The BBC appears to work in lockstep with US and UK deep state to facilitate new raft of sanctions against Syria
Finally, could I get a comment from the BBC please about why a BBC documentary failed to inform their audience that the organisation interviewed in Idlib, Syria are, in reality. the intelligence arm of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) a UK and US proscribed terrorist organisation formerly Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) and that the individuals interviewed are responsible for war crimes in Syria including the murder of children in Idlib?
The above is taken from an email written by UK Column to Tim Davie, Director General of the BBC and Tim Awford, Executive Editor, BBC Arabic Service – Head of Programmes and Documentaries following publication of a BBC Arabic/World Service ‘documentary’ on the Captagon illicit drug trade in the Middle East with a focus on Syria.
When we aired our investigative report on Friday 14th July we had received no reply or comment from the BBC or from the partner organisation involved in the making of the documentary. I will provide details on the three collaborators on the project later in this article.
BBC expelled from Syria after platforming proscribed terrorist group in Idlib
On the 9th July the BBC published an article confirming that the Syrian government had canceled the BBC’s accreditation in Syria. The article made clear what I already knew that the final straw for the Syrian government had been the BBC Arabic Captagon report that claims to have found links between the Captagon drug trade and leading members of the ‘Syrian Armed forces and Mr Assad’s family’.
The Syrian government cited the BBC’s history of “biased and misleading reports” as the basis for the decision and stated that the BBC failed to adhere to professional standards.
It also said that the BBC was warned “more than once”, but “continued to broadcast its misleading reports based on statements… from terrorist entities and those hostile to Syria”.
The BBC said “it provided impartial, independent journalism” despite receiving funding from the UK regime. It also claimed that “we speak to people across the political spectrum to establish the facts”. This article will prove that this claim is not only false but that the BBC platformed a UK/US-proscribed terrorist organisation and individuals to criminalise the Syrian armed forces and Presidency.
I would like to draw your attention to this section in the UK strategy for countering terrorism – CONTEST (June 2018)
Daesh and Al Qa’ida have a common ideological (and operational) lineage. Their shared ideological anchor is Salafi-Jihadism, a violent hybrid ideology, cherry-picking from a broad range of religious and political influences. Both groups hold in common an absolute rejection of democracy, personal liberty and human rights, as well as a commitment to restoring a self-proclaimed “Caliphate” and establishing a brutal and literalist interpretation of sharia law.
Section 12(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides that it is an offence to arrange or manage (or assist in the arrangement or management) of a meeting in the knowledge that it is to support a proscribed organisation, to further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or is to be addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation.
The image on the left is of an ISIS crucifixion in Raqqa 2014 – the same ISIS joined forces with HTS in Idlib.
Does the BBC documentary inform their audience that journalist Rasha Qandeel is meeting with a proscribed terrorist organisation? No. Instead, she introduces members of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (HTS) thus:
“This is Idlib province in north-west Syria. It’s one of the last places still held by opponents of the Assad government” (emphasis added)
At no time does Qandeel inform her viewers that she is interviewing HTS members – a terrorist organisation. From the establishment of HTS in 2017 as an alleged splinter from Al Qaeda in Syria even Western ‘think tanks’ like the Wilson Center have alluded to the move being nothing more than an Al Qaeda rebrand of which there have been several.
Watch the following excerpt from the documentary:
In May 2020 an article was published in VOANews. The following quote is from Nicholas Heras, director of the Middle East program at the Institute for the Study of War:
“Asking HTS to become a moderate group is like asking a wolf to stop eating meat, it’s fruitless”
Heras also said:
“HTS is following a blueprint to build a society in Syria that follows conservative Salafism, and which can be a safe haven for transnational jihadist operatives.”
In 2019 Heras had compared HTS to ISIS:
“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham shares the same end state goal as Isis, which is to build a state based on a rigid interpretation of Salafist Sunni Islam.”
Heras also pointed out the HTS strategy to control borders in Idlib:
“HTS also has positioned itself to control the major border points into and out of Idlib, and to control the roadways that serve as the major arteries of the province,” he adds. In doing so, it has become “the powerbroker in Idlib and the de facto sovereign power there”.
U.S. Special Envoy to Syria in 2020, James Jeffrey, said during an online event held by the Atlantic Council in Washington.
