by Ilya Tsukanov
According to the hacktivist collective, the files provide, for the first time, “a detailed map” on the British intelligence services’ clandestine operations in Syria to fund, arm and provide a sanitized, publicly acceptable media voice to an array of opposition militants and jihadists seeking to topple the Assad government.
Anonymous, the international hacking group behind the 2018 publication of documents detailing the UK government’s Integrity Initiative media manipulation project, has released a new trove of dozens upon dozens of files on a separate, secret project by the British and American governments to handcraft a broad, pro-opposition, anti-Assad propaganda narrative which has since gone on to be used in the majority of Western media coverage on the Syrian conflict.
The files, released under the wordy title “Op. HMG Trojan Horse: From Integrity Initiative to Covert Ops Around the Globe. Part 1: Taming Syria I,” reveal that Western intelligence services and government-hired public relations firms worked directly with major regional Arabic and international news media to weave a false narrative about the Syrian war across an array of platforms.
One of the contractors involved in the project, the Washington-based Innovative Communication & Strategies, is shown to have received funding from the UK, US, and Emirati governments, as well as a group of anti-Assad businessmen, and to have worked to create a vast network of contacts consisting of over 1,600 journalists and “influencers” to push anti-Damascus, pro-opposition information, stories and talking points.
In one document, the PR firm states openly that its work includes “managing and delivering a multi donor project in support of UK Foreign Policy objectives…specifically providing strategic communication support to the moderate armed opposition.”
In another file, Innovative Communication & Strategies describes its two-fold media strategy of “a) Guerrilla Campaign. Use the media to create the event. b) Guerrilla Tactics. Initiate an event to create the media effect.”
A second major contractor, Dubai-based ARK F.Z.C., purportedly worked to “soften” the image of jihadist militias, and to promote the White Helmets in the media and online, including running the group’s social media accounts directly and ‘raising global awareness’ about its operations.