Reality Check: Who’s Funding the White Helmets? - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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“As the U.S. moves closer toward all out war in Syria, a lot of what our government seems to base its intelligence on, especially claims of chemical weapon use by they Syrian government, is an impartial humanitarian group called the White Helmets.
You’ve no doubt, heard of the White Helmets. They have been praised in the media as heroes and have reportedly saved more than 100,000 lives as of April 2018.

But who are the White Helmets really? Are they a legitimate organization or pawns, funded for the purpose of regime change?

Let’s give it a Reality Check you won’t get anywhere else.”



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We must examine the work of the Shite Helmuts, free from ideological bias, preconceived judgements and partisan prejudice. ;)
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How Britain funds the 'propaganda war' against Isis in Syria

Reporting team: Ian Cobain, Alice Ross, Rob Evans, Mona Mahmood, Nick Fielding and Safak Timur:

Government contractors effectively run a press office for opposition fighters but communications conceal UK’s role

Tue 3 May 2016

The British government is waging information warfare in Syria by funding media operations for some rebel fighting groups, in the foreign front of what David Cameron has called “the propaganda war” against Islamic State.

The campaign aims to boost the reputation of what the government calls the “moderate armed opposition”, a complex and shifting alliance of armed factions.

Deciding which factions to support is risky for the government because many groups have become increasingly extremist as the five-year civil war grinds on.

Contractors hired by the Foreign Office but overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) produce videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters.

Materials are circulated in the Arabic broadcast media and posted online with no indication of British government involvement.

As the Guardian has reported, the Home Office’s Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism is running a parallel effort within the UK, aiming to bring about “behavioural and attitudinal change” among British Muslims by producing anti-Isis messaging “at an industrial pace and scale”.

In both the foreign and domestic campaigns, the government’s role is often concealed. Messages are put out under the banner of apparently independent groups – community organisations in the UK, and armed groups in Syria.

The UK regards information as a vital element of modern conflict. The MoD has drawn up a doctrine describing information as “so prevalent, potent and unavoidable that it forms as much a part of the strategic environment as the terrain or weather”, and saying how it should be managed through “strategic communications”.

The UK’s propaganda effort for the Syrian armed opposition began after the government failed to persuade parliament to support military action against the Assad regime. In autumn 2013, the UK embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters.

Contract documents seen by the Guardian show the government appears to view the project as a way to maintain a foothold in the country until there can be greater British military involvement, offering “the capability to expand back into the strategic space as and when the opportunity arises”.

Through its Conflict and Stability Fund the government is spending £2.4m on private contractors working from Istanbul to deliver “strategic communications and media operations support to the Syrian moderate armed opposition” (MAO).

The contract is part of a broader propaganda effort focused on Syria, with other elements intended to promote “the moderate values of the revolution” and help mould a Syrian sense of national identity that will reject both the Assad regime and Isis.

The documents call for contractors to “select and train a spokesman able to represent all the MAO groups as a single unified voice”, as well as providing media coaching to “influential MAO officials” and running a round-the-clock “MAO central media office” with “media production capacity”. One British source with knowledge of the contracts in action said the government was essentially running a “Free Syrian army press office”.

The contract to support the moderate armed opposition was briefly held by Regester Larkin, an international communications consultancy, where it was headed up by a former lieutenant colonel in the British army who had also worked as a strategic communications specialist at the MoD.He set up a company called Innovative Communications & Strategies, or InCoStrat, which took over the contract from November 2014, a Regester Larkin spokeswoman told the Guardian.

An InCoStrat spokesman confirmed: “InCoStrat is providing media and communication support to the moderate Syrian opposition to assist Syrians to better convey the reality of war and those involved in it.”

Both emphasised the close supervision of the work by the British government. An insider also described “tremendous oversight”, with handlers from the FCO and MoD meeting contractors up to three times a week. “They had the last say in everything,” the source said.

Much of the material produced under these contracts is day-to-day wartime propaganda, aimed at Syrian civilian and military audiences. It includes bulletins of successful military engagements, or videos of opposition fighters handing out food.

