latest, media watch, Russia, Syria

Bellingcat outed by the Independent

Philip Roddis

The West’s war on Syria, and rapidly heating cold war on Russia, have involved extensive use of smear. Of unsubstantiated or even disproved allegations repeated in our not-so free mediauntil even those who rightly or wrongly – usually wrongly – deem themselves critical thinkers assume, no-smoke-without-fire  fashion, there must be truth to them. This conclusion is seldom drawn by the conscious mind. That’s not how propaganda works: witness on the one hand that near universal belief that ‘adverts don’t sway me in the slightest’;  on the other those misguided capitalists who, oblivious to our immunity to it, continue to throw vast sums at that propaganda form we call commercial advertising.

Putin – my, how we feted his predecessor, the drunken Yeltsin, as he oversaw Russia’s descent to basket case status while Wall Street drooled over the spoils! – and Assad feature hardly less frequently on our screens and front pages than do ads for new cars and sofas. The stakes are higher, though[1], which explains two aspects of their demonisation not shared by commercials.

One is the cynicism with which charities have allowed themselves to be used. In most cases this has involved the naivity or worse of big names, either unaware of the threat to ‘the brand’, else willing to risk it for short term gain. See in this respect Professor Tim Hayward on an Amnesty International throwing – I’m being kind here – caution to the wind on Syria. But in at least one case ‘the brand’ was corrupt at birth. I mean the White Helmets: brainchild of Brit mercenary James Le Mesurier, recipient of well over $120 million in funding from the USA and other states overtly seeking Assad’s removal, and – to a degree of certainty very much higher than that of Damascus having used sarin gas on its own people – in cahoots with Islamist terrorism.

The other, related, is the equal cynicism – or, at a stretch, starry eyed credulity – with which our media inflate the value of ‘information’ from risible sources. One such is the grandiosely titled Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, routinely quoted by BBC, Guardian and even – to their undying shame – ‘far left’ media in reporting alleged abuses by the Syrian authorities, without informing us that, to quote from the post just linked:

SOHR is the one man band of Rami Abdul Rahman, a disgruntled Syrian who lives in Coventry and hasn’t set foot in Syria since 2003. His methods are opaque to say the least but seem to rely on what I’ll call ‘cascade inquiry’, whereby he phones a handful of pals inside Syria. They in turn phone their pals, who phone theirs. But who are these pals? Rumours abound that Rahman is affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, rivals to more recent Saudi backed Wahabbi groups led by Al Qaeda and ISIS, but nevertheless willing to work with Daesh to end Syria’s secularism and impose theocratic Sunni rule on Shia, Christian, Druze and Alawi alike. (Nor is there any evidence of widespread Muslim Brotherhood support from Syrian Sunnis, most of whom see Islam and Islamism as poles apart and value their secularist, authoritarian but religiously tolerant state.)

Then there’s Bellingcat, the organisation founded by one Eliot Higgins: Media Studies drop-out and author of – I feel a professional slight here, having taught digital arts at Sheffield University – digitally altered images that serve NATO objectives in an ongoing Russia demonisation which endangers us all.

(Worse by far of course is the fact his amateurish  images – these for instance, offered as proof that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed in July 2014 by Russian missiles – would have earned him a fail in my Photoshop class.)

Fortunately I need spend few words on Bellingcat/Higgins. That take-down has already been done, most recently in Catte’s excellent OffGuardian piece of two days ago. What I have not seen till now though is any questioning of Bellingcat’s credentials in mainstream media. So let me hand you over, without further ado and with hearty if surprised approval, to Mary Dejevsky: not known as a Kremlin stooge or Putin troll. Yet here she is, in today’s Independent, asking in all sincerity and with admirable bluntness just WTF is Bellingcat?

Who knows, such questions might in their own quiet way help avert WW3. We can but hope.

[1] – I mean no downplaying of the terrifying effects on climate of capitalism’s inbuilt addiction to growth. But while the threat of thermonuclear war may be no more serious than that of environmental catastrophe, it is capable of materialising at shorter notice.


  1. Jim Scott says

    I have been pondering over the similarity of the names Bellingcat and the notorious British PR company Bellinger Potter who made bucketfulls of money providing fake information for the US military during the Iraq War/invasion. Around the time a principal of the company left Bellinger Potter the equally dodgy Bellingcat appeared. Does anyone have any information that might link these two organisations that seem to be carrying out the same type of role. It would be also interesting to know if
    sit of these organisations have had any role in the Skripal fandango.

  2. FekemAl says

    The Bellendtwats designed to self fuck.

