must have been easy for American pilots to see the headlights.”

On November 13th, just one day before the Northern Alliance captured Jalalabad, bin Laden escaped once again, this time in a convoy of several hundred cars. Despite believing bin Laden to be in one of the vehicles, US forces opted to ignore the convoy and instead bombed the nearby Jalalabad airport.

Bin Laden and his men, now numbering a few hundred fighters, arrived in mid-November at the mountainous Khyber Pass on the border of Pakistan. On November 15th, with the remaining Al Qaeda and Taliban holdouts pinned down in the caves of Tora Bora, the US military was in a position to eliminate the Al Qaeda threat, kill Osama bin Laden and end the war on terror.

But, remarkably, the Marines, special forces and CIA operatives who were positioned and ready to do this were blocked from doing so by their own superiors.

NARRATOR: That winter, the CIA was still at war. The Taliban had fallen. Now it was Osama bin Laden’s turn.

GARY BERNTSEN: I’m looking for bin Laden right away. I want to start killing him and his people immediately.

GARY SCHROEN: We had intelligence that continued to develop that bin Laden and Zawahiri were in Afghanistan, probably in the eastern areas, hiding out there.

NARRATOR: The CIA tried to put together a team to chase bin Laden. It wasn’t easy.

GARY BERNTSEN: I asked Army special forces if they’ll send people in. They say, “No, we’re not going down there. It’s unstable. You don’t have a reliable ally.”

STEVE COLL: The conditions for Al Qaeda’s retreat were quite favorable, and the United States did not do the one thing that the Pentagon had within its power to do, which was to move regular US troops into a blocking position behind these mountains.

SOURCE: The Dark Side (Frontline)

The story, exhaustively documented by CIA operativesspecial forces operatorsjournalists and even a US Senate report, is clear and unambiguous.

As the US Senate report notes: “By early December 2001, bin Laden’s world had shrunk to a complex of caves and tunnels carved into a mountainous section of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora.”

Both the CIA and Delta Force—the US Army’s elite special operations unit—had tracked bin Laden from Jalalabad to Tora Bora. They had “real-time eavesdropping capabilities on Al Qaeda almost from their arrival, allowing them to track movements and gauge the effectiveness of the bombing” and were able to pick up radio communications featuring bin Laden directly issuing commands to his troops. They had him surrounded on three sides, and the relentless air strikes—including the use of a 15,000 pound “daisy cutter” not used since Vietnam—were decimating what was left of bin Laden’s forces. All that was needed was to secure the mountain pass leading out of Tora Bora and into Pakistan.

Gary Berntsen, the head of the CIA’s paramilitary operation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, knew that the Afghan militias that the US had cobbled together were not up to the job of securing the pass. From mid-November to mid-December, he repeatedly begged his superiors for one battalion of US Army Rangers—just 800 troops—to help stop bin Laden from slipping away.

As the US Senate later noted, fulfilling Berntsen’s request “would have been a manageable task”:

In late November, about the time US intelligence placed bin Laden squarely at Tora Bora, more than 1,000 members of the 15th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units, among the military’s most mobile arms, established a base southwest of Kandahar, only a few hours flight away. [. . .] Another 1,000 troops from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division were split between a base in southern Uzbekistan and Bagram Air Base, a short helicopter flight from Tora Bora.

General James Mattis, the commander of the Marines at Kandahar, told a journalist that his troops could seal off Tora Bora, but his superiors rejected the plan.

Berntsen fared no better in his quest to obtain 800 Army Rangers for the mission. Not only was his request rejected, but, remarkably, in the middle of the most important battle of the war, he was replaced as head of the CIA force in Afghanistan, effective immediately. His replacement was to be Rich Blee, the same CIA bin Laden unit chief who had helped conceal the information about Al-Mihdhar and Alhazmi’s entry to the US from the FBI. Blee was accompanied to Afghanistan by Michael Anne Casey, the bin Laden unit staffer who had actually stopped Doug Miller from sharing that info with the FBI.

At first, Berntsen was told that his request was denied because it might “alienate our Afghan allies.”

“I don’t give a damn about alienating our allies!” he replied. “I only care about eliminating Al Qaeda and delivering bin Laden’s head in a box!”

Later, though, a different story emerged. As it turns out, at the exact same time that bin Laden was holed up in Tora Bora, US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered General Tommy Franks, who was leading the Afghan invasion, to redirect planning resources from Afghanistan to the Pentagon’s next target in the war of terror: Iraq.

As even the official story of the war on terror acknowledges, bin Laden and his top aides, seizing their opportunity, simply walked out of Tora Bora and into Pakistan.

And, just like that, the bogeyman of the war on terror was gone, allowed to escape yet again. He would reappear from time to time to continue reminding the public about the origins of the terror war. But now, the public’s attention was being turned to a new bogeyman.

QUESTION: Mr. President, in your speeches now, you rarely talk [about] or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that?

Also, can you can tell the American people if you have any more information—if you know if he is dead or alive. Deep in your heart, don’t you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won’t really want to make—

BUSH: Well, deep in my heart, I know the man’s on the run if he’s alive at all. And I—you know, who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not? We hadn’t heard from him in a long time.

And the idea of focusing on one person is really—indicates to me people don’t understand the scope of the mission. Terror’s bigger than one person. And he’s just—he’s a person who has now been marginalized. His network is—his host government has been destroyed. He’s the ultimate parasite who found weakness, exploited it, and met his match.

He is—you know, as I mention in my speeches—I do mention the fact that this is a fellow who is willing to commit youngsters to their death. And he, himself, tries to hide, if, in fact, he’s hiding at all.

So I don’t know where he is. Nor—you know, I just don’t spend that much time on him really, to be honest with you.

SOURCE: Presidential News Conference March 13, 2002

BUSH: Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary, confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror.

SOURCE: President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat

That the Bush Administration would pivot so quickly from hunting Osama bin Laden to toppling Saddam Hussein was only surprising to those who did not know the neocons populating the Bush administration or their well-documented and long-held desire to affect regime change in Iraq.

In 1996, a group of prominent neoconservatives—including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser—wrote a report for then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” the report urged Israel to “shape its strategic environment” by “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.” The way to do this, the report concluded, was to “focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq—an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right—as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”

In 1997, twenty-five prominent neocons—including ten who would go on to serve in the Bush Administration, and even Jeb Bush, the future president’s brother—signed a “Statement of Principles” as the founding charter of a new think tank called the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). The statement called on then-President Clinton to reverse the defense spending cuts that marked the post-Cold War era and to “increase defense spending significantly.” In 1998, the group followed up with an open letter to Clinton urging him to “turn your Administration’s attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from power.”

Surrounding himself with neocons on the campaign trail and eventually installing those neocons in all of the key security positions in his cabinet, President George W. Bush wasted no time in making these regime change dreams a reality.

As Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill later revealed, at his first major national security council meeting—held just ten days into the new administration—”President Bush tasked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Hugh Shelton to begin preparing options for the use of US ground forces in the northern and southern no-fly zones in Iraq to support an insurgency to bring down the Saddam regime.” The second national security council meeting of the Bush administration, held two days later, also discussed regime change in Iraq, with one briefing document at the meeting marked “secret” and bearing the title “Plan for post-Saddam Iraq.”

RON SUSKIND: From the very first instance, it was about Iraq, it was about what we can do to change this regime.

LESLEY STAHL: Now, everybody else thought that grew out of 9/11.

SUSKIND: No.

STAHL: But this book says it was day one of this administration.

SUSKIND: Day one, these things were laid and sealed.

SOURCE: Before 9/11, Bush Asked To “Go Find Me A Way” To Invade Iraq

And, infamously, on the day of 9/11 itself, the administration was already beginning plans for a retaliatory strike not just on bin Laden in Afghanistan but on Iraq.

A note taken at 2:40 PM on September 11, 2001, records Rumsfeld saying he wanted “best info fast. Judge whether good enough to hit Saddam Hussein at the same time. Not only bin Laden.” He also made sure to order staff to “go massive” and “sweep it all up” including “things related and not.”

From before Bush even got into office, there was no doubt that he would attack Iraq. 9/11 and the war on terror merely presented the neocons with the perfect opportunity to fulfill that agenda. The only problem was how to tie Iraq into the war on terror in the minds of the public, a problem that Bush himself admitted to.

BUSH: You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror.

SOURCE: Couric Interview Bush September 6, 2006

BUSH: Of course we’re after Saddam Hussein . . . I mean bin Laden. He’s . . . he’s . . . he’s isolated.

SOURCE: George W. Bush and John Kerry 1st Presidential Debate 2004

The job of connecting the public face of the war on terror—bin Laden and Al Qaeda—to Saddam and Iraq was made more difficult by the fact that there was no such connection. Difficult, but not impossible, for a committed cadre with no qualms about using mendacity to achieve their political objectives.

The most direct link between Al Qaeda and Iraq was a trip that alleged 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta was reported to have made to the Iraqi consulate in Prague in April 2001. After Atta’s pictures were published in the media in the wake of 9/11, a Middle East informant told Czech intelligence that he had seen Atta meeting with a suspected Iraqi intelligence agent in the Czech Republic that spring.

The story became even more salacious when—at the height of the anthrax scare in October 2001—”anonymous Israeli intelligence sources” planted a story in the German media that Atta had in fact received anthrax spores from his Iraqi contact in Prague.

But the entire story was such a preposterous lie that it was quickly disowned by both the FBI and the CIA. Investigators found “there was no evidence Atta left or returned to the US” during that time frame and “pointed to other evidence, including Atta’s cell phone records, to cast doubt on the idea that any meeting had occurred.” And, despite the fantastical, anonymous, evidence-free reports in German media, the anthrax used in the anthrax attacks on America in the fall of 2001 did not source from Iraq, but from the US military’s own bioweapons laboratory.

None of this stopped Vice President Dick Cheney from repeating the lie in his media appearances in the run-up to the Iraq War, however.

CHENEY: We’ve seen, in connection with the hijackers, of course, Mohamed Atta, who was the lead hijacker, did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official a few months before the attack on the World Trade Center.

SOURCE: Cheney on “Meet the Press” September 8, 2002

The story of Iraqi agents handing flasks of anthrax to 9/11 hijackers was a little too fanciful even for the credulous American public, however, and it was soon dropped from the neocons’ sales pitch for the Iraq war.

Instead, a different set of lies would need to be found to sell the public on the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation.

On January 31, 2003—six months after senior British intelligence complained behind closed doors that the “facts were being fixed around the policy” of invading Iraq—Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House for a discussion on the matter. As a now-infamous memo documenting the meeting records, Bush had already decided on military action, and a start date for the bombing of March 10th “was now pencilled in.” Given that it was unlikely that the UN would pass a resolution authorizing the invasion absent some compelling incident, Bush suggested a way that Iraq could be provoked into aggressive action.

According to the memo: “The US was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach” of existing UN resolutions, thus justifying military action. The stunning and documented admission that President Bush had suggested staging a false flag event as one option for provoking a war received some press attention at the time but has since largely been forgotten.

After all, they did not need to get Iraq to shoot down a spy plane. The neocons had hit on a different strategy for selling the war to the public.

PRESIDENT BUSH:  If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally foreswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction.

SOURCE: President Bush at United Nations General Assembly 2002 

COLIN POWELL: One of the most worrisome things that emerges from the thick intelligence file we have on Iraq’s biological weapons is the existence of mobile production facilities used to make biological agents.

SOURCE: Colin Powell’s Speech at the UN 2003

CHENEY:  He now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich uranium to make the bombs—

RUSSERT:  —Aluminum tubes.

CHENEY:  Specifically, aluminum tubes. There was a story in The New York Times this morning . . .

SOURCE: Cheney on “Meet the Press” September 8, 2002

RICE: The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

SOURCE: Condoleezza Rice on CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer September 8, 2002 

As these drawings, based on their descriptions, show, we know what the fermenters look like. We know what the tanks, pumps, compressors and other parts look like. We know how they fit together. We know how they work. And we know a great deal about the platforms on which they are mounted.

SOURCE: Colin Powell’s Speech at the UN 2003

BUSH: And my message to Saddam Hussein is that, for the sake of peace, for the sake of freedom, you must disarm like you said you would do. But my message to you all, and to the country, is this: for the sake of our future freedoms, and for the sake of world peace, if the United Nations can’t act, and if Saddam Hussein won’t act, the United States will lead a coalition of nations to disarm Saddam Hussein.

SOURCE: Remarks by the President at South Dakota Welcome October 31, 2002

As decades of after-the-fact journalism has exhaustively documented, every aspect of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” story was a transparent and admitted lie. But it was a remarkably successful lie. Six months into the Iraq war, a stunning 82% of the American public believed that Saddam Hussein had “provided assistance” to Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and 69% believed that Saddam was personally involved in the September 11th attacks.

As the months wore on, however, it became harder to hide the fact that the mythical WMD stashes and mobile weapons labs and aluminum tubes that the public had been assured were keys to the “imminent threat” posed by Saddam’s regime simply weren’t there. Even the corporate press that had worked so hard to sell these lies to the public had to start pointing out the obvious: the Bush administration had lied in order to sell an illegal invasion of a sovereign country to the American public and to the people of the world.

The neocons realized that a renewed effort was going to be needed to connect Iraq to the war on terror in order to keep the public on board with the war as the invasion of Iraq morphed into the occupation of Iraq. And, as always, the Al Qaeda threat would serve the purpose of terrifying the public into rallying once again behind their government. The fact that Iraq and Al Qaeda were mortal enemies might have been an insurmountable obstacle to anyone concerned with the truth. But these were neocons. Their logic was simple: if the Al Qaeda bogeyman didn’t exist in Iraq, they would have to create it. So that’s exactly what they did.

Founded in Jordan in 1999, even the official history of the terrorist organization that became known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” acknowledges that the group originally had nothing to do with either Al Qaeda or Iraq. Instead, its founder, Ahmed al-Khalaylah, was a Jordanian militant whose terror cell Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, or “Congregation of Monotheism and Jihad,” was dedicated to the overthrow of the Jordanian monarchy.

Like many of the figures in the Al Qaeda story, the biography of al-Khalaylah is not that of a devout Muslim, let alone a dedicated jihadi. A high school dropout, al-Khalaylah was known for drunken brawls and drug dealing and was jailed for sexual assualt before going to Afghanistan to join the Mujahideen in 1989, just as the Soviets were leaving. From there, the story of this soon-to-be-feared terrorist leader tells us he returned to Jordan “a few years later,” founded a terror cell known as Jund al-Sham that attracted the attention of the authorities, and was sent to prison in 1992 where he “adopted more radical Islamic beliefs.”

After his release from the Jordanian prison in 1999, he immediately became involved in a new plot to bomb the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman and several tourist sites in Jordan just before New Year’s Day 2000. The plot was foiled, and al-Khalaylah fled through Pakistan to Afghanistan, where, we are told, he met with bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders, with whose assistance he set up a terrorist training camp for Jordanian militants in Herat.

Joining the resistance to the US invasion after 9/11 and adopting the nom de guerre Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, he fled to Iran in January 2002. His whereabouts and activities during 2002 are “difficult to pin down” but “Western and Arab intelligence agencies” assured The Washington Post that, despite being a known terror operative and wanted by numerous governments, Zarqawi, like many other Al Qaeda figures, “moved frequently and with relative ease among Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, expanding his network.”

Then, in 2003, still a relative unknown even within the world of militant jihad, Zarqawi turned up in Baghdad, where he was catapulted to international infamy not by his actions, nor by the promotion of Osama bin Laden or other jihadis, but by the US government.

POWELL: But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the al-Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Usama bin Laden and his al-Qaida lieutenants.

SOURCE: Remarks to the United Nations Security Council

The remarks, delivered during Colin Powell’s infamous speech justifying the forthcoming invasion of Iraq to the UN Security Council in February of 2003, were—like most of the specific accusations in the address—demonstrably false. Zarqawi was a relative nobody in Iraq at the time; the CIA later admitted there was no evidence that Hussein had been “harboring” him; and his group was not, in fact, affiliated with Al Qaeda when Powell made his speech.

Nevertheless, these falsehoods started to become true after the spotlight of attention was showered on Zarqawi by the US State Department.

