The Waterloo March 19th, 2008 9/11 Event: A Response

On March 19, 2008, I participated in a well-attended event devoted to 9/11 evidence, organized by the University of Waterloo's student Debating Society. The principal speakers were Kee Dewdney, Professor Emeritus of mathematics and computer science at Waterloo, who outlined his refutation of official narratives about cellphone calls from the hijacked airliners; and Professor Graeme MacQueen, co-founder of McMaster University's Institute of Peace Studies, who presented his and mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti's refutation of the official analysis of the destruction of World Trade Center 1. Richard B. Lee, University Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, introduced the speakers; I was moderator for the question period. During the break before question period, I was confronted in a highly insulting manner by an audience member whom I later discovered to be Professor Jeffrey Shallit of Waterloo's Department of Mathematics.

Several days later, Professor Shallit sent the following message to the participants in the event:

Dear Colleagues:

I attend[ed] the “debate-that-was-not-a-debate” about 9/11 on Wednesday, March 19, at the University of Waterloo. I have written a series of critical blog posts about the event, which you can find at my blog I hope you will agree that I have been harsh in my criticism, but fair. If you feel that I have misrepresented what you said in any way, please let me know so that I can issue the appropriate correction. Of course, you are also welcome to comment directly on my blog. Or, if you prefer, feel free to send me e-mail and mention that you would like me to publish your response.

Regards, (Prof.) Jeffrey Shallit

I responded on March 25, 2008:

Dear Professor Shallit,

I am enclosing a response to you as an attachment to this message. You are welcome to post my text on your blog, provided you reproduce it in its entirety. I believe you owe me an apology for your grotesquely insulting behaviour to me on the evening of March 19th. Your language to me on that occasion had nothing to do with criticism, whether harsh or fair. Nor do repeated insinuations of Holocaust denial amount to an argument. Plato's Eleatic Stranger describes refutation as a blessing, “the chiefest and greatest of purifications” (Sophist 230d-e). I am perfectly willing to accept the blessing of refutation from those who think themselves wise or learned enough to bestow it—and I am no less willing to bestow the same benefit, perhaps more thoroughly, in return. However, I am not willing to accept abusive smears from you or anyone else.

Yours sincerely, Michael Keefer

Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph

Professor Shallit promptly changed his mind about publishing my response on his blog. We did meet for lunch, and civil conversation, some months later. But since his blog posts about the 9/11 event and about what he calls “denialism” remain online, it seems appropriate to publish this response.



Professor Jeffrey Shallit,
University of Waterloo,
25 March 2008.


Dear Jeffrey Shallit,

I am responding to your invitation to engage in discussion with you. I am doing so in part because of some passing remarks about me in your Recursivity blog. After doing me the small favour of giving readers of your blog links to two of my articles touching on 9/11 evidence, you have commented there on my very minor role in the 9/11 event organized by the University of Waterloo Debating Society on March 19th—and on your own role as well—in a manner that calls for some correction.

1. Civility and slander

Your behaviour to me prior to the question period on March 19th, in what you are pleased in your blog to describe as an argument, surpassed in coarse and slanderous insinuation, and perhaps also in sheer noise, anything that I have experienced in nearly four decades of life as an academic. I did not imagine, when you addressed me with such evident rage, interrupting me repeatedly in a voice that rose almost to a shout, and insinuating to my face that I was a Holocaust denier, that the ludicrously insolent person in front of me could himself be an academic—much less a senior professor in the university to which I had come as an invited guest.

I have since learned, with some surprise, that you are a distinguished mathematician. I have learned as well that you have done work as a public intellectual—in debates over evolutionary biology, in refutations of the inanities of creationist pseudo-science, and in criticism of the toxic antisemitism and neo-fascism of the supposed historian David Irving—that I both respect and heartily approve of.

There is all the more reason to let you know how grotesque an insult your insinuation of Holocaust denial is. I have, as it happens, traveled quite widely in Poland. During those travels, I have walked on what I regard as sacred ground. I have stood within the first of the Nazi gas-chambers in the death camp at Majdanek, and in the vacant spaces that are all that remain of synagogues in Lublin and elsewhere. I have meditated in the Old Synagogue in Kazimierz, next to Crakow. I have stood outside the cinema—once also a synagogue—in Kazimierz Dolny, and in the midst of the hillside monument of shattered gravestones, a kilometer outside that town, which is its only memorial to the 50 percent of its population who were murdered in the Shoah.

In mentioning these facts, I am not laying claim to any kind of spurious virtue-by-association-with-suffering. But I should like you to recognize—perhaps with some tincture of shame—the profound indecency of your insult, directed as it was to someone you had never met, and of whose work I suspect you knew nothing.

2. Logic

I note that in your blog you agree with an anonymous poster who suggests an analogy between “9/11 deniers and creationists.” You see “very strong parallels” between these two kinds of idiocy, but add that “the parallels are even stronger between 9/11 denialism and Holocaust denialism, and that’ll be the subject of a future post.”

Let us hope not. The logic involved in such a smear would disgrace a freshman. How would it go? “X and Y, who believe that highly placed people in the US government were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11, are also antisemites and Holocaust deniers. David Ray Griffin, John McMurtry and Michel Chossudovsky also believe that highly placed people in the US government were responsible for the atrocities of 9/11. Therefore, they too, and all other 9/11 sceptics as well, are antisemites and Holocaust deniers.” Golly! With logic like that, I could prove that Socrates had four legs and barked like a dog.

3. Civility again

I’d like to say something about a lesser issue of civility, and, in conclusion, about some matters of scholarship.

I wonder, first, what business it is of yours as a faculty member to contest so obstreperously the manner in which a student organization chooses to set up events that it holds on campus. Is there something in the constitution of the Debating Society that requires it to structure every event it sponsors as a contest of eristic rhetoric between two opposing sides? I don’t know, and I don’t think it’s any business of yours or mine to tell the members of the Society how to organize themselves. Academic freedom, as I understand it, is not merely a possession of tenured faculty, but a necessary condition for the proper functioning of a university, and hence something that students can also lay claim to, both inside the classroom and beyond it. That means, I believe, that people with the power and authority of faculty members should not be meddling in the affairs of student organizations.

Nor should faculty members take for granted the right to be among what, on March 19th, time constraints ensured could only be a very limited number of questioners at the end of the event. As moderator, I had in any case no inkling that you were a faculty member rather than, as I assumed, merely a very unpleasant member of the general public.

Yet despite your prior behaviour, had you been the first to raise your hand during the brief period of questions from the floor that I moderated, I would have recognized you as the first to ask a question. It so happens that half a dozen people, out of an audience of several hundred, were ahead of you. Nonetheless, when one of the speakers, your former colleague Professor Kee Dewdney, graciously intervened to ask that you be heard, I acquiesced—even though it meant that others lost their chance to speak.

4. Scholarship

Finally, some matters of scholarship. I find it amusing that a mathematician who has devoted some proportion of his recent energies to debates—very interesting debates, from what I’ve read—in evolutionary biology should so strenuously object to other scholars straying from the fields of their primary expertise. I tried to tell you on March 19th—but failed, due to loud and hectoring repetitions of your question about engineering expertise—that Professor Graeme MacQueen’s current work is not just interdisciplinary but collaborative: the study from which he read is being co-authored (as I believe he said in introducing it) with the mechanical engineer Tony Szamboti. I also tried, but failed, to let you know that large numbers of engineers and architects have gone on record as challenging the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Should you be interested, you can find more than three hundred of them listed at

I am surprised that you believe David Dunbar’s and Brad Reagan’s Debunking 9/11 Myths (2006) to be an adequate rejoinder to the writings of 9/11 sceptics. When you recommended it to the audience during the question period on March 19th, I was tempted for a moment to respond by holding up a copy of David Ray Griffin’s Debunking 9/11 Debunking (2007) which I had with me. But of course getting you, or the rest of the audience, up to date in your scholarship was not my role: it would have required me to mention, as well, Ryan Mackey’s monograph-length response to Griffin in the Journal of Debunking 911 Conspiracy Theories, 1.4, together with articles in the Journal of 9/11 Studies, responses to Mackey that have appeared elsewhere, and perhaps also the materials published at WTC Demolition Analysis ( Hardly a moderator’s job, you might agree.

But I am led to wonder whether there is an adequate correspondence between the strength of your opinions on 9/11—in particular, the strength of your opinions about 9/11 sceptics—and the extent and thoroughness of your reading and research on the subject. I am drawn to this question by your apparent conviction that what you absurdly call “9/11 denialism” (wouldn’t “denialists” have to be people who claim that most or all of 9/11 never happened?) is a quasi-religious cult whose adherents share a common body of dogma. One doesn’t actually have to read very far to discover sharp differences of opinion among 9/11 researchers, as well as a willingness—at least among those whom I respect—to modify hypotheses in the face of new evidence and convincing counter-analysis.

I am myself more than happy to point out those errors that I am aware of in the two articles of mine that you linked to. The CounterPunch polemic, first published in November 2006, mentions a video in whose title Jeff King is incorrectly described as an MIT professor, and cites two people I would not now care to mention: Judy Wood, a professor of mechanical engineering whose 9/11 work I now regard as wholly groundless, and Eric Hufschmidt, who, as I was unaware at the time, is indeed the antisemite you imagine all 9/11 sceptics to be.1

The other essay, dating from August 2006, says things about philosopher of science Professor Jim Fetzer that I would not now repeat: my opinion that he had a “polite but formidable command of the facts” and also of “appropriate protocols of interpretation” has been at least partially refuted by Fetzer himself through his flirtation with no-plane and directed-energy-weapon hypotheses.2 Whether this weakens my argument about the bias and disinformation of the CBC program I criticized in that essay is for others to judge.

On some aspects of the 9/11 evidence, such as the Pentagon attack and the crash of Flight 93, I don’t feel that I have sufficient grounds for any firm opinion, beyond the obvious one that the US government has either withheld or lied about much of the material evidence. I don’t mind saying that I have found nothing on your Recursivity blog that would induce me to alter my views on these or other aspects of the 9/11 evidence.

Should you wish to publish this response on your blog, you are welcome to do so, provided that you reproduce it in its entirety. I will myself be circulating it to the organizers and the other participants in the March 19th event.

Yours sincerely, 
Michael Keefer
Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies, University of Guelph




1  The reference is to my essay “Into the Ring with CounterPunch on 9/11: How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out on 9/11 Evidence,” first published on November 4, 2006, and available at, and also (with corrections to two footnotes, at my website).

2  See “Anatomy of a Hatchet Job: CBC Radio's 'The Current' and Scholars for 9/11 Truth,” Centre for Research on Globalization (29 August 2006),   

‘9/11 conspiracy questions’: a response to Dr. Dave Baxter

On 14 September 2006 I delivered a public lecture at the University of Guelph, entitled “Manufacturing Terror: 9/11 and the Toronto 17.” A sneering and dismissive assessment of the lecture, or at least of that part of it relating to the events of September 11, 2001, promptly appeared in the campus student newspaper, The Ontarion. Although the letter's author purported to be a member of the university community, no person of that name seems to have been attached to any academic or administrative unit of the University of Guelph; 'Dr. Dave Baxter' may then have been a pseudonym. My response appeared in the Letters column of the next issue of The Ontarion.

An ill-tempered diatribe by Dr. Dave Baxter which appeared among last week’s Letters to the Editor leaves one wondering whether its author is trying harder to expose himself as rude, as ignorant, or as just plain silly.

Dr. Baxter tells us that philosophers and historians, unlike the practitioners of such apparently despised fields “as computer science, engineering and […] English literature,” are “specifically trained to analyze the logical and rational basis of evidentiary events,” and are thus uniquely qualified to make sense of the events of September 11, 2001.

Baxter must have received his own intellectual formation in some other discipline—telepathy perhaps, or judicial astrology—since although he declares himself “sorry to have missed” my public lecture of September 14th, he is nonetheless able to describe its contents as “wildly irresponsible,” as “intellectual hogwash,” and as “anemic posturing.”

Baxter is confident that “no recognized philosopher or historian” can be found among 9/11 skeptics. I’m not going to descend with him into a contest of making idiotic lists of names: if he possessed any serious understanding of either of the disciplines he professes to admire, he would know that arguments from authority haven’t swung much weight among philosophers since the early seventeenth century at least, and that reputable historians have always settled their disputes not by citing big names, or for that matter by pasting cheap polemical labels on one another’s work, but rather through scrupulous critical analyses of the available evidence.

Dr. Baxter wonders what “actual substantive evidence” I might have to support my opinion that 9/11 was an inside job. I’m afraid his rudeness rather takes the edge off any desire I might otherwise have had to educate the man. If he really wants to know, he’ll have to keep an eye out for my next public lecture or essay on the subject. In the mean time, he’ll get much fuller satisfaction from the writings of Michel Chossudovsky, Paul Thompson, David Ray Griffin, Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, Michael Ruppert, and Steven Jones which I recommended to my audience on September 14th.

Dr. Baxter might also want to cure himself of what could otherwise become a habit of making misleading appeals to authority. It really won’t do to shut people up by quoting (wholly out of context) the words of Ludwig Wittgenstein: “What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.” Those of us who have read more than just the concluding sentence of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus might think his words in proposition 6.5 of that text more relevant: “If a question can be framed at all, it is also possible to answer it.”

The question of whether 9/11 was an instance of US government-organized false-flag terrorism has indeed been framed, and it has been answered as well. As I made abundantly clear to my audience on September 14th, I would like my own answer—and all of the others as well—to be treated not with uncritical credulity but with cautious skepticism. Many of the relevant facts—those relating, for example, to military exercises that disabled the US air defenses on 9/11, to the stated geopolitical motives of the governing elite, and to government cover-ups, disinformation, and destruction of evidence—are securely established and uncontroversial. Other issues, such as the causes of the collapses of three steel-frame skyscrapers in the World Trade Center, are still disputed—and although to my mind the testimonial, photographic, and materials-science evidence of planned demolition is unambiguous, a range of interpretations remains possible.

As Dr. Dave Baxter ought to know, these are issues that scholars and scientists who make any claim to intellectual integrity will seek to resolve through critical inquiry, scientific analysis and scrupulous debate, rather than through vacuous rhetoric, name-calling, and bullying.

Michael Keefer
Professor, School of English and Theatre Studies

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Canadian War Crimes in Afghanistan

First published at the Centre for Research on Globalization (24 April 2011),, and reproduced online at six other websites. The present version contains some additional material on the attitudes of senior Canadian military officers towards the torture of Afghan detainees.


Torture has been a grim component of nearly every aspect of the current war in Afghanistan. Setting aside the behaviour both of the Taliban regime and of their Afghan opponents, the warlords of the Northern Alliance, which included grievous violations of human rights, US forces were involved in torture from almost the moment of their arrival in Afghanistan in late 2001.

In the years after 2001, the US government attempted to justify its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan through narratives of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that were based almost entirely on confessions elicited by torture from actual or suspected associates of Osama bin Laden.

And torture has been an integral part of the counterinsurgency tactics employed by the US, its NATO allies, and the Karzai regime. These tactics—involving infantry sweeps through communities in whose vicinity resistance has been encountered, more or less indiscriminate arrests, and the handing over of prisoners to the Afghan police or to the National Directorate of Security, whose ‘intelligence’ (based on torture) then serves as a guide to further arrests—have victimized large numbers of civilians, most of them people with no connection to the Afghan resistance.

Canada, as a practitioner of these tactics, has been implicated for at least the past six years in a detainee-torture scandal, one of whose consequences has been very serious damage to Canada’s international reputation. There is evidence that this scandal reaches to the very highest levels of the Canadian government.