    As for any critical MSM coverage of the spooky cunts goes, it is at best a form of ‘damage limitation’ or cleaning up after a hit gone messy.

    The ‘gate keepers’ have failed to convince the readers, their reputations in shreds, having been ordered to out themselves as the propagandist mockingbirders they are.

    The saintly looking Mary in no way would have avoided being a SIS asset and probably trained Harding, Creer and their like. Like the old BBC hags who used to be the ‘voices’ of the state, like Wyatt and Adie and Simpson…

    I’d say fuckem all except with their built in bellends and pussies they are obviously to busy doing it to themselves.

  3. MichaelK says

    It’s kind of odd that someone with Bellingcat’s talents and contacts, doesn’t turn he gaze towards finding the Skripals, isn’t it? It should be easy. All one has to do is find an isolated country house which has suddenly began to order large amounts of vodka and kaviar, and books in Russia.

    • jonny says

      We always say follow the money, Bellendtwat should follow the buckwheat

  4. John Marks says

    This is quite an amazing turnaround.
    Dejevsky was a reliable toer-of-the-line throughout the war on Syria and as active as any demonizing the Russians.
    What’s happened at the Indie? Have the Saudis sold their shares? Has Lebedev fallen out with the London Russian oligarchs?
    We need to be told.

    • vexarb says

      @John Marks: “What’s happened to the Indie?”

      Karma is az bitch that Lady Macbeth thrust out of the door but which kept sneaking back in, until she cried in desperation:

      “Out! Out, damned Spot”.

  5. Jen says

    The headline of Philip Roddis’ piece “Bellingcat outed by the Independent” did look hopeful but when I realised the article he refers to was written by Mary Dejevsky, my expectations fell to their usual low level.

    While Dejevsky does indeed write thoughtful pieces for mainstream UK newspapers, she has more or less been pigeonholed into a niche and can be brought out whenever any Russophobic or other hysteria seems to be going out of control, the press suddenly becomes conscious of demands for more objective reporting and decides it needs look even-handed, so it trots out someone like Dejevsky at a convenient time when the narrative has got out of hand.

    Craig Murray has noted on his blog that UK intelligence sources have backed away from Bellingcat’s claims concerning the Skripal poisoning incident to the extent that UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had to withdraw a tweet congratulating Bellingcat’s disinformation. Dejevsky’s article may be another indication that the mainstream media are being persuaded to keep a distance from Bellingcat’s claims.

    It would seem that Bellingcat’s intrusion into the Skripal saga has caused some consternation and panic among the elites and might suggest they are divided, even opposed, over how to exploit the poisoning incident to their advantage. Bellingcat may very well have gone rogue or believe so much in their own “abilities” and “expertise” that they will not listen to advice and are now going down some very dangerous paths with dangerous partners.

    I did anticipate once that Eliot Higgins might end up a pitiable and pathetic figure whose life could be in danger from his idiotic behaviour but I did not think his day of reckoning might be coming sooner than later. There will be no-one to mourn him and everyone to despise him when he is gone.

    • summitflyer says

      Do so hope you are correct on his demise .What a POS this guy is .

      • UreKismet says

        Nah disagree. If we dismiss the deliberate injuries or deaths of any human who is, let’s face it, just another idjit trying to claw their way ‘up’ from the 7th circle, as planet earth currently appears to be, we are showing ourselves to be no better than that which we all profess to loathe.
        So what? Well, because even if we do beat the the bastids we’re gonna end up with a new boss who is an awful lot like the old boss.
        So as distraught as I feel about the people of Yemen (1 in 5 of those Yemen citizens killed by US poodle Saudi Arabia is a child) and as pissed as I am about Jamal Kashoggi’s refusal to call out the Yemeni butchery for what it is, I am still upset and angry at Kashoggi’s own slaughter – another act of butchery committed by saudi on behalf of the US empire.
        Equally if someone decides to take delivery of justice upon themself and off Eliot Higgins, I won’t be cheering. We cannot defeat this scum by emulating them.
        Please do not see this as some virtue signalling tosh I’m just as capable as anyone else of allowing easily accessed emotional reactions rule my behaviour, like millions of others who have fought these pr1cks pretty much since the day their arsehole began pointing earthwards I’m frustrated by the one step forwards 3 steps back current progress of realchange. Which is all the more reason not to succumb to any shortcuts that will frustrate us even further.

      • Jen says

        UreKismet is right. There’s no glory in rejoicing over another person’s misfortune.

