From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and have recently exploited Jo Cox’s death to do so.
LONDON — The Jo Cox Fund, set up in memory of the slain MP soon after her death in 2016, was established by a cadre of pro-interventionist “humanitarians” with a history of involvement in past regime-change operations and whose connections to some of the world’s most ardent imperialists, as well as the Not for Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC), are legion. For that reason, as well as the past of Cox herself, it is hardly surprising that the fund designated among its causes the U.S. coalition-financed White Helmets, whose primary purpose has been to escalate unlawful NATO state-proxy and direct military intervention in Syria.
However, the fund’s efforts in promoting the White Helmets goes far beyond merely filling the organization’s coffers. Using lessons learned in past NATO interventions, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — along with their financiers and associates — have used the fund’s association with the White Helmets in order to protect that group from criticism, largely by exploiting Jo Cox’s posthumous status as a modern-day saint in British politics, now known more for her “compassion” than her support of pro-interventionist policies that are hardly “humanitarian” in practice.
Thus, the Jo Cox Fund — and those behind it — not only have exploited the fund to promote the White Helmets “humanitarian” image but have also profited from their combined expertise to develop a sophisticated “public relations” machine that effectively promotes the destruction of the Syrian state.
This is Part II of a four-part series on the life and legacy of Jo Cox. Read part 1 here. In this part, we focus on how the people behind the Jo Cox Fund have applied strategies intended to promote foreign military intervention that was first perfected in the NATO intervention in the Balkans to the current conflict in Syria. Additionally, we examine how these players have helped develop the massive public-relations machine with the White Helmets at its center and how that machine has sought to use Cox’s death to sanctify the controversial group and shield it from scrutiny.
Perfecting the blueprint for “humanitarian” regime change: from the Balkans to Syria
It all began in the Balkans. The blueprint for the Syrian regime change, multi-spectrum war, and the roadmap for partitioning a sovereign nation along sectarian lines, was inaugurated in what was once known as Yugoslavia. Corporate media in the West, during the conflict and after, have diligently followed the NATO script, namely that the Bosnian Serbs were “motivated by a hatred of Muslims.” It was largely ignored that the Serbs wanted to protect the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia and that, in Bosnia, they opposed the concept of an Islamic fundamentalist government, which the authorities of Alija Izetbegovic were attempting to introduce.
The fact that many Bosnian Muslims — including Fikret Abdic, who was actually the true winner of the 1990 elections for the presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina — were in agreement with the Bosnian Serbs over those two key issues was largely disregarded. While Western media labelled the Bosnian Serbs as “the new Nazis,” NATO-friendly Bosnian Muslims were euphemistically labelled “rebels,” and, in Kosovo, the NATO-backed Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an organized crime group with Islamic fundamentalist leanings and connections, was labelled as “moderate” and “democrats.”
Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, an expert on former Yugoslavia and a frequent traveller to the region, told Mint Press News:
Yugoslavia and the Serbs were the first victims of the American-led unipolar world that emerged in 1991. Because it was in Yugoslavia — namely, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo — where the U.S. and its principal ally, Britain, together with Germany, destroyed the sanctity of internationally recognized borders; disregarded the authority of the United Nations Security Council; dealt irrevocable damage to the United Nations Charter by having undermined legitimate state authorities and having supported, with arms, training, money, logistics and intelligence information, armed secessionist movements (which comprised fascist, Islamist and organised crime groups); facilitated the arrival of Mujahideen and jihadist fighters to the region; employed their respective media outlets to demonize the people standing in the way of their objectives — the Serbs — accusing them of mass murder and genocide, thus justifying the West’s policy in the Balkans; and then directly intervened with military force to guarantee the accomplishment of their objectives. In short, Yugoslavia was the template for Iraq, Libya and Syria.”
Acclaimed historian Mark Curtis has written extensively about the British government’s collaboration with the “pro-Jihadist forces in Kosovo” under the leadership of Iraq war-hawk, Tony Blair. In his book Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam, Curtis concludes:
[T]he NATO bombing that began in March 1999 had the effect of deepening, not preventing, the humanitarian disaster that Milosevic’s forces inflicted on Kosovo.”
Author and academic John Laughland wrote a book detailing the travesty of justice that was the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, entitled: Travesty: The Trial of Slobodan Milosevic and the Corruption of International Justice. In an opinion piece written for The Guardian in 2008, under the title “Lies of the Vigilantes,” Laughland wrote:
Slobodan Milosevic was posthumously exonerated on Monday when the international court of justice ruled that Serbia was not responsible for the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica […] The new ICC, created by Britain, also seems to operate on the basis that white men do not commit war crimes: its prosecutors are currently investigating two local wars in Africa while turning a blind eye to Iraq. Only when that hideous strength which flows from the hypocrisy of interventionism is sapped, will the world stand any chance of returning to lawfulness and peace.”
Dr. Papadopoulos also spoke to Mint Press News about the role played by Bernard Kouchner, high-profile founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders), and former French Foreign Minister, in Kosovo:
Like Paddy Ashdown in Bosnia, Bernard Kouchner acted like a colonial-style governor in Kosovo. Mr. Kouchner played a lead role in the Western colonization of the Serbian province by, for instance, dismantling the Yugoslav civil service there and replacing it with a pro-U.S., pro-NATO and pro-EU one, and ensuring that NATO would have supervisory offices in key institutions in Kosovo.”
