Did the U.S. invent al-Qaeda boss Zarqawi?

Is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi the big al-Qaeda bogeyman the Bush administration has made him out to be? He has been labeled the mastermind behind the resistance in Iraq and responsible for massacring civilians there.

But there is reason to believe that may all be a bunch of hype and disinformation planted by the administration. Western media, according to Professor Michel Chossudovsky, editor of Global Research.ca, have consistently depicted Zarqawi as a brutal terrorist, but said nothing about the Pentagon’s disinformation campaign, which has been known and documented since 2002.

The Washington Post recently published that the role of Zarqawi has been deliberately “magnified” by the Pentagon in an attempt to gain support for the “war on terror.” Chossudovsky said: “The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military documents. ‘Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response,’ one 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.”

The Post reported the military propaganda program has “largely been aimed at Iraqis, but seems to have spilled over into the U.S. media. One briefing slide about U.S. “strategic communications” in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the “home audience” as one of six major targets of the American side of the war.”

Also, an internal document produced by U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, says “the Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date.”

The senior commander and senior planner at the U.S. Central Command, responsible for operations in Iraq and the Mideast, Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, said: “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 audience.”

Officers familiar with the program said one of its goals was to create a split in the resistance by stressing Zarqawi’s terrorist acts and foreign origin. He was to be painted as representing terrorism in Iraq, foreign fighters and the reason for the suffering of the Iraqi people.

U.S. propaganda efforts in Iraq in 2004 cost $24 million, but much of that went for construction of offices and housing for the troops involved, and for radio broadcasts and thousands of leaflets bearing Zarqawi’s face.

An officer informed about the program said it was run concurrently with a related operation “led by the Lincoln Group, a U.S. consulting firm.” The Washington Post, in its April 10 edition, asserted there is no relationship between the Pentagon’s PSYOP program and the one run by the Lincoln Group on the Pentagon’s behalf.

And just who is the Lincoln Group? Its Web site says it is a telecommunications and public relations consulting company. It has recently been under investigation for planting fake news stories in Iraqi newspapers, according to SourceWatch. The executive vice president of the group is Christian Bailey, who, until 1998, was Christian Jozefowicz. He changed his name in that year.

He formed a partnership with Paige Craig, a former U.S. Marine intelligence officer with service in Iraq. Early in 2003, Bailey formed a Lincoln subsidiary, the Lincoln Alliance Corp., which said it offered “tailored intelligence services [for] government clients faced with intelligence challenges.”

Bailey then organized another subsidiary, Iraqex, which was awarded a $6 million Pentagon contract to begin “an aggressive advertising and PR campaign that will accurately inform the Iraqi people of the coalition’s goals and gain their support.”

In 2004-2005, Bailey was a member of Lead 21, an organization linking business and politics. He served as New York City co-chairman for the Republican National Convention/U.S. presidential election, 2004. Bailey was a founding member of Lead 21.

In fall 2004, he entered a partnership with the Rendon Group, another U.S. public relations group that was a key player in promoting Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress, the source of much of the disinformation about the Iraq war and the Hussein regime.

The U.S. media have made Zarqawi responsible for the resistance in Fallujah, Tal Afar and Samarra. He is held accountable for the Amman hotel bombings and the terrorist attacks in several Western capitals. The Washington Post places him squarely behind the suicide bombers.

Internal military documents leaked to The Washington Post confirm the Pentagon is involved in a continuing propaganda campaign that tries to give a face to the enemy. Its purpose is to present the enemy as a terrorist, to mislead public opinion.

Chossudovsky states: “Counterterrorism and war propaganda are intertwined. The propaganda apparatus feeds disinformation into the news chain. The objective is to present the terror groups as ‘enemies of America,’ responsible for countless atrocities in Iraq and around the world. The underlying objective is to galvanize public opinion in support of America’s Middle East war agenda.

“The ‘war on terrorism’ rests on the creation of one or more evil bogeymen, the terror leaders Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and others, whose names and photos are presented ad nauseam in the daily news reports. Without Zarqawi and bin Laden, the ‘war on terrorism’ would lose its reason for being. The Pentagon documents leaked to The Washington Post regarding Zarqawi have revealed that al-Qaeda in Iraq is fabricated.”

From the May 3-9, 2006, issue

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