12 May 2020 — Tim Hayward
The following is an edited reproduction of an extended thread of tweets recently posted by Piers Robinson, founding member and spokesperson for the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media.
New leaks published today by The Grayzone News and Aaron Maté confirm that the OPCW deceived in order to smear two of its most experienced scientists:- https://thegrayzone.com/2020/05/06/opcw-douma-whistleblower/
1) Back in 2018 there was an alleged chemical weapon attack in Syria, and the US, UK and France bombed Syria within days of the event. Two cylinders containing chlorine gas had been dropped, supposedly causing the death of approximately 50 civilians.
2) Even at the time notable figures (former senior UK military) questioned the likelihood of the attack having been carried out by the Syrian government, for example see:- https://twitter.com/ShoebridgeC/status/984837379612708864?s=20
3) A BBC producer, Riam Dalati, even stated he had found out that hospital scenes associated with the attack had been staged: https://twitter.com/Dalatrm/status/1095677403198906369?s=20. Even though he has this critical information he has not handed it to investigators or elected officials.
4) In early 2019, the OPCW published the results of its investigations into the alleged attack at Douma and stated that there were ‘reasonable grounds’ to conclude an attack had occurred at Douma. At the time we detailed multiple flaws in the OPCW report:- Briefing note on the final report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018
5) In May, 2019, an engineering report was leaked to academics which detailed how the cylinders used in the alleged attacks had been more likely placed by hand, thus indicating the alleged attack had in fact been staged:- http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/assessment-by-the-engineering-sub-team-of-the-opcw-fact-finding-mission-investigating-the-alleged-chemical-attack-in-douma-in-april-2018.
6) In October 2019, the Courage Foundation convened a panel which included the first Director General of the OPCW, José Bustani, along with other eminent individuals. They heard detailed testimony from an OPCW official:- https://couragefound.org/2019/10/opcw-panel-statement/
7) This was followed up with an open letter addressed to the OPCW, asking that they listen to the concerns of their inspectors who had actually been to Douma. Signatories included Noam Chomsky and whistleblower Katharine Gun.
8) Multiple leaked documents have since been published by wikileaks.org and journalists such as Peter Hitchens have been publishing reports detailing what really happened during the OPCW investigation:- https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/#Internal%20OPCW%20E-Mail
9) There have been reports in the Mail on Sunday detailing how the OPCW suppressed key information and sidelined the inspectors who had actually been to Douma:- https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7718627/Sexed-dossier-furore-alleged-poison-gas-attack-Assad.html
10) Articles by Stefania Maurizi in La Repubblica (here and here) and by Robert Fisk in The Independent:- The Syrian conflict is awash with propaganda – chemical warfare bodies should not be caught up in it
11) In Stundin, Gunnar Hrafn Jónsson writes:- OPCW management accused of doctoring Syrian chemical weapons report
12) And Tucker Carlson interviewed Courage Foundation attendee Jonathan Steele:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojItF6MGL-0&feature=emb_logo
13) Jonathan Steele described how a US delegation had been allowed by UK diplomat Robert Fairweather to ‘brief’ the Douma inspectors regarding what happened in Syria. This is a corruption of OPCW independence and violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention:- https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/11/15/the-opcw-and-douma-chemical-weapons-watchdog-accused-of-evidence-tampering-by-its-own-inspectors/
14) We have learned many important truths from all of the leaks and testimonies and the major scientific anomalies are summarized here:- https://couragefound.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Analytical-Points.pdf
15) Of Particular importance, however, are the revelations regarding the ballistics of the two yellow cylinders and toxicological evidence regarding the deceased at Douma.
16) We now know that the first draft interim report, written by the inspectors who actually deployed to Douma but which was suppressed by OPW management, raised questions about the cylinders:-
17) One critical aspect here concerned the (completely) implausible idea that the cylinder at location 2 had broken through a roof to then bounce sideways across the bedroom, landing on the bed:-
18) Another aspect concerned how the cylinder at location 2, found balanced over a hole in the roof, could ever have caused the damage observed:-
19) Detailed assessments contained in the subsequently leaked engineering report, assessing these anomalies and concluding the cylinders were hand placed, was suppressed and blocked from the OPCW final report.