1. Illegality of the Afghanistan War

Growing numbers of people are skeptical about the justifications offered by the United States for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. Nearly all of the ‘evidence’ in the key chapters of the 9/11 Commission Report which assign responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks is derived from torture—which means that these chapters have the epistemic value of pure fiction. (One of the major sources, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was waterboarded 183 times by the CIA; his confessions were confirmed by the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded 83 times. The 9/11 Commission’s requests to interview these ‘high-value’ prisoners, or even just their CIA interrogators, were denied; and in 2005, in defiance of court orders, the CIA destroyed its videotapes of the interrogations.)1

The invasion of Afghanistan appears to have been primarily motivated by the energy geopolitics of a new “Great Game.” When the Taliban came to power in 1996, there were negotiations for a Unocal pipeline from the Caspian Basin gas fields across Afghanistan into Pakistan and thence to the Indian Ocean. But after Osama bin Laden’s 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa and retaliatory Tomahawk strikes into Afghanistan, these talks collapsed. There is evidence that in the summer of 2001—months before the 9/11 attacks—American diplomats threatened the Taliban that continued obstruction of the pipeline plan would result in a bombing campaign, and their overthrow, by October of that year.2

US and Canadian government officials have scoffed at the notion that energy geopolitics had anything to do with the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. But in June 2008 the distinguished petroleum economist John Foster, who has worked for British Petroleum, the World Bank, Petro-Canada, and the Inter-American Development Bank, published a monograph on the subject of plans for a $7.6-billion Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) natural gas pipeline that was going to be built, at American insistence, in 2010—and the Canadian government acknowledged that Canadian forces would indeed be assigned to protect the pipeline, whose route lies through Kandahar province, where most of our casualties have been suffered.3

However, it was for different reasons that on October 9, 2001, two days after the bombing of Afghanistan began, Michael Mandel, of Toronto’s Osgoode Hall Law School, declared the attack illegal. In his words, it “violate[d] international law and the express words of the United Nations Charter,” whose Article 51 only “gives a state the right to repel an attack that is ongoing or imminent as a temporary measure until the UN Security Council can take steps necessary for international peace and security.”4 Since the attack was not ongoing,5 and since neither of the UN Security Council resolutions condemning the September 11 attacks “can remotely be said to authorize the use of military force,” Mandel declared that those who die from the attack on Afghanistan “will be victims of a crime against humanity, just like the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.”6 In November 2001, Thomas Jefferson School of Law professor Marjorie Cohn made similar arguments, adding that the bombing was not legitimate self-defence because the atrocities of 9/11 “were criminal attacks, not ‘armed attacks’ by another state.”7

Subsequently expounded by Mandel and by Cohn at greater length, and supplemented by further considerations, including the fact that in September and October 2001 the Taliban regime offered to give Bin Laden up for trial in a third country,8 these views are shared by other leading specialists in international law, among them Francis Boyle, Alex Conte, and Myra Williamson.9


2. The Canadian Torture Scandal

Illegalities of a more concrete nature have come to haunt Canada’s participation in the war in Afghanistan. In December 2001, a cover of legality was given to the formation of an occupation army, or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), by the UN Security Council’s acceptance of the claim that this force was established “at the request of the Government of Afghanistan”10—which at the time consisted of Hamid Karzai, protected by a guard of US SEAL and British SBS special forces soldiers, and a loose coalition of US-financed ‘Northern Alliance’ warlords. But it was the question of how to dispose of Afghans captured by Canadian troops, whether in combat conditions or merely under suspicion, that developed into a specifically Canadian scandal.

In January 2002, there were questions in Parliament over the revelation that members of the Joint Task Force 2 unit, after taking part in the fighting in the Tora Bora mountains, had transferred prisoners into US custody.11 The horrors of Abu Graib in Iraq became public knowledge at the end of April 2004; shortly afterward, it was revealed that prisoners held by the US in Afghanistan were also systematically tortured, and in at least five cases had died from their treatment. In June 2004, a Human Rights Watch spokesman declared that in US prisons in Afghanistan “The entire system operates outside the rule of law. At least in Iraq, the US is trying to run a system that meets Geneva standards. In Afghanistan, they’re not.”12

With the option of Canadian-run POW camps ruled out from the start, and with further transfers into US prisons becoming politically impossible, the Canadian Forces passed captives on to Afghan authorities, amid unlikely claims that ‘state-building’ programs were taking effect. But even after acquiring a façade of legitimacy through the 2004 presidential and 2005 parliamentary elections,13 the Karzai regime remained one to which any transfer of prisoners was a most dubious matter. By 2005, Eileen Olexiuk, the second-ranking Canadian diplomat in Kabul, was raising concerns to the Paul Martin government about the fate of transferred detainees.14 Her messages were ignored, and a toothless memorandum of agreement regarding detainee transfers that was signed in December 2005 by General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff, and the Afghan Minister of Defence, contained no provisions for follow-up access to detainees.15 Evidence of systematic torture continued to accumulate, and Richard Colvin, who in 2006-2007 held the diplomatic position Olexiuk had occupied, called attention to it in urgent messages which he circulated as widely as possible through all the official government and military channels available to him.16

Article 12 of the Third Geneva Convention is categorical: “Prisoners of war may only be transferred […] to a Power which is a party to the Convention and after the Detaining Power has satisfied itself of the willingness and ability of such transferee Power to apply the Convention.”17 Afghanistan has been a party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions since 1956, and in late 2009 acceded to the 1977 Additional Protocols I and II, which protect victims of international conflicts and civil wars.18 However, Olexiuk’s and Colvin’s messages show that Canada had not “satisfied itself”—despite whatever senior officials might say—that the Karzai regime would treat prisoners decently.

Even without direct statements from Canadian diplomats, senior military and civilian officials could have no grounds for pretending ignorance. In December 2009, Lawyers Against the War (LAW) itemized in an “Open letter to the Parliamentary Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan” the evidence that Canada’s detainee policies violated Canadian and international law.19 By the spring of 2007, this included—in addition to legal opinions sent by LAW on February 1, 2004 and March 6, 2007 to Prime Ministers Martin and Harper and their senior ministers—expressions of concern by Amnesty International in early 2002 over detainee transfers to US forces, and in December 2005 over “the widespread, longstanding reality of torture throughout the Afghan prison system”;20 the Report of the Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan, M. Cherif Bassouni, to the UN Commission on Human Rights (11 March 2005), referring to torture practices current within the Afghan security system; The London Compact of February 1, 2006, which set as a goal—for the end of 2010—the Afghan state’s adoption of “corrective measures […] aimed at preventing arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion and illegal appropriation of property with a view to the elimination of these practices”;21 and the US State Department’s report on Afghanistan in 2006, which noted reports by human rights organizations that Afghan authorities in Herat, Helmand and elsewhere used torture consisting of “pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.”22

Ironically, it was evidence of prisoner abuse in Canadian rather than Afghan custody, obtained in early February 2007 by University of Ottawa law professor Amir Attaran and passed on to the Military Police Complaints Commission, that helped to give the issue increased public prominence.23 A quick succession of other events brought the pot to a boil. On February 21, 2007, Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association applied for a judicial review of Canada’s detainee-transfer policy.24 In March, the Minister of National Defence, Gordon O’Connor, acknowledged that since April 2006 he had repeatedly misled the House of Commons by falsely claiming that the Red Cross was monitoring transferred prisoners on Canada’s behalf.25 And on April 23, 2007, The Globe and Mail published an investigative report, based on interviews with thirty Afghan prisoners whom the Canadian army had handed over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security, which showed they had been systematically tortured, with apparent Canadian complicity.26 University of British Columbia law professor Michael Byers commented: “If this report is accurate, Canadians have engaged in war crimes, not only individually but also as a matter of policy.”27

The Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry prompted by Professor Attiran’s complaint subpoenaed the diplomat Richard Colvin, who in late 2009, when the MPCC’s proceedings had been seriously delayed by interventions from the Harper government,28 was also called before the House of Commons Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan. In October 2009, shortly before he testified there, the claims of Prime Minister Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay that they had not been informed on the detainee issue were vigorously refuted by General Rick Hillier’s memoir, A Soldier First.29

But Colvin’s testimony on November 18, 2009 was more thoroughly damaging in its exposure of high-level lawlessness. He revealed that the Canadian military’s system of reporting the transfer of detainees delayed follow-up, making it all the more likely that they would be tortured (as his sources thought nearly all of them were); he claimed that in 2006-2007 senior Foreign Affairs officials—including David Mulroney, the Assistant Deputy Minister responsible for Afghanistan, who was also Prime Minister Harper’s Foreign and Defence Policy Advisor—had censored and blocked the distribution of dispatches from Kabul; and he exposed the fact that the government had made very determined attempts to intimidate him and prevent him from giving testimony. Finally, Colvin excoriated policies under which, “disregard[ing] our core principles and values,” Canadians “retained and handed over for severe torture a lot of innocent people,” which is “a very serious violation of international and Canadian law,” and which also “alienated us from the population and strengthened the insurgency.”30


3. Running With the Big Dogs

“Complicity in torture,” Colvin reminded the parliamentarians, “is a war crime.” By the summer of 2010, despite a disgraceful smear campaign against Colvin led by Defence Minister Peter MacKay (which prompted a public letter of rebuke signed by “more than 100 former diplomats, many of them ambassadors”),31 despite Stephen Harper’s shutting down of the MPCC by refusing to appoint a replacement when its chair’s term of office expired, and his proroguing of the House of Commons in order to close down the parliamentary committee which had heard Colvin’s evidence (this prompted a public letter signed by more than 175 professors of political science denouncing Harper for having “violated the trust of Parliament and of the Canadian people”),32 and despite Harper’s defiance of Parliament’s call to have all of the relevant documents released, the full extent and depth of that complicity was evident.

Highly segmented state structures may often seem to operate in an almost chaotic manner. But at times—even when the governing party is doing its best to obscure and deny access to the evidence—a clear constellation of intentionality emerges from the murk. With help from the late Jack Hooper, who was CSIS Assistant Director of Operations from 2002 to 2005, and Deputy Director of Operations until his retirement in 2007, we can give this pattern a name. Known for being pithy and outspoken, Hooper liked to tell his colleagues that “If you’re going to run with the big dogs, you’d better learn to piss in the high grass.”33

CSIS, we now know, was involved in interrogating Afghan prisoners from early 2002 until December 2007; and journalists Jim Bronskill and Murray Brewster learned from an unnamed source or sources that one of the Kandahar interrogation sites used by CSIS, “work[ing] alongside the American CIA and in close co-operation with Canada’s secretive, elite JTF-2 commandos,” was a “secluded base”—this seems a polite way of saying ‘black site’ or ‘secret torture facility’—“known as Graceland.”34

Running with the big dogs apparently meant complicity in the work of Afghan as well as American torturers. Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province, who was widely accused of corruption, drug-trafficking, and direct personal involvement in torture, seems to have retained his position after 2006 only thanks to the interventions of senior Canadian military officials.35 General Rick Hillier, the Chief of the Defence Staff who famously defined the Taliban as “scumbags and murderers” whom it was the Canadian army’s job to kill, praised Khalid’s work in early 2008 as “phenomenal” and associated it with “some incredible changes in the province,” adding that “if there’s an issue of any kind of impropriety whatsoever, that’s an issue for the Afghanistan government.”36 It is of course an issue for the Canadian government as well. Scott Taylor, a journalist with wide experience in Afghanistan, has endorsed Hillier’s view of the Taliban, but with an important corrective: “What he failed to mention is that the guys we’re propping up are also scumbags and murderers.”37

Richard Colvin’s November 2009 testimony to the Parliamentary Special Committee revealed another aspect of Canada’s collaboration in Afghan torture—a “very peculiar” process, he called it, in which the notification of detainee transfers went from the Canadian military police in Kandahar to the Canadian Forces command group at Kandahar airport, then to the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) in Ottawa, who informed the Canadian Embassy in Geneva, who contacted Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, who at last notified the Red Cross mission in Kandahar. While the Dutch and British, who also had troops in southern Afghanistan, notified the Red Cross office in Kandahar directly about prisoner transfers, so that within a day at most the Red Cross could monitor their treatment, this Canadian paper-chase could take weeks or even months—during which time the transferred prisoner became effectively invisible.

What might seem an idiotic instance of bureaucracy-run-wild was actually part of a more serious wildness, a policy of deliberate obstructionism. For as Colvin also testified, “When the Red Cross wanted to engage on detainee issues, for three months the Canadian Forces in Kandahar wouldn’t even take their phone calls. The same thing happened to the NATO ISAF command in Kabul, who had responsibilities to report detainee numbers to Brussels, but were told, ‘We know what you want, but we won’t tell you’.”38 Senior Canadian officers have indicated the value they placed on ‘intelligence’ received in regular meetings with leaders of Afghan’s notorious National Directorate of Security.39 And in a May 2007 interview with the Ottawa Citizen’s David Pugliese, one of them was quite explicit about the role the Canadian military and NATO were assigning to the NDS in the counter-insurgency war:

Canadian Brig.-Gen. Jim Ferron says he is confident that Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security or NDS is following proper procedures when it interrogates insurgent detainees.

The general also pointed out that the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is interested in further developing its relationship with the NDS because it is a key Afghan government agency and the intelligence it is providing is highly credible in the battle against insurgents.

“We’d like to make (NDS intelligence) a significant part because the best information is the information that comes from the Afghans themselves,” said Brig.-Gen. Ferron, ISAF’s chief intelligence officer. “They have the cultural nuances that we may miss. So I think it’s safe to say we would like to make it more a part of our daily intelligence.”

[…] “[I]nterrogating […] is not a bad word if it’s done properly and professionally,” he explained. “The detainees are detained for a reason. They have information we need.”

Brig.-Gen. Ferron said much of the information a detainee provides is not truthful and is aimed at deceiving military forces. That’s why it is up to intelligence analysts to sift through what is truth and what is deception. “But if we don’t have the information we can’t even start on that process,” he added.40

Ferron’s words make clear the Canadian military’s dependence on NDS ‘intelligence,’ and the determination of senior officers to ignore, obfuscate, and dismiss the by-this-time massive evidence of NDS torture practices. In mid-May 2007, someone of Ferron’s rank and position could hardly have been ignorant of the urgent messages about detainee torture that Richard Colvin had been sending from Kandahar and from the embassy in Kabul between May and December 2006—or of the fact that, as Colvin writes, embassy officials had supplemented their written reports by “interven[ing] directly with policy-makers”:

For example, in early March 2007, I informed an interagency meeting of some 12 to 15 officials in Ottawa that, ‘The NDS tortures people, that’s what they do, and if we don’t want our detainees tortured, we shouldn’t give them to the NDS.’ [….] The response from the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command (CEFCOM) note-taker was to stop writing and put down her pen.41

As this eloquent gesture suggests, even junior officers in CEFCOM understood that their seniors—the desk-soldiers with aspirations to join the big dogs—wanted to keep other puppies from sniffing out what passes for intelligence-gathering in the tall grass. Indeed, since June 2010 we have known that CEFCOM intervened vigorously in the spring of 2007 to put a stop to Colvin’s circulation of information about the torture of detainees: a CEFCOM memo dated May 7, 2007 declared that “his continued employment in Kabul […] could become a liability to the government of Canada’s interests if left unchecked”; and on two occasions senior officials, including a lieutenant-general and an associate deputy minister, intervened to “caution” him.42

Within days of Colvin’s November 2009 testimony to the effect that Prime Minister Harper’s Defence and Foreign Policy Advisor had censored messages from the Kabul embassy about detainee torture, and Colvin’s exposure of the Canadian military’s obstruction of Red Cross and ISAF attempts to monitor prisoner transfers, a report in the Toronto Star revealed how directly the Prime Minister had involved himself in the issue in 2007. According to a former senior NATO public affairs official, the denials of torture issued by NATO in Kabul—“at a time when it was privately and generally acknowledged in our office that the chances of good treatment at the hands of Afghan security forces were almost zero”—were scripted by Harper and his office in Ottawa:

I was told this was the titanic issue for Prime Minister Harper and that every statement that went out needed to be cleared by him personally […]. The lines were, ‘We have no evidence’ of coercive treatment being used against detainees handed over to the Afghans. [….] [I]t was made clear to us that this was coming from the Prime Minister’s Office, which was running the public affairs aspect of Canadian engagement in Afghanistan with a 6,000-mile screwdriver.43

The pattern that emerges from mainstream news reports is thus one of high-level complicity in torture, combined with attempts—organized from the very top of the Canadian government—to falsify the public record.