Attacks attributed to or claimed by Zarqawi were relatively few, but received inordinate amounts of attention from the international press. These attacks were often designed to inflame Shia/Sunni hatred, thus turning resistance to the occupation into a full-on sectarian conflict that tore the country to its roots.

And in 2004, Zarqawi—who, we are told, calculated that attaching the Al Qaeda brand name to his group would give it more caché in the jihadi world—pledged his allegiance to Osama bin Laden and received the Al Qaeda title “Emir of Al Qaeda in the Country of Two Rivers.” The specter of Al Qaeda in Iraq—just another cynical and calculated lie when used by Powell to justify the Iraq invasion—had become a reality.

What resulted from this US government-promoted character was a career so remarkable that it could only be believed in a Hollywood action movie . . . or a history of Al Qaeda.

In 2004, after being allegedly caught and freed by Iraqi security forces in the Fallujah area because “they didn’t realize who he was,” Zarqawi was then reportedly killed in an American bombing raid in northern Iraq in March before pledging his allegiance to Osama and officially joining Al Qaeda in October.

In 2005, Zarqawi was, according to various sources: arrested in Baakuba in January; left “seriously injured, possibly dead” after a US-led offensive in May; evacuated to a neighbouring country “with the help of doctors from the Arab Peninsula and the Sudan”; killed in fighting in Ramadi in June and buried in Fallujah; and killed again in a terrorist bombing in Mosul in November.

This remarkable career finally came to an end when, we were told, Zarqawi had been killed yet again (and presumably for good) in June of 2006.

MILITARY BRIEFER: The lead aircraft is going to engage it here momentarily with a 500-pound bomb on the target.

ROSS CAMERON: Two bombs dropped by an American F-16 strike home. A house outside Baqubah, north of Baghdad, is flattened. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq and one of the world’s most wanted men, has been eliminated.

Iraqi police, who’ve lost hundreds of comrades in attacks blamed on Zarqawi, are celebrating. The White House is relieved.

BUSH: Now Zarqawi has met his end and this violent man will never murder again.

SOURCE: Al-Qaeda’s Iraqi leader al-Zarqawi has been killed

But not everyone believed that this final account of Zarqawi’s death was the true one. Rather than simply mistakes in reporting, other members of the Iraqi resistance insisted that Zarqawi had in fact been killed early on in the US invasion and that his name was simply being used to create an excuse for the continued American occupation of the country.

Sheikh Jawad Al-Khalessi, a noted Shiite imam in Baghdad, was quoted in Le Monde as saying:

I don’t think Abu Musab al-Zarqawi exists. He died in Northern Iraq at the beginning of the war (his family even conducted a funeral ceremony in Jordan). Since then, his name has been nothing but a toy, an excuse used by Americans to stay in Iraq.

Al-Khalessi was not the only one with his doubts about Zarqawi’s true nature. The Project on Defense Alternatives of the Commonwealth Institute in Massachusetts released a report in 2004 excoriating the US government for its propaganda attempting to portray Zarqawi as a terrorist leader in Iraq:

The evidence offered to support the administration’s assessment of Zarqawi as a driver of the Iraqi insurgency and top lieutenant of bin Laden is reminiscent, in form and substance, of the spurious evidence regarding Iraq weapons of mass destruction. Indeed, some of the sources may be the same.

Similarly, The Financial TimesThe TelegraphKnight Ridder NewspapersThe Los Angeles Times and Newsweek all published stories in 2004 calling various aspects of the Zarqawi myth into question.

report in The Telegraph in 2006 called him “a figurehead around whom dissident groups in Iraq were rallying, rather than an elusive fighter directing military operations,” noting that “the more the Americans blamed al-Zarqawi for terrorist atrocities, the greater his credibility on the Arab street,” and quoting an “unnamed Sunni insurgent leader” as calling Zarqawi “an American, Israeli and Iranian agent who is trying to keep our country unstable so that the Sunnis will keep facing occupation.”

According to The Atlantic, even Osama bin Laden himself “suspected that the group of Jordanian prisoners with whom al-Zarqawi had been granted amnesty [in 1998] had been infiltrated by Jordanian intelligence.”

And then, right before he was reported dead for the last time, skeptics of the Zarqawi narrative were proven right in a remarkable fashion. On April 9, 2006, The Washington Post published proof in the form of internal military documents that the US government had played up the myth of Zarqawi and Al Qaeda in Iraq as part of a psychological operations campaign:

The US military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. [. . .] For the past two years, US military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi’s role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the ‘U.S. Home Audience’ as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

In case there was any doubt that the propaganda campaign was targeted at Americans, the program included the Pentagon “selectively leaking” a letter to a US reporter purported to be written by Zarqawi and boasting of his role in the wave of suicide attacks terrorizing Iraq. The letter was dutifully covered by The New York Times even though there were serious questions about whether it was real at all.

The Washington Post exposé quotes an internal briefing document produced by US military headquarters in Iraq revealing that US military chief spokesman Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt boasted that “[t]he Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date.”

And then, two months after these explosive revelations, Zarqawi was reported dead for the last time, a character written out of the script once his value as a propaganda construct was exhausted.

With Zarqawi out of the picture, something else would would be required to keep the American public, and the people of the world, invested in the War on Terror. The main villain in the battle would have to return. Thankfully for the US government, Osama bin Laden was only too happy to oblige.

From the time of his miraculous “escape” from Tora Bora on, the outside world only knew Osama bin Laden from his occasional video releases.

The most infamous of these productions was a video released to the public by the US Defense Department on December 13, 2001. Supposedly “obtained in Afghanistan during the search of a private home in Jalalabad” after anti-Taliban forces moved in to the city, the tape, we are told, “bore a label indicating it was made on November 9” and “shows bin Laden sitting on the floor in a bare room in a house in Kandahar” with “several other men, including two aides and an unidentified cleric, or Sheikh.” Most importantly, it contains—according to the Pentagon-provided subtitles that were added to the video before its distribution to the press—bin Laden’s confession to planning the 9/11 attacks.

“We had notification since the previous Thursday that the event would take place that day,” the US government translation has bin Laden saying. “We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy who would be killed based on the position of the tower.”

The press release provided by the Pentagon noted that, due to the poor quality of the tape, they were not able to produce a verbatim transcript, but that their translation “does convey the messages and information flow” of the conversation, an answer that was apparently good enough for the White House press corps.

REPORTER: Ari, on the bin Laden video that the government released last week, can you offer assurances that the omissions in the government-supplied translation were not deliberate?

ARI FLEISCHER:  Mark, I think Secretary Rumsfeld addressed that very eloquently earlier today, when he said, number one, this tape doesn’t change anything—or, this translation doesn’t change anything about the facts in the case. The Department of Defense translators worked very diligently on a very short timetable to put together a faithful translation and that’s what they did. And if you note on the cover note of what the Department of Defense put out, they wrote “due to the quality of the original tape, it is not a verbatim transcript of every word spoken during the meeting; but does convey the messages and information flow.”

So I think what you saw was the very best effort possible and, as the Secretary said about the translation of Arabic, it’s not a precise art that is agreed to by every translator.

SOURCE: White House Daily Press Briefing — December 13, 2001

But this answer was not sufficient for the foreign press. The following week, German TV channel Das Erste broadcast an edition of their investigate program, “Monitor,” in which they hired their own independent translators to check the Pentagon’s transcript of the tape. The report calls the Pentagon translation “very problematic,” noting that “at the most important places where it is held to prove the guilt of bin Laden, it is not identical with the Arabic.”

Translator Dr. Murad Alami, for instance, found that in the sentence “We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy,” the words “in advance” had simply been inserted by the US government translators. Those words did not appear on the tape. Similarly, the word “previous” in “We had notification since the previous Thursday,” was never said, and the subsequent statement that an event would take place on that day cannot be heard in the original Arabic version.

The Monitor report concludes that the Pentagon translation of Osama bin Laden’s supposed confession tape—deliberately adding words in key passages to make it sound like a confession—was not only inaccurate but actually manipulative. As Gernot Rotter, a professor of Islamic and Arabic Studies at the Asia-Africa Institute at the University of Hamburg, states in the report: “The American translators who listened to the tapes and transcribed them apparently wrote a lot of things in that they wanted to hear but that cannot be heard on the tape no matter how many times you listen to it.”

The startling revelation that the Osama bin Laden confession tape was not a confession tape at all—aired on Germany’s premiere public broadcaster and widely discussed in the German press—was never reported in the US.

That video was followed in short order by a 30-minute video of a visibly gaunt and graying Osama bin Laden delivering what appears to be a last message to the Arab world. Released on December 27, 2001, and presumably recorded during the fight at Tora Bora, bin Laden comments on his own mortality: “God willing, America’s end is near. And it doesn’t depend on my continued existence. Whether Osama is killed or not, the awakening has begun.” In the 30-minute video, bin Laden does not move his left arm at all and appears visibly weak.

Interested at that moment in turning the public’s attention away from Osama bin Laden and toward the next front in the War on Terror, Iraq, the Bush administration dismissed the video as “sick propaganda possibly designed to mask the fact the Al Qaeda leader was already dead.”

“He could have made the video and then ordered that it be released in the event of his death,” The Telegraph quoted one White House aide as saying. “The guy is trying to show he’s untouched by the US bombing but he looks under pressure to me.”

Recorded months after his reported journey to Rawalpindi for kidney dialysis, this video would not be the first or the last time that Osama bin Laden would be reported as dead or dying. Like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, bin Laden was also reported dead on several occasions in the ensuing years, including:

  • on December 26, 2001, when it was reported that Osama bin Laden had died from a serious lung complication in Tora Bora;
  • on January 18, 2002, when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf told CNN: “I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a . . . kidney patient”;
  • in September 2006, when French intelligence leaked a report suggesting bin Laden had died of typhoid fever in Pakistan;
  • and in March 2009, when former US foreign intelligence officer Angelo Codevilla stated: “All the evidence suggests Elvis Presley is more alive today than Osama bin Laden.”

But, also like Zarqawi, none of these reported deaths stopped the Osama bin Laden character from reappearing on the TV screens of a traumatized public to remind them of the importance of the ongoing war on terror.

What followed in the ensuing years was a series of video and audio releases of questionable provenance, often reported in carefully worded turns of phrase that gave the press plausible deniability as to whether or not the recordings really were of Osama bin Laden. A message aired on Al Jazeera in February 2003, for instance, was reported by the BBC as “a poor quality audio recording in which a man’s voice, identified as bin Laden’s, is heard calling for suicide attacks against Americans and resistance to any attack on Iraq.”

The recordings were often mundane. An April 2006 audio message of a speaker “believed to be Osama bin Laden” called on Muslims to “prepare for a long war” in Sudan. A January 2010 audio message warned of the dangers of climate change. “Talk about climate change is not an ideological luxury but a reality,” the speaker, purportedly bin Laden, told his fellow jihadis.

Other recordings appeared at opportune times for the planners of the war on terror, catapulting the terror threat back into the public consciousness just when questions about that narrative were beginning to emerge.

The 2004 US presidential election contest between George Bush and John Kerry, for instance, featured an unusual “October surprise”: a new Osama bin Laden videotape in which the terror mastermind appears to claim responsibility for 9/11 and to warn the American public of future strikes.

ANNOUNCER: This is the CBS Evening News with Dan Rather reporting from CBS News Headquarters in New York.

DAN RATHER: Good evening. With just four days left in the presidential campaign, Osama bin Laden suddenly dropped himself right in the middle of it with a videotaped message to the people of the United States. The fugitive Al Qaeda leader admits for the first time that he indeed ordered the September 11th attack on America, he lays out his reasons for it and he threatens another attack.

This tape tends to confirm that bin Laden is alive and well safely somewhere. President Bush responded by saying the United States will not be intimidated. Senator Kerry said the country is united in its determination to hunt bin Laden down.

SOURCE: CBS Evening News – October 29, 2004

And then again, in September 2007, just days before General David Petraeus was set to deliver his report to Congress on the controversial “surge” in Iraq and just days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, there was Osama bin Laden to remind the public of the ever-present terror threat.

CHARLES GIBSON: Just days before the sixth anniversary of 9/11, the man responsible for the death and horror that day is coming out of the shadows with a new videotape and more invective aimed at the United States. He lectures Americans on everything from religion to politics to taxes. No overt threats, but authorities are looking at whether the tape contains any signal to indicate a future attack.

SOURCE: ABC World News Tonight With Charles Gibson In Kansas City, MO, September 7, 2007

Capitalizing on the conveniently timed video release, President Bush was quick to cite it as evidence that Al Qaeda was connected to the war in Iraq and that the increasingly unpopular war—now generally understood to have been an illegal invasion waged on false pretenses—was in fact an essential part of the war on terror.

BUSH: I found it interesting that on the tape, Iraq was mentioned, which is a reminder that Iraq is a part of this war against extremists.

SOURCE: Remarks Following a Meeting With Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan in Sydney, Australia

But buried beneath the attention-grabbing headlines and substance-less soundbites with which the media covered this release, troubling questions began to arise about the nature of the video. The aging, weary, gaunt, graying and partially paralyzed Osama bin Laden of 2001 was gone, replaced by a visibly younger and healthier man, despite having numerous health problems and despite having presumably spent the better part of a decade on the run as the world’s most wanted man.

Sporting jet black hair and what many media commentators pointed out looked like a fake beard, the figure on the screen seems to be moving in an unrealistic way. Bizarrely, the video freezes at the 1-minute-and-58-second mark while the audio continues. The image remains frozen for most of the video message, only resuming briefly around the 12-minute mark. What’s more, all of the references to current events—those parts referenced in passing on the evening news as “proving that Osama is still alive”—take place during the times when the video is frozen.

In fact, the video proved so unusual that media commentators had to go out of their way to assure their viewers that it was indeed real.

GIBSON: Our chief investigative correspondent, Brian Ross, joins me again tonight from New York. Brian?

BRIAN ROSS: Charlie, US authorities say tonight there is no doubt the tape is authentic. It is bin Laden, black beard and all.

SOURCE: ABC World News Tonight With Charles Gibson In Kansas City, MO, September 7, 2007

Perhaps the strangest part of the video, however, was the manner in which it was released to the public. The video, it turns out, was not released by Al Qaeda, but by the US government.

The month after the video’s release it was reported that the video had originally been “intercepted” by SITE Intelligence Group, described as “one of several small, commercial intelligence firms that specialize in intercepting al-Qaeda’s internet communications, often by clandestine means.” According to The Washington Post:

SITE founder Rita Katz told The Post that her company covertly obtained an early copy of a bin Laden video message in early September, then shared the video with senior administration officials on Sept. 7 on the condition that it not be distributed or made public before its official release. Soon afterward, the video was downloaded by dozens of computers registered to government agencies. Within hours, SITE’s copy of the video was leaked to television news networks and broadcast worldwide.

It was not explained how SITE had “obtained an early copy” of an Osama bin Laden video, but it was far from the only time that mysteriously well-connected internet researchers had unexplained exclusive access to Al Qaeda video productions. Researchers and companies who supposedly scooped the intelligence agencies by “discovering” and publishing Al Qaeda messages (sometimes even ahead of Al Qaeda itself) included:

  • SITE, or the “Search for International Terrorist Entities,” whose promotional materials touted the company’s “one-of-a-kind access” to “messages, videos, and advance warnings of suicide bombings” from “the most hard-to-reach corners of violent online extremist communities,” whose clientele included leading media outlets and even government agencies, and whose founder, Rita Katz, was born in Iraq to a wealthy Jewish businessman father who was convicted of spying for Israel in 1969 in a military tribunal and executed in a public hanging (which, we are told, Katz did not think had much bearing on her work) and who, despite not having any intelligence connections herself, found a job allowing her to search for terrorists online shortly after moving to New York in the 1990s;
  • Laura Mansfield,” a pseudonymous South Carolina housewife who—despite being a self-described “mom sitting here in her dining room typing away on my computer”—is fluent in Arabic, who likes to “monitor” jihadi message boards and chat rooms, and who—with no special training or connections to the world of terror or espionage—was consistently able to find and publicize Al Qaeda videos before anyone else, including: a “2007” video of Osama bin Laden that, it was quickly discovered, was actually a five-year-old video that had already been previously released but reported as “new” by the credulous mainstream press; and multiple releases featuring “Azzam the American,” a.k.a. Adam Pearlman, the Jewish Californian whose grandfather was a board member of the Anti-Defamation League and who, we are told, converted to Islam with a single internet post and was quickly recruited by Al Qaeda to serve as “translator, video producer, and cultural interpreter” for their media committee;

ADAM GADAHN: All you who believe, fight the unbelievers who are closest in proximity to you and let them find harshness in you. And know that Allah is with those who fear him.