20) Far more alarming is the information concerning how approx. 50 civilians died at location 2. Although supposedly killed by chlorine gas leaking from the cylinder on the rook, the first draft interim report suppressed by OPCW management raised multiple concerns:-
21) Consultations with 4 NATO chemical warfare toxicologists confirmed that the deceased were not killed by chlorine poisoning at location :- https://wikileaks.org/opcw-douma/document/actual_toxicology_meeting_redacted/
22) Just as with the engineering report, this evidence was suppressed come the final OPCW report which obfuscated the clear assessments provided by the NATO CW toxicologists.
23) Full factual and accurate details regarding the flaws in the final OPCW report on Douma are detailed in this briefing note:- http://syriapropagandamedia.org/update-on-the-opcws-investigation-of-the-douma-incident
24) And the assessment by Professor Paul McKeigue that the deceased were likely to have been murdered elsewhere is contained in this House of Commons briefing:- https://timhayward.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/house-of-commons-presentation-opcw-leaks-reveal-international-community-misled-about-alleged-douma-chemical-incident-in-2018/
25) Unfortunately, attempts to conceal the truth about the OPCW and what happened in Douma have involved multiple attempts to smear and intimidate academics, researchers and whistleblowers.
26) The Times and Huffington Post have published approximately 20 articles smearing academics and researchers as ‘conspiracy theorists’ whilst ignoring the OPCW whistleblowers and the leaked documents. These attacks started the day the UK & US bombed Syria following the alleged attack at Douma!
27) Meanwhile the US government-funded Bellingcat organisation has repeatedly attempted to smear and discredit the OPCW whistleblowers and UK journalist Peter Hitchens:- https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2020/01/a-response-to-bellingcat-form-sources-close-to-the-veteran-opcw-chemical-weapons-inspector-ian-hende.html
28) Remarkably, Bellingcat’s founder Eliot Higgins was caught deleting a tweet that confirmed the cylinder at location 2 had been manipulated by hand. As @MichaKobs explains:- https://twitter.com/MichaKobs/status/984596184428924928?s=20
29) We can see clearly in these images how the cylinder has been rotated to line up a dent with the metal bar and tip the cylinder so that its nozzle is pointing into the hole: this is a manipulation of a crime scene and corroborates the suppressed engineering report.
30) But the worst case of smearing and deception came with the OPCW’s investigation into the leaking of the engineering report. This represented a crude attempt to discredit two of the OPCW’s most experienced and qualified scientists https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2020/02/someone-has-been-telling-lies-about-a-and-b-kafka-comes-to-the-hague.html
31) As Aaron Maté and The GrayZone show, the OPCW Director General made demonstrably false statements including the bogus claim that Ian Henderson was not part of the fact finding mission in Douma https://twitter.com/aaronjmate/status/1258093746056499201?s=20
32) Despite the relentless smear campaigns, the truth continues to be told. Professor Paul McKeigue recently presented research findings to the Harvard Sussex Program on Chemical and Biological Weapons:- https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qHfo70_qZ7L9NI7kmJUfvtCAuQ8AUAMb/view
33) OPCW inspector Ian Henderson has presented, via video link, the failures of the OPCW Douma investigation to the UN Security Council:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=ZknLgDXuaBg&feature=emb_logo
34) And new documents and statements continue to surface and which highlight the ways in which the OPCW has been corrupted by the US, France and the UK. This message from a senior OPCW official reveals a culture of threats and intimidation at the OPCW:- https://thegrayzone.com/2020/02/11/new-leaks-shatter-opcws-attacks-douma-whistleblowers/
35) This whistleblower documents dismay at the actions of OPCW management https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/12/opcw-whistleblower-mistreatment-douma-investigators/
36) Whilst this statement reveals that dissent within the OPCW’s ranks now extends to other investigations into alleged attacks in Syria which include the new IIT investigations which are tasked with attributing blame. https://thegrayzone.com/2020/04/28/opcw-insiders-ltamenah-chemical-weapons-report/
37) An OPCW corrupted by the US, UK and France is a clear threat to international peace and security. This corruption is also currently denying justice for these murdered civilians, covering up the truth behind their deaths. http://syriapropagandamedia.org/update-on-the-opcws-investigation-of-the-douma-incident
38) There is, in view of all the evidence now in the public domain, a legal and ethical responsibility on the part of journalists, academics and politicians to address the OPCW scandal. The organisation is corrupted, and it now needs to be radically reformed.
For further media coverage of the leaks and whistleblowers’ testimony see the links here.