According to law professor Amir Attaran, who has seen uncensored versions of the documents that the Harper government has so strenuously resisted sharing with Parliament, the paper trail is thoroughly incriminating. In March 2010 Attiran told CBC News: “If these documents were released [in full], what they will show is that Canada partnered deliberately with the torturers in Afghanistan for the interrogation of detainees […]. There would be a question of rendition and a question of war crimes on the part of certain Canadian officials. That’s what’s in these documents, and that’s why the government is covering up as hard as it can.”44


4. Conclusion

The clear pattern of intentionality revealed in the words and actions of senior Canadian government bureaucrats and senior military officers is both embarrassing (these people actually believe, despite copious evidence to the contrary, that torture produces real ‘intelligence’)45 and also a scandalous offense against the rule of law.

More scandalous still is the evidence that these people were acting on directives from Stephen Harper—that Harper knew perfectly well that the Afghan puppet-state tortures the prisoners handed over to it by the Canadian Forces, but nonetheless permitted the continuation of this system, and that he actually took charge of the program of lying about it.




1  In early 2008 award-winning journalist Robert Windrem showed in an analysis for NBC News that more than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Commission Report, and nearly all of those in the key chapters, are based on torture; see Windrem, “Blogs & Stories: Cheney’s Role Deepens,” The Daily Beast (13 May 2009),; and “The 9/11 Commission & Torture: How Information Gained Through Waterboarding & Harsh Interrogations Form Major Part of 9/11 Commission Report,” Democracy Now! (7 February 2008), See also “September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ‘waterboarded 183 times’,” The Sunday Times (20 April 2009),; and “Complete 911 Timeline: Destruction of CIA Interrogation Tapes,” History Commons,

2  Michel Chossudovsky, America’s “War on Terrorism”(Pincourt, Québec: Global Research, 2005), p. 66.

3  John Foster, A Pipeline Through a Troubled Land: Afghanistan, Canada, and the New Great Energy Game (Ottawa: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, June 19, 2008); see also Shawn McCarthy, “Pipeline opens new front in Afghan war,” The Globe and Mail (19 June 2008),; and McCarthy, “Would help protect pipeline, Canada says,” The Globe and Mail (20 June 2008),

4  Michael Mandel, “This War is Illegal,” CounterPunch (9 October 2001),

5  Graeme MacQueen, founding director of McMaster University’s Institute of Peace Studies, has noted that the anthrax attacks in the US, whose first victim died on October 5 (two days before the assault on Afghanistan began), created the appearance of an ongoing al Qaeda attack—supported by Iraq. Initially identified by the FBI as Iraqi in origin, the anthrax in fact came from a US weapons lab, and the coatings applied to it required high-tech expertise that the scientist later fingered by the FBI as the lone perpetrator did not possess. See MacQueen, “The Connection Between 9/11, Anthrax, and Iraq” (1 May 2010), available at 911,

6  Mandel, “This War is Illegal.”

7  Marjorie Cohn, “Bombing of Afghanistan is Illegal and Must be Stopped,” Jurist (6 November 2001),

8  See “Bush rejects Taliban offer to hand Bin Laden over,” The Guardian (14 October 2001),; and Andrew Buncombe, “Bush rejects Taliban offer to surrender bin Laden,” The Independent (15 October 2001),

9  Michael Mandel, How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes Against Humanity (London: Pluto Press, 2004); and Marjorie Cohn, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law (Sausalito, CA: Podipoint Press, 2007). See also Francis Boyle, Destroying World Order: U. S Imperialism in the Middle East Before and After September 11th (Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2004); Alex Conte, Security in the 21st Century: The United Nations, Afghanistan, and Iraq (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2005); and Myra Williamson, Terrorism, War and International Law: The Legality of the Use of Force Against Afghanistan in 2001 (Aldershot, Hants: Ashgate, 2009).

10  The wording is from a notable UK court decision: Paragraph 15 of Regina (Evans) vs. Secretary of State for Defence, High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Divisional Court, [2010] EWHC 1445 (Admin), 25 June 2010,

11  See Michael Byers, “Afghanistan: Wrong Mission for Canada,” The Tyee (6 October 2006),; the parliamentary stir is discussed by Janice Gross Stein and Eugene Lang, The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (Toronto: Viking Canada, 2007).

12  Quoted by Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg, “‘They said this is America … if a soldier orders you to take off your clothes, you must obey’,” The Guardian (23 June 2004),; see also David Townsend, “The Passion of Dilawar of Yakubi,” National Catholic Reporter (12 August 2005),

13  According to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), the elections were marked by debilitating technical problems, and by widespread intimidation and electoral fraud. For relevant articles, see Press for Conversion 59 (September 2006), available at

14  “Afghan detainee torture risk raised in 2005,” CBC News (10 March 2010),

15  See “Arrangement for the Transfer of Detainees between the Canadian Forces and the Ministry of Defence of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” (18 December 2005),

16  See Richard Colvin, “Affidavit for the Military Police Complaints Commission” (5 October 2009),

17  Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949, Art. 12,

18  See ICRC Annual Report 2009, Annex: States Party to the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, pp. 488-89,, where the accession date given is 10 November 2009; and “Afghanistan accedes to Additional Protocols I and II in historic step to limit wartime suffering,” ICRC Resource Centre (24 June 2009),; this would mean that the Protocols came into force after six months, on 24 December.

19  Lawyers Against the War, “Torture: The Transfers of Afghan Prisoners. Letter to Canada’s House of Commons,” Centre for Research on Globalization (22 December 2009),

20  These are the words of Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, quoted by LAW from his testimony on March 4, 2008 to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

21  Building on Success, The London Conference on Afghanistan: The London Compact (1 February 2006),

22  “Afghanistan,”

23  See “Military probes abuse allegations in Afghanistan,” CBC News (6 February 2007), In this and following paragraph I am indebted to the article “Canadian Afghan detainee issue,” Wikipedia, (consulted on 28 January 2011).

24  Paul Koring, “Amnesty slams Canada over Afghan detainees,” The Globe and Mail (21 February 2007, updated 31 March 2009), On the strength of a government decision in late February 2007 to suspend transfers, effective November 5, 2007, due to allegations of torture, Federal Court Justice Anne Mactavish dismissed the application for judicial review. (Thus between the end of February and November 5, 2007 the Canadian Forces appear to have been transferring prisoners into Afghan prisons that the Federal Court had effectively acknowledged to be in systematic violation of the Third Geneva Convention.) Transfers began again on February 29, 2008. (For details, see “Amnesty International and British Columbia Civil Liberties Association v. Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Armed Forces, et al.,” BC Civil Liberties Association,

25  “O’Connor sorry for misinforming House on Afghan detainees,” CBC News (19 March 2007),; see also Paul Koring, “Red Cross contradicts Ottawa on detainees,” The Globe and Mail (8 March 2007, updated 31 March 2009),

26  Graeme Smith, “From Canadian custody into cruel hands. Savage beatings, electrocution, whipping and extreme cold: Detainees detail a litany of abuses by Afghan authorities,” The Globe and Mail (23 April 2007),; also available at

27  “Afghan Prisoner Torture Scandal: War Crimes,” (23 April 2007),

28  Janice Tibbetts, “Tories try to block witnesses at military commission,” Canwest News Service (1 October 2009),; for a fuller account of Harper’s obstruction of the MPCC, see Murray Dobbin, Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy, Part 4: “Controlling Critics,” The Council of Canadians (15 April 2010),

29  General Rick Hillier, A Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2009); see John Ibbitson, “PMO told about Afghan jail conditions, Hillier writes,” The Globe and Mail (21 October 2009),

30  “Richard Colvin’s Testimony,” 18 November 2009, FAIR, See also Colvin’s follow-up statement, “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan, December 16, 2009,” available at, and from the Toronto Star,

31  Murray Dobbin, Harper’s Hitlist: Power, Process and the Assault on Democracy, Part 2: “Two Prorogations in Less Than a Year,” The Council of Canadians (15 April 2011),

32  Ibid.

33  Michelle Shephard, Guantanamo’s Child: The Untold Story of Omar Khadr (Toronto: John Wiley, 2008), p. 57.

34  Jim Bronskill and Murray Brewster, “CSIS reviewing role in Afghan detainee interrogations,” Canadian Press, available in The Toronto Star (2 August 2010), See also Murray Brewster and Jim Bronskill, “CSIS played critical role in Afghan prisoner interrogations: documents, sources,” Canadian Press (8 March 2010), available at; and “Le SCRS était au courant de cas de torture,” La Presse Canadienne, available at (21 January 2011),

35  See Stephanie Levitz, Brian Laghi, Campbell Clark and Paul Koring, “Kandahar governor denies torture claim,” The Globe and Mail (2 February 2008),; Kamran Mir Hazar and Robert Maier, “Asadullah Khalid’s Mafia,” (3 May 2009),; and “Afghan governor’s rights abuses known in ’07,” CBC News (12 April 2010), See also “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan, December 16, 2009,” pp. 13-14.

36  Quoted by Stephanie Levitz et al., “Kandahar governor denies torture claim.”

37  Quoted by Bea Vongdouangchanh, “‘We’re bringing the ugly truth back to the people’,” The Hill Times (6 December 2010), Taylor is editor of Esprit de Corps magazine, and maker of the documentary Afghanistan: Outside the Wire (2010).

38  “Richard Colvin’s Testimony,” 18 November 2009.

39  See Murray Brewster, “Canadian general defends Afghan intelligence service, denies torture,” Toronto Star (9 September 2010),; Stephen Chase, “Military vows to probe ‘grave’detainee accusations,” The Globe and Mail (14 April 2010, updated 15 April 2010),; Thomas Walkom, “Walkom: Was Afghan torture a deliberate tool for Canada?” Toronto Star (17 April 2010), For evidence of the consistency of this use of Afghan torturers as intelligence-gatherers with an earlier Canadian policy of using Syrian and Egyptian torturers in the same way, see Walkom, “Walkom: Torture by remote control,” Toronto Star (24 February 2010),

40  David Pugliese, “NATO sees importance of secret Afghan info: Intelligence crucial in fight against Taliban,” Ottawa Citizen (16 May 2007), available online at, I am indebted for knowledge of this article to Gareth Porter, “The Torture Mill: Why the US and NATO Fed Detainees to Brutal Afghan Security Service,” Counterpunch (27 April 2011),

41  Colvin, “Further Evidence of Richard Colvin to the Special Committee on Afghanistan,”, p. 2.

42  Steven Chase, “Military wanted detainee whistleblower pulled from Afghanistan,” The Globe and Mail (14 June 2010, updated 5 October 2010),

43  Mitch Potter, “PMO issued instructions on denying abuse in ’07,” The Toronto Star (22 November 2009),

44  “Canada wanted Afghan prisoners tortured: lawyer,” CBC News (5 March 2010),

45  For some of that evidence, see Edward Peters, Torture (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985); Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain (1985; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press); Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture (New York: Metropolitan/Owl Books, 2006); and also Matthew Alexander, “I’m still tortured by what I saw in Iraq: An interrogator speaks,” The Washington Post (30 November 2008),; and Ben Macintyre, “‘24’ is fictional. So is the idea that torture works,” The Sunday Times (23 April 2009),     

¿Provocan EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña une guerra civil en Irak?

This translation by Germán Leyens of my essay “Were British Special Forces Soldiers Planting Bombs in Basra?” was first published at Rebelión (3 October 2005); it subsequently appeared at eight other websites in 2005. I have added the notes which now appear here as in the English text. 



¿Recuerda alguien el choque que sintió el público británico ante la revelación hace cuatro años de que uno de los miembros de la unidad del IRA cuyo ataque con bombas en Omagh el 15 de agosto de 1998, mató a veintinueve civiles, había sido un agente doble, un soldado del ejército británico?

Ese soldado no fue el único agente doble terrorista de Gran Bretaña. Un segundo soldados británico infiltrado dentro del IRA afirmó que había dado aviso anticipado de 48 horas sobre el ataque con una coche bomba en Omagh a sus jefes del Royal Ulster Constabulary [RUC, por sus siglas en inglés; policía real en Irlanda del Norte, N. del T.], incluyendo “detalles de uno de los miembros del grupo de ataque terrorista y la patente del coche del individuo.” Aunque el agente había hecho una grabación de su llamado de información, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, jefe policial de la RUC, declaró que “no se recibió una tal información.”1

Este segundo agente doble reveló la información a la prensa en junio de 2002, afirmando que desde 1981 a 1994, mientras recibía un sueldo completo del ejército británico, había actuado como topo en el IRA para la “Unidad de Investigación de la Fuerza [FRU, por sus siglas en inglés], un brazo ultra-secreto de la inteligencia militar británica.” Con pleno conocimiento y consentimiento de sus superiores en la FRU y en MI5, se convirtió en un especialista en bombas que “mezclaba explosivos y … ayudaba a desarrollar nuevos tipos de bombas,” como “bombas sensibles a la luz, activadas por flash fotográfico, para superar el problema de que los controles remotos del IRA eran interferidos a veces por señales de las unidades de radio del ejército.” Más adelante llegó a ser “miembro del escuadrón de seguridad interna del IRA Provisional”—también conocido como la ‘unidad de tortura’—que interrogaba y ejecutaba a presuntos informantes.”2

El tan temido comandante de esa misma “unidad de tortura” era igualmente un topo que había servido previamente en el Escuadrón de Botes Especiales de los Royal Marines (una unidad de elite de las fuerzas especiales, el equivalente de los Marines para la mejor conocida SAS). Un cuarto topo, un soldado con el alias “Stakeknife” cuyos manipuladores militares “le permitieron que realizara una gran cantidad de asesinatos terroristas a fin de proteger su cobertura dentro del IRA,” seguía en actividad en diciembre de 2002, como “uno de los Provisionales más importantes de Belfast.”3

También apareció evidencia fiable a fines de 2002 de que el ejército británico había estado utilizando a sus dobles agentes en organizaciones terroristas “para realizar asesinatos por encargo del Estado británico”—el más tristemente célebre es el caso del abogado de Belfast y activista de los derechos humanos Pat Finucane, que fue asesinado en 1989 por la Ulster Defence Association [UDA] protestante. Parece que la FRU pasó detalles sobre Finucane a un soldado británico que había infiltrado la UDA; él por su parte “suministró la información a equipos de asesinos de la UDA.”4

Los recientes acontecimientos en Basora han despertado la sospecha de que el ejército británico pueda haber reactivado las mismas tácticas en Irak.

Artículos publicados por Michel Chossudovsky, Larry Chin y Mike Whitney en el sitio en la Red del Centre for Research on Globalization [Centro de Investigación sobre la Globalización] el 20 de septiembre de 2005 han presentado evaluaciones preliminares de las afirmaciones de las autoridades iraquíes de que dos soldados británicos en ropas civiles, que fueron arrestados por la policía iraquí en Basora el 19 de septiembre,—y poco después liberados por un ataque británico con tanques y helicópteros contra la prisión en la que estaban detenidos—habían estado involucrados en la colocación de bombas en la ciudad.5

Otro artículo de Kurt Nimmo recuerda operaciones bajo bandera falsa realizadas por tropas de las fuerzas especiales británicas en Irlanda del Norte y en otros sitios, y la formación por Donald Rumsfeld del P2OG, o Grupo de Operaciones Preventivas Proactivas, como directamente relevantes a las acusaciones iraquíes de posibles operaciones de terror bajo falsa bandera por las potencias ocupantes en Irak.6

Estas acusaciones de parte de funcionarios iraquíes hacen eco a afirmaciones insistentes pero no substanciadas, que datan por lo menos de la primavera de 2004, en cuanto a que muchos de los atentados con bombas realizados contra objetivos civiles en Irak han sido perpetrados en realidad por las fuerzas de EE.UU. y Gran Bretaña en lugar de los insurgentes iraquíes.