SOURCE: Al Qaeda: Hoax

  • and IntelCenter, a company described as “a private contractor working for intelligence agencies” and headed by Ben Venzke—the former Director of Intelligence Special Projects at iDefense, where he worked alongside people like Jim Melnick, a psychological operations specialist who served sixteen years in the US Army and the Defense Intelligence Agency—that similarly supplied the US government and media with Al Qaeda videos released by As-Sahab, the terror group’s media production arm, and somehow exclusively obtained by this private contractor in Virginia.

The public had good reason to question the reality of these suspiciously timed and mysteriously sourced audio and video recordings.

In 1999, William Arkin wrote a piece for The Washington Post called “When Seeing and Hearing Isn’t Believing” in which he reported on the digital morphing technologies that were then being worked on by research teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and elsewhere. He reported on one demonstration of this technology—a fake recording of Gen. Carl W. Steiner, former Commander-in-Chief, US Special Operations Command, announcing “Gentlemen! We have called you together to inform you that we are going to overthrow the United States government.” The fake audio was so impressive that General Steiner asked for a copy. Another demonstration involved Colin Powell announcing that he was being well treated by his captors.

“Digital morphing — voice, video, and photo — has come of age, available for use in psychological operations. PSYOPS, as the military calls it, seek to exploit human vulnerabilities in enemy governments, militaries and populations to pursue national and battlefield objectives. [. . .] Being able to manufacture convincing audio or video, they say, might be the difference in a successful military operation or coup.”

The technology continued to feature in PSYOPS planning as the war of terror dragged on. In 2003, the CIA Iraq Operations Group came up with a “wacky idea” for discrediting Saddam Hussein in the eyes of his people: to create a video purporting to show the Iraqi dictator having sex with a teenage boy. Amazingly, Stein also confirmed that the CIA did make a fake video of Osama bin Laden:

The agency actually did make a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys, one of the former CIA officers recalled, chuckling at the memory.

But as successful as these information operations and Al Qaeda media releases were in keeping the terror threat in the minds of the public, the neocons directing this war of terror were going to need much more than that to meet their objectives. The war on terror, launched in Afghanistan and waged in Iraq, was never meant to end there.

BUSH: The other strain of radicalism in the Middle East is Shi’a extremism, supported and embodied by the regime that sits in Tehran. Iran has long been a source of trouble in the region. It is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.

[. . .]

Iran’s actions threaten the security of nations everywhere. And that is why the United States is rallying friends and allies around the world to isolate the regime, to impose economic sanctions. We will confront this danger, before it is too late.

SOURCE: Remarks at the American Legion National Convention in Reno, Nevada

But getting the public—already weary of the years-long struggle in Afghanistan and increasingly disillusioned with the debacle in Iraq—on board with the invasion of yet another country was going to be difficult unless another spectacular terror event came along to justify opening up yet another front in the war on terror. And, if the terror bogeyman was not willing to provide such a justification, the neocons were once again ready and willing to create it.

FAIZ SHAKIR: What you’re writing there is that Cheney—there was a meeting in the White House where Cheney presided over looking to cook up the next war, a false war based on false intelligence!

[. . .]

SEYMOUR HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build – we in our shipyard – build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy SEALs on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up. Might cost some lives and it was rejected, because you can’t have Americans killing Americans. But that that’s the level of stuff we were talking about. Provocation.

SOURCE: Cheney Plans to Blow Up Americans

Seymour Hersh was not the only one warning about the possibility of the Bush White House staging a terror event in the waning days of its administration to trigger a bold new escalation with Iran. Even Zbigniew Brzezinski—whose involvement in Operation Cyclone started the American involvement in Afghanistan that led to the creation of Al Qaeda in the first place—warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2007 that a military provocation or terrorist act whose origin “would be very difficult to trace” could be staged and blamed on Tehran in order to justify US military action on Iran.

BRZEZINSKI: A plausible scenario for a military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks followed by accusations of the Iranian responsibility for the failure, then by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the United States blamed on Iran, culminating in a “defensive” US military action against Iran that plunges a lonely America into a spreading and deepening quagmire eventually ranging across Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

SOURCE: Zbigniew Brzezinski: Transcript of Testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

But the neocons—suffering from plummeting approval ratings, mounting domestic difficulties and the ramifications of a global financial crisis—no longer had the political capital to stage terror events and garner public approval for their agenda. By 2008, after seven long years in the grip of the existential threat that they were told was the basis for a generation-defining, civilizational struggle with no end in sight, the American public was getting tired. They didn’t want the neocons and their endless war on terror. They were hoping for change.

Luckily for them, that’s precisely what the 2008 US presidential election seemed to offer.

The public was ready for change. In fact, the idea of a shift from the bellicose, belligerent, aggressive foreign policy and the war on terror rhetoric of the neocons to the promised hope and change of the Obama administration was so enticing that not only did Obama win the 2008 election, he also won over the world at large. So excited were people for the prospect of peace that the Nobel Peace Prize committee decided to bestow their 2009 prize on Obama before he had taken a single substantive action in office.

THORBJORN JAGLUND: Good morning. Den Norske Nobelkomite har bestemt at Nobels fredspris for 2009 skal tildeles president Barack Obama for hans ekstraordinære innsats for å styrke internasjonalt diplomati og mellomfolkelig samarbeid.

SOURCE: 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Announcement

Those not swept up in the hope and change delirium were quick to point out that the committee had made a mistake in handing a peace prize to a president still actively involved in military engagements. What not even his most cynical critics seemed prepared for, however, was the idea that Obama would not only continue the Bush administration’s war on terror but that he would greatly expand it. From the two-front war in Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush, Obama would ultimately lead the war of terror into seven countries.

One of Obama’s first moves in office was to oversee a dramatic escalation in Afghanistan, a “troop surge” that was meant to resolve the security issues in the country but actually exacerbated them, finally leading to the dramatic downfall of the US-backed regime and the reinstallation of the Taliban in 2021. And, as we shall see, despite promising a swift resolution to the war in Iraq, not only was the handover of authority to the Iraqi government delayed as long as legally possible but the US was ultimately drawn in again as the terror group that they fostered led to a battle against the Islamic State.

But the newly revitalized war on terror—now given new cover by a smiling, peace-prizing-winning, softer-spoken Commander-in-Chief—did not end there.

Obama oversaw the expansion of Bush’s drone war into Pakistan:

ANCHOR: US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has admitted for the first time that drones are regularly striking Taliban and Al Qaeda targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

SOURCE: Obama defends illegal drone attacks

OBAMA: I want to make sure that people understand actually drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties. For the most part, they have been very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates.

SOURCE: Your Interview with the President – 2012

He led the “kinetic military action” in Libya against previous war on terror ally Moammar Gaddafi:

OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.

SOURCE: President Obama Authorizes Limited Military Action in Libya 

He began the decade-long attempt to overthrow previous war on terror ally Bashar al-Assad in Syria:

OBAMA: My policy from the beginning has been that President Assad had lost credibility, that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians, and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and to move forward on a political transition.

SOURCE: Obama: Assad Must Step Down for Syrian Peace

He waged war in Yemen along with the Saudi government, who had supported and fostered terror groups in the region for years:

AMY GOODMAN: Documents obtained by Reuters show the US government is concerned it could be implicated in potential war crimes in Yemen because of its support for a Saudi-led coalition air campaign. The Obama administration has continued to authorize weapons sales to Saudi Arabia despite warnings last year from government lawyers that it might be considered a co-belligerent under international law.

SOURCE: U.S.-Backed Saudi Forces Bomb Yemeni Funeral

And he extended the “Authorization for Use of Military Force“—the legislation passed in the wake of 9/11 authorizing the president to “use all necessary and appropriate force” against those nations, organizations or persons he determines “planned, authorized, committed or aided” that attack—to include Al-Shabaab in Somalia.

JOHN KERRY: The United States, obviously, has been engaged in helping Somalia fight back against tribal terror and the challenges to the cohesion of the state of Somalia. And the President and his allies have really done an amazing job of fighting back and building a state structure.

SOURCE: Secretary Kerry Delivers Remarks With Somali President Mohamud

But although these escalations appeared to be a mere continuation of the War on Terror that was sold to the public in the wake of 9/11, they were not. In fact, it quickly became apparent that a remarkable transition had begun to occur. Al Qaeda, the ultimate face of evil and the undisputed enemy in the grand terror war narrative, were now the “good guys”—or at least serviceable allies—in the fight against the next target in the war of terror.

This unbelievable turnaround had in fact begun during the Bush administration, when the neocons had started to set their sites on Iran. Being predominately Shiite, Iran is in fact the enemy of the radical Wahabbis and Salafist Muslims that populate the ranks of Al Qaeda and other Sunni terror groups. In targeting Iran, the US—like the British Empire before them—found it convenient to switch allegiances, arming, funding and promoting the very radicals they had just been at war with in order to defeat their enemy of the moment.

As Seymour Hersh reported in 2007:

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The “redirection,” as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectarian conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. [. . .] A byproduct of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

As Hersh detailed in his articles on “The Redirection” and “Preparing the Battlefield,” and as other mainstream sources eventually corroborated, this “shift in Middle East strategy” by the Bush administration included:

That these operations would have started under Bush and the neocons came as little surprise to those who knew anything about the real nature of the so-called war on terror. That they would be continued and even expanded under Obama, the Ambassador of Hope and Change, was more surprising to those who did not yet grasp the true scale and scope of this war.

No, the substance of the Bush redirection did not change under Obama, only the tone and flavour of that policy changed. Obama did not win multiple advertising awards for his 2008 Hope and Change election campaign for nothing. As a shrewd salesman of an unpopular agenda, he knew that to get the public on board with such a radical shift in objectives, he was going to need an equally radical event to take place to tie a bow on the Osama bin Laden narrative and redirect the public’s attention.

And, on May 2, 2011, that event occurred.

OBAMA: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

SOURCE: Osama bin Laden Dead

Codenamed Operation Neptune Spear, the mission to kill bin Laden involved a daring team of Navy SEALs flying two stealth-modified Black Hawk helicopters from the Jalalabad military base in Afghanistan through Pakistani air space straight to Abbottabad—the affluent military town where the world’s most wanted man had evidently been living for years, evading the most comprehensive dragnet in history. Crash landing one of the choppers in the compound courtyard, a massive firefight broke out. The SEALs, clearing weapons stashes and barricades while fending off bin Laden’s henchmen, made their way to the third-floor bedroom where the dastardly villain used one of his wives as a human shield. Shooting her in the leg to get her out of the way, the SEALs then managed to land two shots on their target, one hitting bin Laden in the head and the other in the chest—just as the terror kingpin was reaching for the gun he kept at the ready by his headboard.

Making good their escape, the Navy SEAL heroes blew up their damaged helicopter while a standby chopper that had been prepared for the mission in case of an emergency flew in and whisked the remaining task force members out with bin Laden’s body in tow. Returning to Bagram Air Base, bin Laden’s body was immediately flown out to the USS Carl Vinson, where it was buried at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition.

And just like that, it was done. Public Enemy number one, the face of the war on terror, was dead; slain by the valiant Navy SEALs in a daring operation that was broadcast in real time to the White House Situation Room, where the Commander-in-Chief of the War of Terror, Barack Obama, and his iron-willed cabinet of terror warriors watched with steely determination.

Indeed, this was not the stuff of history books, no dry, dusty tale of some minor police action or military operation. It may not have been the grand showdown in the cave fortress that the public had been prepared for, but—befitting the comic book supervillain of the war on terror narrative—this was the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters.

DEVGRU OPERATOR: Geronimo. For God and country. Geronimo.

SOURCE: Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Yes, this was the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters. But, like a Hollywood blockbuster, the story of the raid was itself fiction. In fact, in the face of mild questioning by the generally deferential press, every single aspect of the confusing and often contradictory story that was told to the public in those euphoric hours after Obama’s momentous announcement was proven to be a lie.

There had been no firefight.

Osama was not armed.

He did not use his wife as a human shield.

Burial at sea was not part of Islamic tradition. In fact, it was directly opposed to that tradition.

Even the famous picture from the Situation Room was a lie; there had been no live video feed of the raid.

But it wasn’t just the details of the raid itself that had been a fabrication; the entire story of the decade-long manhunt for Osama, dramatized in Oscar-winning movies like Zero Dark Thirty and recounted in countless reports, books and tell-alls, proved to be similarly fraudulent.

In fact, the story began to fall apart from the very moment it was told to the public. But while most of the press remained content to pick at the corners of the story, leaving the substance of the narrative intact, others dug deeper, looking for answers amid the confusing confluence of lies, obfuscations, cover-ups and contradictions that surrounded the raid.

In a lengthy article for The London Review of Books in 2015 that—sourcing to unnamed, retired officials with no direct knowledge of the events recounted—was about as solidly sourced as the official account, Seymour Hersh alleged that, while bin Laden had indeed been killed in Abbottabad, he had in fact been living at the compound as a prisoner of the ISI for years and that every part of the official narrative of the raid—from the story of the “Al Qaeda courier” by which the CIA allegedly discovered the compound to the phony vaccination drive to collect bin Laden’s DNA to the burial at sea—was in fact an element of an elaborate (and seemingly unnecessary) cover story to obscure that fact.

In a piece for The Independent the year after the raid, Patrick Cockburn pointed out the inherent contradiction between early reports that the raid had uncovered a “treasure trove” of intelligence that “portrayed bin Laden as a spider at the centre of a conspiratorial web” and later admissions that he had had almost no contact with the outside world and was increasingly delusional about his organization and its capabilities.

Others simply pointed out that, given this was at least the ninth occassion in which journalists, politicians, intelligence officials or others had pronounced Osama bin Laden dead, it was not to be believed without evidence.

But that evidence was not forthcoming. Instead, the government went to extraordinary lengths to cover it up. All the files from the raid—including “copies of the death certificate and autopsy report for bin Laden as well as the results of tests to identify the body”—were deleted from the Pentagon’s computers and transferred to the CIA, where they could be more carefully guarded from Freedom of Information Act requests.

Pictures and video of the raid, including pictures of Osama bin Laden’s dead body that—the public were told—may be released, were instead sealed away forever.

At the time, all that was released were a few short videos of a man purported to be Osama bin Laden that—it was claimed—had been taken from the compound (although it was never explained why bin Laden would have poorly shot video of his back to the camera, watching himself on TV) and some salacious details about the records allegedly seized from the compound’s computers—like the devout Muslim jihadi‘s predilection for porn—that seemed reminiscent of the CIA’s previous “wacky ideas” for faking videos about Hussein and bin Laden.

But CIA director Leon Panetta did leak classified details of the raid at a 2011 award ceremony attended by Mark Boal, the screenwriter who would go on to write and produce Zero Dark Thirty, the Hollywood dramatization of the manhunt for Osama that portrayed the official version of the raid on the silver screen and even falsely implied that the CIA’s illegal torture program had been essential in helping to track down the terror kingpin.

The full truth of what happened in Abbottabad, now obscured by lies, misinformation, selective “leaks,” self-serving tell-alls and still-classified data will likely never see the light of day. But to the directors of the War of Terror, that is beside the point. Osama bin Laden had served his purpose as the villain in the terror war story. And, having served that purpose, he was being written out of the script.

In the end, that was all Osama bin Laden had ever been: a character in the terror war drama. One so good that, if he didn’t exist, they would have had to invent him.

RATHER: Well, it’s pretty obvious the judgment is coalescing around the president that it was Osama bin Laden.

MILT BEARDEN: I know we live in a country where we’re often told that the first thing that comes to your mind, put it down. Put the little mark in there.

I feel slightly uncomfortable because I spent so many years wondering how the myth of Osama bin Laden got started. We have the Osama bin Laden who was the great war hero in Afghanistan. We have Osama bin Laden who was trained by CIA, funded and supported by CIA during three years of war.