In a recent article published at Global Research, Dr. Papadopoulos highlights how in the summer of 1995, the Bosnian Serb army was presented with an opportunity to conquer Srebrenica and thereby end the massacres of Serb villagers in the area. According to Dr. Papadopoulos, “it was a trap set by Bill Clinton and Bosnian Muslim leader, Alija Izetbegovic, who were both looking for ‘genocide’ so that NATO would have the justification to extensively intervene in Bosnia.”
Dr. Papadopoulos then describes how even Kouchner, the “colonial–style governor” in Kosovo, admitted the lies that permeated Western media accounts of events in Bosnia.
In 2003, Kouchner interviewed Izetbegovic when the Bosnian Muslim leader was on his deathbed. “They [the camps in Bosnia] were horrible places, but people were not systematically exterminated. Did you know that?” asked Kouchner. To which Izetbegovic replied, “Yes. I thought that my revelations could precipitate bombings. Yes, I tried, but the assertion was false. There were no extermination camps…” (excerpted from Les Guerriers de la Paix: Du Kosovo a l’Iraq, Editions Grasset, 2004; published in English as The Warriors of Peace).
Even now, after analyses and counter narratives abound to challenge the NATO-aligned media versions of events in the former Yugoslavia, those who question the “official” accounts are still attacked, maligned and slandered as “genocide deniers.”
23 years ago today, genocide took place in Srebrenica. We remember the victims and honour the courage of survivors
— Jo Cox Foundation (@JoCoxFoundation) July 11, 2018
In Part 1 of this series, we outlined the role played by Mabel van Oranje in manufacturing consent for the NATO bombing campaign in the Balkans through her founding of the European Action Council for Peace in the Balkans. That “council for peace,” with van Oranje at the helm, went on to promote a bombing campaign that pounded Yugoslavia into sectarian division and chaos, from which the region has never recovered.
Another intelligence cog in the Syrian-regime-change-war apparatus was also present in Kosovo during the NATO intervention there. James Le Mesurier, who would go on to found the White Helmets in Turkey in 2013, served as intelligence coordinator for Pristina City in Kosovo soon after the NATO intervention that led to NATO being accused of war crimes for its targeting of thousands of civilians and media.
Years later, in 2015, Le Mesurier was interviewed for a Georgetown Security Studies Review, a publication for the Center of Security Studies at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Services. The review examined the Le Mesurier-proposed “framework for demobilization and reconstruction in post-conflict Syria.” The parallels with the Kosovo operation reviewed by Le Mesurier and Georgetown Security are blatant:
These teams [White Helmets] possess many of the factors that made past demobilization efforts successful, such as the transition of the Kosovo Liberation Army to the Kosovo Protection Corps.”
In Syria, the Yugoslavia blueprint has since evolved, as the forces that destroyed Yugoslavia seek to perfect their practice of rehabilitating terrorists for the purpose of justifying foreign military intervention. In Kosovo, the KLA, a terrorist group, was rebranded as a “protection corps.” In Syria, the same “protection corps” myth was incubated with immediate effect, working in lock-step with the various terrorist and sectarian gangs that were armed, trained and financed by the U.S/U.K.-led interventionist coalition.
The Georgetown study argues that the White Helmets must be an integral part of the transitional process in post-conflict Syria. Despite claims of being an apolitical organization, the White Helmets would be involved in an external “reconciliation” process managed by NATO member-states, their allies in the Gulf, and Israel, per Georgetown’s recommendations. Internal Syrian/Russian-led reconciliation processes are not even acknowledged, despite their many successes in achieving reintegration of many of the armed factions back into the fabric of Syrian secular society.
The study then claims that the Kosovo model shows that such proposed reintegration programs can succeed if they are managed by groups like the White Helmets and similar local actors aligned with the U.S coalition policy of toppling the Syrian government. The lofty claims of promoting “stability on multiple fronts” should ring hollow considering the role of the NATO member-states in fomenting instability and chaos in a recalcitrant sovereign nation to force compliance with their supremacist geo-strategic objectives in the region. Effectively, the White Helmets are the entry point of the shadow-state wedge that has been plunged deep into the heart of Syrian society and culture.
The Balkans, the Jo Cox Foundation and James Le Mesurier
Unsurprisingly, the Jo Cox Foundation retrospectively endorses the NATO intervention in 1999 and upholds the narratives that manufactured consent for this NATO-state unlawful aggression that was never legitimized by a UN mandate.
23 years ago today, genocide took place in Srebrenica. We remember the victims and honour the courage of survivors
— Jo Cox Foundation (@JoCoxFoundation) July 11, 2018
Jo Cox named her first child Lejla, in memory of a “Bosniak genocide victim she met at Srebrenica.” Cox based much of her argumentation for military intervention in Syria upon the dubious and deadly case for military interference in the Balkans.
