Cyprus Mail
CM Regular ColumnistOpinion

Stepping back a little

By Johan van den Kerkhof

THINGS are not always what they seem. And though it’s too early to parse the heinous Paris attacks of November 13, already there are more questions than answers, and good luck sifting through the masses of information both in the mainstream and alternative media.

Take the Syrian passport discovered either on, or near, the body of one of the alleged suicide bombers in Paris. The narrative then changed, the passport was said to be fake. On November 18, Germany’s interior minister Thomas de Maiziere suggested the document may have been planted.

One cannot help but wonder why any terrorist – on a suicide mission or not – would carry a passport on their person. Why would anyone, for that matter? For more on this a good analysis can be found on, 21stCenturyWire, an alternative media outlet.

The incriminating passport theme should be familiar by now. Think back to 9/11, when the passport belonging to one of the hijackers miraculously survived jet fuel fires and the pulverisation of the World Trade Center, later to be recovered in near-pristine condition. And in the Charlie Hebdo attacks of this year, we were told that one of the suspects left his ID card in an abandoned getaway car.

Another trend: often these evildoers are either being tracked by authorities, or put on stop-lists, but then somehow drop off the radar. A few examples: 9/11, 7/7,Charlie Hebdo and the latest Paris attacks.

Many of these unsavoury characters turn out to be informants for intelligence agencies. From the ‘Terror Sheikh’ in the 2014 Sydney hostage crisis, to radical cleric Anwar al Awlaki who worked with the FBI, the list goes on and on.

There’s solid evidence that Ayman al Zawahiri, the current leader of al-Qaeda, was a CIA/NATO asset. Says who? Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower who personally worked with documents showing al Zawahiri cavorting with NATO officials in Azerbaijan and elsewhere a few short years before 9/11.

For more on what Ms Edmonds has to say about al Zawahiri and Operation ‘Gladio B’, check out her interviews on the Corbett Report on YouTube.

Yet another meme that crops up time and again: security exercises taking place on the exact same day as acts of terrorism. This is true for 9/11 as well as the London 7/7 attacks.

What of the Paris attacks? On the morning of November 13, French medical emergency services and police were conducting a ‘multi-site attack exercise’.

And within hours of the attacks, French President Francois Hollande declared the Islamic State responsible. How is that even possible? Ah, you say, maybe they had information about an attack beforehand, and when it happened they just put two and two together. But that’s not good enough. You still need evidence, don’t you?

Aren’t these questions valid and logical, or should we dismiss them as conspiracy theory because they’re uncomfortable? Because all we want is ‘closure’ and to hell with the truth. Violence transfixes us to our television sets, the constant stream of updates feeding our addiction. It’s no stretch to claim that when people are in an emotional state – as in witnessing tragedy – we’re susceptible to suggestion.

It’s therefore useful to step back a little. A key question is, where does some of the information come from?

Let’s talk about the SITE Intelligence Group. It’s a Maryland-based company that tracks online activity of white supremacist and jihadist organisations.

SITE was co-founded by the Israeli analyst Rita Katz, an Iraqi-born Jew. Her father, an Israeli spy, was executed by the Iraqis in the late 1960s as a result of his intelligence activities.

On September 2, 2014, SITE sent the video of Steven Sotloff’s apparent beheading to SITE’s subscribers before – repeat, before – ISIS released the video.

Appearing on CNN, Katz said she was sure the video was genuine, even though the State Department had yet to authenticate it.

SITE are the same folks who brought you the fearsome ‘Khorasan Group’ a year ago. Said to be more bloodthirsty than ISIS, Khorasan ran its news cycle and then…poof, it was gone.

This doesn’t mean that ISIS is a construct – some would argue it is to some extent – or that it does not commit atrocities. The credibility (or lack thereof) of private intelligence groups like SITE, and the reality of the horrors in the Middle East, are not mutually exclusive. Still, examples like these should give us pause.

And for good reason.  In February 2003 a Florida Court of Appeals agreed with an assertion by FOX News that there is no rule against distorting or falsifying the news in the United States.

In a narrow interpretation of Federal Communications Commission rules, the court claimed that the FCC policy against falsification of the news does not rise to the level of a ‘law, rule, or regulation,’ it was simply a ‘policy.’ Therefore, it is up to the station whether or not it wants to report honestly.

Also: in December 2012, US President Obama signed HR 4310, the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Section 1078 of the bill authorises the use of propaganda inside the US, which had previously been banned since 1948.

US Defense Intelligence Agency documents declassified earlier this year state: “The Salafist [sic] the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al-Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.” It points out that “The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.”

So what’s the takeaway? False flags or not, we should question whatever we are fed by the media, who have developed an increasingly unhealthy relationship with government. And remember, fear sells.

As these words are being typed, Syria is taking a shellacking from coalition and Russian aircraft.

Meantime, the whole of France is on lockdown, and Europeans can look forward to a fresh slew of anti-terror and surveillance laws impinging on their civil liberties. In a sense, the Terrorists – whoever they are – may already be winning. Is it because we’re letting them?


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