Algunas de dichas afirmaciones pueden ser rápidamente descartadas. A mediados de mayo de 2005, por ejemplo, un grupo que se autodenomina “Al Qaeda en Irak” acusó a las tropas de EE.UU. de “detonar coches bomba y de acusar falsamente a los militantes.”7 Incluso para los más crédulos, estos podrían ser en el mejor de los casos ejemplos de la sartén diciéndole al cazo: retírate que me tiñes. Pero no es obvio por qué alguien iba a creer esa afirmación, ya que proviene, como es el caso, de un grupúsculo que es supuestamente dirigido por el íntegramente mítico al-Zarqawi8—cuyo propio nombre lo afilia con terroristas que colocan bombas. Esa gente, si existe, podrían tener buenas razones para culpar a otros por sus crímenes.

Otras afirmaciones, sin embargo, son en su conjunto más preocupantes.

El periodista estadounidense Dahr Jamail escribió el 20 de abril de 2004, que se rumoreaba que la reciente cadena de atentados con coches bomba en Bagdad había sido obra de la CIA:

Se dice en las calles de Bagdad que el cese de los atentados suicidas con coches bomba prueba que la CIA era responsable. ¿Por qué? Porque como dice un hombre: “[Los agentes de la CIA están] ahora demasiado ocupados combatiendo, y los disturbios que querían causar con los atentados los persiguen actualmente.” Cierto o no, no dice nada bueno sobre la imagen de los ocupantes en Irak.9

Dos días después, el 22 de abril de 2004, Agence France-Presse informó que partidarios del clérigo chií Moqtada al-Sadr culpaban a los británicos por cinco atentados con coche bomba en Basora—tres ataques casi simultáneos delante de comisarías en Basora que mataron a sesenta y ocho personas, incluyendo a veinte niños, y dos atentados subsiguientes. Mientras ochocientos de sus seguidores manifestaban afuera de las oficinas de Sadr, un portavoz de Sadr afirmó que poseía “evidencia de que los británicos estaban involucrados en esos ataques.”10

Un alto oficial militar británico anónimo dijo el 22 de abril de 2004 sobre esos ataques en Basora que “Parece como Al-Qaeda. Tiene todas características: fue suicida, fue espectacular y fue simbólico.” El brigadier general Nick Carter, comandante de la guarnición británica en Basora, declaró de modo más ambiguo que no se podía culpar necesariamente a Al-Qaeda por los atentados, pero que los responsables vinieron de afuera de Basora y que “es muy posible” que hayan venido de afuera de Irak: “'De lo único que podemos estar seguros es que esto es algo que vino de afuera,' dijo Carter.”11 Seguidores de Moqtada al-Sadr creían exactamente lo mismo—la única diferencia era su identificación de los extranjeros criminales como agentes británicos en lugar de muyahidín islamistas de otros países árabes.

En mayo de 2005, 'Riverbend', el autor bagdadí del blog ampliamente leído Baghdad Burning [Bagdad en llamas], informó que lo que la prensa internacional llamaba atentados suicidas eran en realidad a menudo “coches bomba que son detonados por control remoto o por bombas de tiempo.” Después de una de las mayores explosiones recientes, que ocurrió en el área de clase media Ma’moun al oeste de Bagdad, se dice que un hombre que vive en una casa frente al lugar de la explosión fue detenido por haber disparado contra un miembro de la Guardia Nacional. Pero según 'Riverbend', los vecinos contaban una historia diferente:

La gente del área afirma que al hombre se lo llevaron no porque haya disparado contra alguien, sino porque sabía demasiado sobre la bomba. El rumor es que vio pasar a una patrulla estadounidense por el área que se detuvo en el lugar del atentado minutos antes de la explosión. Poco después se alejaron en su vehículo, la bomba estalló y sobrevino el caos. Salió corriendo de su casa gritando a sus vecinos y a los espectadores que los estadounidenses habían colocado la bomba o la habían visto y no habían hecho nada. Se lo llevaron rápidamente.12

También en mayo de 2005, Imad Khadduri, el físico iraquí en el exilio cuyos escritos ayudaron a desacreditar las invenciones estadounidenses y británicas sobre las armas de destrucción masiva, informó sobre una historia de que en Bagdad a un conductor cuyo permiso de conducción había sido confiscado en un punto de control estadounidense le dijeron “que se presentara en un campo militar estadounidense cerca del aeropuerto de Bagdad para ser interrogado y para recuperar su permiso.” Después de interrogarlo durante media hora, le dijeron que no había nada en su contra, pero que su permiso había sido enviado a la policía iraquí en la comisaría de al-Khadimiya para ser “procesado”—y que debía dirigirse rápido a ese lugar antes de que el teniente, cuyo nombre le dieron, terminara su turno.

El conductor partió apurado, pero pronto le alarmó un sentimiento de que su coche se comportaba como si llevara considerable peso, y también sospechó de un helicóptero que volaba a baja altura y que lo sobrevolaba continuamente. Detuvo su coche y lo inspeccionó cuidadosamente. Encontró cerca de 100 kilos de explosivos ocultados en el asiento trasero y a lo largo de las dos puertas traseras. La única explicación posible de este incidente es que definitivamente los estadounidenses le habían colocado bombas al coche y que el objetivo era el distrito chií al-Khadimiya de Bagdad. El helicóptero controlaba sus movimientos y debía presenciar el esperado “horroroso ataque realizado por elementos extranjeros.”13

Según Khadduri, “el mismo guión se repitió en Mosul, en el norte de Irak.” En esta ocasión, el conductor salvó la vida cuando su coche se descompuso en camino a la comisaría donde supuestamente debía recuperar su permiso, y cuando el mecánico al que recurrió “descubrió que el neumático de repuesto estaba completamente repleto de explosivos.”

Khadduri menciona, como algo que merece ser investigado, un “incidente tal vez no relacionado” en Bagdad del 28 de abril de 2005 en el que fue muerto un conductor de camión canadiense con doble nacionalidad canadiense-iraquí. Cita un informe de CBC según el que “Algunos medios mencionaron fuentes no identificadas que dijeron que puede haber muerto después de que fuerzas de EE.UU. ‘rastrearon’ un objetivo, utilizando un helicóptero artillado, pero Relaciones Exteriores dijo que todavía está investigando informes conflictivos sobre la muerte. Funcionarios de EE.UU. han negado toda participación.”14

Otro incidente, también de abril de 2005, exige una investigación con más urgencia, ya que una de sus víctimas sigue en vida. Abdul Amir Younes Hussein, un camarógrafo de CBS, fue ligeramente herido por fuerzas de EE.UU. el 5 de abril “mientras filmaba las consecuencias de un atentado con coche bomba en Mosul.” Las autoridades militares inicialmente se mostraron apologéticas por sus heridas, pero tres días más adelante lo arrestaron por haber estado “involucrado en actividad contra la coalición.”15

Arianna Huffington, en su detallado informe sobre este caso, subraya con mucha razón sus cualidades kakfkaescas: Younes Hussein ha estado ahora detenido, en Abu Ghraib y en otros sitios, durante más de cinco meses—sin acusación, sin la menor señal de la evidencia que el Pentágono pueda tener en su contra, y sin ninguna indicación de que jamás se le vaya a permitir que sea juzgado, que cuestione esa evidencia, y refute las acusaciones que puedan ser presentadas en algún momento en el futuro. Pero aparte de confirmar, una vez más, la voluntad del Pentágono de violar los principios más fundamentales de la jurisprudencia humana y democrática, este caso también provoca una nueva pregunta. ¿Fue tal vez arrestado Younes Hussein, como el iraquí cuya suerte rumoreada fue mencionada por ‘Riverbend’, porque había visto—y en el caso de Younes, fotografiado—más de lo que le convenía?


¿Agentes provocadores?

Portavoces de la ocupación estadounidense y británica de Irak, junto con periódicos como el Daily Telegraph, han rechazado, como era de esperar, con indignación, toda sugerencia de que sus fuerzas hayan participado en operaciones terrorista de bandera falsa en Irak.

Podrían recordar que durante los años ochenta, portavoces del gobierno de Ronald Reagan también hacinaron el ridículo sobre las acusaciones nicaragüenses de que EE.UU. suministraba ilegalmente armas a los 'contras'—hasta que un avión de carga C-123 operado por la CIA repleto de armas fue derribado sobre Nicaragua y Eugene Hasenfus, un manipulador de carga que sobrevivió la caída, testificó que sus supervisores (uno de los cuales era Luis Posada Carriles, el agente de la CIA responsable por el atentado con bomba en 1976 de un avión comercial cubano) trabajaban para el vicepresidente de aquel entonces, George H. W. Bush.

El arresto [por los iraquíes]—y la urgente liberación [por las fuerzas británicas]—de dos soldados británicos clandestinos en Irak podría se interpretado del mismo modo como un haz de luz retrospectivo sobre afirmaciones que no habían sido substanciadas, respecto a la participación de miembros de los ejércitos de ocupación en ataques terroristas con bombas contra civiles.

El paralelo está lejos de ser exacto: en este caso no ha habido confesiones dramáticas como la de Hasenfus, y no ha habido documentos directamente incriminatorios como la bitácora del piloto del C-123 derribado. Existe, además, una marcada falta de consenso sobre lo que realmente ocurrió en Basora. ¿Deberíamos, por lo tanto, junto con Juan Cole, descartar la posibilidad de que soldados británicos estuvieran actuando como agentes provocadores como una “teoría [que] casi no tiene hechos que la apoyen”?16


Miembros de las fuerzas de elite de Gran Bretaña: el SAS

Parece que cuando el 19 de septiembre policías iraquíes suspicaces detuvieron el Toyota Cressida conducido por los soldados británicos encubiertos, los dos hombres abrieron fuego, matando a un policía e hiriendo a otro. Pero los soldados, identificados por la BBC como “miembros de las fuerzas especiales de elite, el SAS,”17 fueron reducidos por la policía y arrestados. Un informe publicado por The Guardian el 24 de septiembre agrega el detalle ulterior de que “se piensa que” los hombres del SAS “se encontraban en una misión de vigilancia delante de una comisaría en Basora cuando fueron encarados por una patrulla de la policía iraquí.”18

Como ha señalado Justin Raimondo en un artículo el 23 de septiembre en, casi todos los demás aspectos de este episodio son cuestionados.19

El Washington Post observó desdeñosamente, en el párrafo dieciocho de su informe sobre estos eventos, que “las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes acusaron diversamente a los dos británicos que detuvieron de disparar a las fuerzas iraquíes o de tratar de colocar explosivos.”20 En realidad, los funcionarios iraquíes los acusaron no de uno, sino de ambos actos.

Fattah al-Shaykh, miembro de la Asamblea Nacional Iraquí, declaró a Al-Jazeera TV el 19 de septiembre que los soldados abrieron fuego cuando la policía trató de arrestarlos, y que su coche llevaba una bomba “y que querían hacerlo estallar en el centro de la ciudad de Basora en el mercado popular.”21 Un comunicado de prensa deliberadamente inflamatorio enviado el mismo día por la oficina de Moqtada al-Sadr (y colocado en su traducción inglesa en el blog de Juan Cole Informed Comment el 20 de septiembre) indica que el arresto de los soldados fue provocado porque habían “abierto el fuego contra pasantes” cerca de una mezquita de Basora, y que se descubrió que tenían “en su posesión explosivos y artefactos de control remoto, así como armas ligeras y medianas y otros accesorios.”22

¿Hasta qué punto es posible creer la afirmación sobre los explosivos? Justin Raimondo escribe que mientras los informes iniciales de la radio de la BBC reconocían que por cierto los dos hombres tenían explosivos en su coche, informes subsiguientes de la misma fuente indicaron que la policía iraquí no encontró nada aparte de “rifles de asalto, una ametralladora ligera, un arma anti-tanques, equipo de radio, y un botiquín. Se piensa que se trata de un equipo estándar para miembros del SAS que operan en un teatro de operaciones.”23

Cabría preguntarse, junto con Raimondo, si un arma anti-tanques es “equipo estándar de operaciones”—o qué uso hombres del SAS en “una misión de vigilancia delante de una comisaría” querían darle. Pero, lo que es más importante, una fotografía publicada por la policía iraquí y distribuida por Reuters muestra que—a menos que el equipo haya sido colocado para inculparlos—los hombres del SAS llevaban un buen poco más que lo que los ítems reconocidos por la BBC.24

Quisiera la opinión de un experto en armas antes de arriesgarme a un juicio definitivo sobre los objetos mostrados, que podrían haber llenado fácilmente el baúl y gran parte del asiento trasero de un Cressida. Pero esta fotografía hace plausible la declaración de Jeque Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, portavoz de la milicia del Ejército Mehdi de Al-Sadr:

Lo que nuestra policía halló en su coche fue muy inquietante—armas, explosivos y un detonador de control remoto. Son armas de terroristas. Creemos que esos soldados estaban planeando un ataque contra un mercado u otros objetivos civiles….25

La feroz determinación del ejército británico por alejar a estos hombres de cualquier peligro de interrogación por sus propios supuestos aliados en el gobierno que los británicos están sosteniendo—incluso aunque su rescate significó la destrucción de una prisión iraquí y la liberación de gran cantidad de prisioneros, tiroteos con la policía iraquí y con el Ejército Mehdi de Al-Sadr, una gran movilización popular contra las fuerzas de ocupación británicas, y el subsiguiente retiro de toda cooperación de parte del gobierno regional—tiende, si no es otra cosa, a apoyar el punto de vista de que este episodio involucró algo mucho más tenebroso y más serio que un simple estallido de mal humor en un punto de control.


Guerra civil auspiciada por EE.UU. Y Gran Bretaña

Hay motivos para creer, además, que la guerra civil que los ataques con coches bomba contra civiles parecen querer provocar no serían una evolución mal recibida desde el punto de vista de las fuerzas de ocupación.