In February 2018, Brendan Cox resigned from both the Jo Cox Foundation and More In Common after sensationally admitting to being a repeat-offending “sex-pest” during his time working for Save the Children (STC). This followed new allegations that Cox drunkenly grabbed a woman by the throat, forced her against the wall of a London bar, and told her “I want to f**k you.” Cox had resigned from STC in 2015 after accusations of harassment and indecent behavior had forced his ignominious departure.
Brendan Cox had started working with orphans and children in Sarajevo when he was just 18 years old. In a speech given in Kirkcaldy, Scotland, in March 2017, under the auspices of the Jo Cox Foundation, Cox stated that he had been “working to counter extremism and hatred long before it attacked his own family.” Cox’s journey began in the former Yugoslavia, where he worked with “survivors of the siege of Sarajevo” and continued for the “next ten years.” Cox claims to have spent every summer and Christmas running “holiday camps, volunteering in orphanages and teaching in schools.” Cox worked with “children from Moster, Vukovar and Srebrenica”
James Le Mesurier’s Balkans career path is a little more intricate than previously revealed. After speaking to sources in Serbia, his role has been clarified in greater detail.
In 1998 Le Mesurier was seconded to the Office of the High Representative (OHR) for Bosnia and Herzegovina, under Carlos Westendorp, before being sent to Kosovo in summer of 1999 after the deployment of KFOR (Kosovo Force) to the province.
From July 1999 – 2000, Le Mesurier was appointed Intelligence Coordinator for Pristina City, acting as liaison officer between Intel officers of different national contingents in KFOR. Le Mesurier left the British Army in 2000.
From January 2001 – February 2002, Le Mesurier was Deputy Head of the Advisory Unit on Security and Justice and the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Hans Haekkerup’s security policy body within the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). In this position, Le Mesurier acted as political advisor to the UN Police Commissioner and represented the SRSG on civil-military-police coordination bodies. He led interdepartmental working groups, developing regulatory regimes for private security companies and weapon possession and control.
From February 2002 – July 2003, Le Mesurier was advisor on economic crime with the EU Mission in Kosovo, supporting units countering money laundering, terrorism, smuggling, anti-corruption and financial disclosure.
The Bernard Kouchner connection
In 1999, MSF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Bernard Kouchner was one of the original co-founders of MSF and in 1999 he arrived in Pristina as the UN Special Representative to Kosovo, elected by Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General at the time. Kouchner served as head of UNMIK from July 1999 until January 2001. Kouchner also has a history of high-level involvement in interventionist campaigns from Romania in 1989 and including Haiti, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and the more recent, ongoing Syrian and Ukrainian NATO-led regime change projects.
According to the Serbian sources who described Le Mesurier’s role in greater detail, Le Mesurier would have been under the direction of Kouchner in Pristina:
Bernard Kouchner was UN Special Representative until mid-January 2001. Le Mesurier left the British Army (where he served as an intel coordinator for City of Pristina) in mid-2000. Therefore, it is clear that he was given a job by Kouchner.”
Kouchner’s tenure in Kosovo was plagued by controversy and accusations of involvement in human and organ trafficking masterminded by the Albanian mafia gangs within the KLA. We will examine this element in greater detail in the final part of this series, which will outline the possibility of a far more nefarious role played by the White Helmets as an integral part of the global human-trafficking schemes that benefit from the chaos of conflict and war.
In this video, Kouchner responds to questions about the “yellow houses” that were the suspected center of the organ-trafficking trade. Victims, the majority of whom were Serbs, had been taken from Kosovo to Albania where their organs were brutally removed. Kouchner responds with laughter and calls the reporter “stupid, insane.”
Carla Del Ponte, former chief prosecutor for war crimes in former Yugoslavia, detailed these crimes in her book The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals, which was published in 2008 just after Kosovo declared its independence. In 2010 an interim report by the Council of Europe vindicated Del Ponte’s claims, which had garnered skepticism and criticism from the NATO-aligned media and spokespeople. Del Ponte persistently complained, at the time, that UN authorities in Kosovo were systematically blocking her investigations into crimes committed by the Kosovan Albanians in the KLA and the rebranded Kosovo Protection Corps (KPC):
The allegations are macabre and shocking. In the closing days of the Kosovo conflict, hundreds of civilians were allegedly kidnapped by Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) guerrillas and transported to neighboring Albania. There, dozens were killed and their organs “harvested” to be sold abroad. The victims included Serbs, Russians, and at least one Albanian.” (Allegations of Organ Trafficking in Del Ponte Memoir Spark Scandal)
So, in Kosovo we saw the early interconnecting links that would later expand into Syria and into the establishment of soft-power structures that would infiltrate Syrian society and provide justification for the criminalization of the Syrian government and its allies. We witnessed the curiously coincidental positioning of actors such as Kouchner, Le Mesurier and even Cox — all of whom would move on to take a pivotal role in the Syrian regime-change war.
Kouchner parted company with MSF in 1979 but subsequently founded Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World). His has been one of the most strident anti-Syrian government voices in Western media and among the ruling elite organizations that have driven the narratives on Syria in the West. In 2013, Kouchner accompanied John McCain on a clandestine tour of Syria, smuggled in illegally by armed extremist factions. In 2012, Huffington Post published an article co-authored by French war-orchestrator Bernard-Henri Levy and Bernard Kouchner, Jacques Beres, Mario Bettati and Andre Glucksmann. It was entitled “Enough Evasion, We Must Intervene in Syria!”