I was there at the same time bin Laden was there. He was not the great warrior that went in and fought the Soviet Union to a standstill. The CIA had nothing to do with him.

I think that that mythological Osama bin Laden—never mind that he’s an absolutely evil man—but the mythological Osama bin Laden causes me trouble, and I think maybe there is another answer out there. I’m not certain that I know what it is.

[. . .]

RATHER: There’s no question in my mind that you’re skeptical that Osama bin Laden, aided and abetted or at least protected with the Taliban, should be the principal target of some large military operation. If I’m wrong, tell me now.

BEARDEN: No, no, no. You’re not wrong, Dan. [What] I’m saying is—let me step back one step on this and say Osama bin Laden is an evil man and he’s a component of the terrorism that we’re dealing with across the board. All I’m saying is that I think Osama bin Laden has become the metaphor for the entire problem of terrorism involving Muslims with perceived grievances against the United States and I think it would be wrong to say this is a one-size-fits-all operation and to go after bin Laden because an operation as sophisticated as carried out yesterday was an operation that was concealed from us for months, probably, before it took place. It happened without, essentially, a hitch, except for one aircraft. And there is no reason to believe that these same people weren’t capable of covering their tracks somehow on the way out.

Now, I would go so far as to say that this group who was responsible for that, if they didn’t have an Osama bin Laden out there they’d invent one because he’s a terrific diversion for the rest of the world.

SOURCE: CBS Sept. 13, 2001 0:14 am – 0:56 am

The death of Osama bin Laden may have ended one chapter in the War on Terror, but it was not the end of the story. In a key sense, that story would simply repeat, with the rise of Al Qaeda serving as a template that the terror war planners could draw upon as needed in their efforts to prolong their never-ending conflict indefinitely.

The alignment with radical Islamists to achieve short-term geostrategic goals—a strategy refined by the British Empire over centuries of practice in the “Great Game” of global geopolitics and reaching its apotheosis with the US operation to arm the Afghan Mujahideen in the 1980s—was simply employed once again as the US led its NATO allies in a “humanitarian war” against Moammar Gaddafi in Libya. Former enemies in the war on terror, including veterans of the Iraq insurgency who had been killing American troops in Iraq, and even designated terrorists who had been rendered and tortured by the CIA, were now the good guys, helping to overthrow Gaddafi’s government in Tripoli.

That same story played out yet again in Syria, where the US and its regional allies once again made a deal with the devil, this time in the name of toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad. Arming the most radical elements of these terror groups with US-procured weapons and training them at a US joint operation base in Jordan, it was not long before the Bush-era “redirection” of the terror war was complete and Al Qaeda was now widely recognized as a convenient ally of the US in Syria.

In 2012, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Senior Fellow Ed Husain wrote of “Al-Qaeda’s Specter in Syria,” noting that “The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without Al Qaeda in their ranks.”

In 2014, a trio of foreign policy “experts” published a piece for the CFR on “The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham: An Al Qaeda–Linked Group Worth Befriending.”

And in 2015, Barak Mendelsohn—writing in the pages of the same Foreign Affairs magazine in which Philip Zelikow and his co-authors had “predicted” the terror war—penned “Accepting Al Qaeda: The Enemy of the United States’ Enemy,” in which he argued:

Since 9/11, Washington has considered Al Qaeda the greatest threat to the United States, one that must be eliminated regardless of cost or time. After Washington killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, it made Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s new leader, its next number one target. But the instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward Al Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri. Destabilizing Al Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.

In conclusion, Mendelson writes flatly: “It is certainly ironic that at this point, when the United States is the closest it has ever been to destroying Al Qaeda, its interests would be better served by keeping the terrorist organization afloat and Zawahiri alive.”

Such arguments, unthinkable during the bin Laden years, were suddenly not only thinkable but were being openly promoted in Beltway foreign policy think tank circles. That such a dramatic turnaround could even be considered, let alone advocated, so soon after the years-long propaganda campaign portraying Al Qaeda as an existential threat to the West is only surprising to those who were ignorant of the real history of Al Qaeda and the real origins of the terror war.

To those who did know this history, the fact that those in the State Department’s orbit were now openly calling for accommodation of and even alliance with Al Qaeda came as no surprise. And it similarly came as no surprise that this alliance led—exactly as it had in Afghanistan in the 1980s—to the rise of a new terror group: the Islamic State.

Rising from the ashes of the same Al Qaeda in Iraq that had been led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—the US military’s self-proclaimed “most successful information campaign to date”—the Islamic State rose to international prominence in 2014 when it captured Raqqa in Syria and began a campaign that saw it take over Mosul and Tikrit in northern Iraq before announcing the establishment of a caliphate.

As a convenient justification for reengaging the American military in Iraq and as another excuse for military intervention in Syria, it was only later that the truth began to emerge: not only had the US armed and trained these very ISIS fighters that they were now engaged in mortal struggle with and not only had the US’ own Defense Intelligence Agency precisely predicted the rise of an Islamic State in this area of Syria and Iraq two years before it happened, but US-led forces repeatedly stood down as ISIS convoys moved unimpeded, allowing them to take Ramadi in 2015 and allowing a convoy of stranded ISIS fighters to return home in 2017.

The career of the group’s new leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, followed the now-familiar terror bogeyman pattern. Like his predecessor Zarqawi, Baghdadi was pronounced dead, alive, arrested, dead and alive again so often that news of his actions quickly descended into farce. Detained by US forces at Camp Bucca in Iraq in 2004, he was reportedly arrested again in March 2007 and killed in May of that year before being arrested yet again in 2009 and killed yet again in 2010, at which point even The Times was forced to concede, “The arrest or death of Mr. Baghdadi, the insurgent fighter, has been reported so many times that it has become a macabre joke.”

But he was not done yet.

He was reported to have died in an Israeli hospital in April of 2015, then killed in an airstrike in October 2015 and killed again by the Russians in June 2017 before the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights released a statement insisting he “Really Is Dead This Time” in July 2017. Yet still he continued to reappear, reliably resurrected in the headlines of the establishment press to terrorize the public as needed until the final report of his death in 2019.

But perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the announcement of this, the final death of this remarkably resilient terror mastermind, carefully staged to bring to mind Obama’s dramatic announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden and to rally the country around the flag once again . . .

DONALD TRUMP: Last night the United States brought the world’s number one terrorist leader to justice. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead.

SOURCE: President Trump Delivers Remarks

. . . is that few in the public seemed even to notice that it had taken place.

And, in 2022, when Biden took his turn as the conquering hero, announcing the death of Ayman Al-Zawahiri:

BIDEN: My fellow Americans, on Saturday, at my direction, the United States successfully concluded an air strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, that killed the Emir of Al Qaeda, Ayman Zawahiri.

SOURCE: Biden Announces Death Of Al Qaeda Leader Ayman Al-Zawahri

. . . again it was greeted by a collective shrug. Few in the public even knew Zawahiri’s name, let alone gave him much thought.

For a world that had just lived through two decades of near daily assurances that Al Qaeda was so existential a threat to human civilization that it justified a worldwide, never-ending War on Terror of unlimited scope, this was nothing short of remarkable. The War of Terror, it seemed, might end not with a bang but a whimper.

For the families of Zemari Ahmadi and all the millions whose blood was spilled in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and all the other lands that have been torn apart by the senseless carnage of the past two decades, the growing apathy of the American public to the terror war narrative may come as cold comfort. But to those who have spent decades living under the shadow of the ever-present terror fearmongering, cynically wielded by politicians and governments to keep their populations cowering under the weight of colour-coded terror threats, the rejection of the terror war narrative  is undeniably a turning point.

But, even if the public, having snapped out of the Al Qaeda delusion, is content to move on with their lives and to prepare to live in a post-terror world, the terror warriors have other plans.

What many in the public have failed to realize is that the War of Terror was never really about Osama bin Laden. It was never really about Al Qaeda. It wasn’t about radical Muslims. At base, it wasn’t even about geopolitical goals or reshaping the map of the Middle East.

It was about us.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The Obama Administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating US citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time.

SOURCE: Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of U.S. Citizens “Has No Geographic Limit”

RAND PAUL: I don’t know. If the president’s going to kill these people, he needs to let them know. Some of the people [who] might be terrorists are people who are missing fingers. Some people have stains on their clothing. Some people have changed the color of their hair.

SOURCE: Senator Rand Paul exposes scary definition of ‘possible terrorist’

CHRIS CUOMO: This was no mere protest gone awry. It was what they used to care about on the right, the worst kind of planned violence: terorrism.

SOURCE: CNN March 2, 2021 6:00pm-7:00pm PST

DONALD TRUMP: These are not acts of peaceful protest, but really domestic terror.

SOURCE: BBC News | September 2, 2020 3:00am-3:31am BST

ELAINE QIUJANO: The Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division told Congress that the Bureau currently has 850 open domestic terror cases. Half of those are anti-government or anti-authority extremists.

SOURCE: FBI investigating 850 domestic terror cases

REP. BOEBERT: And this was what DHS decided to put out in a bulletin that now, if you have COVID misinformation that they classify misinformation, you are a domestic terrorist.

SOURCE: ‘Covid Misinformation Is Now Domestic Terrorism’: Says Congresswoman Boebert Citing A DHS Bulletin

CHRYSTIA FREELAND: First, we are broadening the scope of Canada’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing rules so that they cover crowdfunding platforms and the payment service providers they use.

SOURCE: Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act for first time ever in response to protests

BUSH: There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home. But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit, and it is our continuing duty to confront them.

SOURCE: Bush calls out domestic terror threat at 9/11 ceremony

There, just below the surface of the War on Terror story that was sold to the public—the story of radical, freedom-hating Muslims and cowardly terror attacks and crusading Presidents flanked by their valiant Navy SEALs—is another story. As if written in invisible ink between the lines of the history of Al Qaeda is the story of the PATRIOT Act and the Department of Homeland Security, of the TSA and biometric screening and domestic terror watch lists. It is the story of the creation of an entire infrastructure of legal measures and emergency powers that have quietly transformed the face of the so-called free world.

The terror myth has always served primarily as a tool of domestic control. It is a blank check for every government to enact whatever controls it desires over its population in the name of “security.” And the public, convinced of the need for that security by the terror war myth itself, clamours for more government controls. The problem feeds upon itself.

There is only one way to break out of such a vicious circle. The underlying premise of the entire terror war has to be called out for what it is: a lie.

In the end, perhaps this is how the War of Terror really ends. Not with the toppling of the Taliban or a “Mission Accomplished” photo op on the deck of an aircraft carrier or the announcement of the death of the arch terror mastermind or even by presidential declaration. Not by these or any of the other illusory endpoints that the terror warriors dangle in front of the public from time to time only to snatch away when grasped at.

No. The War of Terror ends when the public, having learnt the secret history of Al Qaeda, decide to consign the real terror threat, the myth of Al Qaeda, to the dustbin of history.

FALSE FLAGS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF AL QAEDA

written, directed and narrated by JAMES CORBETT

video editing and graphic design by BROC WEST

transcript and sources: CORBETTREPORT.COM/ALQAEDA

Dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the war of terror and all those who have sought to expose the truth about that war

October 27, 2022 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The war ‘diplomat’: How the West lost the ‘global battle of narratives’

By Ramzy Baroud | MEMO | July 20, 2022

In a blog entry, reflecting on the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bali, Indonesia, on 7-8 July, the High Representative of the European Union, Josep Borrell, seems to have accepted the painful truth that the West is losing what he termed “the global battle of narratives”.

“The global battle of narratives is in full swing and, for now, we are not winning,” Borrell admitted. The solution: “As the EU, we have to engage further to refute Russian lies and war propaganda,” the EU’s top diplomat added.

Borrell’s piece is a testimony to the very erroneous logic that led to the so-called ‘battle of narratives’ to be lost in the first place.

Borrell starts by reassuring his readers that, despite the fact that many countries in the Global South refuse to join the West’s sanctions on Russia, “everybody agrees”, though in “abstract terms”, on the “need for multilateralism and defending principles such as territorial sovereignty”.

The immediate impression that such a statement gives is that the West is the global vanguard of multilateralism and territorial sovereignty. The opposite is true. The US-western military interventions in Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and many other regions around the world have largely taken place without international consent and without any regard for the sovereignty of nations. In the case of the NATO war on Libya, a massively destructive military campaign was initiated based on the intentional misinterpretation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973, which called for the use of “all means necessary to protect civilians”.

Borrell, like other western diplomats, conveniently omits the West’s repeated – and ongoing – interventions in the affairs of other nations, while painting the Russian-Ukraine war as the starkest example of “blatant violations of international law, contravening the basic tenets of the UN Charter and endangering the global economic recovery”.

Would Borrell employ such strong language to depict the numerous ongoing war crimes in parts of the world involving European countries or their allies? For example, France’s despicable war record in Mali? Or, even more obvious, the 75-year-old Israeli occupation of Palestine?

When addressing “food and energy security”, Borrell lamented that many in the G20 have bought into the “propaganda and lies coming from the Kremlin” regarding the actual cause of the food crisis. He concluded that it is not the EU but “Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine that is dramatically aggravating the food crisis.”

Again, Borrell was selective with his logic. While naturally, a war between two countries that contribute a large share of the world’s basic food supplies will detrimentally impact food security, Borrell made no mention that the thousands of sanctions imposed by the West on Moscow have disrupted the supply chain of many critical products, raw material and basic food items.

When the West imposed those sanctions, it only thought of its national interests, erroneously centered around defeating Russia. Neither the people of Sri Lanka, Somalia, Lebanon, nor, frankly, Ukraine were relevant factors in the West’s decision.

Borrell, whose job as a diplomat suggests that he should be investing in diplomacy to resolve conflicts, has repeatedly called for widening the scope of the war on Russia, insisting that the war can only be “won on the battlefield”. Such statements were made with western interests in mind, despite the obvious devastating consequences that Borrell’s battlefield would have on the rest of the world.

Still, Borrell had the audacity to chastise G20 members for behaving in ways that seemed, to him, focused solely on their national interests. “The hard truth is that national interests often outweigh general commitments to bigger ideals,” he wrote. If defeating Russia is central to Borrell’s and the EU’s “bigger ideals”, why should the rest of the world, especially in the Global South, embrace the West’s self-serving priorities?

Borrell also needs to be reminded that the West’s “global battle of narratives” had been lost well before 24 February. Much of the Global South rightly sees the West’s interests at odds with its own. This seemingly cynical view is an outcome of decades – in fact, hundreds of years – of real experiences, starting with colonialism and ending, presently, with the routine military and political interventions.

Borrell speaks of ‘bigger ideals’, as if the West is the only morally mature entity that is capable of thinking about rights and wrongs in a selfless, detached manner. In addition to there being no evidence to support Borrell’s claim, such condescending language, itself an expression of cultural arrogance, makes it impossible for non-western countries to accept, or even engage, with the West regarding the morality of its politics.

Borrell, for example, accuses Russia of a “deliberate attempt to use food as a weapon against the most vulnerable countries in the world, especially in Africa”. Even if we accept this problematic premise as a morally driven position, how can Borrell justify the West’s sanctions that have effectively starved many people in “vulnerable countries” around the world?

Perhaps, Afghans are the most vulnerable people in the world today, thanks to 20 years of a devastating US/NATO war which has killed and maimed tens of thousands. Though the US and its western allies were forced out of Afghanistan last August, billions of dollars of Afghan money are illegally frozen in Western bank accounts, pushing the whole country to the brink of starvation. Why can Borrell not apply his ‘bigger ideals’ in this particular scenario, demanding immediate unfreezing of Afghan money?

In truth, Borrell, the EU, NATO and the West are not only losing the global battle of narratives, they never won it in the first place. Winning or losing that battle never mattered to Western leaders in the past, because the Global South was hardly considered when the West made its unilateral decisions regarding war, military invasions or economic sanctions.

The Global South matters now, simply because the West is no longer determining all political outcomes, as was often the case. Russia, China, India and others are now relevant, because they can collectively balance out the skewed global order that has been dominated by Borrell and his likes for far too long.

