Pentagon paid $540 mn to make fake al-Qaida terrorist videos
A non-profit news organisation, based in London, known as The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) has exposed the United States Defense department headquarters, the Pentagon, which created fake al-Qaida videos in the wake of 2003 Iraq invasion, probably to prolong its occupation in Iraq.
Pentagon spent more than $540 million for creating fake terrorist videos by British PR firm Bell Pottinger, which is infamous for lobbying for an array of controversial clients, including the Saudi government and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s foundation.
— The Bureau (@TBIJ) October 2, 2016
According to reports, David Petraeus who was then commander of the US security forces was the person who was assigned to task the British PR company to make these fake videos. The videos, which are seemingly that of al-Qaida terrorists who are speaking in Arabic, were created to track suspected terrorist sympathisers.
Bell Pottinger, a British PR company made these fake terrorist videos and their mission started soon after the US invaded Iraq. They were assigned with promoting “democratic elections” for the administration before moving on to more lucrative psychological and information operations.
TBIJ did talk with Martin Wells, a video editor who worked for Bell Pottinger. He explained about the kind of videos he created. After being hired by Bell Pottinger, he said he landed in Iraq within 48 hours. In Baghdad, he had to edit content for secret “psychological operations”.
Wells said he made three types of contents. TV ads depicting al-Qaida negatively and fake news segments seemingly coming from Arab TV channels. Crews were sent out to film bombings with less quality video. The firm would then edit it to make it look like TV news footages. He explained that he added Arabic voiceover to the fake terror videos and edited them as news package and these videos were later planted in the households which the forces raided. Thirdly, Wells said that he created propaganda videos of the al-Qaida.
The videos they made were to play on Real Player and it needed an internet connection to function. The CDs were containing a code linking to Google Analytics which helped the forces to track the IP address of the system which it has been played.
Wells has said they got specific instructions from the US military officials to create these videos.
TBIJ said Pentagon had confirmed about their deal with Bell Pottinger. They said Pentagon has listed such operations under the information operations task force, which claims the contents made were ‘truthful’. The British PR company worked for Pentagon under the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force also, but the Pentagon was not ready to comment on this. Both parties were in agreement throughout the later years too until 2011, when the company ended its operations for Pentagon. The UK firm was consulted for this operation because the US law prohibits the government from using propaganda on its population.
Russia Today reported that a Washington-based PR firm had been placing articles in newspapers in Iraq, which were secretly written by the US military.