“We hope to see the Turks continue to put pressure on the terrorist organizations there, the most powerful of them Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.” (emphasis added)
The same Ambassador Jeffrey described HTS as a “an asset to America’s strategy [regime change/partitioning] in Idlib”. He also said:
“They are the least bad option of the various options on Idlib, and Idlib is one of the most important places in Syria, which is one of the most important places right now in the Middle East”.
July 2017 at a conference organized by the Middle East Institute, Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Daesh, ISIS) – called Syria’s Idlib province “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11 tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri [ leader of Al Qaeda].” He then immediately added that the Al Qaeda presence in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.”
Despite Abu Mohammed Joulani, former leader of Al Qaeda, allegedly severing ties with Al Qaeda in 2017 and rebranding a newly formed terrorist alliance as HTS – Human Rights groups regularly accuse HTS of committing war crimes during the regime change war in Syria.
In 2020 the Commissioner on the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, Karen Koning AbuZayd, made the following statement:
When civilians fled, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) terrorists pillaged their homes. As battles waged, they detained, tortured, and executed civilians expressing dissenting opinions, including journalists. Female media workers were doubly victimized, as the terrorist group continued to systematically discriminate against women and girls, including by denying their freedom of movement. HTS, moreover, indiscriminately shelled densely populated civilian areas, spreading terror amongst civilians living in Government-held areas.
“Women, men and children that we interviewed faced the ghastly choice of being bombarded or fleeing deeper into HTS controlled areas where there are rampant abuses of human rights and extremely limited humanitarian assistance. The acts by HTS members amount to war crimes.”
Joost Hiltermann, director of ICG’s Middle East and North Africa program recommended that HTS should only be included in the cease-fire agreements, not the political negotiation process.
He said that HTS was trying to “recast itself as a Syrian ‘rebel group’ rather than a transnational jihadist one’ by expelling some foreign fighters and hardliners from its leadership. This could also be interpreted as Al-Joulani ridding himself of potential threats to his power grab and control of the Idlib region in north-west Syria.
The BBC has at times reported on atrocities committed by HTS. A double bomb blast rocked Damascus in 2017 killing an estimated 74 Iraqi pilgrims to Bab al-Saghir cemetery and injuring 120 more. HTS claimed responsibility saying the attack was “a message to Iran” condemning Iranian support for the Syrian war against Western-backed terror.
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In 2019 the BBC admitted that HTS continues to pursue a “jihadist agenda” and that the UN and a number of countries continue to consider HTS as an al-Qaeda affiliate and to frequently use its former name, Nusra Front.
In 2018 the UK’s charity regulator warned that “British charities sending aid into Idlib could be at risk of committing terrorism offences if they use the Bab al-Hawa border crossing from Turkey into the Syrian [terrorist] opposition-held enclave
The commission wrote to a number of charities to raise the alarm about using Bab Al Hawa controlled by HTS “an alliance of Islamist militants that includes fighters who formerly belonged to the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria”:
“Trustees of charities which are currently using the Bab al-Hawa crossing either directly or through partner organisations must consider the risks of committing an offence under UK Counter Terrorism Legislation … and take appropriate action in the best interests of their charity” said the alert.
Another account of the terrorist exploitation of the Bab Al Hawa border crossing – Western Powers Are Using ‘Aid’ as a Cover to Keep a Terrorist-ruled Syrian Region Afloat – can be found here.
It is most likely that Qandeel the BBC correspondent would have entered Idlib through the Bab Al Hawa crossing and would have been escorted by HTS to her destination and was given permission by this terrorist organisation to film their activities – something they would refuse if they were to be portrayed in anything but a positive light. We can therefore safely assume that the BBC is perceived as an ally of the armed group.
I will refer again to Section 12(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides that it is an offence to arrange or manage (or assist in the arrangement or management) of a meeting in the knowledge that it is to support a proscribed organisation, to further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or is to be addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation.
Did Qandeel know that she would be promoting the activities of a proscribed organisation? It is extremely unlikely that she was ignorant of the fact that HTS are designated a terrorist organisation.
Her failure to mention this and the fact that her report certainly gives an air of respectability to HTS would suggest that the BBC did promote the activities of HTS to shore up their case against the Syrian President and armed forces.
The HTS sectors and individuals interviewed by Qandeel
Screenshot from the BBC documentary.
The BBC interviewed an officer in the Border Security Department (BSD) of HTS – Muath Al-Ahmad. There is not much information on this individual as he was recently appointed according to sources in Syria.