July 20, 2022 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing in Washington

Biden Regime Crimes Against Humanity

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • FEBRUARY 22, 2022

One can frequently disagree with government policies without necessarily regarding them with disgust, but the Joe Biden Administration has turned that corner, first with its senseless promotion of a new Cold War that could turn hot with Russia and, more recently, with its actions undertaken to undermine and punish Afghanistan. The fact that the White House wraps itself in the sanctimonious, self-righteous twaddle that is so much the hallmark of the political left is bad enough, but when the government goes out of its way to harm and even kill people around the world in pursuit of an elusive global dominance it is time for the American people to rise up and say “Stop!”

As a former CIA operations officer, I departed government service in 2002 in part due to the impending invasion of Iraq, which I knew was completely unjustified by the web of largely fabricated information that was flowing out of the Pentagon to justify the attack. In the years since I have been appalled by the Obama era attacks on Syria and Libya as well as by the assassinations and cruise missile strikes carried out under Donald Trump. But all of that was a Sunday in the park compared to the hideous nonsense being pursued by Biden and his crew of reprobates. Trifling with the use of force as part of negotiations intended to go nowhere over Ukraine could well by misstep, false flag or even design escalate into nuclear war ending much of the life on this planet as we know it, and we are now also witnessing the cold, calculated slaughter of possibly hundreds of thousands of civilians just because we have the tools at hand and believe that we can get away with it. What we are seeing unfold right in front of us goes beyond appalling and it is time to demand a change of course on the part of a runaway federal government that is drunk on its own self-assumed unbridled right to exercise total executive authority over vital issues of war and peace.

I am most particularly shocked and dismayed over what the Biden Administration did to Afghanistan on February 11th, which is unambiguously a crime against humanity. On that day the President of the United States Joe Biden, still smarting from the botched departure from Afghanistan and low approval ratings, issued an executive order invoking emergency powers stipulating that the $7 billion in Afghan government money being held and frozen in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York would be retained by the US and divided in two.

Half of the $7 billion would be placed in a US government administered trust fund. The money would in theory go to fund humanitarian relief in Afghanistan to be carried out by agencies unidentified but presumed to be acting in coordination with the barracudas at the Treasury Department while the other half would go to benefit the victims of 9/11. This money is not just “frozen assets,” it is the entire reserve of the Afghan central bank, and its appropriation by the US will destroy whatever remains of the formal Afghan economy, making Afghanistan entirely reliant on small rations of foreign aid that come through channels unconnected with the Afghan government.

The other half of the story is that Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11 but instead became a victim of the US lust for revenge. After 9/11, the Taliban government offered to turn over Osama bin Laden to the United States if Washington were able to provide evidence that he was somehow involved in the attacks in New York and Virginia. The George W. Bush Administration was unable to do so, but chose to invade instead.

Afghanistan now has a government that is recognized by the United Nations and many other countries, though not by Washington, which insists that the Taliban are terrorists. Sanctions pressure being exerted by Washington on the new Taliban dominated regime has inter alia brought about a major humanitarian disaster, with various international agencies predicting that many thousands of Afghan civilians will die of starvation because there is no money available to provide relief. The United Nations has reported that three-quarters of Afghanistan’s population has plunged into acute poverty, with 4.7 million people likely to suffer severe or even fatal malnutrition this year.

The money in New York unambiguously belongs to the Afghan government and the country’s central bank. It is not money that came from the United States, which means that what Biden, who is already stealing Syria’s oil, is engaging in yet one more large scale theft, this time from people dying from famine and disease. Furthermore, as the US was de facto an occupying military power in Afghanistan, the responsibility to protect the civilian population is explicitly required under the articles of the Geneva Convention, to which the US is a signatory. That Washington will watch many thousands of civilians die because it has used its position as an occupying power to steal money that might alleviate the suffering is unconscionable and amounts to a war crime.

Undoubtedly the half of the money allegedly allocated for humanitarian relief will be directed to organizations that will do Washington’s bidding in terms of how the aid is distributed and who gets it. It is being reported that it will take months to set up the aid network, by which time thousands will die. That is to be expected and may have been intentional. And as for the other half of the money directed towards 9/11 “victims,” just watch how that plays out. There are undoubtedly instances of Americans who lost multiple and even cross generational family members at 9/11 and are still in need of assistance. Fine, that is a given, but why punish the Afghans to deal with that? And as soon as the money is on the table you know exactly what will happen. All the shyster lawyers working on a percentage of the payoffs will come out of the woodwork and the major beneficiaries of all the loot will be people who know how to manipulate and game the system. That is what happened to the billions that came raining down as a consequence of the insurance claims on the World Trade Center and also in the distribution of other monies that followed. You can bank on it.

Washington has become adept at lying to cover up its crimes overseas, but foreigners, who are not likely inclined to read the Washington Post and are directly affected by the deception, frequently have a more facts-based understanding of what exactly is going on. And it is why no one any longer trusts the United States. And, it is interesting to note how inevitably the lying by the US government is both bipartisan and inclined to blame the victim as a fallback position. This was seen in Donald Trump’s assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani over two years ago. Soleimani was in Baghdad for peace talks and was falsely accused by the White House of preparing to attack American soldiers. There is also the more recent assassination of alleged ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi and killing of 13 additional women and children in Syria where accounts of villagers don’t quite square with the Pentagon version of what allegedly took place.

And then there is a long-concealed atrocity also in Syria which took place in the town of Baghuz in March 2019. At least 80 mostly women and children died in an attack by American F-15 fighter bombers, which was only reported in the media in November 2021. Reportedly, a large crowd of women and children were seen by photographic drones seeking shelter huddled against a river bank. Without warning, an American attack jet dropped a 500-pound bomb on the group. When the smoke cleared, another jet tracked the running survivors and dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of them. Military personnel at the Udeid Airbase in Qatar watching the attack by way of the drone camera reportedly reacted in “stunned disbelief” at what they were witnessing. A Pentagon cover-up followed and to this day the official comment on the attack is that it was “justified.”

So, by all means go and listen to lying Jen Psaki and pencil neck Ned Price or to Secretary of State Tony Blinken and possibly to the ultimate nitwit himself, President Honest Joe Biden. Or you can just pick up a New York Times or Washington Post where deliberately leaked government lies are backed up by what the newspapers pretend to be editorial integrity. These folks just might drop us into a nuclear war or could possibly continue in their larcenous ways to rob the world. Sooner or later the chickens will be coming home to roost and accountability for America’s war crimes will be demanded. Stay tuned.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

February 22, 2022 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Outrage over her Lockerbie comment puts Libya’s foreign minister on the spot

By Dr Mustafa Fetouri | MEMO | November 11, 2021

Libya’s much-hailed first female Foreign Minister, Najla Mangoush, has been suspended by the country’s Presidential Council. The decision on 6 November concluded that the minister had been “acting unilaterally and without consultation” with the council as required by the political agreement of 9 November 2020 that divided authority between the Council of Ministers and the Presidential Council. The suspension decree also said that Mangoush is to be investigated by two experts who will submit their findings to the council within the next two weeks.

However, the real reason for the suspension and investigation is a comment in her interview with the BBC. The minister said that her government is “open” to the possibility of extraditing a Libyan citizen wanted by the United States in connection with the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. On the 32nd anniversary of the bombing on 21 December last year, the then US Attorney General William Barr accused a former Libyan intelligence officer, Abu Agila Mohammed Masud, of involvement in the atrocity. Despite what Mangoush told the BBC, though, it is unlikely that Masud will be extradited.

Two hundred and seventy people, mostly US citizens, were killed on that fateful night, including 11 people on the ground, when Pan Am Flight 103 blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. A Libyan intelligence officer, Abdel Baset Ali Al-Megrahi, was convicted of the atrocity and sentenced to life imprisonment in a 2001 trial. He was released in 2009 for health reasons — he was suffering from prostate cancer — and died in his Tripoli home in 2012.

Al-Megrahi protested his innocence to the end and his family launched a posthumous appeal to clear his name. The third appeal is now being considered by the UK Supreme Court in London after it was rejected by Scotland’s Court of Appeal in January.

His Glasgow-based lawyer, Aamer Anwar, was outraged by Mangoush’s comments. In a statement shared with MEMO he wrote, “Shame on you [Najla Mangoush] for broadcasting to the world, the words ‘positive outcomes’ are coming.” When asked about the possibility of extraditing Masud to the US the minster had used that phrase, implying that the issue is being discussed among ministers and a decision to collaborate with the US has already been made.

Anwar went on to question her motives by asking, “What reward are you expecting from the United States, a country that has bombed, humiliated and sanctioned your people?” He accused the minister of breaking Libyan law, which bans the extradition of Libyan citizens to be tried abroad.

Faced with a wave of public outrage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation denied on 7 November what was attributed to the minister in the BBC interview. It insisted that Mangoush “never mentioned” Masud. It’s true that she did not refer to him by name, but the context of the interview clearly refers to him. The BBC released a clip of the interview in which Mangoush answered a question about extraditing Masud to the US and she said: “I don’t know but I think we, as a government, are very open in terms of collaboration in this matter.”

Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh came out quickly in her support, and said that the Presidential Council does not have the authority to suspend the foreign minister. Citing the political agreement that paved the way for the current government and council to share power, Dbeibeh said that the latter “has limited power” which does not include appointing or suspending ministers.

A top Libyan Supreme Court judge, Ali Al-Zuraiqi, confirmed in a televised interview said it is “illegal to extradite a Libyan citizen” to be tried in another country. He added that such a matter is in any case “for the judiciary in Libya to decide.”

Libyan commentators overwhelmingly rejected Mangoush’s statement, accusing her of reopening the Lockerbie case which, many say, has long since been closed. Indeed, in 2008 the US and Libya signed what is known as a Claims Settlement Agreement that ended all claims in connection, not only with the Lockerbie bombing, but also many others that involve violence and acts of terror committed before 2006.

Former Foreign Minister Mohamed Sayala was asked about his successor’s comments. “The Lockerbie case was completely closed,” he pointed out, “[and] its revival opens hell’s door” to Libya, particularly, in terms of financial compensation for the victims’ families. In the 2008 agreement with the US, Libya agreed to pay a total of $2.7 billion to victims’ family in order to “buy the peace”, as its then Prime Minister, Shukri Ghanem, described it.

Libya has never accepted responsibility for the Lockerbie tragedy and “mounting evidence” since the 2001 trial has pointed to Al-Megrahi’s innocence. Dr Jim Swire, whose daughter was killed on board the doomed flight, is certain that Al-Megrahi is a “victim of a miscarriage of justice.” Swire is one of the campaigners pushing for his conviction to be overturned.

Ferial El-Ayeb, a consultant to Al-Megrahi’s defence team in Scotland, told MEMO that such comments by Foreign Minister Mangoush are “outrageous and insulting to us in the defence team.” She added that Libya is in “a weak situation now” and the kind of comments heard from the minister “will increase US pressure on the country to hand over Masud.”

A source in the foreign ministry, speaking anonymously, told MEMO yesterday that Mangoush was in her office despite the Presidential Council’s decision. The source added that she is expected to take part in tomorrow’s conference on Libya hosted by the French in Paris.

The only certainty, the source concluded, is that the “negative public backlash against [Mangoush] will act as a ‘deterrent’ to her and other officials to be careful when discussing sensitive issues.”

November 11, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Evil That Men Do Lives After Them

How about some accountability for Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen?

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW • AUGUST 24, 2021

If you want to know how the United States wound up with “government by stupid” one need only look no farther than some of the recent propaganda put out by members of Congress, senior military officers and a certain former president. President George W. Bush, who started the whole sequence of events that have culminated in the disaster that is Afghanistan, is not yet in prison, but one can always hope.

Regarding the current crisis, former FBI special agent and 9/11 whistleblower Coleen Rowley cited Richard W. Behan who mused over “How perverse we have become. We chastise President Biden for a messy ending of the war in Afghanistan and fail to indict George Bush for its illegal beginning.” She then observed, in her own words on Facebook, “So Rehabilitated War Criminal Bush can maintain his legacy as stalwart statesman as he cutely dances with Ellen DeGeneris and Michelle Obama on television screens. Washington is just a big fact-free political show where the blame game winners are the best manipulators.”

I would add to that the hubris of the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the tower of an aircraft carrier as Bush, wearing a flight suit, inaccurately announced victory and an end of combat in Afghanistan, presumably so he could focus on his new war in Iraq. As the Taliban had not attacked or threatened America, had no means of doing so, and were even willing to turn over “their guest” Osama bin Laden to US justice after the bombing of the USS Cole in late 2000, they were hardly a formidable foe. The Bush Administration refused the offer to surrender bin Laden on four occasions before 9/11 and once more five days after the attack because it wanted a war. Given all of that backstory, what Bush and his posse of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Tenet, Feith, Powell and Libby did was indisputably a war crime. And they followed up with fake intelligence to justify a second war against Saddam Hussein, who had also sought to avoid war by offering to go into voluntary exile. The Nuremberg tribunals considered aggressive war against an unthreatening nation to be the ultimate war crime. That would make it an ultimate war crime times two, not to mention the killing of civilians and torture that went along with it. And President Barack Obama added to that toll by subsequently destroying an unthreatening Libya. Unfortunately, many of those war criminals from the Bush and Obama cliques who are still alive are sitting fat and pretty in retirement or in lucrative private sector positions while the only ones who have been punished are the whistleblowers who tried to stop the madness.

George W. Bush is not particularly good at apologies so it is not surprising that he did not deliver one regarding the war he unnecessarily started and even more unnecessarily prolonged through the US occupation. In his view, the US should now remain in Afghanistan and he claims to be worrying about what will happen to Afghan women in particular and to the growing number of refugees, who he opines should be allowed to enter the United States. His statement includes a tip of the hat to the armed forces: “Many of you deal with wounds of war, both visible and invisible… And some of your brothers and sisters in arms made the ultimate sacrifice in the war on terror. Each day, we have been humbled by your commitment and your courage. You took out a brutal enemy and denied Al Qaeda a safe haven while building schools, sending supplies, and providing medical care. You kept America safe from further terror attacks, provided two decades of security and opportunity for millions, and made America proud. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and will always honor your contributions.”

The delusional Bush makes it all sound like a mission of mercy which inter alia destroyed a ruthless enemy preparing to strike and kept America free of terror, none of which is true but it certainly sounds nice. But what is really interesting is how the fall of Afghanistan is being used by some to hype Bush’s war on terror, making the case that it is now more important than ever to strengthen US counterterrorism efforts. Which is another way of saying, “keep the cash flowing!” Those who have a vested interest in the war on terror are warning that the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan has raised concerns relating to a possible resurgence of terror groups that might once again use the country as a home base. The frequently wrong on every issue General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that “the United States could now face a rise in terrorist threats from a Taliban-run Afghanistan.”

Of course, if that were the case, Afghanistan might well face a bout of heavy strategic bombing by the United States, so there is not exactly an incentive for them to do something that provocative. Nor do they have the resources to act outside their own borders and they presumably would not welcome any of their “guests” provoking another US invasion.

Milley’s dumb comments on Afghanistan, to include the astonishingly wrong claim that US intelligence did not report in extenso the sorry state of the Afghan Army and the imminent collapse of the government, demonstrate that ignorance on major issues relating to foreign policy is not limited to those who call themselves Republicans. Secretary of State Tony Blinken insists that the retreat from Kabul is not a replay of Saigon, nor were the withdrawal plans, such as they existed, “botched.” Word in Washington is that Blinken will be the designated fall guy for the disaster to protect his boss.

Apart from the Afghanistan fiasco, stupid extends to how the government operates, particularly in Congress. In a recent memo to supporters and constituents Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner, who heads the Senate Intelligence committee described his top priorities. Three of them are quite interesting. They are: “(1) Root out anti-government extremism, including the white nationalist militias who participated in the January 6th insurrection at our Capitol; (2) Rebuild intelligence community agencies and departments that were understaffed and under-resourced in the previous administration, and (3) Depoliticize our intelligence-gathering apparatus, so these tireless and patriotic public servants can stay above the partisan fray and focus on their jobs: defending the American homeland.”