Escritores en los medios corporativos en idioma inglés han señalado repetidamente que los recientes ataques terroristas han causado víctimas masivas entre los civiles parecen querer empujar a Irak hacia una guerra civil de suníes contra chiíes, y de kurdos contra ambos. Por ejemplo, el 18 de septiembre de 2005, Peter Beaumont propuso en The Observer que la matanza de civiles, que atribuye sólo a Al Qaeda, “tiene un solo objetivo: la guerra civil.”26

Pero H.D.S. Greenway ya había sugerido el 17 de junio de 2005 en el Boston Globe que “En vista de la gran cantidad de ataques dirigidos por los suníes contra objetivos chiíes, los emergentes ataques dirigidos por chiíes contra suníes, y los secuestros extralegales de árabes por autoridades kurdas en Kirkuk, hay que preguntarse si la guerra civil iraquí, temida desde hace tanto tiempo, no ha comenzado ya.”27

Y el 21 de septiembre de 2005 Nancy Youssef y Mohammed al Dulaimy deKnight Ridder, Oficina de Washington, escribieron que la limpieza étnica de chiíes en vecindarios predominantemente suníes de Bagdad “procede a un ritmo alarmante y potencialmente desestabilizador,” y citaron el desesperanzado punto de vista de un experto iraquí:

“La guerra se encuentra hoy en día más cerca que en ningún tiempo precedente.” dijo Hazim Abdel Hamid al Nuaimi, profesor de política en la Universidad al-Mustansiriya de Bagdad. “Todas estas explosiones, los esfuerzos de la policía y la purga de vecindarios, constituyen una batalla por el control de Bagdad.”28

Haya o no comenzado o vaya a ocurrir, la erupción de una guerra civil en todo el sentido de la palabra, que conduzca a la fragmentación del país, sería claramente bienvenida en algunos círculos. Estrategas y periodistas israelíes ya propusieron en 1982 que uno de los objetivos estratégicos de su país debería ser la partición de Irak en un Estado chií, un Estado suní, y una parte kurda separada. (Vea “A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s,” Kivunim 14 [February 1982] del funcionario del ministerio de exteriores Oded Yinon,29 o la propuesta similar presentada por Ze’ev Schiff en Ha’aretz durante el mismo mes es mencionada por Noam Chomsky en su libro Fateful Triangle.)30

Una partición de Irak en secciones definidas por el origen étnico y por las diferencias entre suníes y chiíes conllevaría, obviamente, la guerra civil y la limpieza étnica en una escala masiva. Pero esas consideraciones no disuadieron a Leslie H. Gelb de propugnar en el New York Times, el 2 de noviembre de 2003, lo que llamó “La solución de tres Estados.”31

Gelb, ex alto funcionario del Departamento de Estado y del Pentágono, antiguo editor y columnista del New York Times, presidente emérito del Consejo de Relaciones Exteriores, conoce lo confidencial sobre lo confidencial. Y si los ensayos de Yinon y Schiff son algo repugnante, especialmente en el contexto del bombardeo por Israel en 1981 del reactor nuclear Osirak de Irak, sigue existiendo una cierta diferencia entre proponer especulativamente el desmembramiento de un poderoso país vecino, y abogar activamente por el desmembramiento de un país que su propia nación ha conquistado en una guerra de agresión no provocada. Lo primero podría ser descrito como una imaginación enfermiza bélica y criminal; lo último pertenece obviamente a la categoría de crímenes de guerra.

El ensayo de Gelb propone castigar a la insurgencia dirigida por los suníes a través de la separación del centro del actual Irak, en gran parte suní, del norte kurdo rico en petróleo y del sur chií rico en petróleo. Se refiere al desmembramiento de la Federación Yugoslava en los años noventa (con las atroces matanzas la que siguieron), como un “precedente esperanzador”. El ensayo de Gelb ha sido ampliamente interpretado como una señal de la intención de una facción dominante en el gobierno de EE.UU. También ha sido denunciado, correctamente, por Bill Vann como la promoción abierta de “un crimen de guerra de proporciones históricas en el mundo.”32

Considerando la creciente desesperación de los gobiernos estadounidense y británico ante una insurgencia que sus tácticas de masivos arrestos y torturas, el Programa Phoenix33 o los escuadrones de la muerte “de la opción salvadoreña,”34 el uso ilimitado de una abrumadora fuerza militar y el criminal castigo colectivo no han logrado reprimir, no puede sorprender que en recientes acciones militares como el ataque contra Tal Afar, el ejército de EE.UU. haya desplegado tropas peshmerga kurdas y milicias chiíes de un modo que parece diseñado para inflamar los odios raciales.

Nadie, espero, se sorprende ya por el hecho de que Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—esa construcción ficticia de las filas cerradas de pequeños Tom Clancy del Pentágono, ese Dalek de una sola pierna, ese Pimpinela Escarlata del terrorismo, que logra estar aquí, allá, y en todas partes al mismo tiempo—esté tan devotamente dedicado a aterrorizar y a exterminar a sus correligionarios chiíes.

¿Debería sorprendernos en algo, entonces, si vemos evidencia que emerge en Irak de atentados terroristas bajo bandera falsa, realizados por las principales potencias ocupantes? Los servicios secretos y las fuerzas especiales de EE.UU. y de Gran Bretaña, después de todo, ya tenían bastante experiencia en dichos asuntos.





1  Neil Mackay, “British double-agent was in Real IRA's Omagh bomb team,” Sunday Herald (19 agosto 2001),; disponible en HighBeam Research,

2  Neil Mackay, “The army asked me to make bombs for the IRA, told me I had the Prime Minister's blessing ... then tried to kill me,” Sunday Herald (23 junio 2002),; disponible en

3  Neil Mackay, “IRA torturer was in the Royal Marines: Top republican terrorist exposed in court documents as a special forces soldier,” Sunday Herald (15 diciembre 2002),; disponible en

4  Ibid.

5  Véase Michel Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers' Caught driving Booby Trapped Car,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 septiembre 2005),; Larry Chin, “British prison break and blown covert operation, exposes 'war on terrorism lie,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 septiembre 2005),; Mike Whitney, “Who's Blowing up Iraq? New evidence that bombs are being planted by British Commandos,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 septiembre 2005),

6  Kurt Nimmo, “British 'Pseudo-Gang' Terrorists Exposed in Basra,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 septiembre 2005),

7  Esta affirmación fue publicada por la ahora desaparecida SITE Institute, en

8  Como prueba de que el Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi conocido por los lectores de la prensa occidental como un cerebro terrorista principal es una construcción mítica producida por la propaganda, véase Michel Chossudovsky, “Who Is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (11 junio 2004),; Chris Shumway, “Experts Dispute Bush Line on Zarqawi,” (16 July 2004),; Brendan O'Neill, “Blowing up Zarqawi,” Spiked Online (5 octubre 2004),; y Michel Chossudovsky, “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 abril 2006),

9  Dahr Jamail, “Dahr Jamail Blog from Baghdad,” The New Standard (20 abril 2004); disponible en,



12  'Riverbend', “The dead and the undead...,” Baghdad Burning (18 mayo 2005),

13  Imad Khadduri, “'Combat terrorism' by causing it,” (15 mayo 2005),

14  Ibid.

15  Arianna Huffington, “Kafka Does Iraq: The Disturbing Case of Abdul Amir Younes Hussein.” Huffington Post (23 septiembre 2005), (En abril de 2006, siete meses después de la publicación del artículo de Huffington y mi ensayo, fue puesto en libertad: ver “CBS cameraman freed after being held for a year by US military,” Reporters Without Borders [20 April 2006],,16937.html.)

16  “US Bombs Dhulu'iyyah[,] Basra declares Noncooperation,” Informed Comment (22 septiembre 2005),

17  “Iraq probe into soldier incident,” BBC News (20 septiembre 2005),

18  “Iraqi judge issues warrant for British troops,” The Guardian (24 septiembre 2005),,2763,1577575,00.html.

19  Justin Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra,” (24 septiembre 2005),


21  Citado por Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers'.”

22  “Muqtada Al Sadr's Response to Basra,” Informed Comment (20 septiembre 2005),

23  Citado por Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”


25  Citado por Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”

26  Peter Beaumont, “Al Qaeda's slaughter has one aim: civil war,” The Observer (18 septiembre 2005),

27  H.D.S. Greenway, “Facing facts in Iraq,” Boston Globe (17 junio 2005),

28  Nancy Youssef and Mohammed al Dulaimy, “Shiites fleeing Sunni-dominated neighbourhoods,” Knight Ridder Newspapers (21 septiembre 2005).

29  Oded Yinon, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” Kivunim 14 (Invierno 5742, febrero 1982), traducido por Israel Shahak,

30  Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (2nd ed., Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), p. 457.

31  Leslie H. Gelb, “The Three-State Solution,” New York Times (25 noviembre 2003); available at Council on Foreign Relations,

32  Bill Vann, “The New York Times: a proposal for ethnic cleansing in Iraq,” World Socialist Web Site (26 noviembre 2003),

33  El programa Phoenix era un sistema de escuadrones de la muerte y el terrorismo de Estado la tortura de la CIA en Vietnam del Sur entre 1966 y principios de 1970 en la que algunos 82.000 simpatizantes 'Vietcong' fueron “eliminados” y más de 26.000 prisioneros fueron asesinados. Véase Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Metropolitan/Owl Books, 2006), pp. 64-71.

34  En enero de 2005, la revista Newsweek informó que la administración Bush estaba considerando volver a usar en Irak la “Opción El Salvador,” una “estrategia aún secreta” supuestamente de utilizar “los llamados escuadrones de la muerte dirigidos a cazar y matar a los líderes rebeldes y simpatizantes” que había sido utilizado por el gobierno de Reagan en El Salvador en la década de 1980 (citado por Ken Gude, “Roots of Iraq Civil War May Be in 'Salvador Option',” Thinkprogress [2 marzo 2006], “Opción El Salvador” escuadrones de la muerte fueron los responsables por el asesinato de decenas de miles de civiles en El Salvador; véase Tom Gibb, “'Salvador Option' mooted for Iraq,” BBC News (27 January 2005), Hay pruebas claras de que a principios de 2005 el ejército de EE.UU. ya operaba escuadrones de la muerte en Irak; véase Max Fuller, “For Iraq, 'The Salvador Option' Becomes Reality,” Centre for Research on Globalization (2 junio 2005),   

Soldati Britannici delle Forze Speciali posizionavano bombe a Bassora? Sospetti rafforzati da notizie precedenti

This translation of my essay “Were British Special Forces Soldiers Planting Bombs in Basra?” was made “a cura di Oriente” and first published at Come Don Chisciotte on 2 October 2005; it was subsequently published at five other websites on 2005 and 2006. I have made small corrections to the translation at several points, and have added the notes which now appear here as in the English text.


Ricordano tutti lo shock con cui quattro anni fa l'opinione pubblica Britannica accolse la rivelazione che uno dei membri delle unità Real IRA il cui attacco con esplosivi di Omagh del 15 agosto 1998 uccise 29 civili era un doppio agente, un soldato dell'esercito Britannico?

Quel soldato non era l'unico doppio agente terrorista. Un secondo soldato Britannico infiltrato all'interno dell'IRA sostenne di aver avvisato i suoi punti di contatto all'interno del Distretto Reale di Polizia dell'Ulster (Royal Ulster Constabulary, RUC) dell'attacco con un veicolo pieno di esplosivo con 48 ore di anticipo, insieme a “dettagli su una delle squadre e la targa della macchina dell'uomo.” Anche se l'agente aveva fatto una registrazione audio della sua informazione riservata, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, poliziotto capo del RUC, dichiarò che “non fu ricevuta nessuna informazione del genere.”1

Il secondo doppio agente divenne pubblico nel giugno 2002 con la dichiarazione che dal 1981 al 1994, sul libro paga dell'esercito Britannico, aveva lavorato per “la Force Research Unit (FRU), un'ala ultra segreta dell'intelligence militare Britannica,” come talpa dell'IRA. Con la piena conoscenza e approvazione da parte del suo FRU e di appoggi nell'MI5, divenne uno specialista in esplosivi che “mescolava esplosivi e ... contribuiva a sviluppare nuovi tipi di ordigni,” comprese “bombe ad alta sensibilità, attivate da flash fotografici, per superare il problema dei dispositivi di controllo remoto i cui segnali venivano disturbati da radio unità dell'esercito.” Proseguì col diventare “un membro della squadra provvisoria di sicurezza interna dell'IRA—conosciuta anche come “l'unità di tortura”—che interrogava e giustiziava informatori sospetti.”2

Il comandante più temuto di queste stesse “unità di tortura” era anch'egli una talpa, che aveva precedentemente servito nella Royal Marines' Special Boat Squadron (un unità d'elite delle forze speciali, gli equivalenti in Marina del più conosciuti SAS). Una quarta tolpa, un soldato dal nome in codice “Stakeknife” i cui appoggi militari “gli permisero di portare a termine un gran numero di assassinii terroristici con lo scopo di proteggere la sua copertura all'interno dell'IRA,” era ancora attiva nel dicembre 2002 come “uno deo capi provvisori di Belfast.”3

Una prova attendibile emerse anche a fine 2002: che l'esercito Britannico aveva utilizzando i suoi doppi agenti in organizzazione terroristiche “per portare a termine assassinii per procura negli interessi dello Stato Britannico”—il più famigerato nel caso del avvocato di Belfast ed attivista dei diritti civili Pat Finucane, che fu assassinato nel 1989 dalla Protestant Ulster Defence Association (UDA). Para che il FRY passò dettagl su Finucane ad un soldato UK che si era infiltrato nell'UDA; lui, in cambio, “riforni le squadre assassine di informazioni.”4

Eventi recenti a Bassora hanno alimentato sospetti secondo i quali l'esercito Britannico potrebbe aver riattivato queste stesse tettiche in Iraq. Articoli pubblicati da Michel Chossudovsky, Larry Chin e Mike Whitney sul sito del Centro di Recerca sulla Globalizzazione il 20 settembre 2005 hanno efferto delle valutazioni preliminari sulle asserzioni di autorità Irachene secondo le quali i due soldati Britannici in abiti civili che furono arrestati dalla Polizia Irachena a Bassora il 19 settembre—e subito liberati da un assalto effetuato da carri armati ed elicotteri alle prigione in cui erano rinchiusi—erano impegnati a posizione bombe in città.5

Un ulteriore articolo di Kurt Nimmo si rivolge alle operazioni sotto falsa bandiera portate a termine da soldati delle forze speciali in Irlanda del Nord ed altrove, ed alla formazione del P2OG (Proactive Preemptive Operations Group) di Donald Rumsfeld, come direttamente rilevante per le accuse Irachene in probabili operazioni di terrorismo sotto falsa bandiera da parte dei poteri di occupazione in Iraq.6

Queste accuse de parte di funzionari Iracheni riecheggiano con insistenza ma poco fondamento delle affermazioni, che si riconducono al più tardi alla primavera 2004, secondo cui molti degli attacchi bomba sferrati contro obiettivi civili in Iraq son stati effettivamente perpetuati da forze USA e UK piutosto che da ribelli Iracheni.

Contro alcune dichiarazioni di questo tipo si possono respingere vivacemente. A metà maggio 2005, per esempio, un gruppo che si fa chiamare “Al Qaeda in Iraq” accusò soldati USA “di far detonare veicoli pieni d'esplosivo e accusare falsamente gli militanti.”7 Anche per il più credulone, nella migliore delle ipotesi questo potrebbe essere come il caso della teiera che accusa il pentolino di essere sporco di fuliggine. Ma non è chiaro perché tutti vorrebbero credere a questa dichiarazione, dal momento in cui proviene da un gruppo o gruppuscolo che fa intendere di essere guidato dal fantomatico Al Zarqawi8—e pure uno il cui nome stesso si lega a terroristi del genere. Queste persone, se esistono, potrebbero avere loro stessi buone ragioni ad incolpare qualcun altro dei lro crimini.

Altre affirmazioni, comunque, sono nel complesso più preoccupanti.

Il giornalista USA Dahr Jamail il 20 aprile ha scritto che correva voce che la recente ondata di attacchi bomba a Baghdad sarebbe stata opera della CIA: “La voce circolante a Baghdad è che la cessazione di attacchi suicidi con veicoli esplosivi è la dimostrazione che la CIA ne stava dietro. Perché? Perché come dice qualcuno, '[Gli agenti della CIA] sono troppo occupati a combattere adesso, e l'agitazione che volevano provocare con le bombe ora riguarda loro stessi.' Vero o falso, no fa molto bene all'immagine degli occupanti in Iraq.”9

Due giorni dopo, il 22 aprile 2004, l'Agenzia France-Presse riferì che cinque auto esplose a Bassora—tre attacchi quasi simultanei davanti a stazioni di polizia a Bassora che ucciserò 68 persone, inclusi 20 bambini, e due bombe successive—erano imputate ai Britannici dai sostenitori del religioso Sciita Moqtada Al-Sadr. Mentre 800 sostenitori manifestavono fuori dalla sede di Al-Sadr, un suo portavoce dichiarò di avere “le prove che i Britannici erano coinvolti negli attacchi.”10

Un anonimo alto ufficiale militare britannico disse il 22 aprile 2004 riguardo a questi attacchi a Bassora che “somilglia Al-Qaeda. Ne ha tutti i segni distintivi, è stato spettacolare ed è stato simbolico.” Il Generale di Brigata Nick Carter, comandante della guarnigione Britannica a Bassora, affermò più ambiguamente che non era necessario accusare Al-Qaeda dei cinque attacchi, ma che quei responsabili venivano da fuori Bassora e “con buona probabilità” da fuori l'Iraq: “Tutto ciò di cui possiamo essere certi è che è qualcosa che è venuto dall'esterno,” ha detto Carter.11

I sostenitori di Moqtada Al-Sadr ovviamente pensavano la stessa cosa—con la sola differenza che identificavano i criminali esterni come agenti Britannici piuttosto che come mujaheddin Islamici da altri paesi arabi.