    • Rhisiart Gwilym says

      I always thought, from the moment of first encountering his transparently-obvious rubbish, that Higgins was going to have an ultra-short sell-by date, until his owners amongst the Anglozionist imperial ‘elite’ no longer considered him to be a useful, cost-effective, non-embarrassing propaganda generator, and threw him overboard. We’ll see how long he lasts. Back to selling women’s frillies then, Eliot?

      • Rhisiart Gwilym says

        PS: Agree with Kismet and Jen. ‘Two wrongs…’ Leave poor flabby Eliot to his grubby fate. He’s busy bringing his karma on himself, poor silly schmuck, without us hastening it.

        • Mulga Mumblebrain says

          Bellingcrap could be materially complicit in causing war with Russia. Doubting the existence of a just and vengeful God, I do hope he gets his just desserts in this life.

          • If the oligarchic elite were the organ grinders, and MSM, the organ grinders monkeys, then Eliot Higgins would be the flea on the rump of the organ grinders monkey.

    • Seamus Milne also served a similar function at the Guardian, which still tries to label itself as “the world’s leading liberal choice”.

      When the content and quality of that former newspaper of my choice was rapidly deterioriating, when CiF started becoming heavily censored and when on almost every TuesdayTisdall wrote an “Opinion Piece”, a diatribe against Russia and Russians, whenever the Russophobes were approaching hysteria, they used to roll out Milne, just to show how free and fair the Guardian still was as regards presenting arguments and counter-arguments.

      Typical Tisdall:

      Russia softens up west for bloodbath it is planning in Syria’s Idlib province
      Disinformation is rife about US plots and rebels’ supposed use of chemical weapons as Putin prepares for final victory

      1 Sptember, 2018

      In order to vindicate the 2015 intervention, ensure Assad’s survival and seal an epic Russian strategic victory over the US, Putin requires physical control of Idlib – the final piece of the fractured Syrian jigsaw. His pre-emptive message to the western democracies, with axe poised to fall, is keep out and don’t interfere – whatever the cost in human life and suffering.


    • Mulga Mumblebrain says

      Fat man has ‘heart attack’. Move along-nothing to see here.

  6. mark says

    Dejevsky is one of the few serious mainstream journalists around.
    She raises an interesting point about the corruption/ politicisation of large so called charities and NGOs like Amnesty International. They were one of the prime movers in previous NATO aggression and regime change operations. They peddled fake atrocity smears to justify the bombing of Yugoslavia and manufactured fake stories of Gaddafi’s black African mercenaries high on Viagra committing mass rapes of Libyan women. They later admitted their lies but by then it was too late – a lot of black African migrant workers were swinging from lamp posts. I pointed this out to an AI chugger recently who was trying to sign me up. Probably a bit unfair of me – he was just a student trying to earn a few quid touting for AI. They needn’t really raise a penny – they get all they need from CIA Fronts/ Soros and the like. But I suppose public donations give them some undeserved credibility.
    You can say much the same about Oxfam/ Red Cross/ Save The Children and the rest of the circus.
    They are all hopelessly compromised/ politicised/ corrupt/ with a revolving door to the US State Dept.
    Oxfam are probably too busy amusing themselves forcing impoverished black kids to have sex with animals at their jolly parties.
    The Red Cross received $500 million in donations for the Haiti Earthquake. All there was to show for this was SEVEN cheap prefab huts they built for the victims. The rest was siphoned off. A lot of it seems to have ended up in the Clinton Slush Fund, sorry, Foundation.
    Save The Children ran a bogus vaccination campaign in Pakistan to immunise children against polio. What they were actually doing was collecting DNA information for the CIA to carry out drone strikes and raids. As a result, when genuine health workers turned up to vaccinate children, local people tended to shoot first and ask questions later. So polio, which had been virtually eradicated there, is now making a comeback. If you fall into one of the more bigoted categories, you might say, “Who cares, just sand ni**ers,” like so many of our American friends. The trouble is, polio doesn’t stop at borders. If it re emerges over here, the NHS will be forced to go back to a comprehensive vaccination scheme over here as well, costing it billions. Yep, let’s all give STC a really big round of applause for that one. That happened a couple of years ago, just before they gave Tony Blair their “Humanitarian Of The Year” Award.

    Might be worth remembering when AI/ Oxfam/ Red Cross/ STC are peddling their Christmas cards and their chuggers are buttonholing you.

    • George cornell says

      There is an undistinguished history of the US using “charities” as fronts for CIA ops. It may have started with the Peace Corps, begun by good people for all the right reasons. An old friend was a medic in Borneo looking after the vols in the far reaches of the jungle in the 60’s. He was asked to draw maps of all rivers, population aggregations and supply depots that he encountered in his efforts. Many years later he got his file under FOI and learned to his horror that all his data was given to the CIA. Now you can just imagine the incalculable threat posed by the inhabitants of the Borneo jungle in the 60’s and early 70’s to the “homeland security” of the USA!