However, I was informed that the BSD is directly under the control of a character known as Badran or Abu Ahmed Hudud. Hudud means borders in Arabic and is related to the mission he received when he was with ISIS in Hasakah, north-east Syria. ISIS had previously sent him from Iraq to Hasakah.
He later pledged allegiance to Al Joulani and joined Al Qaeda. Currently he reports directly to Joulani and is responsible for a number of tasks within HTS.
This demonstrates the cross-over between the terrorist groups in Syria despite the rebranding that is used to whitewash certain groups or to distance them from their previous affiliations.
Hakim Al Dairi – spokesman for HTS General Security Agency. Screenshot from BBC documentary
The BBC then interviewed an HTS spokesperson in Idlib. Again the BBC failed to provide his identity or to disclose his affiliations.
A researcher and former Syrian Arab Army soldier that I regularly work with, Ibrahim Al Wahdi, identified the interviewee as Hakim Al Dairi or Diaa Al Din Al Omar – the spokesman for the General Security Agency of HTS. Al Wahdi told me:
The General Security Agency (GSA) is known to be the HTS Intelligence Service. It is run by Abu Maria Al Qahtani from Iraq. It is considered to be Joulani’s personal intelligence service and the intermediary between HTS and the CIA, MI6 and other international intelligence agencies.
Al Qahtani’s identity is confirmed by FRANCE 24’s so-called jihadism expert, Wassim Nasr, when he entered Idlib under escort by HTS in May 2023:
I’m also granted interviews with one of Joulani’s most trusted companions, Iraqi national Abu Maria al-Qahtani, as well as several HTS and “salvation government” officials in the days that follow.
It is certain that the BBC team would not have been able to enter Idlib without the approval and facilitation of the GSA. Again this is confirmed by Wassim Nasr of FRANCE 24.
The fact that Al Dairi gave an interview to the BBC again demonstrates that HTS consider the BBC to be on their side in the conflict.
Who is Hakim Al-Dairi or Diaa Al-Din Al-Omar?
In October 2018 Al Dairi was given the position of security official in the northern countryside of Idlib. He personally led an attack against the town of Kafr Halab in October 2018 and on the 5th of October he fired an RPG missile at a residential home. He killed three-year-old Reem Assaf, and seriously injured her six-year-old brother and family members. This is a war crime.
The RPG attack was recorded on video but we have so far been unsuccessful in finding the video online. However local Idlib ‘journalist and photographer’ Mohamed Al Daher reported the killing of Reem Assaf on Twitter on the 5th October 2018 by HTS.
Instead of holding Al Dairi to account for infanticide, Joulani promoted him to a security official in the Sarmada district of Idlib and later to an official in the HTS ‘Economic Authority’ and made him a spokesman for the GSA.
Al Dairi’s brother was the governor of Raqqa when it was known to be the ISIS capitalbefore they were driven out in 2018.
According to the testimonies of residents in the Sarmada sector – Al Dairi participated in assassinations, bombings, kidnappings, blackmail and extortion, torture, arbitrary detention, theft, corruption murder and the smuggling of explosive detonators to the Kurdish Contras under the control of the US in the north-east.
Al Dairi also played a role in the campaign to eliminate and arrest members of the Guardians of Religion (Huras Al Din) a rival Al Qaeda/ISIS-linked faction in Idlib. This faction is also the most often targeted by US drones which suggests close cooperation between the HTS command and the CIA in order to expand HTS control of the province.
Remember that there has been a US-led attempt to normalise Al Joulani, to distance him from his ISIS/AlQaeda past and to present him as a “moderate” opposition leader through interviews for PBS Frontline in 2021 and more recently France 24 in May 2023. The UK Guardian also euphemistically labelled Joulani a “rebel leader” in February 2023 despite remarking that he still has a $ 10m US bounty on his head.
Who is Rasha Qandeel?
Qandeel is currently a Senior Fellow with the Center for International Policy. According to the CIP website:
Rasha Qandeel being interviewed by Amy Goodman on DemocracyNow! Screenshot.
Rasha Qandeel is a journalist and the BBC Arabic Bi-Lingual Lead Presenter of Arabic NewsNight and HardTalk. Having worked for BBC Arabic and English since early 2003, she has contributed to BBC World Service between 2005-2007 and has presented BBC World special seasons such as 100 Women, Arab Revolutions and Gaza War 2008. She also moderated the Anna Lindh Foundation awards nights for the BBC in 2013.