Did Brendan Cox cross paths with Le Mesurier and Kouchner or both? Was it a coincidence that they all operated in the same interventionist theatre at the same time? Why have Cox and Le Mesurier never emphasized the crimes committed by the Kosovar Albanians against the Serbs? Why have they been silent (to our knowledge) on the organ trade and human trafficking that would have potentially preyed on the very orphanages where Cox worked during his summer holidays?
Probably the most telling element in the updated description of James Le Mesurier’s role is that he was instrumental in the conversion of the KLA, consisting of Al Qaeda elements alongside the Kosovar Albanian warlords, into the rebranded Kosovo ‘Protection’ Corps. This blueprint has clearly been carried forward into Syria with the creation of the White Helmets to merge with and offer protection for the extremist groups, including Al Qaeda. We have also seen similar rebranding exercises for Al Qaeda in Syria: Al Nusra Front has been given a number of new identities in an effort to disassociate it from its terrorist origins.
The White Helmets PR machine and the Jo Cox Fund
Having perfected the blueprint of “humanitarian” regime change in the Balkans, many of the same players, along with their proteges and the reincarnations of certain pro-intervention NGOs, have since been sought to apply this model to other “rogue” states deemed regime-change targets, such as Syria.
In Syria, the White Helmets have been crucial to these efforts aimed at disguising the destruction and plundering of the Syrian state as an exercise in “humanitarianism.” Unsurprisingly, the White Helmets’ reputation as “humanitarians” and “good-doers” has been promoted by a highly sophisticated and interconnected nexus of NGOs that have consistently perpetuated falsehoods about the Syrian conflict in service to reviving this blueprint — first developed in Kosovo — once more in Syria. Many of the NGOs at the heart of this nexus count among their most influential members the same four individuals who formed the Jo Cox Fund in 2016.
Of the organizations most deeply involved in this effort, several stand out for their capacity to shift public opinion, their creation and co-opting of popular movements, and their ability to manipulate popular sentiment through the use of petitions, social media campaigns and other related strategies. Groups like Purpose, Avaaz and Change.org are arguably the most notable of these organizations and two of the founders of the Jo Cox Fund are intimately involved in their leadership.
For instance, Tim Dixon, once a speechwriter for Australian prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, is an experienced corporate and political strategist who shifted his focus to “humanitarian” NGOs after 2010 — co-founding Purpose Europe after joining Purpose New York in 2011, and subsequently the pro-intervention Syria campaign. Dixon also shares deep connections to Avaaz, which helped create Purpose, through Dixon’s collaboration with his “professional associate” Jeremy Heimans, who helped found Avaaz and co-founded Purpose.
Dixon has also collaborated with Brendan Cox for years, as together they have been “instrumental” in reshaping the “refugee” narrative “through opinion research, message development, popular movement-building and campaigning to reach mainstream audiences.” Then, after Jo Cox’s death, Dixon, Brendan Cox and Gemma Mortensen — another Jo Cox Fund co-founder — created the organization More In Common, which claims to work “to build stronger and more inclusive democratic societies that are resilient to the threats of populism and division.”
However, as will be shown in a moment, the connections among these three significantly pre-date More In Common, as all three were intimately involved in the pro-intervention “humanitarian” group Crisis Action Network.
Avaaz and Purpose often focus the campaigns they develop at “rogue” nations that challenge U.S. empire. As journalist and researcher Jay Taber wrote for Cory Morningstar’s Wrong Kind of Green: “When challenges to U.S. hegemony arise — such as in Bolivia, Libya, Syria, Burundi and Congo — Avaaz and Purpose create campaigns to discredit and destabilize these independent governments.” By dressing up these campaigns that are American empire-driven in the illusion that they are entirely “people driven” by local communities, these groups are capable of falsifying narratives about a country’s political climate on a massive scale.
Avaaz and Purpose have used campaigns they have created to great effect within Syria, particularly through campaigns that sprang up early on in the Syrian conflict in support of the so-called “revolution,” as well as through their creation of the Bambuser platform that allowed Syrian opposition “activists” to upload video footage that on several occasions was later shown to be falsified. Eventually, in 2018, the platform was closed down but not before a number of the falsified videos had been downloaded by watchful researchers and journalists.
Shortly after the creation of Bambuser, Avaaz campaign manager Pascal Vollenweider had bragged that Avaaz had helped “kickstart” the Syrian “revolution” by equipping these “citizen journalists” and giving them the tools to produce multimedia used to further false narratives about the reality of the Syrian conflict.
Watch | Avaaz campaign manager brag about “kick-starting” the Syrian conflict:
One of those Avaaz-sponsored campaigns, “Smuggle Hope into Syria,” was initially highly effective in promoting the false narrative of a people-driven revolution waged by heroic “rebels” and centered around “Danny” Abdul Dayem’s efforts to raise $2.5 million for communication equipment needed by “citizen journalists” who were promoting the “rebel” cause. However, one of “Danny’s” videos that had aired on CNN was exposed as fake soon after, as were similar Avaaz and Purpose-backed videos produced by other “citizen journalists” like Khalid Abu Salah.