Nel maggio 2005 “Riverbend,” l'autore di Baghdad del ben conoscuto blog Baghdad Burning, scrisse che quello che la stampa internazionale riportava come attacchi suicidi erano in realtà molto spesso “veicoli esplosivi sia fatti detonare dell'esterno sia a orologeria.” Dopo una delle principali raffiche recenti, avvenute nella zona della classe media Ma'moun nella parte ovest di Baghdad, un uomo che viveva nella casa di fronte ai luoghi degli attentati fu arrestato, a quanto si dice, per aver sparato ad un soldato della Guardia Nazionale Irachena de un nascondiglio. Ma stando a quanto dice “Riverbend,” i suoi vicini avevano una versione diversa: “Gente del posto dice l'uomo fu portato via non perché avesse sparato a qualcuno, ma perché sapeva qualcosa di troppo riguardo all-esplosione. A quanto pare aveva visto una pattuglia USA che passava nella zona e soffermarsi nel luogo degli attacchi pochi minuti prima delle esplosione. Poco dopo si allontanarono, e quindi ci fu l'esplosione con il caos che ne conseguvistaì. L'uomo corse fuori dalla casa gridando ai vicini e agli astanti che gli Americani o avevano piantato loro la bomba o l'avevano vista ma non avevano fatto niente. Fu prontamente portato via.12

Sempre nel maggio 2005, Imad Khadduri, il fisico Iracheno in esilio i cui scritti hanno aiutato a screditare le menzogne Britanniche e Statunitensi sulle armi di distruzione di massa, riferì della situazione che a Baghdad ad un guidatore a cui era stata ritrata la patente presso un check-point Americano fu detto di “ricarsi in un campo militare USA vicino all'aeroporto di Baghdad per essere interrogato e per recuperare la sua patente.” Dope essere stato interrogato per una mezz'ora gli fu detto che non c'era nulla contro di lui, ma che la sua patente era stata inviata all polizia Irachena all stazione Al-Khadimiya “per la procedura”—e che avrebbe fatto meglio a recarsi in fretta dal luogotenente, di cui gli fu dat il nome, prima che questi finisse il suo turno:

Il guidatore se ne andò in fretta, ma si allarmò presto per l'impressione che la sua macchina stesse guidando come se stesse trasportando un carico pesante, e si insospetti anche di un elicottero che volava basso poco al di sopra di lui, come se lo stesse sequendo. Fermò la macchina e la ispezionò accuramente. Provò quasi 100 kg di esplosivo nascosti sotto il sedile posteriore e lungo le due portiere posteriori. L'unica spiegazione verosimile per questo episodio è che la macchina era stata manomessa in modo esplosivo dagli Americani e volta al distretto Sciita Al'Khadimiya di Baghdad. L'elicottero stava controllando i suoi movimenti e testimoniando in anticipo un “orrendo attacco da parte di elementi esterni.”13

Secondo Khadduri, “La stessa scena si ripetuté a Mosul, nord dell’Iraq.” In questo caso, la vita del conducente fu salvata quando la sua auto ebbe un guasto sulla strada per la stazione di polizia dove si pensa stesse andando a ritirare la sua patente, e quando il meccanico al quale aveva chiesto soccorso “scoprì che la ruota di scorta era stata interamente riempita di esplosivo.”

Khadduri menziona, come meritevole di indagine, un “caso forse non ricollegabile” a Baghdad il 28 aprile 2005, nel quale un camionista Canadese con la doppia cittadinanza Irachena fu ucciso. Riferisce une notizia della CBC secondo la quale “alcuni media hanno citato fonti imprecisate che dicevano che questi sarebbe morto dopo che le forze USA l'avevano seguito come un ogiettivo, usando artiglieria da elicottero, ma agli Affari Esterni dicono che si sta ancora investigando sulle notizie contrastanti della morte. Gli ufficiali USA hanno negato ogni coinvolgimento.”14

Un altro caso, anch'esso nell'aprile 2005, richiede un'inchiesta molto più urgentemente, dal momento che una delle sue vittime è ancora viva. Abdul Amir Younes Hussein, cameraman della CBS, fu lievemente ferito dalle forze USA il 15 aprile “mentre riprendeva le conseguenza di un attacco bomba a Mosul.” Le autorità militari Americane erano all'inizio spiacuti per le sue ferite, ma 3 giorni dopo lo arrestarono col pretesto che “si fosse dato ad attività anti-coalizione.”15

Arianna Huffington, nel suo resoconto dettagliato di questo caso, ne enfatizza giustissimamente le sue qualità kafkiane: Younes Hussein è stato detenuto, ad Abu Graib e altrove, per più di cinque mesi—senza accuse, senza alcuna traccia di quale prova il Pentagono avrebbe potuto muovergli contro, e senza nessuna indicazione se gli sarebbe mai stato permesso di assistere al processo, ricusare quelle prove, e confutare le accuse che gli potrebbero essere mosse in un futuro prossimo. Ma oltre a confermare, ancora una volta, la buona volontà del Pentagono di violare i principi fondamentali basilari del diritto umano e della democrazia, questo caso solleva anche un'altra domanda. Younes Hussein fu forse arrestato, come l'Iracheno la cui vociferata fatalità fu menzionata da “Riverbend,” perché aveva visto, e in questo caso fotografato, più che era buono per lui.


Agenti provocatori?

Dei portavoce dell'occupazione USA e Britannica dell'Iraq, insieme a quotidiani come il Daily Telegraph, hanno naturalmente respinto con indignazione ogni insinuazione che le lore forze potessero essere state coinvolte in operazioni di terrorismo sotto falsa bandiera in Iraq. Andrebbe ricordato che durante gli anni '80 dei portavoce del governo di Ronald Reagan riempirono di ridicolo allo stesso modo le accuse Nicaraguensi secondo le quali gli USA stavano illegalmente rifornendo i “Contras” di armi—fino a quando, successe così, un cargo C-123 pieno di artiglieria diretto dalla CIA fu abbattuto in Nicaragua, e Eugene Hasenfus, un scaricatore che sopravvisse allo schianto, testimoniò che i suoi sovrintendenti (uno dei quali era Luis Posada Carriles, l’agente CIA responsabile nel 1976 dell’abbattimento di un aereo civile Cubano) stavano lavorando per il vice presidente di allora George H. W. Bush.

L’arresto – e la liberazione repentina – dei due soldati Britannici clandestinamente in Iraq si potrebbe interpretare in maniera simile come per gettare un luce retrospettiva sulle inconsistenti affermazioni precedenti riguardo il coinvolgimento di elementi degli eserciti di occupazione in attacchi terroristici contro civili.

Il paragone è lungi dall’essere corretto: in questo caso non ci sono confessioni drammatiche come quella di Hasenfus, e non ci sono documenti direttamente incriminanti come quelli della registrazione del pilota del C-123 abbattuto. C’è, per giunta, una marcata carenza di consenso per quello che è recentemente avvenuto a Bassora. Dovremmo quindi, con Juan Cole, respingere la possibilità che soldati Britannici agissero come agenti provocatori come “una teoria che quasi non ha elementi alle spalle”?16


Membri della Forze Britanniche d'Elite SAS

Sembra che quando il 19 settembre degli agenti di polizia Iracheni sospettosi fermarono la Toyota Cressida che i soldati clandestini Britannici stavano guidando, i due uomini aprirono il fuoco, uccidendo un poliziotto e ferendone un altro. Ma i soldati, identificati dalla BBC come “membri delle forze speciali d’élite SAS,”17 furono bloccati dalla polizia ed arrestati. Un resoconto pubblicato dal Guardian il 24 settembre aggiunge il dettaglio ulteriore “si pensa [che gli uomini dei SAS] fossero in missione di sorveglianza davanti a una stazione di polizia a Bassora quando furono affrontati dalla pattuglia di polizia Irachena.”18

Come ha osservato Justin Raimondo in un articolo pubblicato il 23 settembre su, quasi ogni altro aspetto di questo episodio è controverso.19

Il Washington Post ha osservato prendendo le distanze, nel 18mo paragrafo di un suo rapporto riguardo a questi fatti, che “ufficiali Iracheni della sicurezza hanno accusato distintamente i due Britannici arrestati di aver sparato contro forze Irachene o di aver tentato di posizionare esplosivo.”20 Gli ufficiali Iracheni in realtà li hanno accusati non di una, ma di tutte e due le cose.

Fattah Al-Shaykh, membro dell’Assemblea Nazionale Irachena, ha detto all’emittente Al-Jazeera il 19 settembre che i soldati hanno aperto il fuoco quando la polizia ha tentato di arrestarli, e che la loro macchina era esplosivamente manomessa “e destinata ad esplodere nel centro di Bassora al mercato popolare.”21 Un comunicato stampa deliberatamente infiammato uscito il giorno stesso dalla sede di Moqtada Al-Sadr (e postato e tradotto in Inglese sul blog di Juan Cole Informed Comment il 20 settembre) dice che l’arresto dei soldati fu dovuto al loro “aver aperto il fuoco sui passanti” vicino alla moschea di Bassora, e all’essere stati trovati in possesso di esplosivi e apparecchiature per il controllo a distanza, così come armi leggere e medie più altri accessori.”22

Quale credibilità si può dare alle affermazioni sugli esplosivi? Justin Raimondo scrive che mentre all’inizio le notizie della BBC riconoscevano che i due uomini avevano effettivamente dell’esplosivo nella loro macchina, le notizie successive dalla stessa fonte indicavano che la polizia Irachena non trovò nulla oltre a “fucili d’assalto, una mitragliatrice leggera, un’arma anti-carro, un congegno radio, e kit medici. Si ritiene che questo sia la dotazione standard per le SAS che operano in teatri operativi del genere.”23

Ci si potrebbe benissimo chiedere, insieme a Raimondo, se un’arma anti-carro faccia parte dell’“equipaggiamento standard”—oppure quale uso intendessero farne gli uomini delle SAS durante le “missioni di sorveglianza fuori dalle stazioni di polizia.” Ma, più importante, una foto pubblicata dalla polizia Irachena e distribuita da Reuters mostra che – a meno che l’equipaggiamento non sia una attrezzatura – gli uomini SAS stavano trasportando parecchio più quanto riconosciuto dalla BBC.24

Gradirei conoscere il parere di un esperto in armi prima di arrischiare un giudizio definitivo su quanto detto, chi potrebbe aver facilmente riempito il baule e gran parte dei sedili posteriori di una Cressida. Ma questa foto autorizza l’affermazione di Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, portavoce delle milizie di Al-Sadr: “Quello che la polizia ha trovato nella loro macchina è stato davvero rivoltante—armi, esplosivi, e un detonatore per controllo a distanza. Queste sono armi da terrorista. Noi crediamo che questi soldati stessero pianificando un attacco contro un mercato o altri obiettivi civili….”25

L’ostinata determinazione dell’esercito Britannico di preservare questi uomini da ogni rischio di interrogatorio da parte dei loro presunti alleati al governo è sorprendente—anche quando il loro salvataggio implicava la distruzione di una prigione Irachena e la liberazione di un gran numero di prigionieri, scontri ad arma da fuoco con la polizia Irachena e con le milizie di Al-Sadr, una grande mobilitazione popolare contro le forze di occupazione Britanniche, e la conseguente cessazione di ogni cooperazione di parte del governo regionale—e porta, casomai, a sostenere l’idea che l’episodio abbia implicato qualcosa di più oscuro che non una semplice scaramuccia di teste calde ad un check-point.


Guerra civile sponsorizzata USA-UK

C’è motivo di credere, per di più, che la guerra civile aperta che gli attacchi su civili con veicoli esplosivi sembrano intenzionati a produrre non sarebbe uno sviluppo sgradito agli occhi delle forze occupanti.

Scrittori dei media corporativi di lingua inglese hanno ripetutamente osservato che i recenti attacchi che hanno causato un gran numero di vittime tra i civili paiono sospingere l’Iraq verso una guerra civile tra Sunniti e Sciiti, e i Curdi contro entrambi. Per esempio il 18 settembre 2005 Peter Beaumont ha avanzato l’ipotesi sull’Observer che il massacro di civili, che imputa alla sola Al-Qaeda, “ha un unico scopo: la guerra civile.”26 Ma H.D.S. Greenway aveva già suggerito il 17 giugno sul Boston Globe che “dato il grande numero di attacchi condotti da Sunniti contro obiettivi Sciiti, l’emergere di attacchi Sciiti contro i Sunniti, e il sequestro fuori dalla legalità di Arabi ad opera delle autorità Curde a Kirkuk, ci si deve chiedere se la tanto a lungo temuta guerra civile Irachena non sia in realtà già iniziata.”27 E il 21 settembre 2005 Nancy Youssef e Mohammed al-Dulaimy del Knight Ridder Washington Bureau hanno scritto che la pulizia etnica degli Sciiti in zone nei dintorni di Bagdad a prevalente presenza Sunnita “sta proseguendo ad un ritmo allarmante e potenzialmente destabilizzante”, e hanno citato l’opinione di un esperto Iracheno: “'La guerra civile è più vicina oggi che non in passato,' ha detto Hazim Abdel Hamid al-Nuaimi, professore di scienze politiche all’Università al-Mustansiriya di Bagdad. 'Tutte queste esplosioni, i tentativi alla polizia e l’epurazione nei dintorni sono una battaglia per controllare Bagdad.'”28

Che sia già cominciata o no o che capiti in futuro, lo scoppio di una guerra civile molto accesa, che porterebbe alla frammentazione del Paese, sarebbe chiaramente benvenuta in certi ambienti. Strateghi e giornalisti Israeliani hanno proposto nel lontano 1982 che uno degli obiettivi strategici del loro Paese dovrebbe essere la suddivisione dell’Iraq in uno Stato Sciita, uno Stato Sunnita, e una parte separata Curda (Consultare "A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s," Kivunim 14 [Febbraio 1982] del funzionario del Ministero degli Esteri Oded Yinon;29 una proposta simile avanzata da Ze’ev Schiff su Ha’aretz lo stesso mese è riportata da Noam Chomsky nel suo libro Fateful Triangle.)30

Una divisione dell’Iraq in parti definite dalle etnie e dalle differenze tra Sunniti e Sciiti implicherebbe, abbastanza chiaramente, sia guerra civile che pulizia etnica su vasta scala. Ma queste considerazioni non hanno distolto Lesile H. Gelb dal patrocinare sul New York Times quella che chiama “La Soluzione dei Tre Stati.”31

Gelb, un ex funzionario del Dipartimento di Stato e del Pentagono, un ex editore e curatore di rubriche del New York Times, e presidente emerito del Consiglio per le Relazioni Estere, è un iniziato tra gli iniziati. E se i saggi di Yinon e Schiff sono materiale sgradevole, soprattutto nel contesto del bombardamento Israeliano nel 1981 di un reattore nucleare Iracheno a Osirak, c’è pur sempre qualche differenza tra il proporre teoricamente lo smembramento di un vicino Paese potente, e patrocinare attivamente lo smembramento di un Paese che la propria nazione ha conquistato in una guerra di aggressione da questo non provocata. Il primo si potrebbe descrivere come un fantasticare malato di guerra e criminalità, il secondo appartiene molto chiaramente alla categoria dei crimini di guerra.

