Will the real terrorists in Syria please stand up?
Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. He is the author of 'Midnight in the American Empire,' How Corporations and Their Political Servants are Destroying the American Dream. @Robert_Bridge
Before we understand what is happening - and alas, not happening - in Syria a reality check is needed: The date is August 30, 2013 and British PM David Cameron has just suffered a historic loss in the House of Commons, which rejected his bid to join the US military in yet another Middle East misadventure, this time in Syria.
This temporary reversal of fortune for NATO represented a humiliating blow to Washington’s Nobel-winning warlord, Barack Obama, who already has Libya’s head mounted above the executive fireplace.
But Cameron’s unexpected defeat cooled America’s jet engines, and Obama was forced to appear on television, telling the American people in a tear-jerking performance worthy of an Academy Award: “I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions.” Except, of course, when he is not attacking sovereign states, like Libya, and rudely crashing wedding parties with uninvited drone strikes.
Now this was right around the time that Russia – which wisely refused to get bogged down in the Ukrainian morass that would have given NATO free play in the Middle East – was starting to make a real nuisance of itself as far as Washington was concerned.
Moscow, thanks to an alleged off-the-cuff remark by US Secretary of State John Kerry, managed to get the NATO dogs of war back on the leash as Putin convinced Syrian President Bashar Assad to surrender his chemical weapons to the United Nations.
In return for the commendable act of denying Western warmongers yet another serial murder in broad daylight, Putin was recklessly and irresponsibly vilified in a number of opinion pieces as the worst leader to walk the global stage since Hitler. Go figure.
For anybody who thought that would be the final chapter of the Syrian story does not understand the perseverance of the Western powers-that-be, especially when what it is at stake is one of the last countries on the planet that has not fallen under the domination of the global financial fascists.
ISIS, ISIS, who the heck is ISIS?
Suddenly, with all the fury of a sandstorm, a newly rebranded band of Islamic terrorists – ‘The Islamic State of Syria and the Levant (ISIS)’ - appeared on the scene with displays of violence and savagery so fantastic it often required the suspension of disbelief.
Exhibit Number One. In August 2014, one year after the US invasion of Syria got bogged down in crazy peace talk, a string of Western journalists found themselves conveniently kidnapped and duly decapitated by an English-speaking thug nicknamed ‘Jihadi John’. Yet with each released video a number of experts came out to declare the slick productions “staged.”
Stranger still, perhaps, is that the actual moments of decapitation were politely censored for viewing audiences, who have certainly witnessed worse spectacles in their neighborhood theaters on any given Friday night. But thanks anyways, Islamic State, for not totally grossing us out.
Following the alleged decapitation of James Foley, a forensic analyst told The Times that the video production was "rather odd" since no blood can be seen, even though the knife is drawn across the neck area at least six times.
“After enhancements, the knife can be seen to be drawn across the upper neck at least six times, with no blood evidence to the point the picture fades to black,” the analysis said.
Sounds purportedly made by Foley at the time of his alleged execution “do not appear consistent with what may be expected.”
And during Foley’s speech, there is a break in the tape that seems to indicate the kidnapped reporter had to repeat a line. Come again? The ruthless scum of Islamic State, which have gained notoriety for destroying ancient works of art, have now acquired the artistic flair to request a retake in the middle of an execution video?!
What would the ruthless Jihadi John tell his doomed captive in such an improbable scenario: "Ah, sorry mate, can you repeat that last line and with a little more enthusiasm this time?"
One expert commissioned to examine the footage was reported as saying: “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
Yet despite the speculation that this tape, and the others that appeared later, was about as real as an episode of The Flintstones, a warning was duly issued to the British people that viewing the cartoon could be considered a criminal act.
“We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under Terrorism legislation,” said UK Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe in a statement.
A rather laughable statement considering that it is government-connected agencies disseminating these video productions in the first place.