Since then, Avaaz and Purpose have heavily promoted a NATO-imposed “no fly zone” in Syria, without ever mentioning the dangers such a policy would pose to the Syrian civilians or the fact that such measures are historically precursors to large-scale military action. Furthermore, without ever providing proof, Avaaz has routinely accused Russia and the Syrian government of committing “coordinated atrocities” against media personnel and journalists in rebel-held areas of Syria. In addition, Avaaz has directly raised more than $2 million for the White Helmets.
Another organization that has operated in Syria and elsewhere among similar lines is Change.org, whose Chief Global Officer from 2016 to 2017 was Gemma Mortensen, another co-founder of the Jo Cox Fund. Change.org has been found to deliberately manipulate petitions on its page when they challenge the Western narrative on Syria, such as their removal — during Mortensen’s tenure — of a petition campaigning against the White Helmets’ nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, despite the fact that the petition garnered more than double the number of signatures than had the petition calling for the group to be given the prize. At the time, Change.org claimed the petition rejecting the White Helmets’ nomination for the prize had “violated community standards.”
However, the most influential of this type, at least where Syria is considered, has been the Syria Campaign. The group was co-founded by Dixon and Mortensen in 2014 with funding from Ayman Asfari, the Syrian-in-exile oil baron living in England, who has donated almost £700,000 since 2009 to the U.K. Conservative Party. As was noted in Part I of this series, Asfari has been very influential in driving the false narratives about the Syrian conflict that are promoted by Western governments.
With Asfari’s funding, the Syria Campaign has officially sought to amplify “moderate” and “democratic” voices in the Syrian opposition. In practice, the Syria Campaign, along with its progenitor Purpose, have managed public relations for the White Helmets, creating high-quality multimedia content and even the group’s website, in order to promote the White Helmets in the mainstream media and on social media — essentially directing the group’s branding thousands of miles away from Syria, in their New York office.
Most notably, however, the Syria Campaign has led the lion’s share of White Helmet fundraising efforts from individual donations in the West in order to secure the “funding that they [the White Helmets] so desperately deserve.” Even though the White Helmets have received millions of dollars from NATO member states and Gulf states, the Syria Campaign urges would-be donors to “give generously.”
In addition, just like Avaaz, Purpose and the White Helmets themselves, the Syria campaign has actively pushed for a “no fly zone” in Syria, one that would require the deployment of 70,000 U.S. soldiers to enforce and would risk embroiling the U.S. in a full-scale war against the Syrian state and Russia. More recently, it promoted the hashtag #Act4Daraa, which sought to pressure the UN Security Council to prevent the Syrian government’s now-successful effort to eliminate Western sponsored extremist and ISIS pockets in Syria’s south.
Furthermore, the Syria Campaign has been intimately involved in attempting to silence critics of the White Helmets. In its report titled “Killing the Truth: How Russia is fuelling a disinformation campaign to cover up war crimes in Syria,” the Syria Campaign calls for technology and social media companies to block criticism of the White Helmets and pro-intervention narratives as they are “polluting the public debate central to any healthy democracy.” The report — which mentions Vanessa Beeley, co-author of this article series, by name — further urges news organizations to “not give conspiracy theorists a platform in the name of balance,” as alternative narratives “cloud the truth.” In effect, the Syria Campaign has been at the forefront of attempts to silence those who are exposing the murkier aspects of the White Helmets and the billionaire network pulling their strings.
Ayman Asfari extends influence in Syria
In May 2016, the Asfari Foundation (covered in part 1 of this series) teamed up with the Said Foundation to raise money for the Hands Up for Syria Appeal. The Asfari and Said Foundations matched the £ 3.997 million that was raised for “millions of young children” deprived of an education during the seven-year conflict in Syria. Speakers at the event included then-British Prime Minister David Cameron; David Miliband — President and CEO of International Rescue Committee; and actress Cate Blanchett, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador. Prince Charles sent a video message emphasizing the importance of education to the rebuilding of Syria.
Again there was no mention of the root cause of the issues being highlighted. Money was effectively raised to treat the symptoms of the British imperialist project inside Syria that violates international law on many counts. Why would the British monarch-in-waiting have any involvement in the “rebuilding” of a sovereign nation that his successive Tory governments have, alongside their allies in the U.S. coalition of proxy terror, systematically destabilized and weakened?
The money raised will be funneled into Idlib via the Hands Up Foundation, which claims to raise money for “vital health services” in North West Syria, a region infested with all manner of extremist and terrorist groups. Many of those groups have been evacuated to Idlib from liberated areas of Syria such as East Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta, increasing the numbers of armed, hostile groups in the area. It is worth remembering that OPCW refused to enter this area after the alleged chemical attacks in Khan Sheikhoun April 2017 because the risk of beheading or kidnapping was too high.