Enough has been said about the Democratic Party’s obsession with putting white Americans in their proper place, which is some deep hole where they can be ignored and berated as necessary. Purges are already taking place at the Pentagon and at the Justice and Homeland Security Departments. But Warner’s stated “priority” to engage in the rebuilding of an intelligence community that has seen its budget grow year after year comes as somewhat of a surprise. Perhaps it needs the extra cash to root-out those pesky whites. And finally, “depoliticizing” intelligence gathering has to be something of a joke, coming as it does from the party that did the most to politicize it in the first place under President Barack Obama working hand-in-hand with the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign to promote the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. I suppose Senator Warner does not see the party in power using the CIA, NSA and FBI to discredit an opponent and destroy his campaign as politicization. Or you can always blame it on the Russians.

All in all, we have had a fine team working in harmony to protect the American people. Hopefully the time they spend in prison somewhere down the road will not discourage them and they will emerge with their brilliant insights fully intact. With leaders like Bush, Milley, Blinken and Warner, what could possibly go wrong?

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is https://councilforthenationalinterest.org address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

American unilateralism & intervention is driving global instability, not Russian actions: Putin

RT | June 14, 2021

While Washington constantly talks of the need for international harmony, it has rarely played a positive role in it in recent years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has said, stressing that stability is vital in world politics.

Asked during an interview with NBC’s Keir Simmons, broadcast on Monday, whether he would support a call for predictability and stability from his US counterpart, Joe Biden, when the two leaders meet in Geneva on Wednesday, Putin said that it is the most important value… in international affairs.” However, he added, “on the part of our US partners, this is something that we haven’t seen in recent years.”

Simmons pointed out that Biden has previously accused Russia of causing “a lot of instability and unpredictability,” with Putin responding that Moscow is concerned about the impact of American foreign policy as well. The Russian president pointed to what he described as Washington’s role in destabilizing Libya in 2011, as well as across much of the Middle East.

Putin also said that, when he asked US officials about their views on Syria’s political trajectory in the event of President Bashar Assad’s departure from power, they said they had no clear picture of what might follow.

“If you don’t know what will happen next, why change what there is?” the Russian president asked, adding that Syria could “be a second Libya or another Afghanistan” if Washington and its allies had succeeded in removing Assad from power. Russia has supported the Syrian government in the conflict, following a request from Damascus in 2015.

Eventually, it is America’s unilateralism and Washington’s desire to impose its will on others that disrupts stability in the international arena, Putin claimed. “That’s not how stability is achieved,” he said, adding that only dialogue can ensure security and peace.

“Let us sit down together, talk, look for compromise solutions that are acceptable for all the parties. That is how stability is achieved,” the president urged.

Putin’s comments came ahead of his first meeting with Biden since the US leader took office in January. The Russian president has said that US-Russia relations are at their “lowest point in recent years” in the run-up to the summit.

Biden said he wants to use the session to help build a “stable and predictable relationship” with Moscow. Yet, at the G7 summit, held in England last week, he also insisted that the US “will respond in a robust and meaningful way” to any “harmful activities” by Russia.

June 14, 2021 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How the US and Great Britain Instigate Coups Nowadays

By Vladimir Danilov – New Eastern Outlook – 06.03.2021

Recently, the United States and Britain, actively using the propaganda tools that they possess, have increasingly begun to accuse Russia and China of interfering in their domestic affairs and election campaigns, and of effectively preparing coups in these countries. However, apart from making proclamatory statements, neither Washington nor London has presented any facts or documents that confirm these accusations, nor can they present them, since these accusations are false.

Along with that, documented information about complicity on the part of United States and Britain in various coups that were being set up has begun to appear more frequently in publicly accessible reports in various media outlets.

For example, according to the recent publication in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung, UN investigators found out that in 2019 elite fighters from the American Erik Prince’s private military company Blackwater, infamous for their actions during the American occupation of Iraq and several other states, had to take action twice to eliminate the Government of National Accord, which is recognized by the international community. But this “Project Opus” failed…

A group of UN experts studying violations of the UN arms embargo against Libya learned that in the Libyan war in recent years there has been a second, secret front to directly get rid of officials and commanders of the Government of National Accord that rules in Tripoli. “Project Opus” specifically called for delivering 20 elite Blackwater fighters to sites near Tripoli in June 2019 to conduct operations. The officers contacted by the German newspaper in Benghazi confirmed the arrival of 20 fighters from England and South Africa, and one American, in June 2019. The second group, consisting of snipers and fighters trained to fight behind enemy lines, flew to Benghazi in April 2020 and then headed off to the front near Tripoli. On April 24, 2020, 13 French citizens reached the Libyan-Tunisian border and presented themselves as diplomats to the Tunisian border guards, even though they carried heavy weapons. They were arrested, but under diplomatic pressure from Paris they were allowed to leave for Tunisia.

In early May 2020, the world media exploded with reports: another attempt at a military invasion of Venezuela was thwarted, Washington’s mercenaries were captured by the Venezuelan authorities, the United States wanted to repeat the operation in Cochinos Bay (the so-called attempt by the US Central Intelligence Agency to land Cuban emigrants in the Bay of Pigs, something which was aimed at overthrowing Fidel Castro). It is worth remembering how on May 3 mercenaries from the American private military company Silvercorp tried to land on the coast of Venezuela near the city of La Guaira, which is located just 32 kilometers from Caracas. Sixty armed, well-equipped militants with satellite phones and fake documents planned to reach the capital and capture the Venezuelan president for his subsequent transfer to the United States. Two of those arrested, Airan Berry and Luke Denman, were US citizens that had served in Afghanistan and Iraq. On May 4, American media interviewed the former US special forces fighter and the head of the Silvercorp PMC, Jordan Goodrow, who trained these fighters in Colombia. Goodrow declared that the goal of “Operation Gideon” was to organize raids into Venezuela to fight “the regime”. The former special forces soldier showed an eight-page $213 million contract signed in October 2019 by Washington-backed self-proclaimed Venezuelan “president” Juan Guaido and Donald Trump’s political advisers. On March 23, the Colombian authorities confiscated an entire arsenal on their territory that was specifically meant for the mercenaries. The mercenaries were equipped fairly well.

The Washington Post also published a document according to which members of the Venezuelan opposition, following negotiations, in October 2019 entered into a deal with the American private military company Silvercorp, located in Florida. The PMC employees were supposed to infiltrate the territory of Venezuela to overthrow the country’s legitimate president, Nicolas Maduro.

These events in Venezuela were recently well assessed by Bloomberg :

“One would hope that the Central Intelligence Agency could do better than a farcical scheme that was disowned by the Venezuelan opposition, penetrated by regime security forces and disrupted as soon as it began. Yet this trivial episode invites us to think seriously about the role of covert intervention and regime change in US policy.”

Exposing these subversive activities by Blackwater and other US and British mercenaries shows that they are usually committed by former military personnel and criminals involved in a wide variety of activities around the world. They act as bodyguards, protecting people and businesses in “hot spots” (like oil-producing areas off the coast of Nigeria and Sudan), as well as convoys and freight shipments in war zones, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since from the very beginning of hostilities in the region both public opinion in the United States and Democrats in Congress viewed sending their own soldiers to hot spots extremely unfavorably, they had to look for replacements elsewhere.

American wars in the beginning of the 21st century have become a real gold mine for these organizations, which have turned from bands of thugs that toppled shaky “cannibalistic” regimes in Africa during the Cold War into real international corporations. They represent a significant benefit for the United States and its Western allies leading the war, since they consist of veterans that are already experienced – military professionals who have not found a niche for themselves in civilian life. In addition, these organizations are considered private enterprises, and therefore are not accountable to Congress, so the losses these soldiers incur are not included in the total number of casualties for a country’s conventional army, which makes it possible to give a more favorable representation of the situation in a war zone at home. Public opinion in the United States has long called for rejecting the services these companies provide, and reinforcing transparency in their activities. The UN has repeatedly raised the issue of revising the definition of “mercenary”, and banning organizations like Blackwater, over the past several years – but so far it has not yet achieved any significant results.

Besides these examples of Washington’s attempts to instigate a military coup in other countries, nowadays a number of documents have been raised for public review related to the period of the height of the US intervention in Syria in 2014, when Assad’s forces were growing weaker and Damascus was under the threat of capture by Islamists that the West nurtured and supported. For example, the Middle East Eye agency has shown quite convincingly – and with documentary evidence – how during a British-supported operation called Sarkha (Scream), the media tried to turn the Alawites against Assad, and by doing so accomplish a coup in Syria. The publication gives official documents that attest to the social media “protest movement” that was actually created under the authority of the British government.  The very same scenario for Operation Sarkha was developed by the American company Pechter Polls of Princeton (New Jersey, USA), which was working under a contract with the British government. The contract for subversive work in Syria was initially administered by the Military Strategic Effects department at the UK Department of Defense, and then by the British government-run The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, whose objective is to

“resolve conflicts that threaten the Great Britain’s interests.” The project’s budget was £600,000 ($746,000) per year. The published documents indicate that the goal of the operations was “supporting the activities of the Syrian opposition media to reach an audience in Syria… Platforms for this work were created jointly by the UK, USA, and Canada to strengthen popular resentment toward the Assad regime.”

In another issue of the Middle East Eye, documents obtained by the publication show how British contractors hired Syrian citizens who were journalists to promote “moderate opposition” – often without their knowledge. Contracts with these mercenaries were entered into by the British Foreign Office, and were managed by the country’s Ministry of Defense, sometimes by military intelligence officers, paying small amounts of money to the contractors.

After getting to know everything indicated above, the question naturally arises: who exactly is really interfering in the affairs of other states? And how objective is the propaganda coming from Washington and London, as well as their foreign policy as a whole?

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Russophobia | , , , , | 1 Comment

Killing Revolution in Bahrain, U.S.-UK Plotted Regime Change in Libya, Syria

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | February 19, 2021

Ten years ago this month, the Middle East and North Africa were convulsed by uprisings and subterfuges. The Arab Spring is generally thought of as a single wave of pro-democracy movements that swept the vast region. Far from it, however, the events were a mixed bag in which Western powers were not on the right side of history, as Western media would portray. Indeed, these powers played a nefarious role to ensure that the Arab Spring was kneecapped in order to cripple any progressive potential.

A look at the contemporaneous events in Bahrain, Libya and Syria shows the baleful role that the United States, Britain and other European NATO powers actually played. The Arab Spring certainly encompassed many more nations, but the specific events in those three mentioned Arab countries highlight the pernicious agenda of the Western powers which has left an ongoing legacy of misery, failure, conflict and terrorism for the entire Middle East and North Africa region.

As reported in a previous commentary, the American and British governments played an instrumental role in suppressing a popular revolution in Bahrain, which began on February 14, 2011, against a despotic but pro-Western monarchy – the Khalifa regime – which is also a surrogate for the richer and more powerful House of Saud regime in neighboring Saudi Arabia. The Saudis were given a green light by the Americans and British to invade the Persian Gulf island on March 14, 2011, to brutally put down a month-long uprising by a majority of Bahrainis who were demanding free and fair elections, human rights and independent rule of law.

The irony is that Washington and London were claiming to support these same democratic values in other Arab countries which were undergoing unrest.

On March 15, 2011, Western governments and media hailed what they called was the beginning of a “pro-democracy” uprising in Syria against the government of President Bashar al Assad. Then on March 19, the United States, Britain and other NATO powers began a military intervention in Libya said to be in the name of “protecting human rights” from the armed forces under control of the head of that state Muammar Gaddafi.

The Americans and British were compelled to move quickly to suppress the Bahraini revolt because it potentially threatened the entire chain of absolute Gulf Arab monarchies. If democracy were to emerge in Bahrain that would be destabilizing for the other oil-rich Gulf states whose authoritarian rule is vital for sustaining the global petrodollar system and Western imperial interests in the Middle East, not least of all lucrative military exports. Sacrificing Bahrain’s democratic aspirations was the price that Washington and London were all too willing to pay, without a qualm.

To this day, Bahrain’s democratic aspirations are violently repressed by the monarchy in league with Saudi rulers, as well as American and British complicity, including media silence.

When the Saudis received the green light for invading Bahrain on March 14, 2011, the quid quo pro, according to Pepe Escobar, was that American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got assurance from the Gulf monarchies that they would ensure no objection among the 22-nation Arab League for the imminent NATO military intervention in Libya. Thus the suppression in Bahrain paved the way five days later for the NATO blitzkrieg on Libya, a relentless eight-month aerial bombing campaign that culminated in the overthrow and murder of Gaddafi on October 20.

Subsequently, Libya would precipitously descend from the foremost developed nation in Africa into a war-torn failed state riven by civil war, jihadist warlords and human trafficking which has plagued Europe to this day. It is grotesque that the Americans, British and other NATO powers justified their criminal aggression on Libya in the name of protecting human rights and promoting democracy as part of the Arab Spring events.

What’s even more reprehensible, the failed state of Libya would soon become a supply route for the CIA and British MI6 to deploy jihadist mercenaries and weaponry for the NATO and Arab sponsored regime-change operation unfolding in Syria.

On March 15, 2011, one day after the Anglo-American sponsored operation to kill the democracy movement in Bahrain, events took on a sinister development in Syria. In the southern Syrian city Daraa on the border with Jordan, rooftop snipers killed security forces and anti-government protesters. The Western media immediately hailed the beginning of a pro-democracy movement in Syria against the central Assad government in Damascus. But scarcely reported then or since was that the snipers were covertly deployed by NATO powers in what would ignite a regime-change war. That war, which lasted for nearly 10 years and continues to destabilize Syria’s northern border, was cynically and disingenuously portrayed by Western media as a pro-democracy uprising when in reality it was a covert war of aggression by NATO powers, financed by Gulf Arab regimes and involving jihadist mercenaries recruited from dozens of countries.

Libya was a key link in the CIA and MI6 operation know as Timber Sycamore which funneled terrorist fighters and weapons to Syria to propagate the secret NATO war to overthrow President Assad. That operation eventually failed largely because of the military intervention in late 2015 by Russia in support of the Syrian government. Support from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah was also vital in defeating the Western powers’ regime-change plan.

The legacy from events a decade ago still reverberate to this day. Several members of the current Biden administration bear responsibility for the destruction, including the present Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Libya is a divided nation racked by economic collapse despite its vast oil wealth. Syria is war-torn with a death toll of perhaps 500,000 and struggling with reconstruction because of American and European sanctions against the Assad government. The terrorism that was spawned in those countries for the Western objective of regime change continues to haunt the Middle East and beyond.

And, as for Bahrain, a long-suffering people who simply demanded democracy were and continue to be brutally suppressed by despotic Arab regimes at the behest of the United States and Britain – two nations that claim to be exemplars to the rest of the world for democracy, human right and rule of law.

February 22, 2021 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New frigates to project Canadian ‘power’ with cruise missiles

By Yves Engler · December 27, 2020

A recent report about the weapons on Canada’s new Navy frigates is frightening. Equally troubling is the lack of parliamentary opposition to expanding the federal government’s violent “maritime power projection” capacities.

Naval News recently reported on the likely arsenal of Canada’s new surface combatant vessels, which are expected to cost over $70 billion ($213-219 billion over their lifecycle). The largest single taxpayer expense in Canadian history,the 15 vessels “will be fitted with a wide range of weapons, both offensive and defensive, in a mix never seen before in any surface combatant.”

The 7,800 tonne vessels have space for a helicopter and remotely piloted systems. The frigates have electronic warfare capabilities, torpedo tubes and various high-powered guns. It will have a Naval Strike Missile harpoon that can launch missiles 185 kilometers. Most controversially, the surface combatants look set to be equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of striking land targets up to 1,700 kilometres away. US-based Raytheon has only ever exported these Tomahawk missiles to the UK and if the Royal Canadian Navy acquires them it would be the only navy besides the US to deploy the missiles on surface vessels.

Canada’s New Frigate Will Be Brimming With Missiles,” is how The Drive recently described the surface combatant vessels. In the article War Zone reporter Joseph Trevithick concludes, “the ships now look set to offer Canada an entirely new form of maritime power projection.”

What has Canada’s “maritime power projection” looked like historically?