Another western journalist, Steven Sotloff, was also reported to have been decapitated in the same type of videotaped execution given to Mr. Foley - that is, complete with the polite censorship of the actual beheading. It's not that I personally would wish to watch such a grisly act, but rather that it does not follow Islamic State's ultra-violent modus operandi to censor the action.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian hacktivist group that calls itself CyberBerkut dropped a bombshell, saying they hacked the cell phone of an aid to John McCain when the US Senator paid a visit to Ukraine in June. While it is impossible to prove the veracity of the claim, the video appears to show a stage-managed beheading scene of the sort we've seen on so many other occasions.
"An actor dressed as an executioner of IS is holding a knife to behead the prisoner, and the “victim” depicts to be suffering.The Islamic State for Iraq and Levant or IS executions are allegedly stage-managed," reported TechWorm (video below).
One question leads to another: Why would a band of ruthless terrorists find it necessary to produce videos that were not the real McCoy? Why would the actual moment of the beheadings be censored for public consumption? Why would the authorities warn the public they could be committing a crime for watching such sterilized material? None of this makes much sense.
Although the mainstream media talking heads beseech us to believe that Western journalists were mercilessly killed by Islamic jihadists, nothing that has been presented to date would stand up in a court of law as irrefutable proof that a single murder has actually been committed.
Once again, the West’s NATO subjects are expected to cheer on the war on terror on the basis of nothing more substantial than hearsay and apparent horseplay.
Out of SITE, out of mind
The question must be asked where these finally crafted Islamic State videos come from. I give up, where do they come from? In the majority of cases, from the same people who brought Osama bin Laden looming into our living rooms: a privately owned group known as the SITE Intelligence Group, which tasks itself with the job of monitoring terrorist groups on social media.
The group has deep connections to the government, as well as a checkered past.
“One of SITE’s founders, Rita Katz, is a government insider with close connections to former terrorism czar Richard Clarke and his staff in the White House, as well as investigators in the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to SourceWatch... ”
In October 2007, it was revealed that the SITE Intelligence Group discovered and issued to the Bush administration a copy of an Osama bin Laden video that had yet to be released by al-Qaeda.
“Katz issued the video via a private link to a SITE web page to White House counsel Fred F. Fielding and Joel Bagnal, deputy assistant to the President for Homeland Security. Within 20 minutes, computers registered to various parts of the Executive Branch began downloading the video, and within hours a transcript referencing SITE had appeared on Fox News,” Global Research reported.
In 2004, The New York Times reported that some Islamic groups feel unfairly targeted by the work of Ms. Katz and her group.
“Ms. Katz's institute, which relies on government contracts and corporate clients, may be the most influential of those groups, and she is among the most controversial of the cyberspace monitors.
While some experts praise her research as solid, some of her targets view her as a vigilante. Several Islamic groups and charities, for example, sued for defamation after she claimed they were terrorist fronts, even though they were not charged with a crime.”
Is the US media, not to mention the US government, displaying a bit too much credulity in putting all of their terrorist video sources into one basket? Judging by Ms. Katz’s professional and personal background and experience, it may be much more prudent to let the government handle the work of tracking the terrorists as opposed to private organizations with their own axe to grind.
In any case, the twisted tale of Islamic State has produced the desired effect: Just one month after the first questionable videotape surfaced of Mr. Foley being decapitated, the United States was doing exactly what it wanted to be doing one year earlier: bombing Syrian territory.
On Sept. 22, 2014, The Los Angeles Times heroically described the opening wave of fearless attacks against the baddies of Islamic States: “The United States and several allies launched airstrikes inside Syria for the first time late Monday, the Pentagon said, a heavy bombardment against multiple targets that marked an aggressive expansion of President Obama's war on Islamic State militants.
Waves of U.S. fighter jets, bombers and armed drones slipped behind Syria's fortified air defenses to drop precision-guided bombs on militant positions, while Navy ships offshore fired lethal salvos of Tomahawk cruise missiles.”
However, as time would tell, even the Western attacks on Islamic State appeared to be equally staged, as the terrorist group was suffering no measurable toll from this “wave” of attack.
Only after Russia entered the fray did the terrorist group – together with its oil-exporting business – begin to suffer real losses.
Next week, Part II: West opens invisible front against Islamic State
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.