Hands Up Foundation operates in partnership with SAMS (Syrian American Medical Society), which works with the White Helmets alongside the controlling extremist factions where they are based. SAMS is a predominantly Chicago based, Muslim Brotherhood organization that receives copious funding from USAID, the U.S. State Department outreach agent for CIA clandestine operations against target nations. USAID has also donated $31 million to the White Helmets via Chemonics, one of its many subcontractors.
While 85 percent of inhabited Syria under Syrian government protection and control suffers under the weight of U.S./U.K./EU imposed sanctions that have targeted the Syrian state health sector, Hands Up Foundation is raising money for “medical salaries” of $150,000 per year at a health clinic “south of Aleppo.” Another project claims to be raising $105,000 for “medical training” in Idlib City, which was invaded by Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) in March 2015 — an invasion that resulted in the summary executions of civilians who were deemed “Shabiha,” a term that designates loyalty to the Syrian government, state and Syrian Arab Army. The White Helmets were filmed alongside the terrorist fighters, celebrating and participating in brutality against civilians.
According to Hands Up Foundation accounts for 2017, it has received a three year organizational development grant of £150,000 from the Asfari and SAID Foundations, “central” to achieving its aims in Idlib. While HUF makes claims of transparency and a document trail to recipients of its funding, there is nothing available to that effect on the website. Money is raised through its Syrian Supper Club, Marmalaid, and Singing for Syrians projects.
HUF focuses on three medical clinics, one in Reyhanli on the Turkish border and two inside northern Syria, in partnership with SAMS, which also operates in these areas. The placement of these clinics is important and will be examined in greater depth in Part 4.
The Said Foundation also appears to be involved in the training of paramedics in the same region of Syria — at the Bab Al Hawa hospital, in partnership with U.K.-registered charity Syria Relief. While the White Helmets are not mentioned, it is safe to assume that this “aid” will be heading their way. The screenshot is from an archive of this page on the Said website, as it now requires a “login” to view the information.
The clusters of medical centers supported by these foundations and charities are based exclusively in areas occupied by and under the control of U.S. coalition-backed armed groups. How do we know that the funding is not ending up in the hands of those groups as part of the “moderate opposition” bankrolling scheme?
Syria Relief comes under the umbrella of UOSSM (Union of Medical Care and Relief Organisations), founded in France in 2012. UOSSM makes the same lofty claims as the White Helmets: “To support the health and well being of individuals and communities affected by the Syrian crisis regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender, religion, or political affiliation.” The Union includes SAMS. In my experience of entering the hospitals of East Aleppo after liberation in December 2016, SAMS and UOSSM stickers and logos could be seen on the walls of all the medical centers that had been overrun and requisitioned by Nusra Front, Ahrar Al Sham and other extremist groups. Those hospitals included the infamous M10 hospital next door to Nusra Front and White Helmet headquarters in Sakhour, East Aleppo.
Watch | In April 2018 Independent French Humanitarian Pierre Le Corf runs through the logos on the l of the M10 hospital. It includes a message from terrorists in Libya for the terrorists in Syria saying that “Democracy is for Kafirs (non-believers)”
Again and again, we demonstrate the close-knit regime-change community, as diverse as it is deadly for Syria and the Syrian people, who have endured seven years of war owing largely to the efforts of these organizations to sustain the narratives that dupe people in the West into believing in the case for “humanitarian” intervention. An intervention that obfuscates the underlying causes while amplifying the fraudulent cover stories for another neocon destabilization campaign in Syria.
The diversity and complex branding of all these foundations, think tanks, organizations, NGOs, and associated charities can be compared to the rebranding of the terrorist groups, in particular Nusra Front (Al Qaeda). It serves to confuse, to bury the evidence of involvement in questionable activities deep inside the soft-power-complex underbelly.
A closer look at Crisis Action
The smart-power complex that generates support for the White Helmets is vast and powerful. At the center of the NGO Hydra is an organization that remains in the shadows, a more clandestine behavioral insight guru that motivates and directs other members of the cartel, rather than taking center stage.
Crisis Action brings together Tim Dixon, Gemma Mortensen and Brendan Cox, who was instrumental in the incubation of this influential body of policy makers. Cox was executive director from June 2006 to January 2009. As Gemma Mortensen says, “We [Crisis Action] need to stay behind the scenes because that is the way in which partners will genuinely see that we are in it for the benefit of the collective work, not to promote ourselves”
Gemma Mortensen was with Crisis Action from August 2006 to August 2015. She joined in 2006 as a Senior Political Analyst and progressed to U.K. Director, before becoming Executive Director in 2009. Crisis Action describes itself as a “global network of the leading human rights, humanitarian and foreign policy organizations; harnessing their expertise to mount joint campaigns to ensure world leaders uphold their collective obligations to protect civilians in situations of conflict.” Another catalyst for global change in a direction that will be governed by the sponsors’ objectives.
In 2013 Crisis Action was awarded a Ford Foundation grant as one of the seven NGOs to reshape the global human rights movement. Its “innovative model for conflict prevention” has been recognized by the 2012 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions and the 2013 Skoll Foundation Award for Social Entrepreneurship. According to the Crisis Action annual report for 2017, Mabel Van Oranje is on the Board, thus almost closing the circle of the Jo Cox Fund originators’ involvement in this behind-the-scenes conflict “management” team.
