“for neither conscious nor shame ought to have any influence upon you… those who obtain great power do so either by force or fraud, and having got them they conceal under some honest name the foulness of their deeds”. – Irving Kristol, quoting Machiavelli
Lying and deception are traits ingrained in the post-modern political world we inhabit today. Worse still, is the continued unaccountability and societal indifference to the consequences of these traits. This remains the case despite wars initiated upon on blatant lies, ulterior motives and utter deception. The Iraq war comes to mind, however, it is frequently isolated as a case of bad planning and a blip in the normally “virtuous” causes of Western violence in the Middle East. Few recall that the massively delayed and strategically released (Jack Straw’s Brexit silver-lining) Chilcot report went through a sanitisation process with documents and correspondences blocked at the behest of the Americans. Whistle-blowers like Katharine Gun and her leaks demonstrating underhanded tactics to convince UN Security Council delegates to favour war, were ignored. It matters little that a grinding genocide has taken place over the course of the War on Terror.
Every facet of the Iraq war and the accompanying War on Terror is doused in deception.
From Fake Al-Qaeda Videos to Domestic Black Propaganda
Earlier this month, a report emerged which should have convulsed the Western political landscape. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the British PR firm Bell Pottinger was contracted by the Pentagon for covert military operations. As part of these operations, the firm produced “fake al-Qaeda videos”/Arab news features and distributed them, i.e. propaganda utilising American footage of Al-Qaeda attacks to ultimately prop the Western military machine. There are question marks over how much of the footage was actually real, and of course whether the US and Britain actually contributed to the very “radicalisation” processes it loudly seeks to ostensibly inhibit.
Interestingly, as Simon Hooper noted, former employee of Bell Pottinger, Richard Chalk, went onto head the Home Office propaganda unit RICU. Chalk, who is fuelled by “religious conviction”, later established the PR firm Breakthrough media with other former Bell Pottinger employees. The company is an effective Home Office front organisation that has produced black propaganda for supposedly “independent” counter-extremism organisations. The propaganda, in other words, has been used subterfugically to discriminatorily target the Muslim minority. Highlighting the parallels between the strategies employed in Iraq and the RICU/Breakthrough Media black propaganda operations in Britain, Professor David Miller highlighted further possible deception in inflating the terror threat:
“We have no idea whether all these supposed ISIS recruiters are real or not. And it’s not just that they are doing it in the abstract to spy on people. It’s actually part of the propaganda campaign to suggest that there is more of a threat than there is.”
Those who were selling democracy to invaded locals in Iraq are now selling policies of persecution like PREVENT to Muslims in Britain.
The trickery permeating the soft-end of the War on Terror (counter-extremism) recently took on a new turn.
Rashad Ali the “Peace Activist” who Works for Warmongering Neocons
Reports stretching across the Murdoch press, the Standard and the Daily Mail covered how peace activists protested the lack of calls for Assad to step down. Interestingly, the press morphed this into “Corbyn’s failure to call for regime change” – rhetoric specifically associated with the neoconservative habit of invading and then installing puppet regimes to preserve Western interests à la Iraq, Afghanistan and the failed attempt in Libya. As I covered in a previous blog, the catastrophic geopolitical interplay between the major powers meant that Britain’s ally, the US had decided to jointly bomb anti-Assad rebel targets alongside Russia, creating a distinctly uncomfortable position where both the “West” and the “East” empowered Assad at the expense of the Syrian people (the agreement has now disintegrated). Indeed, Assad has support from Britain’s right-wing Anglican neocons whom have their eyes firmly set on “eliminating” Islam. “Intervention” from both sides are condemnable and must be called out, whilst consistency in criticism is the ideal.
However, there is a world of difference in calling for this consistency and deceptive exploitation of a just protest by those who prop and support the draconian domestic policies of warmongering neoconservatives.
Planted amongst the activists was Rashad Zaman Ali, a counter-terrorism consultant who delivers counter-extremism “interventions” and training. Though his name was conspicuously missing from the main reports, an image of Ali featured boldly, with him stridently thrusting his finger exclaiming “what about Aleppo”. The report was swiftly picked up by Maajid Nawaz, who contrasted the “silence” on Aleppo with hypothetical public reaction to Israeli belligerency.