Over the past three years Canadian vessels have repeatedly been involved in belligerent “freedom of navigation” exercises through international waters that Beijing claims in the South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan and East China Sea. To “counter China’s” growing influence in Asia, Washington has sought to stoke longstanding territorial and maritime boundary disputes between China and the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and other nations. As part of efforts to rally regional opposition to China, the US Navy engages in regular “freedom of navigation” operations, which see warships travel through or near disputed waters.

A Canadian frigate has regularly patrolled the Black Sea, which borders Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Romania, Georgia and Ukraine. In July 2019 HMCS Toronto led a four ship Standing NATO Maritime Group exercise in the Black Sea. Soon after, it participated with two-dozen other ships in a NATO exercise that included training in maritime interdiction, air defence, amphibious warfare and anti-submarine warfare as part of sending “a strong message of deterrence to Russia.”

During the 2011 war on Libya Canadian vessels patrolled the Libyan coast. Two rotations of Canadian warships enforced a naval blockade of Libya for six months with about 250 soldiers aboard each vessel. On May 19, 2011, HMCS Charlottetown joined an operation that destroyed eight Libyan naval vessels. After the hostilities the head of Canada’s navy, Paul Maddison, told Ottawa defence contractors that HMCS Charlottetown “played a key role in keeping the Port of Misrata open as a critical enabler of the anti-Gaddafi forces.”

A month before the commencement of the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, Canada sent a command and control destroyer to the Persian Gulf to take charge of Taskforce 151 — the joint allied naval command. Opinion sought by the Liberal government concluded that taking command of Taskforce 151 could make Canada legally at war with Iraq. In 1998 HMCS Toronto was deployed to support US airstrikes and through the 1990s Canadian warships were part of US carrier battle groups enforcing brutal sanctions on Iraq. During the first Iraq war Canada dispatched destroyers HMCS Terra Nova and Athabaskan and supply vessel Protecteur to the Persian Gulf before a UN resolution was passed.

Historically the Canadian Navy’s influence has been greatest nearer to home. In a chapter of the 2000 book Canadian Gunboat Diplomacy titled “Maple Leaf Over the Caribbean: Gunboat Diplomacy Canadian Style” military historian Sean Maloney writes: “Since 1960, Canada has used its military forces at least 26 times in the Caribbean to support Canadian foreign policy. In addition, Canada planned three additional operations, including two unilateral interventions into Caribbean states.”

At the request of Grenada’s government Ottawa deployed a vessel to the tiny country during its 1974 independence celebration. In Revolution and Intervention in Grenada Kai Schoenhals and Richard Melanson write, “the United Kingdom and Canada also sent three armed vessels to St. George’s to shore up the [Eric] Gairy government”, which faced significant pressure from the left.

When 23,000 US troops invaded the Dominican Republic in April 1965 a Canadian warship was sent to Santo Domingo, noted Defence Minister Paul Theodore Hellyer, “to stand by in case it is required.” Two Canadian gunboats were deployed to Barbados’ independence celebration the next year in a bizarre diplomatic maneuver designed to demonstrate Canada’s military prowess. Maloney writes, “we can only speculate at who the ‘signal’ was directed towards, but given the fact that tensions were running high in the Caribbean over the Dominican Republic Affair [US invasion], it is likely that the targets were any outside force, probably Cuban, which might be tempted to interfere with Barbadian independence.” Of course, Canadian naval vessels were considered no threat to Barbadian independence.

Immediately after US forces invaded Korea in 1950, Ottawa sent three vessels to the region. Ultimately eight RCN destroyers completed 21 tours in Korea between 1950 and 1955.

Canadian ships transported troops and bombed the enemy ashore. They hurled 130,000 rounds at Korean targets. According to a Canadian War Museum exhibit, “during the war, Canadians became especially good at ‘train busting.’ This meant running in close to shore, usually at night, and risking damage from Chinese and North Korean artillery in order to destroy trains or tunnels on Korea’s coastal railway. Of the 28 trains destroyed by United Nations warships in Korea, Canadian vessels claimed eight.” Canadian Naval Operations in Korean Waters 1950-1955 details a slew of RCN attacks that would have likely killed civilians.

Canadian warships were also dispatched to force Costa Rica to negotiate with the Royal Bank in 1921, to protect British interests during the Mexican Revolution and to back a dictator massacring peasants in El Salvador in 1932.

Where do the political parties stand on new frigates “brimming with missiles”? The Stephen Harper Conservatives instigated the massive naval outlay and the Liberals have happily maintained course. The NDP has supported the initiative and the Bloc pressed for more shipyard work in Québec. The Greens have stayed silent.

Surely there must be at least one Member of Parliament who doesn’t think it’s a good idea to spend $200 billion to strengthen the federal government’s bullying naval capacities in support of the US Empire and Canadian corporations abroad.

December 27, 2020 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Informal British-Turkish-Ukrainian alliance is emerging in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos | November 30, 2020

Trade agreements between the UK and Turkey are “very close,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said during a visit to Britain in July. London’s endeavour to secure post-Brexit trade agreements reflects on the status of its economic relations with Turkey. A UK-Turkey trade agreement is important for both countries, not only commercially, but also geopolitically as it can extend into the Ukraine against Russia, particularly in the Black Sea.

The trade agreement is crucial because the EU’s relationship with Turkey and the UK have deteriorated. Brussels and Ankara clash over the erosion of democratic controls and balances in Turkey, and also because of its increasingly dynamic foreign policy in Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean against Greece and Cyprus. Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. has also intensified, especially since Ankara bought the Russian S-400 missile defense system despite opposition from Washington and NATO. With it appearing imminent that Joe Biden will become the next U.S. President, relations between Washington and Ankara are set to deteriorate further.

This makes the UK one of Turkey’s few remaining friends in the West, and for Ankara a trade deal would signal a close economic and political relationship with a major European power that still wields international influence. For its part, the UK was willing to cultivate a good relationship with Ankara in the context of a “Global Britain” that it wants to build after Brexit.

When it was still a member of the EU, the UK was one of the leading supporters of Turkey’s membership into the bloc. London has also taken a much more discreet stance than other European capitals in condemning President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the deteriorating domestic situation. When Turkey launched a military operation in Syria in 2019, the UK was initially reluctant to condemn Ankara unlike other NATO members, just like what happened when Turkey intervened in Libya.

It was always inevitable that a post-Brexit UK would have strengthened relations with Turkey, especially as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson often boasts that his paternal great-grandfather, Ali Kemal, was a former Ottoman Minister of the Interior.

Johnson describes the Gülen movement, once allied to Erdoğan but now considered a terrorist organization by Ankara, as a “cult.” He also supports Turkey’s post-coup purges that resulted in the detainment of over half a million Turkish citizens, not only from the military, but also from education, media, politics and many other sectors.

It appears that Johnson’s post-Brexit “Global Britain” has Turkey as a lynchpin for its renewed international engagement with the world, and this poses immense security risks for Russia, especially in the Black Sea.

Erdoğan was outraged when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suspended arms shipments to Turkey because of its involvement in Azerbaijan’s war against Armenia. This was a major blow to the TB2 Bayraktar drones that are highly valued by Erdoğan as he uses them in his military adventures in not only Libya, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh, but also in the Aegean in espionage acts against so-called NATO ally Greece. He has even set up a drone base in occupied northern Cyprus to oversee the Eastern Mediterranean.

The so-called “domestically produced” Bayraktar drones have been exposed for using parts from nine foreign companies, including a Canadian one. Although Erdoğan was outraged by Trudeau’s decision, he found a British company to replace Canadian parts. Britain’s decision to be involved in the Bayraktar drone program is all the more controversial considering five of the nine foreign companies involved have withdrawn their support because of Turkey’s role in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Although the growing unofficial alliance for now appears to be in the fields of economics and military technology, alarming reports are emerging that British troops will be stationed in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv Port on the Black Sea.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told the BBC that if British troops “land there and stay, we will not mind either. From the first day of the Russian aggression, Britain has been close and provided practical support, and not only militarily.”

Post-Brexit Britain will not weaken its maximum pressure against Russia, and rather it appears to be increasing its campaign. Britain, as a non-Arctic country, is attempting to bully its way into Arctic geopolitics by undermining Russian dominance in the region. However, Britain’s campaign of maximum pressure creates instability on Russia’s vast frontiers, including in Ukraine and the Black Sea.

With this we can see an informal tripartite alliance emerge between the UK, Turkey and Ukraine.

Kiev has formed a venture with Ankara to produce 48 Turkish Bayraktar drones in Ukraine. This also comes as Ukraine’s Ukrspetsexport and Turkey’s Baykar Makina established the Black Sea Shield in 2019 to develop drones, engine technologies, and guided munitions. In fact, Turkey will allow Ukraine to sell Bayraktar drones it produces, which will now contain British parts after several foreign companies withdrew from the drone program. It is not known whether Bayraktar drones can currently be produced because of the mass withdrawal of foreign companies, but we can expect Ukrainian and British companies to eventually fill the voids left behind.

Both Turkey and Ukraine cannot challenge Russian dominance in the Black Sea alone, and it is in their hope that by closely aligning and cooperating that they can tip the balance in their favor, especially if Britain will have a military presence in Mykolaiv Port. Ukraine still does not recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, Britain maintains sanctions against Moscow because of the reunification, and Turkey continually alleges that Russia mistreats the Crimean Tatars.

Erdoğan uses Turkish minorities, whether they be in Syria, Greece or Cyprus, to justify interventions and/or involvement in other countries internal affairs. Erdoğan is now using the Tatar minority to force himself into the Crimean issue while simultaneously helping Ukraine arm itself militarily. With Turkish diplomatic and technological support, alongside British diplomatic, technological and perhaps limited military support, Ukraine might be emboldened to engage in a campaign against  Crimea or disrupt Russian trade in the Black Sea.

It certainly appears that an informal tripartite alliance is emerging between the UK, Turkey and Ukraine, and it is aimed against Russia in the Black Sea to end the status quo and insert their own security structure in the region on their own terms.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst. 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey has perfected a new, deadly way to wage war, using militarized ‘drone swarms’

By Scott Ritter | RT | November 29, 2020

From Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh, this new method of military offense has been brutally effective. We are witnessing a revolution in the history of warfare, one that is causing panic, particularly in Europe.

In an analysis written for the European Council on Foreign Relations, Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow, argues that the extensive (and successful) use of military drones by Azerbaijan in its recent conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh holds “distinct lessons for how well Europe can defend itself.”

Gressel warns that Europe would be doing itself a disservice if it simply dismissed the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting as “a minor war between poor countries.” In this, Gressel is correct – the military defeat inflicted on Armenia by Azerbaijan was not a fluke, but rather a manifestation of the perfection of the art of drone warfare by Baku’s major ally in the fighting, Turkey. Gressel’s conclusion – that “most of the [European Union’s] armies… would do as miserably as the Armenian Army” when faced by such a threat – is spot on.

What happened to the Armenian Army in its short but brutal 44-day war with Azerbaijan goes beyond simply losing a war. It was more about the way Armenia lost and, more specifically, how it lost. What happened over the skies of Nagorno-Karabakh – where Azerbaijan employed a host of Turkish- and Israeli-made drones not only to surveil and target Armenian positions, but shape and dominate the battlefield throughout – can be likened to a revolution in military affairs. One akin to the arrival of tanks, mechanised armoured vehicles, and aircraft in the early 20th century, that eventually led to the demise of horse-mounted cavalry.

It’s not that the Armenian soldiers were not brave, or well-trained and equipped – they were. It was that they were fighting a kind of war which had been overtaken by technology, where no matter how resolute and courageous they were in the face of the enemy, the outcome was preordained – their inevitable death, and the destruction of their equipment; some 2,425 Armenian soldiers lost their lives in the fighting, and 185 T-72 tanks, 90 armored fighting vehicles, 182 artillery pieces, 73 multiple rocket launchers, and 26 surface-to-air missile systems were destroyed.

A new kind of warfare

What happened to Armenia was not an isolated moment in military history, but rather the culmination of a new kind of warfare, centered on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, or drones). Azerbaijan’s major ally in the war against Armenia – Turkey – has been perfecting the art of drone warfare for years, with extensive experience in full-scale modern conflict gained in recent fighting in Syria (February-March 2020) and Libya (May-June 2020.)

Over the course of the past decade, Turkey has taken advantage of arms embargoes imposed by America and others which restricted Ankara’s access to the kind of front-line drones used by the US around the world, to instead build from scratch an indigenous drone-manufacturing base. While Turkey has developed several drones in various configurations, two have stood out in particular – the Anka-S and Bayraktar.

While the popular term for the kind of drone-centric combat carried out by Turkey is “drone swarm,” the reality is that modern drone warfare, when conducted on a large scale, is a deliberate, highly coordinated process which integrates electronic warfare, reconnaissance and surveillance, and weapons delivery. Turkey’s drone war over Syria was managed from the Turkish Second Army Command Tactical Command Center, located some 400km away from the fighting in the city of Malatya in Turkey’s Hatay Province.

It was here that the Turkish drone operators sat, and where they oversaw the operation of an integrated electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) warfare capability designed to jam Syrian and Russia air-defense radars and collect signals of military value (such as cell phone conversations) which were used to target specific locations.

For every $1 in losses suffered by Turkey, Syria lost approximately $5

The major systems used by Turkey in this role are the KORAL jamming system and a specially configured Anka-S drone operating as an airborne intelligence collection platform. The Anka-S also operated as an airborne command and control system, relaying targeting intelligence to orbiting Bayraktar UAVs, which would then acquire the target visually before firing highly precise onboard air-to-surface rockets, destroying the target. When conducted in isolation, an integrated drone strike such as those carried out by Turkey can be deadly effective; when conducted simultaneously with four or more systems in action, each of which is capable of targeting multiple locations, the results are devastating and, from the perspective of those on the receiving end, might be likened to a deadly “swarm.”

The fighting in Syria illustrated another important factor regarding drone warfare – the disparity of costs between the drone and the military assets it can destroy. Turkish Bayraktar and Anka-S UAV’s cost approximately $2.5 million each. Over the course of fighting in Syria’s Idlib province, Turkey lost between six and eight UAVs, for a total replacement cost of around $20 million.

In the first night of fighting in Syria, Turkey claims (and Russia does not dispute) that it destroyed large numbers of heavy equipment belonging to the Syrian Army, including 23 tanks and 23 artillery pieces. Overall, Turkish drones are credited with killing 34 Syrian tanks and 36 artillery systems, along with a significant amount of other combat equipment. If one uses the average cost of a Russian-made tank at around $1.2 million, and an artillery system at around $500,000, the total damage done by Turkey’s drones amounts to some $57.3 million (and this number does not include the other considerable material losses suffered by the Syrian military, which in total could easily match or exceed that number.) From a cost perspective alone, for every $1 in losses suffered by Turkey, the Syrians lost approximately $5.

Turkey was able to take the lessons learned from the fighting in Idlib province and apply them to a different theater of war, in Libya, in May 2020. There, Turkey had sided with the beleaguered forces of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which was mounting what amounted to a last stand around the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The GNA was facing off against the forces of the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), based out of Benghazi, which had launched a major offensive designed to capture the capital, eliminate the GNA, and take control of all of Libya.

How to capture half a country

The LNA was supported by the several foreign powers, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia (via Wagner Group, a private military contractor.) Turkey’s intervention placed a heavy emphasis on the integrated drone warfare it had perfected in Syria. In Libya, the results were even more lop-sided, with the Turkish-backed GNA able to drive the LNA forces back, capturing nearly half of Libya in the process.

Both the LNA and Turkish-backed GNA made extensive use of combat drones, but only Turkey brought with it an integrated approach to drone warfare. Observers have grown accustomed to the concept of individual US drones operating freely over places such as Iraq, Yemen, and Afghanistan, delivering precision strikes against terrorist targets. However, as Iran demonstrated this past May, drones are vulnerable to modern air-defense systems, and US drone tactics would not work over contested airspace.

Likewise, the LNA, which made extensive use of Chinese-made combat drones flown by UAE pilots, enjoyed great success until Turkey intervened. Its electronic warfare and integrated air-defense capabilities then made LNA drone operations impossible to conduct, and the inability of the LNA to field an effective defense against the Turkish drone operations resulted in the tide of battle rapidly shifting on the ground. If anything, the cost differential between the Turkish-backed GNA and the LNA was greater than the $1-to-$5 advantage enjoyed by Turkey in Syria.

