'Den efterfølgende reportage indeholder forstyrrende billeder'

[Og bare rolig, du får billederne at se i den indlejrede video længere nede Balder]

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Dette er hvordan BBC’s hjemmeside introducerer en reportage lavet af BBC-korrespondenterne Ian Pannell og Darren Conway for programmet 'Panorama' den 30. august 2013.

Reportagen blev ledsaget af en video angiveligt optaget tæt på Aleppo i det nordlige Syrien af en anonym skolelærer, som dokumenterer eftervirkningerne af et angreb med napalm på hans skole, angiveligt begået af Syriens væbnede styrker den 26. august.

Ifølge historien havde Bashar al-Assads 'onde styrker', på et tidspunkt hvor de lige havde etableret deres strategiske fordel over regeringsfjendtlige oprørsstyrker og de fremmede lejesoldater som de havde bekæmpet i mere end to år, ikke bedre at gøre end at angribe en skole, et mål uden militær betydning af nogen art, med ikke mindre end napalm, lige i tide så de internationale medier, og især Panorama, kunne viderebringe historien til det vestlige publikum så det faldt sammen med det britiske parlaments afstemning omkring den såkaldte "humanitære intervention" i Syrien som statsminister David Cameron skubbede på for at få gang i, angiveligt for netop at undgå lige præcis denne slags ugerninger.

Var Assads styrker virkelig så dumme? Selvfølgelig ikke!

Det tog ikke ret lang tid før adskillige internationale kommentatorer og observatører påpegede de mange usandsynligheder i videoen og historien generelt. Blandt dem var den italienske forfatter Francesco Santoianni viste hvor dårlig historien hang sammen, og kom med mistanke om at hele videoen kunne have været en fabrikation.

Det som følger her er hans analyse.

(Slut oversættelse af introduktionen.)

Og den analyse kan jeg forsikre om er lige så spændende at læse som en kriminalroman, og konklusionen er chokerende.

Herfra fortsættes på engelsk:

First of all, Napalm is a substance which generates temperatures between 800 and 1,200 degrees Celsius: in other words, no one has ever survived direct exposure. These physical characteristics mean that when Napalm was utilised in theatres of war, it was primarily used to defoliate areas covered with thick vegetation, and not urban areas, where white phosphorus is more often used, as the United States Armed Forces did in Falluja in 2005, and the Israeli Defence Forces did in Gaza in 2008.

Ikke direkte relateret - indsat af Balder  
Democratic Libyan TV-station Libya Alhurra’s new Head of News - Danish journalist Jeppe Nybroe; sacked for manipulating Iraq war news in Denmark  
Systematic Torture.. (enlarge image)  
Last year's 'Jeppe' May 18, 2011  
Steen Noerskov [Nørskov] DR [enlarge]  

Allegedly 'live footage' of torture of Syrian demonstrators was presented with great pathos while warning of 'extremely graphic images', and a rare critical question from the studio residing host to the 'reporter in the field'; Steen Noerskov [Nørskov] about the authenticity of these images was woven away. The caption under the at times very unclear pictures was 'Syria -SYSTEMATIC TORTURE'.

Denmark's Radio (DR) stressed that the footage was authentic, that the source who had delivered them was trustworthy, and that the Arabic dialect that was heard in the video was a Syrian dialect. More: Danish state TV - Danmark's Radio admits anti Syrian propaganda based on false images of torture

More Danish media manipulation below  
Above: Screenshot from tabloid B.T. March 18, 2011: 'War against Gaddafi - Small girls slaughtered in spite of cease fire'. No further explanation! Click for large image.  
Rasmus Tantholdt glorifying NATO's WMD  

Nevertheless, the BBC expected its viewers to believe that Assad’s forces had employed the obsolete napalm on a school. Of course, a school with no teaching resources in sight, but somehow a swimming pool in the back.

Oh, and a swing. Case closed: it MUST be a school. Although, we are told by our sources in Syria that the school year did not start until September 15: so what exactly were all those people doing in a locked-up school?

In the video, we were also shown a pair of winter shoes – not clear how they ended up there: it was after all August – and a woman’s shoe. Was all this footwear worn by the victims? How did it remain intact?

Almost every British newspaper which reported the story informed us that 'The attack killed more than ten pupils and left many more seriously injured': and yet, despite the warning against graphic images, we are not shown the bodies, or the grieving parents.

There is – to be sure – a child, seeing shaking in one scene. His skin is actually intact, and so is his hair: certainly not consistent with napalm, or anything like it. And what is the white stuff on his body?

Surely, it cannot be the chemical fired from the fighter jets – that wouldn’t have left his hair intact – therefore we must assume that it’s some kind of first-aid ointment, of sorts? Whoever administered it could not even be bothered to remove the watch from the kid’s wrist. In fact, no one seems to be attending this child: the only person with some kind of interest is the cameraman.

Somewhat less convincing is a couple, seen in the video going through the well-rehearsed motions of cursing in Arabic.

There is a problem though: the woman’s face is covered in that same white stuff: and the couple has just arrived to the so-called hospital, so it cannot be 'some kind of first-aid ointment'. It must be the 'napalm-like chemical'. We are expected to believe that a 'napalm-like' chemical, fired from a fighter jet, somehow ended up sprayed on this woman’s face leaving her veil intact?

We also see what is supposed to be a makeshift hospital. On the floor, five adult males are shaking – three of them still have their clothes perfectly intact, of course – although one of them at some point stands up and walks off, having presumably decided that he’s had enough.

By the way, we keep seeing paramedics from the so-called charity Hand in Hand for Syria supposedly handling chemical burns victims without any gloves on – but wearing gas masks, for some reason. And even a dust mask: what’s that? The woman in question is of course Dr. Rola, the star of this video [segment introducing Dr. Rola]

Then, of course, we get the obligatory segment showing a distraught local, venting his powerless rage at the International Community, invariably denounced as inefficient and perennially locked in futile negotiations.

The Public Relations rules dictate that such a character must be somehow connected with the tragedy (no details given), and that, when he addresses the camera, he must not speak in the local language – which would only sound like terrorist gibberish to most Western audiences: rather, he has to produce an impromptu speech in an impeccable English, so impeccable to the point of sounding scripted and well-rehearsed, or even read off a prompter. After all, these PR rules did work for Libya.

All these absurdities were exposed almost immediately after the release of the video on the BBC’s channels. So why talk about them again now?

Well, one reason is that the BBC itself, presumably after receiving dozens of complaints from viewers who didn’t appreciate their intelligence being insulted, decided to salvage what little they could from the story, and delete the biggest blooper of all.

BBC created product intended to steer public opinion

And this is where it gets creepy. Because what follows leads one to believe that this was not the case of the BBC naively buying into a story packaged and sold to them by the anti-Assad PR machine (it wouldn’t have been the first time), but rather that the BBC itself actively created a product that was intended to steer the public opinion towards a more interventionist position. For such a product, there can only be one definition: propaganda.

What happened was that Human Rights activist Craig Murray, among others, realised that, between the first and the second release of the video, something was different in the lines spoken by Dr. Rola. Listen to the original one, containing references to napalm.

The reference to napalm has disappeared in the redacted version

Both audio clips have the same identical sound quality: of course, there is very little that cannot be accomplished with the kind of technology that’s available to the British Broadcasting Corporation, thanks in part to the fact that Dr. Rola was wearing her exaggerated dust mask, which conveniently did away with all the challenges involved in dubbing, lip-synch, etc.

However, the redacted audio clip must have been added at a much later stage, for reasons we have just explored, which prompts us to ask: how can we even be sure that the original audio clip was not scripted and recorded in a studio?

The Role of the BBC in the Syrian Conflict - Uploaded 2 november 2013
Rinaldo Francesca

Also, Robert Stuart, writing on the Media Lenses Forum, points out that Dr Saleyha Ahsan, featured in the new version of the video, is a filmmaker with a military background: a former Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps and a freelance current affairs journalist. Was she involved in packaging this product?

  'Dr. Rola - Hand in Hand for Syria'
  BBC 31 augt 2013 - Syria crisis: Doctor criticises Miliband over MPs' vote

The background of Dr. Rola herself is also interesting.

Of course, she’s no stranger to the BBC: here she can be seen appearing on a political programme, advocating for the bombing of Syria.

Also of interest is the fact that the Charity Hand in Hand for Syria, where Dr. Rola supposedly works as a volunteer medic, happens to sport a flag of the French colonial era on its logo – a flag now adopted by the Anti-Assad Coalition. This is an affiliation which the BBC did not see fit to disclose to its viewers.

For those who still believe in whatever is left of the BBC’s reputation for upholding the mediatic standards of fair and balanced reporting, here is some useful information about another so-called 'charity'. The BBC Media Action (formerly the BBC World Service Trust), with its catchy slogan: 'Transforming Lives through Media around the World'.

In an interesting report available on its website, BBC Media Action explains:

'In 2008, BBC Media Action launched its three-year project ‘Socially Responsible Media Platforms in the Arab World’ with funding from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Syria News was the official Syrian partner, endorsed by the Ministry of Information on behalf of the BBC. The project aimed to set up an interactive online training platform, the Ara2 [opinions] Academy, for Syria’s journalistic and blogging communities, creating networks between the two.

This reflected the changing status of bloggers in the regional media and responded to their aspiration to be seen as credible social commentators. The project also supported Syria News as an example of a sustainable independent media organisation, with managerial staff taking part in study tours in London and in business development training.

BBC Media Action did not work with a local partner on blogger training, as this could have alienated and excluded parts of the blogging community.

Instead, the BBC collaborated with an informal network of bloggers from across the country and recruited mentors for the distance learning system (the Ara2 Academy) who were trained at workshops in London and Damascus'.

One could not have wished for a clearer description of a Trojan horse, funded by one government in order to destabilize another. Just to go over the timeline again: the three-year BBC Action Syria Project started in 2008.

The 'Syrian uprising' began in February 2011.


Apophenia.org 3 november 2013 - The role of the BBC in the Syrian conflict

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