The Quilliam Foundation was founded by Ali, Ed Husain and Nawaz under the auspices of pro-Israel neoconservative Michael Gove (as well as David Green, the director of neocon think-tank Civitas). Gove in his book, Celsius 7/7 articulates the security paradigm in which aspects of Islam are “Islamist”, Muslim attire, for instance, is justifiably viewed through the prism of the War on Terror, and civil liberties should be “curtailed”. On Western violence, Gove supported the invasion of Iraq as well as the accompanying destabilisation of neighbouring countries. He also claimed that the problem with Iraq was that not enough “force” was used, whilst the devastation of Fallujah, and the killings in Jenin were cases of “exemplary military force” which was “beneficial”. Ali’s associations with neoconservatives extends to the hate-financed think-tank Henry Jackson Society (see here also), whose associate director Douglas Murray is a known extremist neocon with a vitriolic hatred of Islam and Muslims. Placing aside Husain and Nawaz (Nawaz’s pro-Israel activism is well-documented on the blog (here and here), whilst Husain serves as a senior advisor to Tony Blair’s war-thirsty think-tank Tony Blair Faith Foundation), I have yet to see Ali raising his finger in a public, media-backed spectacle at Murray for his discriminatory views, support for wars, torture and extrajudicial drone assassinations, which he describes as “moral”. Neither, I believe, shall we see Ali accost Gove for his shocking views supporting extreme Western violence in the Middle East.
Whilst Ali himself may not agree with all these views, he sees no problem with ingratiating himself with such warmongers and pro-Israel activists. Indeed, when it comes to actively creating pretexts for policies of persecution like Britain’s PREVENT Strategy, Ali is known to actively subvert Muslim communities and then later financially benefit from the resultant political Islamophobia vis-à-vis the disproven Trojan Hoax.
Ali is also a fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. As I have elucidated in some detail before, the organisation is key in shaping the (neocon/pro-Israel) narrative for the global counter-extremism industry. Its former Board of Trustees President was George Weidenfeld, a pro-Israeli who co-signed a petition which states that, “Israeli land concessions, will never bring peace”, alongside neocon extremists like warmongering Norman Podhoretz, Michael Ledeen, and the Zionist Nina Rosenwald, financier of the multimillion dollar Islam-hating industry. Weidenfeld, it should also be noted, was the “inspiration” for Michael Gove’s Celsius 7/7. The result of these insidious links and connections means that Ali himself has acted as a conduit for Netanyahu-style Zionist disinformation.
With such a questionable profile, the context of Ali’s publicity stunt cannot be excised. Why would the right-wing media, which has been comparatively mute on Russia’s belligerency and bombings over the past year care about the suffering of the Syrian people and plaster a picture of Ali? Theresa May, after all, recently refused to call the indiscriminate bombing by Assad/Russian forces war crimes on the basis that it was “for the courts to decide when a war crime had been committed.” Yet the media did not descend into a frenzy. There are two issues which are crucial for neoconservatives and pro-Israel activists domestically: opposition to PREVENT, and preserving the influence of Israel in the corridors of power. The Labour party is ground-zero for a Zionist onslaught to regain control of both sides of the political spectrum in favour of Israeli interests – the same faction for whom Rashad works. Meanwhile, the current direction of the Labour party is also at odds with the counter-extremism agenda and therefore Rashad’s income. It seems the pro-Israel spin machine has harnessed the counter-extremism industry’s usual suspects with the aim of continuing the destabilisation, by hijacking the concerns of peace activists.
Whether it is spinning the reasons for warring in a land which is now enveloped in flames, or the counter-extremism “messaging” targeting the Muslims, deception continues to pulsate through the veins of the monstrosity that is the unending War on Terror. The choreography with Rashad Ali is an example of how deceptive agendas materialise in a subtle, exoterically positive manner.
There is little doubt that the suffering of the Syrian people caused by foreign bombing campaigns and the dark geopolitical designs which ultimately emboldened a lunatic dictator, sinks the hearts of Muslims around the world. Indeed, the historic Muslim support of Labour is in jeopardy if the party continues to obfuscate its position on clear Russian aggression in Aleppo. At the same time, it is important to recognise the hypocritical exploitation of opposition to this aggression by those with underlying toxic agendas. Ali and his counter-extremism consorts whom are agents for the neocon cold war side of the hot war taking place in the Middle East are certainly not people in whom hope for genuine humanitarian efforts can be placed.