Some media, however, serve an additional military purpose, two sources familiar with the projects said. For example, a video of a shoulder-to-air missile shooting down a regime helicopter signals to those inside Syria that the group is well-armed and effective. But it also sends a message to those arming the group. “That’s good PR to go back to the Pentagon,” the insider said.

An MoD spokeswoman emphasised that the groups the UK supports are moderate. But identifying which groups really are is fraught with risk, as they can commit unpalatable acts or ally with groups considered unacceptably extremist.

The contracting document seen by the Guardian lists several “mid-level units” as examples of groups considered to be part of the “moderate armed opposition”. These include Harakat al-Hazm, which received military assistance from the US, and Jaysh al-Islam, a group reportedly set up with Saudi backing.

But six months before the document was written in November 2014, Human Rights Watch identified Jaysh al-Islam as the likely kidnappers of four human rights activists in December 2013. The four are widely assumed to have been murdered[/highlight]. The group has also been criticised for using imprisoned civilians as human shields, and for releasing a glossy video last June showing the grisly murder of 18 captive Isis fighters, a war crime under the Geneva convention.

The government initially denied that the group was referenced in its contracting documents. It later acknowledged that it was mentioned but said it was referenced in the document as part of a description of how other groups had described the moderate armed opposition.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “Jaysh al-Islam has never been given any assistance by the MoD, FCO or any contractors working on HMG’s [Her Majesty’s government] behalf … All recipients of our assistance are rigorously assessed to ensure they are not involved in any extremist activity or human rights abuses.”

A source said contractors had provided media support for Harakat al-Hazm, but the group collapsed in March 2015 and its weaponry, including anti-tank missiles provided by the US, fell into the hands of the al-Nusra Front, a group that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaida.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “The UK has been a longstanding supporter of the moderate opposition in Syria, who are standing up to both the tyranny of the Assad regime and the poisonous and murderous ideology of Daesh [Isis].”


In a Parliamentary report on the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund published on 7 February 2017, the National Security Adviser revealed the total annual sum allocated to operations in Syria:-

Some of the countries in which we operate have substantial allocations. For example, Afghanistan has £90 million, Syria has £60 million and Somalia has £32 million


InCoStrat isn't registered at UK Companies House.The "former lieutenant-colonel" has been identified as Paul Tilleyin a series of tweets on the account EmpireExposed on 6 Oct 2016. Tilley's Linked-In page gives his base as Istanbul, and lists his most recent achievements:-


"In autumn 2013, the UK embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters." Having been frustrated in his attempt to bomb Syria in 2013, Cameron decided instead to fund a propaganda war against the Syrian government with £60 million to engineer false flag chemical attacks that wold serve as pretext for future bombing campaigns.

"Contractors hired by the Foreign Office but overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) produce videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters." Yes we have seen these videos from Douma and other places in Syria.

"In both the foreign and domestic campaigns, the government’s role is often concealed." Abroad, the government needs to support its imperialist ambitions and at home, the British people need to be fooled by alleged "humanitarian" motives.

The private contractors are under "close supervision of the work by the British government, with handlers from the FCO and MoD meeting contractors up to three times a week." The British government knew exactly what the private contractors were doing, when and where they were preparing what kind of false flag operation.

The former lieutenant colonel in the British army and strategic communications specialist at the MoD, Paul Tilley, who founded InCoStrat from his base in Turkey has a similar background to James le Mesurier who founded the White Helmets also in Turkey. Turkey is the supply base for Islamist terrorists in Syria.

It was all known in 2016. The Guardian even reported it before it decided to turn into a Neocon gazette.
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The Foreign Office and the Propaganda War on Syria

On his first official visit to Turkey in September 2016, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson announced that the British government was giving about £2.3 billion in aid to Syria. Of course when Johnson said ‘aid to Syria’ he meant anything but – Britain may be contributing to the odd refugee camp outside of Syria, but most of that £2.3 billion goes to support al Qaeda and ISIS-linked groups in order to bring down the legitimate government in Syria.

Since 2011 the British government has had an official policy of regime change in Syria – Assad must go. While the UK has not yet formally invaded Syria, it has played a significant military role, including training insurgents in Jordan from 2012. The British air force has a presence in Syria, ostensibly to fight terrorism, though whether it has ever targeted anyone but the soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army is open to question (the presence in Syrian airspace of the British airforce is in clear breach of international law).