Il saggio di Gelb propone di punire la ribellione dei Sunniti separando il grosso centro Sunnita dell’attuale Iraq dal nord Curdo ricco di petrolio e dal sud Sciita ricco di petrolio. Mira allo smembramento della federazione Yugoslava negli anni ’90 (con gli spaventosi massacri che ne sono seguiti) come ad un “promettente procedente.” Il saggio di Gelb è stato largamente interpretato come un indicatore delle intenzioni delle fazioni predominanti nel governo USA. E’ stato anche, molto opportunamente, denunciato da Bill Vann come apertamente istigatore di “un crimine di guerra dalle proporzioni storiche e planetarie.”32

Data la crescente disperazione dei governi Britannico ed Americano nel fronteggiare una rivolta che le loro tattiche di torture ed arresti arbitrari di massa, squadre della morte del Programma Phoenix33 o “opzione Salvadoregna,”34 uso senza controllo di forze militari soverchianti, e punizioni per assassinii collettivi non sono riuscite a reprimere, non sorprende che in azioni militari recenti come l’assalto a Tal Afar l’esercito USA abbia schierato truppe di Peshmerga Curdi e milizie Sciite in un modo che sembra intenzionato ad infiammare i contrasti etnici.

Nessuno, vorrei sperare, è ancora sorpreso dal fatto che Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—quella creazione romanzesca dei ranghi serrati del Pentagono di piccoli Tom Clancies, quel Dalek da una gamba sola, quella Primula Rossa del terrorismo, che riesce ad essere qua e là ed ovunque nello stesso momento35—dovrebbe essere così ferocemente dedito a terrorizzare e sterminare i suoi correligiosi Sciiti.

Dovremmo ancora stupirci, quindi, di veder spuntare in Iraq le prove di attacchi terroristici sotto falsa bandiera orchestrati dai principali poteri occupanti? I servizi segreti e le forze speciali sia degli Usa che della Gran Bretagna dopo tutto hanno una certa esperienza in materia.




1  Neil Mackay, “British double-agent was in Real IRA's Omagh bomb team,” Sunday Herald (19 agosto 2001),; disponibile da HighBeam Research,

2  Neil Mackay, “The army asked me to make bombs for the IRA, told me I had the Prime Minister's blessing ... then tried to kill me,” Sunday Herald (23 giugno 2002),; disponibile da

3  Neil Mackay, “IRA torturer was in the Royal Marines: Top republican terrorist exposed in court documents as a special forces soldier,” Sunday Herald (15 dicembre 2002),; disponibile da

4  Ibid.

5  Vedi Michel Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers' Caught driving Booby Trapped Car,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 settembre 2005),; Larry Chin, “British prison break and blown covert operation, exposes 'war on terrorism lie,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 settembre 2005),; Mike Whitney, “Who's Blowing up Iraq? New evidence that bombs are being planted by British Commandos,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 settembre 2005),

6  Kurt Nimmo, “British 'Pseudo-Gang' Terrorists Exposed in Basra,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 settembre 2005),

7  Questa affermazione è stata pubblicata dalla ormai defunta SITE Institute,

8  Per le prove che l'Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi noto ai lettori della stampa occidentale come un leader terrorista mente è un costrutto mitico prodotto dalla propaganda, vedi Michel Chossudovsky, “Who Is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (11 giugno 2004),; Chris Shumway, “Experts Dispute Bush Line on Zarqawi,” (16 luglio 2004),; Brendan O'Neill, “Blowing up Zarqawi,” Spiked Online (5 ottobre 2004),; e Michel Chossudovsky, “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 aprile 2006),

9  Dahr Jamail, “Dahr Jamail Blog from Baghdad,” The New Standard (20 aprile 2004); disponibile da,



12  'Riverbend', “The dead and the undead...,” Baghdad Burning (18 maggio 2005),

13  Imad Khadduri, “'Combat terrorism' by causing it,” (15 maggio 2005),

14  Ibid.

15  Arianna Huffington, “Kafka Does Iraq: The Disturbing Case of Abdul Amir Younes Hussein.” Huffington Post (23 settembre 2005), (Nell'aprile 2006, sette mesi dopo la pubblicazione dell'articulo e il mio saggio, è stato liberato: vedere “CBS cameraman freed after being held for a year by US military,” Reporters Without Borders [20 aprile 2006],,16937.html.)

16  “US Bombs Dhulu'iyyah[,] Basra declares Noncooperation,” Informed Comment (22 settembre 2005),

17  “Iraq probe into soldier incident,” BBC News (20 settembre 2005),

18  “Iraqi judge issues warrant for British troops,” The Guardian (24 settembre 2005),,2763,1577575,00.html.

19  Justin Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra,” (24 settembre 2005),


21  Citato da Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers'.”

22  “Muqtada Al Sadr's Response to Basra,” Informed Comment (20 settembre 2005),

23  Citato da Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”


25  Citato da Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”

26  Peter Beaumont, “Al Qaeda's slaughter has one aim: civil war,” The Observer (18 settembre 2005),

27  H.D.S. Greenway, “Facing facts in Iraq,” Boston Globe (17 giugno 2005),

28  Nancy Youssef e Mohammed al Duhaimy, “Shiites fleeing Sunni-dominated neighbourhoods,” Knight Ridder Newspapers (21 settembre 2005).

29  Oded Yinon, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” Kivunim 14 (Inverno 5742, febbraio 1982), tradotto da Israel Shahak,

30  Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (2nd ed., Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), p. 457.

31  Leslie H. Gelb, “The Three-State Solution,” New York Times (25 novembre 2003); disponibile da Council on Foreign Relations,

32  Bill Vann, “The New York Times: a proposal for ethnic cleansing in Iraq,” World Socialist Web Site (26 novembre 2003),

33  Il programma Phoenix era un sistema di squadroni della morte e la tortura terrorismo di Stato, gestito dalla CIA in Vietnam del Sud tra il 1966 e primi anni 1970, in cui alcuni 82.000 simpatizzanti 'Vietcong' sono stati “eliminati,” e più di 26.000 prigionieri sono stati ucisi. Vedi Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Metropolitan/Owl Books, 2006), pp. 64-71.

34  Nel gennaio 2005, Newsweek ha riferito che l'amministrazione Bush stava contemplando riutilizzando in Iraq la “opzione Salvador,” una “strategia ancora-secret” si suppone di utilizzare “cosiddetti squadroni della morte rivolte a dare la caccia e uccidere i leader ribelli e simpatizzanti” che era stato usato dalla amministrazione Reagan in El Salvador nel 1980 (citato da Ken Gude, “Roots of Iraq Civil War May Be in 'Salvador Option',” Thinkprogress [2 marzo 2006], “Opzione Salvador” squadroni della morte sono stati responsabili per l'assassinio di decine di migliaia di civili in El Salvador; vedi Tom Gibb, “'Salvador Option' mooted for Iraq,” BBC News (27 gennaio 2005), Vi è la prova evidente che entro l'inizio del 2005, l'esercito degli Stati Uniti è stato già operativo squadroni della morte in Iraq; vedi Max Fuller, “For Iraq, 'The Salvador Option' Becomes Reality,” Centre for Research on Globalization (2 giugno 2005),

35  L'eroe del romanzo di Baronessa Orczy The Scarlet Pimpernel (La Primula Rossa, 1905), fissato al momento della Rivoluzione francese, è un aristocratico inglese che sotto apparenze affettato è un soccorritore brillantemente efficace di aristocratici francesi condannati alla ghigliottina, è egli stesso l'autore di versi beffardi suo aspiranti rapitori: “Lo cercano qui, lo cercano lì, / Quei Francesi lo cercano dappertutto ....” In televisione britannica serie Dr. Who, Daleks sono malvagi robot su ruote che cercano costantemente di distruggere il buon scienziato. Zarqawi, secondo una considerazione di lui, aveva perso una gamba, ma secondo un altro, era abbastanza agile da saltare da un camion in movimento e la fuga a piedi dalle forze speciali americane soldati che lo stavano perseguendo. 

Were British Special Forces Soldiers Planting Bombs in Basra? Suspicions Strengthened by Earlier Reports

This essay was first published at the Centre for Research on Globalization (25 September 2005),, and subsequently reproduced online at thirty-five other websites between 2005 and 2010. In October 2005 it was translated into Italian and Spanish; these versions appeared at a further fifteen websites in 2005-06. As originally published, the footnotes were replaced by parenthetical URLs, most of which are no longer active. In the present text, the original notes have been replaced. With the exception of notes 8, 15, 33, and 34, which refer to material published in 2006, and note 35, which is also new, the essay has not been updated.

For a fine recent analysis of some of the issues touched on at the end of this essay, see Derek Gregory, “Baghdad Burning: neo-liberalism and the counter-city,” a paper prepared for the 12th Mediterranean Research Meeting, Florence, 6-9 April 2011,

Does anyone remember the shock with which the British public greeted the revelation four years ago that one of the members of the Real IRA unit whose bombing attack in Omagh on August 15, 1998 killed twenty-nine civilians had been a double agent, a British army soldier?

That soldier was not Britain's only terrorist double agent. A second British soldier planted within the IRA claimed he had given forty-eight hours advance notice of the Omagh car-bomb attack to his handlers within the Royal Ulster Constabulary, including “details of one of the bombing team and the man's car registration.” Although the agent had made an audio tape of his tip-off call, Sir Ronnie Flanagan, chief constable of the RUC, declared that “no such information was received.”1

This second double agent went public in June 2002 with the claim that from 1981 to 1994, while on full British army pay, he had worked for “the Force Research Unit, an ultra-secret wing of British military intelligence,” as an IRA mole. With the full knowledge and consent of FRU and MI5 handlers, he became a bombing specialist who “mixed explosive and ... helped to develop new types of bombs,” including “light-sensitive bombs, activated by photographic flashes, to overcome the problem of IRA remote-control devices having their signal jammed by army radio units.” He went on to become “a member of the Provisional IRA's 'internal security squad'—also known as the 'torture unit'—which interrogated and executed suspected informers.”2

The much-feared commander of that same “torture unit” was likewise a mole, who had previously served in the Royal Marines' Special Boat Squadron (an elite special forces unit, the Marines' equivalent to the better-known SAS). A fourth mole, a soldier code-named “Stakeknife” whose military handlers “allowed him to carry out large numbers of terrorist murders in order to protect his cover within the IRA,” was still active in December 2002 as “one of Belfast's leading Provisionals.”3

Reliable evidence also emerged in late 2002 that the British army had been using its double agents in terrorist organizations “to carry out proxy assassinations for the British state”—most notoriously in the case of Belfast solicitor and human rights activist Pat Finucane, who was murdered in 1989 by the Protestant Ulster Defence Association. It appears that the FRU passed on details about Finucane to a British soldier who had infiltrated the UDA; he in turn “supplied UDA murder teams with the information.”4

Recent events in Basra have raised suspicions that the British army may have reactivated these same tactics in Iraq.

Articles published by Michel Chossudovsky, Larry Chin, and Mike Whitney at the Centre for Research on Globalization's website on September 20, 2005 have offered preliminary assessments of the claims of Iraqi authorities that two British soldiers in civilian clothes who were arrested by Iraqi police in Basra on September 19—and in short order released by a British tank and helicopter assault on the prison where they were being held—had been engaged in planting bombs in the city.5

A further article by Kurt Nimmo points to false-flag operations carried out by British special forces troops in Northern Ireland and elsewhere, and to Donald Rumsfeld's formation of the P2OG, or Proactive Preemptive Operations Group, as directly relevant to Iraqi charges of possible false-flag terror operations by the occupying powers in Iraq.6

These accusations by Iraqi officials echo insistent but unsubstantiated claims, going back at least to the spring of 2004, to the effect that many of the terror bombings carried out against civilian targets in Iraq have actually been perpetrated by U.S. and British forces rather than by Iraqi insurgents.

Some such claims can be briskly dismissed. In mid-May 2005, for example, a group calling itself “Al Qaeda in Iraq” accused U.S. troops “of detonating car bombs and falsely accusing militants.”7 For even the most credulous, this could at best be a case of the pot calling the kettle soot-stained. But it's not clear why anyone would want to believe this claim, coming as it does from a group or groupuscule purportedly led by the wholly mythical al-Zarqawi8—and one whose very name affiliates it with terror bombers. These people, if they exist, might have good reason to blame their own crimes on others.

Other claims, however, are cumulatively more troubling.

The American journalist Dahr Jamail wrote on April 20, 2004 that the recent spate of car bombings in Baghdad was widely rumoured to have been the work of the CIA:

The word on the street in Baghdad is that the cessation of car bombings is proof that the CIA was behind them. Why? Because as one man states, “[CIA agents are] too busy fighting now, and the unrest they wanted to cause by the bombings is now upon them.” True or not, it doesn't bode well for the occupiers' image in Iraq.9

On April 22, 2004, Agence France-Presse reported that five car-bombings in Basra on the preceding day—three near-simultaneous attacks outside police stations in Basra that killed sixty-eight people, including twenty children, and two follow-up bombings—were being blamed by supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on the British. While eight hundred supporters demonstrated outside Sadr's offices, a Sadr spokesman claimed to have “evidence that the British were involved in these attacks.”10

An anonymous senior British military officer said on April 22, 2004 of these Basra attacks that “It looks like Al-Qaeda. It's got all the hallmarks: it was suicidal, it was spectacular and it was symbolic.” Brigadier General Nick Carter, commander of the British garrison in Basra, stated more ambiguously that Al Qaeda was not necessarily to blame for the five bombings, but that those responsible came from outside Basra and “quite possibly” from outside Iraq: “'All that we can be certain of is that this is something that came from outside,' Carter said.”11 Moqtada al-Sadr's supporters of course believed exactly the same thing—differing only in their identification of the criminal outsiders as British agents rather than as Islamic mujaheddin from other Arab countries.

In May 2005, 'Riverbend', the Baghdad author of the widely-read blog Baghdad Burning, reported that what the international press was reporting as suicide bombings were often in fact “car bombs that are either remotely detonated or maybe time bombs.” After one of the larger recent blasts, which occurred in the middle-class Ma'moun area of west Baghdad, a man living in a house in front of the blast site was reportedly arrested for having sniped an Iraqi National Guardsman. But according to 'Riverbend', his neighbours had a different story:

People from the area claim that the man was taken away not because he shot anyone, but because he knew too much about the bomb. Rumor has it that he saw an American patrol passing through the area and pausing at the bomb site minutes before the explosion. Soon after they drove away, the bomb went off and chaos ensued. He ran out of his house screaming to the neighbours and bystanders that the Americans had either planted the bomb or seen the bomb and done nothing about it. He was promptly taken away.12

Also in May 2005, Imad Khadduri, the Iraqi-exile physicist whose writings helped to discredit American and British fabrications about weapons of mass destruction, reported a story that in Baghdad a driver whose license had been confiscated at an American check-point was told “to report to an American military camp near Baghdad airport for interrogations and in order to retrieve his license.” After being questioned for half an hour, he was informed that there was nothing against him, but that his license had been forwarded to the Iraqi police at the al-Khadimiya station “for processing”—and that he should get there quickly before the lieutenant whose name he was given went off his shift.