Rasha has worked on big stories and special coverages such as the 2003 Iraq War, the trial of Saddam Hussein, the death of Arafat, and the Bin Laden operation. Specializing in Egyptian issues, she has covered Arab revolutions in the Middle East and has hosted Egyptian and international debates for Front Line Club, LSE, and SOAS. She currently works in flagship programs such as News Hour and Hard Talk, and is a regular commentator for Outside Source, Radio 4 and Fifth Floor.
She holds an in MSc Critical War Studies and International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Who are CIP? In a nutshell they are a Washington DC foreign affairs, Pentagon-watchdog think tank and influencer funded by multiple foundations including Soros’ Open Society Foundation. Hardly impartial one might say?
It is worth noting that I came across the BBC Captagon project on an interview with Qandeel on DemocracyNow! a media outlet that has consistently favoured the anti-Syria narratives since 2011 and given a platform to hostile Muslim Brotherhood representatives in the US.
The Muslim Brotherhood has historically been used to organise coups and to wage destabilisation campaigns in Syria on behalf of the UK/US globalist cartel.
At the start of the regime change war in Syria, journalist Finian Cunningham said this about DemocracyNow! describing the media outlet as a cheerleader for imperialism and war:
Recall that the Libyan leader was lynched on a roadside by a NATO-directed mob, and sodomised with a knife before being shot dead. It may also be recalled that “Democracy Now” gave prominent broadcasts supporting NATO’s intervention in Libya and justifying the criminal subversion of that country. Going by the latest coverage on Syria, Democracy Now is acting once again under a “progressive” cloak as a propaganda tool for US-led imperialist intervention. Given the misplaced respect among many of the public seeking independent, alternative, accurate news and analysis, this insidious role of Democracy Now is reprehensible. May it be suggested, in the name of media transparency, that the programme be aptly renamed “Imperialism Now”.
BBC partners in making of the Captagon documentary
According to their own website, OCCRP receive funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO), National Endowment for Democracy (NED), US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Department of State, French Foreign Affairs Ministry, Denmark’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Denmark MFA, German Marshall Fund, Soros Open Society Foundation and the Dutch Postcode Lottery among others.
It is well documented that NED and USAID are outreach agencies for the CIA. The anti-Russian German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) has established a comprehensive emergency program called “Ukraine: Relief, Resilience, Recovery” (U3R). The Dutch Postcode Lottery has funded Atlantic Council-aligned Bellingcat (so-called investigative journalism group) to expand their operation outside the UK.
Mint Press News senior staff writer Alan Macleod exposed Bellingcat in this article:
Bellingcat is, in fact, funded by a CIA cutout organization and filled with former spies and state intelligence operatives. However, one part of the story that has remained untold until now is Bellingcat’s close ties to the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, an institution with deep links to the British security state and one that trains a large number of British, American and European agents and defense analysts.
I think we can safely say that supporters of OCCRP have skin in the game and an interest in criminalising the Syrian government and President Bashar Al Assad which is what the BBC documentary appears to be tasked to do.
UK Column also wrote to OCCRP for comment and received no response. UKC also requested information regarding the level of funding or support received from the UK FCDO, particularly as there are no Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) account filings by OCCRP in the US – any funding from a foreign government should be declared. The fact that OCCRP have declined to comment is perhaps an indication of their role in supporting US/UK regime change policy in Syria.
Two other media agencies are named as participants in the making of the BBC documentary on OCCRP’s aligned article. They are Saudi-funded Daraj and Qatari-funded Suwayda 24. Both have a clear anti-Syrian government bias in their reporting.
Both countries have funded terrorist groups in Syria to overthrow the Syrian government and to depose President Assad. Normalisation with Saudi Arabia has been a recent development and is also another reason for the West to be writhing in anguish that their regime change plans have gone so awry.
The Captagon Act – justified by the BBC
The picture that is forming is of a severely compromised consortium instructed to provide the propaganda to justify the latest US/UK Captagon Act (Biden – Countering Assad’s Proliferation Trafficking And Garnering Of Narcotics Act) sanctions against Syria.
It is hard not to see this as economic and political vindictiveness on behalf of the US and UK regimes particularly with the recent normalisation with Syria and President Assad in the Arab world culminating in Assad’s speech at the Arab League Summit.
Not forgetting the additional Assad Anti-normalisation Act introduced in Congress May 2023 to prohibit the US from “recognising or normalising relations with any government of Syria that is led by Bashar Al Assad”.