    • “Dejevsky is one of the few serious mainstream journalists around.”

      That’s the most ridiculous thing I have read in an age. Thank you.

      • mark says

        Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve seen her on RT and elsewhere and she always makes sense. I’m surprised she managed to survive at the Independent.

      • “That’s the most ridiculous thing I have read in an age”. Assertion, no less and unless you support your position next time, safely ignored.

  7. frank says

    Where’s Matt?
    Has he not been given the script?

    • Yarkob says

      matt is either higgins himself, or his mum. i’ve used crowd-sourced intelligence to come to that conclusion. oh, and i watched some great 70s spy shows. i can’t remember their names, though. just go with it.

      • Thomas Peterson says

        I read it in the U.K.’s secret passport files

  8. MichaelK says

    … And it gets even more ridiculous and grotesque; how is it even possible for this ‘Bellingcat’ to produce this stuff before the BBC, the Guardian, the Metropolitan Police (who are supposed to be investigating the crime), GCHQ, our combined security services, and the rest of the media, and all the King’s horses and all the King’s men? Think of the resources at their disposal, their massive budjets, the highly-skilled experts, all working flat out for months to reveal the truth, yet they are beaten to the post by some bloke in his bedroom using a fucking laptop!

    It beggars belief that this absurd storyline can be taken seriously. Yet, it’s really disturbing that it is. What hold does the state have over our supposedly free and independent media, that such obvious guff is swallowed so easily, by so many, for so long? Those questions and the answers are arguably considerably more frightening than the Skripal Affair, and the reason our media wont go anywhere near them.

    • Thomas Peterson says

      yes it’s ludicrous, nobody is questioning exactly where Bellingcat gets this information. It’s pretty obvious they’re friends are just concocting it as and when needed.

  9. MichaelK says

    It’s like a… silhouette. The Guardian, Luke Harding, including virtually the entire media, with all their resources, have created an image that’s false, or fake, for public consumption as they are groomed for war. But step back a little and look at the space around this image, examine the questions that so clearly aren’t being asked, some of the ones Dejevsky mentions. It’s here that the real story is. Inside the unasked and unanswered questions around the false image in the middle. The fact that they aren’t being asked shows how important they are and where the real story about the Skripal Affair lies hidden from public view.

    Take Skripal himself. He’s vanished. Why? If the British could get him to say something that supported their version of events and pointed the finger directly at Russia and the Kremlin, he would have been produced already. The fact that he hasn’t been shows, like the silhouette, that he’s not prepared to speak in public and support the British story. Which once again shows that it isn’t true. This is pretty obvious, yet not a single journalist dares go near it. Why not?

    Once again, looking outside the false image that’s presented as the truth, one can see that this affair tells us next to nothing about Russia, the place we are encouraged to look; but an awful lot about the character of the United Kingdom, the security services, the lack of political scrutiny, the abject failure of the media to ask any of the right questions, and the true natured of our tainted democracy.

  10. George Cornell says

    The rigid adherence to USUK (pronounced ‘you suck’) – friendly international news goes way beyond Bellingcat. There has been nothing in the Fraudian for years that wavers from the doctrinaire sycophancy towards USUK, and a near complete absence of investigative reporting, much less one that yields a surprise. Well, life is just not like that, unless there is a firm cherry-picking editorial hand and shameless censorship. Shamefulness and shamelessness firmly rooted in the MSM.

    • Seamus Padraig says

      USUK (pronounced ‘you suck’)

      LOL!!! I love it! I’m gonna use it. Thanks …

    • Robyn says

      If you expand USUK to include France, you get FUKUS.

      • Rhisiart Gwilym says

        I lay claim to being the originator of the ‘you suck’ monogram USuk; or one of the originators, maybe, ‘great minds…’ etc; or do I mean ‘silly punning minds…’? Anyway, been using it for some time over at The Lifeboat News. But please notice the case-sensitive spelling, to underline the real relationship of the Swampland empire and its most grovelling underling province. Same goes for fukUS – which i don’t claim to have originated, btw. :O)

        • George cornell says

          As Fred Allen once said, hanging is too good for the man who makes puns, he should be drawn and quoted. Did not quote you because I have not read you before.