The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling that his car was driving as if carrying a heavy load, and he also became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering overhead as if trailing him. He stopped the car and inspected it carefully. He found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the back seat and along the two back doors. The only feasible explanation for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the Americans and intended for the al'Khadimiya Shiite district of Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the anticipated “hideous attack by foreign elements.”13

According to Khadduri, “The same scenario was repeated in Mosul, in the north of Iraq.” On this occasion, the driver's life was saved when his car broke down on the way to the police station where he was supposed to reclaim his license, and when the mechanic to whom he had recourse “discovered that the spare tire was fully laden with explosives.”

Khadduri mentions, as deserving of investigation, a “perhaps unrelated incident” in Baghdad on April 28, 2005 in which a Canadian truck-driver with dual Canadian-Iraqi citizenship was killed. He quotes a CBC report according to which “Some media cited unidentified sources who said he may have died after U.S. forces “tracked” a target, using a helicopter gunship, but Foreign Affairs said it's still investigating conflicting reports of the death. US officials have denied any involvement.”14

Another incident, also from April 2005, calls more urgently for investigation, since one of its victims remains alive. Abdul Amir Younes Hussein, a CBS cameraman, was lightly wounded by US forces on April 5 “while filming the aftermath of a car bombing in Mosul.” American military authorities were initially apologetic about his injuries, but three days later arrested him on the grounds that he had been “engaged in anti-coalition activity.”15

Arianna Huffington, in her detailed account of this case, quite rightly emphasizes its Kafkaesque qualities: Younes Hussein has now been detained, in Abu Graib and elsewhere, for more than five months—without charges, without any hint of what evidence the Pentagon may hold against him, and without any indication that he will ever be permitted to stand trial, challenge that evidence, and disprove the charges that might at some future moment be laid. But in addition to confirming, yet again, the Pentagon's willingness to violate the most fundamental principles of humane and democratic jurisprudence, this case also raises a further question. Was Younes Hussein perhaps arrested, like the Iraqi whose rumoured fate was mentioned by 'Riverbend', because he had seen—and in this case photographed—more than was good for him?


Agents provocateurs?

Spokesmen for the American and British occupation of Iraq, together with newspapers like the Daily Telegraph, have of course rejected with indignation any suggestion that their forces could have been involved in false-flag terrorist operations in Iraq.

It may be remembered that during the 1980s spokesmen for the government of Ronald Reagan likewise heaped ridicule on Nicaraguan accusations that the US was illegally supplying weapons to the 'Contras'—until, that is, a CIA-operated C-123 cargo aircraft full of weaponry was shot down over Nicaragua, and Eugene Hasenfus, a cargo handler who survived the crash, testified that his supervisors (one of whom was Luis Posada Carriles, the CIA agent responsible for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban civilian airliner) were working for then-Vice-President George H.W. Bush.

The arrest—and the urgent liberation—of the two undercover soldiers in Iraq might in a similar manner be interpreted as casting a retrospective light on previously unsubstantiated claims about the involvement of members of the occupying armies in terrorist bombing attacks on civilians.

The parallel is far from exact: in this case there has been no dramatic confession like that of Hasenfus, and there are no directly incriminating documents like the pilot's log of the downed C-123. There is, moreover, a marked lack of consensus as to what actually happened in Basra. Should we therefore, with Juan Cole, dismiss the possibility that British soldiers were acting as agents provocateurs as a “theory [that] has almost no facts behind it”?16


Members of Britain's Elite SAS Forces

It appears that when on September 19 suspicious Iraqi police stopped the Toyota Cressida the undercover British soldiers were driving, the two men opened fire, killing one policeman and wounding another. But the soldiers, identified by the BBC as “members of the SAS elite special forces,”17 were subdued by the police and arrested. A report published by The Guardian on September 24 adds the further detail that the SAS men “are thought to have been on a surveillance mission outside a police station in Basra when they were challenged by an Iraqi police patrol.”18

As Justin Raimondo has observed in an article published on September 24 at, nearly every other aspect of this episode is disputed.19

The Washington Post dismissively remarked, in the eighteenth paragraph of its report on these events, that “Iraqi security officials variously accused the two Britons they detained of shooting at Iraqi forces or trying to plant explosives.”20 Iraqi officials in fact accused them not of one or the other act, but of both.

Fattah al-Shaykh, a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, told Al-Jazeera TV on September 19 that the soldiers opened fire when the police sought to arrest them, and that their car was booby-trapped “and was meant to explode in the centre of the city of Basra in the popular market.”21 A deliberately inflammatory press release sent out on the same day by the office of Moqtada al-Sadr (and posted in English translation at Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog on September 20) states that the soldiers' arrest was prompted by their having “opened fire on passers-by” near a Basra mosque, and that they were found to have “in their possession explosives and remote-control devices, as well as light and medium weapons and other accessories.”22

What credence can be given to the claim about explosives? Justin Raimondo writes that while initial BBC Radio reports acknowledged that the two men indeed had explosives in their car, subsequent reports from the same source indicated that the Iraqi police found nothing beyond “assault rifles, a light machine gun, an anti-tank weapon, radio gear, and a medical kit. This is thought to be standard kit for the SAS operating in such a theater of operations.”23 One might well wonder, with Raimondo, whether an anti-tank weapon is “standard operating equipment”—or what use SAS men on “a surveillance mission outside a police station” intended to make of it. But more importantly, a photograph published by the Iraqi police and distributed by Reuters shows that—unless the equipment is a plant—the SAS men were carrying a good deal more than just the items acknowledged by the BBC.24

I would want the opinion of an arms expert before risking a definitive judgment about the objects shown, which could easily have filled the trunk and much of the back seat of a Cressida. But this photograph makes plausible the statement of Sheik Hassan al-Zarqani, a spokesman for Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia:

What our police found in their car was very disturbing—weapons, explosives, and a remote control detonator. These are the weapons of terrorists. We believe these soldiers were planning an attack on a market or other civilian targets....25

The fierce determination of the British army to remove these men from any danger of interrogation by their own supposed allies in the government the British are propping up—even when their rescue entailed the destruction of an Iraqi prison and the release of a large number of prisoners, gun-battles with Iraqi police and with Al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia, a large popular mobilization against the British occupying force, and a subsequent withdrawal of any cooperation on the part of the regional government—tends, if anything, to support the view that this episode involved something much darker and more serious than a mere flare-up of bad tempers at a check-point.


US-UK Sponsored Civil War

There is reason to believe, moreover, that the open civil war which car-bomb attacks on civilians seem intended to produce would not be an unwelcome development in the eyes of the occupation forces.

Writers in the English-language corporate media have repeatedly noted that recent terror-bomb attacks which have caused massive casualties among civilians appear to be pushing Iraq towards a civil war of Sunnis against Shiites, and of Kurds against both. For example, on September 18, 2005 Peter Beaumont proposed in The Observer that the slaughter of civilians, which he ascribes to Al Qaeda alone, “has one aim: civil war.”26 But H.D.S. Greenway had already suggested on June 17, 2005 in the Boston Globe that “Given the large number of Sunni-led attacks against Shia targets, the emerging Shia-led attacks against Sunnis, and the extralegal abductions of Arabs by Kurdish authorities in Kirkut, one has to wonder whether the long-feared Iraqi civil war hasn't already begun.”27 And on September 21, 2005 Nancy Youssef and Mohammed al Dulaimy of the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau wrote that the ethnic cleansing of Shiites in predominantly Sunni Baghdad neighbourhoods “is proceeding at an alarming and potentially destabilizing pace,” and quoted the despairing view of an Iraqi expert:

“Civil war today is closer than any time before,” said Hazim Abdel Hamid al Nuaimi, a professor of politics at al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. “All of these explosions, the efforts by police and purging of neighbourhoods is a battle to control Baghdad.”28

Whether or not it has already begun or will occur, the eruption of a full-blown civil war, leading to the fragmentation of the country, would clearly be welcomed in some circles. Israeli strategists and journalists proposed as long ago as 1982 that one of their country's strategic goals should be the partitioning of Iraq into a Shiite state, a Sunni state, and a separate Kurdish part. (See foreign ministry official Oded Yinon's “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” Kivunim 14 [February 1982];29 a similar proposal put forward by Ze'ev Schiff in Ha'aretz in the same month is noted by Noam Chomsky in his book Fateful Triangle.)30

A partitioning of Iraq into sections defined by ethnicity and by Sunni-Shia differences would entail, obviously enough, both civil war and ethnic cleansing on a massive scale. But these considerations did not deter Leslie H. Gelb from advocating in the New York Times, on November 25, 2003, what he called “The Three-State Solution.”31

Gelb, a former senior State Department and Pentagon official, a former editor and columnist for the New York Times, and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, is an insider's insider. And if the essays of Yinon and Schiff are nasty stuff, especially in the context of Israel's 1981 bombing attack on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor, there is still some difference between speculatively proposing the dismemberment of a powerful neighbouring country, and actively proposing the dismemberment of a country that one's own nation has conquered in a war of unprovoked aggression. The former might be described as a diseased imagining of war and criminality; the latter belongs very clearly to the category of war crimes.

Gelb's essay proposes punishing the Sunni-led insurgency by separating the largely Sunni centre of present-day Iraq from the oil-rich Kurdish north and the oil-rich Shia south. It holds out the dismembering of the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s (with the appalling slaughters that ensued) as a “hopeful precedent.” This essay has been widely interpreted as signalling the intentions of a dominant faction in the US government. It has also, very appropriately, been denounced by Bill Vann as openly promoting “a war crime of world-historic proportions.”32

Given the increasing desperation of the American and British governments in the face of an insurgency that their tactics of mass arbitrary arrest and torture, Phoenix-program33 or “Salvadoran-option” death squads,34 unrestrained use of overwhelming military force, and murderous collective punishment have failed to suppress, it comes as no surprise that in recent military actions such as the assault on Tal Afar the US army has been deploying Kurdish peshmerga troops and Shiite militias in a manner that seems designed to inflame ethnic hatreds.

No one, I should hope, is surprised any longer by the fact that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi—that fictional construct of the Pentagon's serried ranks of little Tom Clancies, that one-legged Dalek, that Scarlet Pimpernel of terrorism, who manages to be here, there, and everywhere at once35—should be so ferociously devoted to the terrorizing and extermination of his Shiite co-religionists.

Should we be any more surprised, then, to see evidence emerging in Iraq of false-flag terrorist bombings conducted by the major occupying powers? The secret services and special forces of both the US and Britain have, after all, had some experience in these matters.




1  Neil Mackay, “British double-agent was in Real IRA's Omagh bomb team,” Sunday Herald (19 August 2001),; available at HighBeam Research,

2  Neil Mackay, “The army asked me to make bombs for the IRA, told me I had the Prime Minister's blessing ... then tried to kill me,” Sunday Herald (23 June 2002),; available at

3  Neil Mackay, “IRA torturer was in the Royal Marines: Top republican terrorist exposed in court documents as a special forces soldier,” Sunday Herald (15 December 2002),; available at

4  Ibid.

5  See Michel Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers' Caught driving Booby Trapped Car,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 September 2005),; Larry Chin, “British prison break and blown covert operation, exposes 'war on terrorism lie,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 September 2005),; Mike Whitney, “Who's Blowing up Iraq? New evidence that bombs are being planted by British Commandos,” Centre for Research on Globalization (20 September 2005),

6  Kurt Nimmo, “British 'Pseudo-Gang' Terrorists Exposed in Basra,” Centre for Research on Globalization (24 September 2005),

7  This claim was published by the now-defunct SITE Institute, at

8  For evidence that the Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi known to readers of the western press as a leading terrorist mastermind is a mythical construct produced by propaganda, see Michel Chossudovsky, “Who Is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi?” Centre for Research on Globalization (11 June 2004),; Chris Shumway, “Experts Dispute Bush Line on Zarqawi,” (16 July 2004),; Brendan O'Neill, “Blowing up Zarqawi,” Spiked Online (5 October 2004),; and Michel Chossudovsky, “Who is behind 'Al Qaeda in Iraq'? Pentagon acknowledges fabricating a 'Zarqawi Legend',” Centre for Research on Globalization (18 April 2006),

9  Dahr Jamail, “Dahr Jamail Blog from Baghdad,” The New Standard (20 April 2004); available at,



12  'Riverbend', “The dead and the undead...,” Baghdad Burning (18 May 2005),

13  Imad Khadduri, “'Combat terrorism' by causing it,” (15 May 2005),

14  Ibid.

15  Arianna Huffington, “Kafka Does Iraq: The Disturbing Case of Abdul Amir Younes Hussein.” Huffington Post (23 September 2005), (In April 2006, seven months after the publication of Huffington's article and my essay, he was released: see “CBS cameraman freed after being held for a year by US military,” Reporters Without Borders [20 April 2006],,16937.html.)

16  “US Bombs Dhulu'iyyah[,] Basra declares Noncooperation,” Informed Comment (22 September 2005),

17  “Iraq probe into soldier incident,” BBC News (20 September 2005),

18  “Iraqi judge issues warrant for British troops,” The Guardian (24 September 2005),,2763,1577575,00.html.

19  Justin Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra,” (24 September 2005),


21  Quoted by Chossudovsky, “British 'Undercover Soldiers'.”

22  “Muqtada Al Sadr's Response to Basra,” Informed Comment (20 September 2005),

23  Quoted by Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”


25  Quoted by Raimondo, “Bizarro Basra.”

26  Peter Beaumont, “Al Qaeda's slaughter has one aim: civil war,” The Observer (18 September 2005),

27  H.D.S. Greenway, “Facing facts in Iraq,” Boston Globe (17 June 2005),

28  Nancy Youssef and Mohammed al Dulaimy, “Shiites fleeing Sunni-dominated neighbourhoods,” Knight Ridder Newspapers (21 September 2005).

29  Oded Yinon, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” Kivunim 14 (Winter 5742, February 1982), trans. Israel Shahak,

30  Noam Chomsky, Fateful Triangle: The United States, Israel, and the Palestinians (2nd ed., Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1999), p. 457.

31  Leslie H. Gelb, “The Three-State Solution,” New York Times (25 November 2003); available at Council on Foreign Relations,

32  Bill Vann, “The New York Times: a proposal for ethnic cleansing in Iraq,” World Socialist Web Site (26 November 2003),

33  The Phoenix program was a system of death-squad and torture state terrorism run by the CIA in South Vietnam between 1966 and the early 1970s in which some 82,000 'Vietcong' sympathizers were “eliminated,” and more than 26,000 prisoners were killed. See Alfred W. McCoy, A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation, from the Cold War to the War on Terror (New York: Metropolitan/Owl Books, 2006), pp. 64-71.

34  In January 2005, Newsweek reported that the Bush administration was contemplating re-using in Iraq the “Salvador option,” a supposedly “still-secret strategy” of using “so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers” that had been used by the Reagan administration in El Salvador in the 1980s (quoted by Ken Gude, “Roots of Iraq Civil War May Be in 'Salvador Option',” Thinkprogress [2 March 2006], “Salvador option” death squads were responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of civilians in El Salvador; see Tom Gibb, “'Salvador Option' mooted for Iraq,” BBC News (27 January 2005), There is clear evidence that by the beginning of 2005 the US army was already operating death squads in Iraq; see Max Fuller, “For Iraq, 'The Salvador Option' Becomes Reality,” Centre for Research on Globalization (2 June 2005),

35  The hero of Baroness Orczy's novel The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905), set at the time of the French Revolution, is an English aristocrat who beneath a foppish exterior is a brilliantly effective rescuer of French aristocrats condemned to the guillotine; he is himself the author of doggerel verses mocking his would-be captors: “They seek him here, they seek him there, / Those Frenchies seek him everywhere....” In the British television series Dr. Who, Daleks are evil robots-on-wheels who seek constantly to destroy the good scientist. Zarqawi, according to one account of him, had lost a leg, but according to another, was agile enough to leap from a moving truck and escape on foot from American special forces soldiers who were pursuing him.