The US and UK know their regime change plans have been derailed in Syria but they are not going to give up. As long as there is breath in the Empire’s carcass they will suffocate the Syrian people in every feasible way.
Even The Hill recently published an article ‘Tightening Syria sanctions will only heighten civilian suffering’. Better late than never to the realisation that sanctions kill. As I said in 2020:
Sanctions are designed to hurt, to deprive, to depress and, ultimately, to kill slowly and more painfully than the swift ending of life by a mortar or a bullet. Sanctions strip people of their dignity and leave them beggars in their own home.
In the UK Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a long-term supporter of regime change in Syria and the UK FCDO put out an extraordinary statement in March of this year. UK FCDO claimed that the UK was ‘tackling the illicit drug trade fuelling Assad’s war machine’.
The UK FCDO claims 80% of the world’s supply of the drug is to be produced in Syria but failed to provide evidence. [Update] Aymenn Jawad Al Tamimi a Middle East Forum Writing Fellow pointed out the flaw in this claim:
[Update] Another journalist, Mustafa Abu Sneineh made a similar point for Middle East Eye in March 2023 about the claim that Syria has a $57 billion Captagon industry:
One analyst, who appears to be revising his estimates upwards by multiple factors, has put the value of the captagon industry in Syria in the range of $55-110 billion in 2021. Yet, this claim is implausible. Such figures would value the captagon industry in Syria at some nine to nineteen times the value of the state budget for 2023, going by official exchange rates, and some fifteen to thirty times the value of the state budget as measured by black market rates.
When the entire GDP of neighbouring Jordan stands at $45bn, it seemed an outlandish number for a war-torn country with a notoriously shattered economy. The figure was subsequently reported without comment by the media, including the Financial Times.
Captagon experts previously estimated the drug to have a retail market of $5.7bn in 2021. Was this latest number a mistaken slip of a decimal point?
Apparently one of the sources for this outlandish claim by the UK FCDO was Charles Lister, a senior fellow at Washington-based think tank the Middle East Institute (MEI). Lister was responsible also for the much discredited claim that there were 70,000 “moderate rebels” in Syria. Lister’s ‘moderate’ list included Nour Al Din Zinki, beheaders of child Abdullah Issa in Aleppo August 2016.
Even a cursory look at reports available on the internet reveal that 1. it is very hard to ascertain exact statistics 2. Only one proven lab has been identified in southern Syria on the border with Lebanon according to one report. 3. Jordan bombed one such alleged facility in southern Syria in May this year, killing a suspected drug smuggler, his wife and six children.
The OCCRP report barely refers to the fact that this area of southern Syria is still infested with terrorist sleeper cells including ISIS, nor does it remind us that until fairly recently Captagon was known as the ‘Jihadi drug’.
Lebanese journalist Radwan Mortada produced a documentary for Journeyman Pictures in 2015 which refers to Captagon being the drug choice for the Western sponsored extremist armed groups. It is well worth watching as a counter balance to the bias in the BBC report.
The BBC reported on the arrest of Saudi Prince charged with drug smuggling in Lebanon in 2015. According to the BBC:
The prince was not named, but he and four other Saudis were arrested after two tonnes of Captagon pills were found in cases being loaded on a private jet.
The others charged in the case – three Lebanese and two Saudis – are at large.
Journalist Andre Vltchek commented at the time “Captagon amphetamine is also called the ‘combat drug’, and was, most likely, destined for pro-Saudi fighters in Yemen.”
In 2020 the BBC also reported on the seizure of one billion euros worth of Captagon – made to fund ISIS. The BBC said:
Italian police have seized what they believe is a world-record haul of 14 tonnes of amphetamines they suspect were made in Syria to finance the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).
Is the Syrian government going to encourage the production of Captagon to finance ISIS? Or is it more likely to be the backers of ISIS in Syria – the US with the UK in tow.
In 2015 the Syrian General Directorate of Ports in Lattakia seized about two tons of narcotics consisting of hashish and an estimated six million Captagon tablets “the drug of choice” for ISIS members.
Turkey and Bulgaria are also known to be significant producers of the drug.
The following quote is from a report in Syria News:
On the 17th August 2019 Syrian security forces have deprived terrorists of more than 400,000 Captagon pills. Authorities in the suburbs of Damascus seized a truck with hidden compartments filled with a large quantity of this Amphetamine-type Stimulant (ATS) known as Captagon.