Perhaps the biggest role played by the British government is that of creating propaganda designed to undermine the Syrian government and its supporters in their fight against ‘insurgents’.

The official position of the NATO states is that the Syrian government has ‘lost legitimacy’, and that there is a ‘legitimate opposition’ made up of ‘moderate rebels’. To create support for this view NATO states, including the UK, the US, France and the Netherlands, have invested heavily in a two-pronged propaganda campaign to shape public perception of the war by:

Demonising the Syrian administration, particularly the person of Syria’s popular president, Bashar al Assad, and all the forces that support the administration: the Syrian Arab Army; the National Defence Forces (part-time reservists, rather like a Home Guard); non-Syrian forces from neighbouring countries, such as Hezbollah.

Creating a false perception of a popular uprising spearheaded by ‘moderate’, ‘democratic’ forces that are acceptable to the Syrian people, and thus can eventually form or be part of a viable government.

The target audience is the West – Syrians themselves are not going to swallow the bizarre fiction that groups who look like ISIS, act like ISIS and have the same ideology as ISIS, should somehow be seen on the one hand as heroes in preference to their own sons and daughters in the Syrian Arab Army, and on the other as a legitimate political opposition to their government.

A typical example of the moderate opposition in the eyes of NATO is the al Zinki gang, whose crimes include sawing off the head of a 12 year old child, and who clearly identify with ISIS (they were careful to pose in front of the ISIS flag in this picture).alzinkiheadchopper

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In the context of Aleppo, the State Department has claimed throughout 2016 that it has been endeavouring to separate out the ‘moderate rebels’ from the extremists. This is clearly nonsense: al Nusra dominates in eastern Aleppo, and when a a ceasefire was agreed in September 2016, 20 ‘moderate’ groups including Ahrar al Sham and al Zinki refused to take part because al Nusra, as an officially designated terrorist group, was not included.

The propaganda campaign also serves to draw attention away from the role NATO have played in creating instability in Syria – it is painfully clear that British anti-war politicians and organisations such as Stop the War UK believe that honour is satisfied as long as Britain is not openly bombing in Syria.

The immediate aim of the propaganda is to gain acceptance for increased NATO intervention in Syria, above all a no-fly zone, as was approved by the UN for Libya in 2011, which would then be interpreted by NATO forces as a license to bomb with impunity, and destroy Syria as a functioning independent country.

The UK’s propaganda effort for the Syrian armed opposition began after the government failed to persuade parliament to support military action against trhe Assad regime. In autumn 2013, the UK embarked on behind-the-scenes work to influence the course of the war by shaping perceptions of opposition fighters. (Cobain, Ross, Evans, Mahmoud, 3 May 2016)

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), working with the Ministry of Defence, the Home Office and the Prime Minister’s Office founds or contracts companies for the express purpose of creating ‘targeted information’ in relation to the war on Syrian.

In effect the British government has funded a comprehensive top of the range advertising campaign to promote sectarian extremists in Syria who function as units of al Qaeda and ISIS.

Contractors hired by the Foreign Office but overseen by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) produce videos, photos, military reports, radio broadcasts, print products and social media posts branded with the logos of fighting groups, and effectively run a press office for opposition fighters.’ (Cobain and co., 3 May 2016)

The contractors also develop specific public relations projects such as the White Helmets, Bana Tweets From Aleppo and the Civil March on Aleppo.

In parallel with these operations the British Government funds social media trolls to get the desired message across. In January 2015 the Ministry of Defence announced the formation of its 77th Brigade, which would consist of social media activists engaged in ‘non-lethal warfare’, by attempting to control the narrative in media such as Facebook and Twitter. (According to the report in the Guardian, the US and Israel were already heavily engaged in such operations)

Two closely aligned companies working with the Foreign Office and other UK departments are Incostrat and Mayday Rescue.