Crisis Action partners are an impressive collection of “all the big human rights organizations,” including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Oxfam, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, International Crisis Group, and many more NGOs that work as extensions of U.S./U.K. state foreign policy in a chosen conflict zone. In fact, the Crisis Action network is one of the most expansive webs of the NGOs prevalent in providing cover for multiple regime-change wars.
Among te Syria-related NGOs we find: Syria Campaign, Avaaz, 38 Degrees (branch of Avaaz), UN Foundation, Mosaic Syria, Chatham House, InterAction. These also include the Muslim Council of Britain, heavily influenced by Islamist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood, which have long been an instrument of destabilization in Syria and the region for the U.S. coalition.
Many of these Crisis Action partners were listed as supporters of the White Helmets in the run-up to the Nobel Peace Prize in 2016, when the White Helmets failed in their bid to join such luminaries as Henry Kissinger and Barack Obama on the Nobel Peace Prize podium. Many observers were horrified to see Greenpeace (member of the Crisis Action coalition) publicly support the White Helmets.
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) August 18, 2016
When members of the public wrote to Greenpeace to question its judgment, they all received a standard response. This response, that basically dismisses criticism of the White Helmets as being generated by the “extreme right” or “supporters of Syria or Russia”, is the same argument used across all platforms defending the White Helmets. This uniformity of response might suggest that it is coming from a central source, perhaps the “friends at the Syria Campaign”, and being fed to the organizations caught wittingly or unwittingly in the web of the anti-Syria soft power complex.
Greenpeace appeared to make no effort to engage with the questions, the evidence presented or the concerns of the public regarding the White Helmets. If the response is indicative of Greenpeace’s actual position, at the very least that is negligence on their part, at worst they must be considered to be compromised by their association with Crisis Action. As a major behavior influencing organization, Greenpeace owes it to their public sponsors to not mislead or misrepresent events in Syria. Particularly when that misrepresentation will inevitably support narratives provided by the White Helmets, designed to maintain external military and economic pressure upon Syria and its allies and to prolong the war, rather than foster peace.
Thanks for your message. I’m sorry to hear that you disagree with us posting about the work of the White Helmets.
We have looked at the claims made against the White Helmets, but found a lack of evidence and inconsistency in the allegations. Opposition also seems to be based on opposition to NATO policy, which in turn seems to be based on support for the Syrian government and the Russians.
The people making these claims are also questionable. For example, extreme right wing US politician Ron Paul, who thinks global warming is a hoax.
The White Helmets have the support of our friends at the Syria Campaign, and also the late MP Jo Cox, who was very knowledgeable on these issues. They also have 133 organisations backing their bid for the Nobel Peace Prize, which includes a number of highly respected organisations from around the world.” (emphasis added)
The list of the organizations and individuals backing the White Helmets is certainly impressive and comprises many key actors from the Crisis Action NGO pool or those otherwise linked to Jo Cox. Another example of the exploitation of the murder of Jo Cox and the harnessing of her high profile and contacts to expand the support base for the U.K/U.S. White Helmet project in Syria. The Crisis Action machiavellian efforts certainly seem to have paid dividends for the White Helmets and their backers. Would we see such efforts being made for Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) or even for the REAL Syria Civil Defence, whose name has been stolen by the White Helmets and their marketing teams?
Asaad Hanna, the White Helmet Media and Advocacy Manager, is a regular contributor to Chatham House, according to his own CV. Chatham House is a U.K. government-linked policy influencer that has consistently promoted the White Helmets, even screening their Oscar-winning Netflix Documentary in October 2016, despite the mounting controversy surrounding the group of questionable “humanitarians.”
It is noteworthy that Hanna states that he is “managing a team of 150 media people in Syria and the office of the headquarters out of Syria.” As Peter Ford, former U.K. ambassador to Syria from 2003 to 2006, pointed out in Whitewashing the White Helmets: “They [the White Helmets] have a press department 150 strong, bigger than that for the whole of the UK ambulance service.”
InterAction, another “united voice for global change” and Crisis Action partner, was on the verge of giving Raed Saleh, leader of the White Helmets, the 2016 “Humanitarian Award” when he was unexpectedly deported from Dulles Airport because of his “extremist connections.”
Crisis Action lays claim to being a member of the NPIC (Not for Profit Industrial Complex) while stating:
We receive financial support from a range of foundations, governments and private individuals, many of which provide unrestricted multi-year funding. In addition, all of Crisis Action’s core partners make an annual financial contribution, with the exception of those located in the Global South.”
Crisis Action plays a pivotal role in swaying policy makers towards the agenda of their powerful donors and sponsors, which include Ford Foundation, Humanity Utd, Rockefeller Foundation, Skoll Foundation, George Soros Open Society Foundation, Sundance Institute, and a number of other major foundations. Canada, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland sponsor Crisis Action via their foreign affairs ministries.
According to its report and statements from its sponsors, Crisis Action has heavily influenced and covertly managed events in Sudan, Congo, Gaza, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Libya and Syria.Crisis Action claims to amplify the voices of Syrian heroes — which include the White Helmets, lauded by Crisis Action as an “awe inspiring feature of the last six years”. This will be further explored in Part 3.
