With Al Qaeda on the back foot in Idlib, certain Western journalists haven’t lost their will to use the situation in the province for a bit of Russia bashing and many seem unconcerned that their efforts are ill-thought out and ridiculous as we see in this recent instance.
A few chosen journos (such as Alex Crawford) venture into the Al Qaeda-controlled area, guided by the likes of Hadi Abdallah and given (relatively) safe passage on the tacit understanding they will support the Jihadi propaganda effort. Now hacks at BBC Arabic have found a new angle, interspersing footage from insurgent propagandists such as the UK government funded White Helmets with some anti-Russian rhetoric which they no doubt feel will benefit their future careers.
The latest from the UK state-funded propaganda outfit is a 9:18 piece purporting to prove a Russian double tap strike on Maarat al Numan, a town which stands directly in the path of any attempts to rid Idlib of its foreign-funded al Qaeda problem. A double-tap strike is a technique employed, according to Wikipedia, by Saudi Arabia and the UAE in Yemen and by the United States in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, so there may be an element of projection on the part of the BBC journos – perhaps aware, somewhere in the back of their minds, that the state for whose propaganda arm they work is instrumental in the ongoing destruction of Yemen.
Anyhow, a certain SM Nader, Producer, Investigations Unit, Digital Documentaries seems to be claiming the credit for the OSINT behind the “Idlib ‘double tap’ air strike Russia says never was” mini-doc.
So there are a number of problems with Nadar’s mini-doc. The first that sprang to view was that the proof of a double-tap seems to lie in the position of a shadow proving there was a second strike 30 minutes after the first. This conflicts with the 25 page report of the SN4HR group which said the second strike was just 5 minutes after the first.
It is difficult to see how such a large discrepancy can be explained but Nader appeared unconcerned saying “eyewitnesses” had said 15-20 minutes – which appears to do little to settle the issue.
The next problem lay in the identification of the target which the BBC team give as a vegetable market. The Russians claimed the Maarat al Numan vegetable market was undamaged but the BBC scoffed at this saying it was a different market – and they have a picture of a falafel stall next to a destroyed building to prove it.
Nadar had no reply when it was pointed out to him that Obada Zekra, the ubiquitous Director of the White Helmets for Maarat al Numan had said the attack took place at the end of the street leading to the vegetable market near a motorcycle repair shop.
Analysis of the BBC video threw up another couple of problems. The first is that the graphic showing where star witness Mohammed al-Sharawy was supposedly initially filming from in his pajamas appears to be in the wrong street.
But, more seriously for the credibility of the BBC’s work (if anyone still takes their work seriously) – and the main point of this article – is that there is an amazing coincidence of images from near the beginning and a few minutes into the mini-doc.
At 00.08 we see film from a cameraman exiting a White Helmet vehicle dashing to the scene. Still:
At 03.28 we are told we are seeing footage filmed by star witness Mohammed al-Sharawy as he runs from cover immediately after the 2nd hit. Still:
The problem being the cameraman is clearly one and the same – knocking the BBC narrative for six.
The BBC film concerned:
So, what we have is a very sloppy BBC attempt to blame the Russians for a war crime (of using the US and Saudi double-tap technique). The “evidence” is based on very poorly understood video, most likely provided to them by Al Qaeda-linked propagandists and their attempted use of OSINT – a shadow to ascertain the time of a purported second strike – actually throws even more doubt on the veracity of their whole narrative.
For details of the BBC response and further analysis see this later post