  11. Francis Lee says

    Apropos of the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is commonly used as a standalone source for news and statistics. Just this week, news agency AFP carried this story: “Syrian forces pounded Aleppo and Deir Ezzor provinces as at least 35 people were killed on Sunday across the country, among them 17 civilians, a watchdog reported.” Various atrocities and casualty numbers are listed, all from a single source: “Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by phone.”

    Statistic after horrific statistic pours from “the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” (AP). It’s hard to find a news report about Syria that doesn’t cite them. But who are they? “They” are Rami Abdulrahman (or Rami Abdel Rahman), who lives in Coventry. According to Mr Rahman he is important ‘contacts’ in Syria, yeah right!

    According to a Reuters report in December of last year: “When he isn’t fielding calls from international media, Abdulrahman is a few minutes down the road at his clothes shop, which he runs with his wife.”

    When the Guardian’s Middle East live blog cited “Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” it also linked to a sceptical article in the Modern Tokyo Times – an article which suggested news outlets could be a bit “more objective about their sources” when quoting “this so-called entity”, the SOHR.

    That name, the “Syrian Observatory of Human Rights”, sound so grand, so unimpeachable, so objective. And yet when Abdulrahman and his “Britain-based NGO” (AFP/NOW Lebanon) are the sole source for so many news stories about such an important subject, it would seem reasonable to submit this body to a little more scrutiny than it’s had to date.
    The Observatory is by no means the only Syrian news source to be quoted freely with little or no scrutiny …

    • @Francis Lee. In Syria, Abdulrami was imprisoned under the name Ussama Sulweini(or something like it)for his corrupt embezzlement and taking monies illegally. He probably fled Syria because with his record he couldn’t get a job there, but over here, being an anti-Assadist he’s luncheoned in Whitehall with various parliamentarians…naturally.

      • JudyJ says

        Yep…and received £195,000 in grant money from the UK FCO ‘to fund communications equipment and cameras’. For someone who never goes to Syria? Perhaps he has exceedingly expensive telephone bills, in which case he needs to shop around for a better deal. Another example of ‘corrupt embezzlement and taking monies illegally’? That reminds me, I must write to my MP asking what the money was spent on. I can’t say that I’ve as yet seen any photographs or video evidence sourced from the SOHR.
        According to Wikipedia, he (aka Ossama Suleiman) was imprisoned three times in Syria for his illegal financial activities and fled to the UK when he was facing a fourth term in jail.

        • @Judy J.
          Thanks for that and for the extra bit I wasn’t aware of(didn’t know he was in Wiki or that he was paid so handsomely for reporting from his terrorist media friends.)
          I do know that the US bombed a town in the morning with seven hits and killed a few dozen Syrian civilians and he reported it was Russian/SAF only for CENTCOM to announce just after noon, that they had bombed the same town and killed ISIL members with seven hits that morning. I guess SOHR wasn’t in the loop at that point.

    • Yet Vanessa Beeley, Eva K. Bartlett, Piers Robinson, and Tim Hayward get smeared regularly by the media, and Joshua Landis can’t get his Syria Comment site listed on FaceBook.

  12. MichaelK says

    It’s odd, really, that it’s taken this long for a journalist to ask these fairly basic and obvious questions. Why? That, surely, has to tell one something about the nature of the Skripal Affair and the mechanisms at work in the UK media?

    • I always read her in the Guardian. because she never joins in the bogeyman bashing,
      but this article would have been a step too far for the Graun’s thought police. The Indy
      still sometimes lets things slip through.

    • summitflyer says

      Isn’t it time to throw bellingcat under the bus and have the story out that even parliament has been scammed .Might work .

  13. MichaelK says

    It’s sad but true, that the BBC and the Guardian are treated as the ‘gold standard’ around the world when it comes to the quality of their journalism. Others take their lead from them and think that if the they use a source, like Bellingcat, that this means they’ve checked it out rigorously and mean that it’s kosher.

  14. MichaelK says

    I think the bizarre elevation of Bellingcat to such heights that both the BBC and the Guardian have given it/him so much valuable credibility, is a terrible sign of the really dangerous times we live in; times which seem to be on a course leading towards open war with Russia, and the public are being groomed for this conflict, with very few questions asked, or allowed. When somebody like Bellingcat is treated as an authority and embraced by our media, totally uncritically, it shows how bad things are.

  15. Theo says

    The Bellingcat Scripal Story was even mentioned in German puplic tv and some print media.In puplic TV Bellingcat was even referred to as”reputable”concerning investigative journalism.I couldn’t believe it.

  16. John A says

    I must admit whenever i hear Bellingcat, I think of the kooky character in Friends and her song “Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat, What are they feeding you?”


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