If you go to the Syria News archives on Captagon seizures by the Syrian authorities you will find a mountain of evidence that shows that the Syrian government has been fighting a protracted war against the drug and its production/smuggling.
Of course none of these inconvenient facts are taken into account by the BBC alliance apparently formed to frame the Syrian armed forces and the President. The BBC project is very much biased towards the claims made by Lord Ahmad and the UK FCDO in March.
The BBC ‘investigation’ has taken more than a year but has produced only corroboration of UK foreign policy in Syria and very little useful context. UK FCDO claims:
The Syrian regime is closely involved in the trade – multi-billion dollar shipments leave regime strongholds such as the Port of Latakia, and President Bashar al-Assad’s brother Maher al-Assad commands the unit of the Syrian Army facilitating the distribution and production of the drug.
UK FCDO claims:
The production and trafficking of captagon enriches Assad’s inner circle, militias and warlords, at the expense of the Syrian people who continue to face crippling poverty and repression at the hands of the regime.
Lord Ahmad claims:
The Assad regime is using the profits from the captagon trade to continue their campaign of terror on the Syrian people.
The UK and US will continue to hold the regime to account for brutally repressing the Syrian people and fuelling instability across the Middle East.
The reality, of course, is that the UK US alliance are fuelling instability across the Middle East and are repressing the Syrian people through their sadistic hybrid warfare tactics. The campaign of terror is waged against the Syrian people by the terrorists that the BBC has converted into legitimate “opponents” of the Syrian government, in Idlib. It is a sick joke and the Syrian people and their suffering are disappeared just as they always have been since 2011.
I obviously have not been able to do a full investigation into the Captagon trade in this article but I do urge you to consider who benefits from the use of the drug and the profits from the sale of the drug.
Even if during wartime and recession brought on by Western globalists – there are black markets for the drug increasing in the region – to lay all the blame at the doors of the President and his family is, in my opinion, a wholly unsubstantiated claim. One being made by the UK FCDO, shored up by the BBC – in order to further punish Syrians for their resistance against the regime change project.
BBC has a history of fake news and misleading reports when it comes to Syria.
The BBC record for misleading and downright fraudulent coverage of the war against Syria is worthy of its own compendium but I will mention their role in protecting the ‘chemical weapon’ narratives that have underpinned the US/UK-led destabilisation project against the Syrian government and people.
Even when their own producer, Riam Dalati, tweeted that the hospital scenes in Douma 2018 were staged, the BBC refused to follow up on what that meant for the narrative. A narrative that was later destroyed by the testimony of the dissident OPCW inspectors.
You also have Robert Stuart’s investigation into the BBC Panorama – Saving Syria’s Children report that Stuart concluded was staged. You can read about that here.
Journalist Eva Bartlett who was in Syria from 2015 onwards has also noted on a number of occasions that the BBC has been at best disingenuous in its reporting, even by senior correspondents like Lyse Doucet. You can read more here and here.
Very early on in the conflict in 2012 the BBC was caught out using a photo from Iraq to support their narrative that the Syrian government had committed the Houla massacre. A narrative thoroughly debunked here and here.
The BBC also interviewed the heart eating terrorist known as Abu Sakkar. This is from the BBC interview:
“It looks like you’re carving him a Valentine’s heart,” says one of his men, raucously. Abu Sakkar picks up a bloody handful of something and declares: “We will eat your hearts and your livers you soldiers of Bashar the dog.”
Then he brings his hand up to his mouth and his lips close around whatever he is holding. At the time the video was released, in May, we rang him and he confirmed to us that he had indeed taken a ritual bite (of a piece of lung, he said).
The interview and subsequent article sought to justify this heinous act. Instead of condemning Abu Sakkar the BBC creates the narrative to normalise his sectarian savagery.
The BBC had to admit that their Mayday series that included an episode on the Douma alleged chemical attack was ‘flawed’.
“The BBC has admitted that a Radio 4 documentary on an alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria contained serious inaccuracies. ‘The Corporation’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU) upheld a protest from Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens’. From the Daily Mail article:
Adjudicators agreed that the programme by BBC investigative journalist Chloe Hadjimatheou failed to meet the Corporation’s editorial standards for accuracy by reporting false claims.
Remember the BBC recycling 2014 footage from Yarmouk suburb in Damascus to support their 2016 Madaya story? You can read about it here.