Mayday Rescue

‘Mayday Rescue supports vulnerable communities in the most dangerous and challenging places in the world by training and equipping local groups to prepare for, respond to, and recover from the impact of war, disasters, and emergencies.’ (Mayday)

At the present time Mayday’s sole responsibility appears to be management of the ‘Syrian Civil Defense’ or White Helmets, a supposed first responder organisation staffed by ordinary Syrians, which are in fact an extension of the terrorist groups in Aleppo and Idlib. Their function is to cooperate with the Aleppo Media Center in the production of material which shows the White Helmets both as heroes and legitimate authorities on the Syrian conflict on the ground, and the Syrian and Russian governments as war criminals, deliberately targeting hospitals, schools, bakeries, animal shelters etc.

To that end, Mayday is generously funded by the UK, US and other governments, with offices in Amsterdam, Turkey, Jordan and Dubai. As at March 2016 its operational headquarters in Istanbul employs 30 staff, located in the operational centres of Istanbul, South-East Turkey, and has an annual operating budget of US$35,000,000.

Founder James le Mesurier, according to Mayday, ‘has spent 20 years working in fragile states as a United Nations staff member, a consultant for private companies and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and as a British Army Officer. […] Since 2012, James has been working on the Syria crisis where he started the Syrian White Helmets programme in March 2013. In 2014, he founded Mayday Rescue.’

Incostrat

We are a communications and media consultancy that provides a customised end-to-end service for government and private clients: we specialise in strategic campaign planning, narrative development, message distribution and feedback generation in support of policymaking […]

‘We have proven track records of designing and delivering complex communications and media projects in conflict and post-conflict environments. We have over two and a half years of continuous experience of Syria-specific work, co-operating with the moderate armed opposition, politicians, tribal and civil society


Incostrat was founded by Paul Tilley, who has a similar background to le Mesurier, with experience of both the army and the Foreign Office. His CV on LinkedIn reveals the following:

2011-12 Director of Strategic Communication (STRATCOM) in the Ministry of Defence for the Middle East and North Africa.

2012-current. Developed and Project managed several multi-million dollar media and communications projects that are at the leading edge of UK and US foreign and security policy objectives in the Middle East.

Both Incostrat and Mayday Rescue were formally founded in November 2014, according to the LinkedIn profiles of their respective founders, but le Mesurier and Tilley were doing development work 2013 or earlier. The White Helmets first officially appeared on the scene in April 2014, when the BBC assisted in the launching of the brand by producing a documentary on ‘Civil Defence’ in Aleppo, which coincided with the White Helmets appearance on social media.

Incostrat is described by Thierry Meyssen as ‘a communications company in the service of the jihadist groups. It designed logos, made video clips by portable telephone, and printed brochures for a hundred of these groups, thus giving the impression of a popular uprising against the Republic.’

Meyssen continues: ‘together with the SAS, [Incostrat] made a spectacle of the most important group, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam). Saudi Arabia supplied the tanks which were delivered from Jordan. Uniforms were made in Spain and distributed to the jihadists for an officer promotion ceremony. All this was choreographed and filmed by professionals in order to give the impression that the army was organised like regular forces and was capable of rivaling with the Syrian Arab Army. The idea was planted that this really was a civil war, and yet the images only showed a few hundred extras, most of whom were foreigners.’



Who actually does what in the Syrian theatre is not quite clear. On the one hand Mayday Rescue appears to have total responsibility for ‘Syrian Civil Defense’. On the other there are similarities in the branding and marketing of the terrorist groups with their logos, letterheads and social media pages, and projects like the White Helmets. One possibility is that Incostrat, as well as having responsiblity for the design aspects of the propaganda campaigns, may also have the task of finding ‘creative solutions’ in broad terms, such as the Bana Project, the Civil March and maybe the White Helmets. Mayday’s responsibility would then be the management of the White Helmets and the Aleppo Media Center both of which function as part of terrorists groups in Syria. Whether the Bana Project and the Civil March are managed from within Incostrat or whether there are separate groups or companies overseeing these projects too is not clear.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

SOHR, founded in 2011, is a UK-based organisation that provides information on the Syrian conflicts to the world’s media. The Observatory is run from Coventry, England by Rami Abdulrahman, a three-term convicted criminal in Syria who left that country more than 10 years before the war started, and is openly opposed tot he Syrian government.