The big players – the US, Russia & China – are playing catch-up

By the time Turkey began cooperating with Azerbaijan against Armenia in September 2020, Turkish drone warfare had reached its zenith, and the outcome in Nagorno-Karabakh was all but assured. One of the main lessons drawn from the Turkish drone experiences in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh is that these conflicts were not fought against so-called “poor countries.”

Rather, the Turks were facing off against well-equipped and well-trained forces operating equipment which closely parallels that found in most small- and medium-sized European countries. Indeed, in all three conflicts, Turkey was facing off against some of the best anti-aircraft missile defenses produced by Russia. The reality is that most nations, if confronted by a Turkish “drone swarm,” would not fare well.

And the multiple deployment of drones is only going to expand. The US Army is currently working on what it calls the “Armed, Fully-Autonomous Drone Swarm,” or AFADS. When employed, AFADS will – autonomously, without human intervention – locate, identify, and attack targets using what is known as a “Cluster Unmanned Airborne System Smart Munition,” which will dispense a swarm of small drones that fan out over the battlefield to locate and destroy targets.

China has likewise tested a system that deploys up to 200 “suicide drones” designed to saturate a battlespace and destroy targets by flying into them. And this past September, the Russian military integrated “drone-swarm” capabilities for the first time in a large-scale military exercise.

The face of modern warfare has been forever altered, and those nations that are not prepared or equipped to fight in a battlefield where drone technology is fully incorporated in every aspect of the fight can expect outcomes similar to that of Armenia: severe losses of men and equipment, defeat, humiliation and the likely loss of their territory. This is the reality of modern warfare which, as Gustav Gressel notes, should make any nation not fully vested in drone technology “think – and worry.”

Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

November 29, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth Behind the Biggest Threat to the ‘War on Terror’ Narrative

By Cynthia Chung | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 27, 2020

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it.”

– Julius Caesar

The illegal invasion of Libya, in which Britain was complicit and a British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee’s report confirmed as an illegal act sanctioned by the UK government, over which Cameron stepped down as Prime Minister (weeks before the release of the UK parliament report), occurred from March – Oct, 2011.

Muammar al-Gaddafi was assassinated on Oct. 20th, 2011.

On Sept 11-12th, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service information management officer Sean Smith, and CIA contractors Tyron Woods and Glen Doherty were killed at two U.S. government facilities in Benghazi.

It is officially denied to this date that al-Qaeda or any other international terrorist organization participated in the Benghazi attack. It is also officially denied that the attack was pre-meditated.

On the 6th year anniversary of the Benghazi attack, Barack Obama stated at a partisan speech on Sept 10th, 2018, delivered at the University of Illinois, that the outrage over the details concerning the Benghazi attack were the result of a “wild conspiracy theory” perpetrated by conservatives and Republican members of Congress.

However, according to an August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report  (only released to the public in May 2015), this is anything but the case. The report was critical of the policies of then President Obama as a direct igniter for the rise of ISIS and the creation of a “caliphate” by Syria-based radical Islamists and al-Qaeda. The report also identified that arms shipments in Libya had gone to radical Islamist “allies” of the United States and NATO in the overthrowing of Col. Muammar al-Gaddafi. These arms shipments were sent to Syria and became the arsenal that allowed ISIS and other radical rebels to grow.

The declassified DIA report states:

AQI [al-qaeda –iraq] SUPPORTED THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION FROM THE BEGINNING, BOTH IDEOLOGICALLY AND THROUGH THE MEDIA… WESTERN COUNTRIES, THE GULF STATES AND TURKEY ARE SUPPORTING THESE EFFORTS… THE WEST, GULF COUNTRIES, AND TURKEY SUPPORT THE [SYRIAN] OPPOSITION… THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…” [emphasis added]

Another DIA document from Oct 2012 (also released in May 2015), reported that Gaddafi’s vast arsenal was being shipped from Benghazi to two Syrian ports under the control of the Syrian rebel groups.

Essentially, the DIA documents were reporting that the Obama Administration was supporting Islamist extremism, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

When the watchdog group Judicial Watch received the series of DIA reports through Freedom of Information Act lawsuits (FOIA) in May 2015, the State Department, the Administration and various media outlets trashed the reports as insignificant and unreliable.

There was just one problem; Lt. Gen. Flynn was backing up the reliability of the released DIA reports.

Lt. Gen. Flynn as Director of the DIA from July 2012 – Aug. 2014, was responsible for acquiring accurate intelligence on ISIS’s and other extremist operations within the Middle East, but did not have any authority in shaping U.S. military policy in response to the Intel the DIA was acquiring.

In a July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera, Flynn went so far as to state that the rise of ISIS was the result of a “willful decision,” not an intelligence failure, by the Obama Administration.

In the Al-Jazeera interview Flynn was asked:

Q: You are basically saying that even in government at the time you knew these groups were around, you saw this analysis, and you were arguing against it, but who wasn’t listening?

FLYNN: I think the Administration.

Q: So the Administration turned a blind eye to your analysis?

FLYNN: I don’t know that they turned a blind eye, I think it was a decision. I think it was a willful decision.

Q: A willful decision to support an insurgency that had Salafists, al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?

FLYNN: It was a willful decision to do what they’re doing.

Flynn was essentially stating (in the 47 minute interview) that the United States was fully aware that weapons trafficking from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels was occurring. In fact, the secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey was CIA sponsored and had been underway shortly after Gaddafi’s death in Oct 2011. The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence.

This information was especially troubling in light of the fact that the Obama Administration’s policy, from mid-2011 on, was to overthrow the Assad government. The question of “who will replace Assad?” was never fully answered.

Perhaps the most troubling to Americans among the FOIA-released DIA documents was a report from Sept. 16, 2012, which provided a detailed account of the pre-meditated nature of the 9/11/12 attack in Benghazi, reporting that the attack had been planned ten days prior, detailing the groups involved.

The report revealed that it was in fact an al-Qaeda linked terrorist group that was responsible for the Benghazi attack. That despite this intelligence, the Obama Administration continued to permit arms-trafficking to the al-Qaeda-linked Syrian rebels even after the 9/11/12 attacks.

In August 2015, then President Obama ordered for U.S. forces to attack Syrian government forces if they interfered with the American “vetted, trained and armed” forces. This U.S. approved Division 30 Syrian rebel group “defected” almost immediately, with U.S. weapons in hand, to align with the Nusra Front, the formal al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Obama’s Semantics War: Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine

“Flynn incurred the wrath of the [Obama] White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria… He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out.”

– Patrick Lang (retired army colonel, served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency)

Before being named Director of the DIA, Flynn served as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Staff, as Director of Intelligence for the U.S. Central Command, and as Director of Intelligence for the Joint Special Operations Command.

Flynn’s criticisms and opposition to the Obama Administration’s policies in his interview with Al-Jazeera in 2015 was nothing new. In August 2013, Flynn as Director of the DIA supported Gen. Dempsey’s intervention, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in forcing then President Obama to cancel orders to launch a massive bombing campaign against the Syrian government and armed forces. Flynn and Dempsey both argued that the overthrow of the Assad government would lead to a radical Islamist stronghold in Syria, much like what was then happening in Libya.

This account was also supported in Seymour Hersh’s paper “Military to Military” published in Jan 2016, to which he states:

“Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, director of the DIA between 2012 and 2014, confirmed that his agency had sent a constant stream of classified warnings to the civilian leadership about the dire consequences of toppling Assad. The jihadists, he said, were in control of the opposition. Turkey wasn’t doing enough to stop the smuggling of foreign fighters and weapons across the border. ‘If the American public saw the intelligence we were producing daily, at the most sensitive level, they would go ballistic,’ Flynn told me. ‘We understood Isis’s long-term strategy and its campaign plans, and we also discussed the fact that Turkey was looking the other way when it came to the growth of the Islamic State inside Syria.’ The DIA’s reporting, he [Flynn] said, ‘got enormous pushback’ from the Obama administration. ‘I felt that they did not want to hear the truth.’

[According to a former JCS adviser]’… To say Assad’s got to go is fine, but if you follow that through – therefore anyone is better. It’s the “anybody else is better” issue that the JCS had with Obama’s policy.’ The Joint Chiefs felt that a direct challenge to Obama’s policy would have ‘had a zero chance of success’. So in the autumn of 2013 they decided to take steps against the extremists without going through political channels, by providing U.S. intelligence to the militaries of other nations, on the understanding that it would be passed on to the Syrian army and used against the common enemy, Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State [ISIS].” [emphasis added]

According to Hersh’s sources, it was through the militaries of Germany, Israel and Russia, who were in contact with the Syrian army, that the U.S. intelligence on where the terrorist cells were located was shared, hence the “military to military”. There was no direct contact between the U.S. and the Syrian military.

Hersh states in his paper:

“The two countries [U.S. & Syria] collaborated against al-Qaida, their common enemy. A longtime consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command said that, after 9/11, ‘Bashar was, for years, extremely helpful to us while, in my view, we were churlish in return, and clumsy in our use of the gold he gave us. That quiet co-operation continued among some elements, even after the [Bush administration’s] decision to vilify him.’ In 2002 Assad authorised Syrian intelligence to turn over hundreds of internal files on the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Germany. Later that year, Syrian intelligence foiled an attack by al-Qaida on the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and Assad agreed to provide the CIA with the name of a vital al-Qaida informant. In violation of this agreement, the CIA contacted the informant directly; he rejected the approach, and broke off relations with his Syrian handlers.

… It was this history of co-operation that made it seem possible in 2013 that Damascus would agree to the new indirect intelligence-sharing arrangement with the U.S.”

However, as the Syrian army gained strength with the Dempsey-led-Joint Chiefs’ support, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey escalated their financing and arming of al-Nusra and ISIS. In fact, it was “later” discovered that the Erdogan government had been supporting al-Nusra and ISIS for years. In addition, after the June 30th, 2013 revolution in Egypt, Turkey became a regional hub for the Muslim Brotherhood’s International Organization.

In Sept. 2015, Russia came in and directly intervened militarily, upon invitation by the Syrian government, and effectively destroyed ISIS strongholds within Syrian territory. In response, Turkey shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 on Nov 24th, 2015 for allegedly entering Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. Days after the Russian fighter jet was shot down, Obama expressed support for Erdogan and stated at a Dec. 1st, 2015 press conference that his administration would remain “very much committed to Turkey’s security and its sovereignty”. Obama also said that as long as Russia remained allied with Assad, “a lot of Russian resources are still going to be targeted at opposition groups … that we support … So I don’t think we should be under any illusions that somehow Russia starts hitting only Isil targets. That’s not happening now. It was never happening. It’s not going to be happening in the next several weeks.”

Today, not one of those “opposition groups” has shown itself to have remained, or possibly ever been, anti-extremist. And neither the Joint Chiefs nor the DIA believed that there was ever such a thing as “moderate rebels.”

Rather, as remarked by a JCS adviser to Hersh, “Turkey is the problem.”

China’s “Uyghur Problem”

Imad Moustapha, was the Syrian Ambassador to the United States from 2004 to Dec. 2011, and has been the Syrian Ambassador to China for the past eight years.

In an interview with Seymour Hersh, Moustapha stated:

“‘China regards the Syrian crisis from three perspectives,’ he said: international law and legitimacy; global strategic positioning; and the activities of jihadist Uighurs, from Xinjiang province in China’s far west. Xinjiang borders eight nations – Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – and, in China’s view, serves as a funnel for terrorism around the world and within China. Many Uighur fighters now in Syria are known to be members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement – an often violent separatist organisation that seeks to establish an Islamist Uighur state in Xinjiang. ‘The fact that they have been aided by Turkish intelligence to move from China into Syria through Turkey has caused a tremendous amount of tension between the Chinese and Turkish intelligence,’ Moustapha said. ‘China is concerned that the Turkish role of supporting the Uighur fighters in Syria may be extended in the future to support Turkey’s agenda in Xinjiang. We are already providing the Chinese intelligence service with information regarding these terrorists and the routes they crossed from on travelling into Syria.’ ” [emphasis added]

This view was echoed by a Washington foreign affairs analyst whose views are routinely sought by senior government officials, informing Hersh that:

“Erdoğan has been bringing Uighurs into Syria by special transport while his government has been agitating in favour of their struggle in China. Uighur and Burmese Muslim terrorists who escape into Thailand somehow get Turkish passports and are then flown to Turkey for transit into Syria.”

China understands that the best way to combat the terrorist recruiting that is going on in these regions is to offer aid towards reconstruction and economic development projects. By 2016, China had allegedly committed more than $30 billion to postwar reconstruction in Syria.

The long-time consultant to the Joint Special Operations Command could not hide his contempt, according to Hersh, when he was asked for his view of the U.S. policy on Syria. “‘The solution in Syria is right before our nose,’ he said. ‘Our primary threat is Isis and all of us – the United States, Russia and China – need to work together.’“

The military’s indirect pathway to Assad disappeared with Dempsey’s retirement in September 25th, 2015. His replacement as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Joseph Dunford, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2015, two months before assuming office, “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I’d have to point to Russia.”

Flynn’s Call for Development in the Middle East to Counter Terrorism

Not only was Flynn critical of the Obama Administration’s approach to countering terrorism in the Middle East, his proposed solution was to actually downgrade the emphasis on military counter-operations, and rather focus on economic development within these regions as the most effective and stable impediment to the growth of extremists.

Flynn stated in the July 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera:

“Frankly, an entire new economy is what this region needs. They need to take this 15-year old, to 25 to 30-year olds in Saudi Arabia, the largest segment of their population; in Egypt, the largest segment of their population, 15 to roughly 30 years old, mostly young men. You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments, and we can solve that problem.

So that is the conversation that we have to have with them, and we have to help them do that. And in the meantime, what we have is this continued investment in conflict. The more weapons we give, the more bombs we drop, that just fuels the conflict. Some of that has to be done, but I’m looking for other solutions. I’m looking for the other side of this argument, and we’re not having it; we’re not having it as the United States.” [emphasis added]

Flynn also stated in the interview that the U.S. cannot, and should not, deter the development of nuclear energy in the Middle East:

“It now equals nuclear development of some type in the Middle East, and now what we want… what I hope for is that we have nuclear [energy] development, because it also helps for projects like desalinization, getting water… nuclear energy is very clean, and it actually is so cost effective, much more cost effective for producing water from desalinization.”

Flynn was calling for a new strategic vision for the Middle East, and making it clear that “conflict only” policies were only going to add fuel to the fire, that cooperative economic policies are the true solution to attaining peace in the Middle East. Pivotal to this is the expansion of nuclear energy, while assuring non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, which Flynn states “has to be done in a very international, inspectable way.”

When In Doubt, Blame the Russians

How did the Obama Administration respond to Flynn’s views?

He was fired (forced resignation) from his post as Director of the DIA on April 30th, 2014. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who was briefed by Flynn on the intelligence reports and was also critical of the U.S. Administration’s strategy in the Middle East was also forced to resign in Feb. 2015.

With the election of Trump as President on Nov. 8 2016, Lt. Gen. Flynn was swiftly announced as Trump’s choice for National Security Adviser on Nov. 18th, 2016.

Just weeks later, Flynn was targeted by the FBI and there was a media sensation over Flynn being a suspected “Russian agent”. Flynn was taken out before he had a chance to even step into his office, prevented from doing any sort of overhaul with the intelligence bureaus and Joint Chiefs of Staff, which was most certainly going to happen. Instead Flynn was forced to resign on Feb. 13th, 2017 after incessant media attacks undermining the entire Trump Administration, accusing them of working for the Russians against the welfare of the American people.

Despite an ongoing investigation on the allegations against Flynn, there has been no evidence to this date that has justified any charge. In fact, volumes of exculpatory evidence have been presented to exonerate Flynn from any wrongdoing including perjury. At this point, the investigation of Flynn has been put into question as consciously disingenuous and as being stalled by the federal judge since May 2020, refusing to release Flynn it seems while a Trump Administration is still in effect.

The question thus stands; in whose best interest is it that no peace be permitted to occur in the Middle East and that U.S.-Russian relations remain verboten? And is such an interest a friend or foe to the American people?

October 27, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment