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Meyssan: British Government Runs Jihadi Propaganda in Syria

March 21, 2018 (EIRNS)—On March 16, Thierry Meyssan, president and founder of Voltaire Network think tank published a report describing the three main jihadi groups remaining in Eastern Ghouta, that are not Jabhat al Nusra (al-Qaeda)—Jaish al Islam, Faylaq al Rahman, and Ahrar al Sham—including a capsule history of each group and their ideologies which is broadly coherent with what is already publicly known about them. This alone would be of interest, but Meyssan concludes with something of far greater strategic significance. He states that all three groups have highly polished propaganda operations, as can be seen through their websites and social media accounts. “All of this communication material is manufactured by the United Kingdom,” he writes, by an outfit called the Research, Information and Communications Unit, or RICU.

“Starting from the chemical weapons case in the summer of 2013, the RICU financed an external company to assist the communication of combatants in Syria (and subsequently those of Yemen). It was initially Regester Larkin, then Innovative Communications & Strategies (InCoStrat). Both companies are headed by an MI6 officer, Colonel Paul Tilley.”

RICU, which is a joint operation of the Foreign Office and the Home Office, was headed, for a time, by one Jonathan Allen, now the U.K.’s deputy UN ambassador. “He is currently leading the Security Council against Russia and Syria,” Meyssan concludes.

According to his official biography posted by the U.K. government, Allen founded the RICU in 2007 and headed it until 2012, when he took up the post of U.K. ambassador to Bulgaria which he held until 2015, when he returned to the FCO as Director, National Security and concurrently as Acting Director General, Defence and Intelligence until April 2017 when he moved to New York. Allen’s successor as the head of RICU was one Richard Chalk, who came to RICU from the PR firm Bell Pottinger.

Further research shows RICU to be a shadowy propaganda unit. What coverage is available on it mostly focuses on its “counter-radicalization” program called “Prevent” which ostensibly is aimed at convincing British Muslims not to join extremist groups like ISIS. According to a 2016 article in the Guardian, their methods are highly deceptive, in that they hire big PR firms, their favorite being one called Breakthrough Media Network Ltd., to run public information programs that hide the fact that the origin of the information that they spread is a government agency. RICU describes itself as engaged in “strategic communications” which “aims to effect behavioural and attitudinal change” says one RICU document seen by the Guardian.

Meyssan appears to be one of very few investigators who connect RICU to the jihadi groups in Syria. One March 14, 2017 article, in a location called the Dawn News which links back to a May 26, 2016 French video report by Meyssan (with a Spanish-language transcript), reporting that the Foreign Office has put InCoStrat in charge of communication and propaganda for both the White Helmets and the jihadi groups.

“Both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the White Helmets are aligned with the goals set by an organism created by the British government to supervise all of the propaganda and communication against Syria,”

that organism being RICU, Dawn News reports.

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