The Observatory is almost certainly the brainchild of the Foreign Office:

His funding comes from the European Union and “an unnamed European state,” most likely the UK as he has direct access to former Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London. […] it was the British government that first relocated Abdul Rahman to Coventry, England after he fled Syria over a decade ago because of his anti-government activities. Beau Christensen, Propaganda spin cycle: ‘Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ is funded by US and UK governments

Although the Observatory is manifestly biased, only showing the conflict from the perspective of the insurgents, and consistently showing the Syrian government in a bad light, the information provided is considered by the corporate media, the United Nations and trusted non-government organisations to be authoritative, and is widely quoted.

Clearly for real journalists, Abdulrahman is a useless, utterly compromised source of information who has every reason to twist reality to suit his admittedly politically-motivated agenda of overthrowing the Syrian government. However, for a propagandist, he is a goldmine. That is why despite the overt conflict of interests, the lack of credibility, the obvious disadvantage of being nearly 3,000 miles away from the alleged subject of his “observations,” […] the Western media still eagerly laps up his constant torrent of disinformation. (Tony Cartalucci, West’s Syrian Narrative Based on “Guy in British Apartment”)

These organisations by no means represent the total of British spending when it comes to creating or influencing propaganda while dressing it up as humanitarian endeavour or intellectual objectivity. The government is a major funder of a number of NGOs that are openly committed to ‘humanitarian intervention’ (regime change) in countries like Syria, such as Amnesty International. In his article Unravelling Bana, Qoppa has raised the question of the relationship of the much derided ‘research organisation’ Bellingcat with the British government, pointing out that one of the authors of Bellingcat’s own article on Bana is an ex-army officer.

Incostrat, Mayday and SOHR however have direct and undeniable links with the Foreign Office. Their function is to create, via tools such as Bana Alabed and the White Helmets, or directly in the case of the SOHR, fake news for Western consumption that bears little or no relation to the reality within Syria.

The fake news is distributed via the corporate media and the reports of the industrial human rights complex. Social media, however, is by no means forgotten. There is an incestuous relationship between the Foreign Office projects, in that Bana promotes the White Helmets, and the activists of the Civil March promote both Bana and the White Helmets. At the same time the MOD’s 77th Brigade push incessantly the general themes of Assad and Russian war crimes versus the ‘popular uprising’ on social media, but also reinforce the FCO’s major projects – such trolls are easily detected on Twitter accounts like Bana’s.

So what we have is the UK government, on behalf of the British taxpayer, openly funding multi-million dollar projects to create an assumption of war crimes by Syria and Russia against the Syrian people, while also creating a false image of a legitimate opposition, all of which the said taxpayer is then supposed to take in good faith. The purpose of all this is to garner support for a no-fly zone over Syria, imposed by the UK, the US and allied countries, as the first step to overthrowing the legitimate government.
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WhiteHelmetsExposed
@WhiteHelmetsEXP
Activity Map Analyse Visualise Alert
#Whitehelmets Additional images from the Facebook page of White Helmets terrorist Mohammad Jnued prove that he posts in support of ISIS / operates as a member of al-Nusra Front. Western media continues to ignores the White Helmets Facebook accounts facebook.com/mohhmmad?pnref… #Syria

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U.S. reverses course on White Helmets funding, releases $6.6M

The United States has reversed its decision to withhold funding from a Syrian aid group known as the White Helmets, authorizing the release of $6.6 million, the State Department announced Thursday.

The group, formally called the Syrian Civil Defense, is a volunteer group that provides emergency services in war-torn Syria -- often pulling people and bodies from underneath rubble after bombings, and offering medical care.

In March, President Donald Trump directed the State Department to freeze more than $200 million in aid to Syria to give the administration time to "re-evaluate appropriate assistance levels and how best they might be utilized."

The funds released Thursday also will benefit the United Nations' International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, which investigates and prosecutes crimes in Syria since the start of the civil war in 2011.

"The United States government strongly supports the White Helmets who have saved more than 100,000 lives since the conflict began, including victims of [Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's] chemical weapons attacks," the State Department said. "These heroic first responders have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and continue to be deliberately targeted by the Syrian regime and Russian airstrikes.‎ Since 2013, more than 230 of these brave volunteers have been killed while working to save innocent Syrian civilians."

A documentary about the Syrian Civil defense, The White Helmets, won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2017.


The White Helmets won an Oscar for crisis acting.
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