Modern psychological operations, or PSYOP,... is not unlike the public
advertising that we are all exposed to wherever we go, every day, through
all kinds of mass media. (US
Airborne, Psychological Operations/Warfare )
The Pentagon has released yet another mysterious video allegedly discovered
in April by US forces in a hideout in the Al-Yusufiyah neighborhood of southern
Baghdad. The video portrays "Terror Mastermind" Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi
acting in a "foolish" and "incompetent" fashion. He appears
"confused" on how to handle a US M-249 squad automatic weapon (SAW),
which every US serviceman learns from day one.
To view the Zarqawi video clip (MSNBC) click
Without further examination, the US media concurs in chorus: the video is authentic
and the enemy is "incompetent". Echoing the official Pentagon statement,
the video, which portrays Zarqawi in US-style sneakers, mishandling a US produced
machine gun, is casually categorized as "Al Qaeda propaganda", apparently
intended to boost Zarqawi's image among his numerous followers. According to
CBS Charles Osgood: "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the most wanted terrorist in
Iraq, obviously wanted to show his followers and the world
what a fierce and fearsome warrior he is. So on one of his recent propaganda
videotapes, he's seen in the desert firing long bursts from a machine gun."
(CBS, 5 May 2006, emphasis added)
In the words of Major Rich Lynch, Commander of Coalition Forces in Iraq: :
"He's very proud of the fact that he can operate this machine gun. Here
is Zarqawi, the ultimate warrior, trying to shoot his machine gun. He's shooting
single shots. He looks down, can't figure it out. Calls his friend to come
unblock the stoppage.... He's wearing his black uniform and his New Balance
tennis shoes, as he moves this white pickup truck, and his close associates
around him, his trusted advisers, do things like grab the hot barrel of a
machine gun and burn themselves." (CNN, 5 May 2006)
Apparently the version of the video found by US forces in the safe house in
the Al-Yusufiyah neighborhood is not the Al Qaeda "cleansed up propaganda
version" meant for viewing by Al Qaeda sympathizers in the Middle East.
The US military managed to get its hands on the complete unedited raw footage
"showing what Zarqawi's people apparently edited out, showing Zarqawi talking
into the camera while fumbling and having trouble shooting the weapon in the
automatic mode until somebody shouts for a soldier to go help him out"
(CBS, op cit.). And this is the version which is also being aired on Iraqi television.
Who is Incompetent? Zarqawi or the US Military?
The video portrays "Enemy Number One" as "foolish" and
unable to operate a machine gun. Zarqawi's US made sneakers become a talking
point on network television. The American media not only applauds, it expands
at length on the ridicule surrounding Zarqawi without begging the "obvious"
question: If terror mastermind Al Zarqawi is really incompetent, why is it that
the US military and intelligence apparatus with its sophisticated weaponry and
multibillion dollar budget is unable to defeat him? In the words of Britain's
Sunday Times: "[T]he most devastating American firepower cannot find, let
alone suppress, Al-Qaeda's Musab al-Zarqawi,..."
If you believe the Pentagon's new line on how silly Zarqawi really is, does
this not also point to "weaknesses" of the US military in waging an
effective "war on terrorism" in Iraq?
Turning Point in Pentagon PSYOP
The "incompetence" of Zarqawi seems at odds with previous media reports
where he is presented as the skillful mastermind, capable of deceiving US military
and intelligence operatives, possessing dangerous weapons of mass destruction
and capable of waging a second 911 attack on America using handmade chemical
and biological weapons.
In Colin Powell's historic presentation to the UN Security Council on 5 February
2003, Zarqawi is upheld as a casus belli, working in cahoots with Saddam.
He is portrayed as leading an international network of terrorist operatives,
involved in attacks in different parts of the World. He was allegedly coordinating
a chemical weapons plant in Northern Iraq prior to the US invasion, he also
had links to the Tehran government; he was said to behind the 2005 Amman bombings
as well as supporting Jemiah Islami, the Southeast Asian Islamic network accused
of the 2002 Bali bombings in Indonesia. And now the Pentagon says, quoting the
raw footage of an al Qaeda sponsored video: he is "incompetent" and
unable to handle an automatic weapon. Meanwhile, the US has set up an elaborate
military command structure (US Northern Command) to protect the homeland against
Zarqawi and bin Laden..
Whose propaganda program are we dealing with? Zarqawi's or the Pentagon's?
The answer to this question was provided in a recent article in the Washington
Post. Released barely a few weeks earlier, the article provides details on leaked
internal military documents which confirm the existence of a PSYOP "Zarqawi
program" at the Pentagon. (WP.
10 April 2006 ) The latter consists in creating a "Zarqawi Legend"
by feeding disinformation into the news chain:
`"The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military
documents. "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response," one
U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed three methods: "Media
operations," "Special Ops (626)" (a reference to Task Force
626, an elite U.S. military unit assigned primarily to hunt in Iraq for senior
officials in Hussein's government) and "PSYOP," the U.S. military
term for propaganda work..." (WP
. 10 April 2006, further
In this regard, the senior commander entrusted with Pentagon's PSYOP operation
is General Kimmitt who now occupies the position of senior planner at US Central
Command (USCENTCOM), responsible for directing operations in Iraq and the Middle
East confirms that
"There was clearly an information campaign to raise the public awareness
of who Zarqawi was, primarily for the Iraqi audience but also with the international
A goal of the campaign was to drive a wedge into the insurgency by emphasizing
Zarqawi's terrorist acts and foreign origin, said officers familiar with the
program. "Through aggressive Strategic Communications, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
now represents: Terrorism inIraq/Foreign Fighters in Iraq/Suffering of Iraqi
People (Infrastructure Attacks)/Denial of Iraqi Aspirations," the same
briefing asserts... (Ibid)
Is the recently released video, which consists in ridiculing rather than villainizing
"Enemy Number One", part of the Zarqawi PSYOP program?
According to US military sources, the purpose of psychological operations (PSYOP)
is "to demoralize the enemy by causing dissension and unrest among
his ranks, while at the same time convincing the local population to support
American troops. (U.S. Army
Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command, See also History
of Psychological Operations/Warfare ).
The practice of "successful propaganda" in relation to the Iraq war
has gone well beyond the official boundaries contained in military manuals.
Propaganda creates an "outside enemy". Al Qaeda led by Osama and Al
Qaeda in Iraq led by Zarqawi. Al Qaeda is behind most news stories regarding
the "war on terrorism" including the suicide attacks. What is rarely
mentioned is that this outside enemy Al Qaeda is a CIA "intelligence asset",
used in covert operations.
There is evidence that the many of the "Al Qaeda in Iraq" sponsored
suicide attacks on civilians are being conducted by US-UK special forces or
by US sponsored paramilitaries.
In March, an American "security contractor" was found with explosives
in his car. In September 2005, two British Special Forces disguised as Arabs,
wearing wigs and traditional Arab headscarves were arrested by Iraqi police
while driving a booby trapped car loaded with ammunition towards the center
of Basra at the height of a major religious event. (Click for further
details) These operations, which are now an integral part of war propaganda,
serve to villainize the Iraqi resistance, as well as weaken the antiwar protest
movement in the US and Western Europe.
Michel Chossudovsky is the author of the international
best seller "The
Globalization of Poverty " published in eleven languages. He is
Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Center
for Research on Globalization, at www.globalresearch.ca
. He is also a contributor to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. His most recent
book entitled: America’s
"War on Terrorism", Global Research, 2005, contains a detailed
analysis of the role of Zarqawi in the Adminstration's disinformation campaign.
For details on Chossudovsky's book America's
"War on Terrorism", click here.