Remember how ‘leaked documents show how UK government contractors developed an advanced infrastructure of propaganda to stimulate support in the West for Syria’s political and armed opposition?’
You can read all about how the BBC used planted Syrian ‘opposition activists’ in their Syria reports here. A quote from the article:
“[InCoStrat said] journalists have often reached out to us in search of the appropriate people for their programmes.” As an example, InCoStrat said it helped plant its own Syrian opposition activists in BBC Arabic reports. The firm then added, “Once making the initial connections we encouraged the Syrians to maintain the relationships with the journalists in the BBC instead of using ourselves as the conduit.”
The list of BBC collusion with UK FCDO and British Intelligence agendas in Syria is long and sordid and should be addressed in a separate series.
Journalist Fiorella Isabel tweeted the following in response to the news of the BBC expulsion from Syria:
The BBC & CNN literally produced fake stories to push regime change & they’re doing it again in Ukraine. This isn’t the free press this is public relations working at the behest of British, Israeli & American intelligence. Vulnerable countries like Syria have the right to protect themselves when they’re slandered & silenced.
These same elements cheer for the sanctioning and removal of Russian media and others who oppose their narratives including journalists like Vanessa Beeley who took them on directly by doing actual journalism on the ground & reporting live before it was safe to do so.
I want to reiterate, do not misunderstand this action as being “against free-speech” countries like Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and others cannot be judged on the same lines that the United States, Europe and their NATO allies are judged because they control the narrative. They control the corporations, they own the media and therefore own the narrative.
They use this propaganda machine all over the world to spread messages to manufacture consent for coups, regime changes, and war. This is not on equal footing with vulnerable countries defending themselves from these very mechanisms that are used against them especially when we’re talking about countries like Syria, where the United States is stealing the oil and has been illegally occupying their land, and aiding radical factions to overthrow their government-but is failing miserably thus far.
These organizations are not a free press. They condemn journalists like Assange and sit in silence as many who tell the truth are persecuted. They are the enemy and we must take our media back from them.
The BBC must be held accountable for promoting a proscribed terror group in Syria and furthering their activities
Section 12(2) of the Terrorism Act 2000 provides that it is an offence to arrange or manage (or assist in the arrangement or management) of a meeting in the knowledge that it is to support a proscribed organisation, to further the activities of a proscribed organisation, or is to be addressed by a person who belongs or professes to belong to a proscribed organisation.
I genuinely believe that the BBC did support a proscribed terror organisation by concealing their identity and presenting them as a legitimate opposition to the Syrian government. By doing so they furthered the activities of the terror group by erasing their history of war crimes and atrocities committed against the Syrian people. The BBC was addressed by a ‘person who belongs to a proscribed organisation’, an individual who has murdered children while a member of the organisation and committed multiple other crimes – none of which were mentioned by the BBC.
UK Column has since written again to the BBC after it was discovered that the BBC had removed the documentary from their iPlayer platform:
It is now six days since I wrote to you with questions about the recent BBC documentary ‘Captagon: Inside Syria’s drug trafficking empire’.
Could you tell me when you intend to answer my questions?
I have a further question. I note that the documentary has now been removed from iPlayer. Could you tell me why?
The BBC has failed to respond to any of the requests for comment.
I leave it with you to watch the documentary and to draw your own conclusions.
Update: Peter Ford former UK Ambassador to Syria responds to my request for a comment
Vanessa Beeley’s searing indictment of the BBC’s latest anti-Syrian wheeze is absolutely on point. It is scandalous that the BBC should be consorting with proscribed terrorist groups to facilitate the propaganda of those groups and the Western governments who share their objective of regime change in Syria.
What’s going on here is quite clear. A fabricated scandal about Syria allegedly being a ‘narco-state’ is being used to shore up the crumbling Western strategy of isolating Syria and causing it to collapse through sanctions. The BBC are acting as willing tools in this ploy. The Western powers are frantic because they are losing control of the Syria situation now that Saudi Arabia has led the charge for Syria’s rehabilitation within the Arab League.
As it happens, not mentioned by the BBC of course, Syria and Saudi Arabia are working closely to curb the drug smuggling element of Syria’s war economy which has been an inevitable consequence of the West’s attempt to turn Syria into a failed state. It is the height of cynicism for the UK state broadcaster, working in obvious collusion with the British government, to try to use the ruin brought about by the Western powers as an excuse to justify the intensification of their continuing campaign of sanctions terrorism inflicted on the long suffering Syrian people.’