As already mentioned, Crisis Action supported the White Helmet nomination for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, which “they sadly didn’t win” and celebrated the Oscar win for the Netflix documentary. Crisis Action worked with partners to secure a series of high-level meetings for the White Helmets in Brussels, Paris and London. Is this the extreme level of PR marketing and brand management we should expect for a “grass-roots” bunch of “bakers, tailors, engineers, students, carpenters, painters and pharmacists,” as the script goes?
With emphasis added, the Crisis Action Report states:
Crisis Action was privileged to work with the White Helmets, providing them platforms to engage decision-makers from Berlin to Washington DC. Their powerful testimony of their work put a human face on a grim conflict, shattering the prejudice that all Syrians are refugees or rebels, and motivating politicians and individuals to act on Syria who wouldn’t have done so otherwise.”
Crisis Action also collaborated with Bond, which is the umbrella group for British overseas development agencies, “to help shape a vision for Britain’s role in the world, post-Brexit. In the face of growing nationalism and antipathy towards immigrants,” Bond and Crisis Action collaborated to help their “partners” to influence the U.K.’s main political parties on the refugee crisis, aid, and climate change.
Ciaran Norris was political affairs advisor at Bond from 2014 to 2016, before he became director of the Rising Global Peace Forum (RGPF) from 2016 to 2017. Norris is currently head of external affairs at Oxfam. While Director at RGPF, Norris awarded the Peace Prize in 2016 to Jo Cox and the White Helmets:
The volunteers of Syria Civil Defence (aka The White Helmets) and the late Labour MP Jo Cox – who championed their heroism amongst so many other causes – are the perfect examples of people dedicated to peace. In our view, there could be no more deserving recipients for this prize and it is all the more significant that we recognise them together.”
A #LoveLikeJo tribute video emerged from this prize-giving ceremony, featuring Alison McGovern MP, White Helmet Munir Mustafa, and Nick Martlew, and was chaired by Norris. The panel reflected on the life of Jo Cox bringing the White Helmets more publicly into the fold of the global change manufacturers.
Munir Mustafa has since featured in Robert Stuart’s forensic investigation into BBC Panorama’s “Saving Syria’s Children” that has caused substantial waves among corporate media hierarchy in the U.K. Stuart’s work has involved “analysis of the 30 September 2013 BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ and related BBC News reports, contending that sequences filmed by BBC personnel and others at Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013 purporting to show the aftermath of an incendiary bomb attack on a nearby school are largely, if not entirely, staged.” As a part of his investigation, Stuart exposed Mustafa as having connections to armed, extremist groups in areas occupied by the White Helmets. This inconvenient truth was overlooked by the organizers of the RGPF.
Mounir Mustafa, Deputy Head, The White Helmets: "Even in the midst of the ugliest of wars there is a glimpse of hope of people trying to be good." https://t.co/eVtXTA0TYC https://t.co/5XGmNpx9ND https://t.co/6NHqlZz7zF @GeorgeMonbiot pic.twitter.com/k0wEdzAOY5
— Robert Stuart (@cerumol) February 27, 2018
The global policy-influencing market is a very lucrative one for the board members and employees of Crisis Action. According to its 2017 annual report, Crisis Action received £3.1 million from its government and foundation sponsors. Their salaries and related costs came to a whopping £2.33 million, a huge percentage of their income.
Crisis Action case study: Hamza al Khatib
Beyond its dubious connections to powerful governments and organizations and its “supportive” role to the White Helmets, Crisis Action has directly promoted specific members of the group despite their known ties to extremists and unsavory pasts. By obfuscating the reality of the situation and elevating these individuals to practical sainthood, Crisis Action provides numerous examples of how elite-connected NGOs serve as PR agencies for the terrorist-linked foot soldiers of covert regime-change operations.
A clear example of Crisis Action’s role in promoting such dubious individuals for the sake of narrative is Hamza Al Khatib, who at one time was ubiquitously described as one of the “Last Doctors in Aleppo,” particularly during the final battles between the Syrian allied forces and Western-backed extremist factions just prior to final liberation of East Aleppo in December 2016.
This label was shamefully misleading on the part of the Western media, as it effectively “disappeared” the 4,000-plus doctors operating in Syrian government-secured West Aleppo, who had been extending aid into East Aleppo at the request of the Syrian Government — until the occupying militant groups began to refuse them entry in 2016.
The colonial media battalion stepped up its hyperbole war as the curtains came down upon the regime-change project they had supported in East Aleppo for almost five years at the expense of the Syrian civilians being held hostage, used as human shields, starved, tortured and abused by the extremist gangs the media euphemistically labelled “rebels.”
Mortensen’s petition platform, Change.org, joined the throngs of Al Khatib supporters alongside the Crisis Action campaigns. Over 779,000 signatures were allegedly achieved on the petition that called upon its global community to “make the world a better place” by supporting a “doctor who risked death to save lives”. A team of Change.org “PR professionals” produced reports on a variety of platforms to reinforce the emotive messaging. A.J.Walton, one such “PR professional,” reached out on Medium and outlined the organizations that supported this campaign:
Change.org is fortunate to partner with great humanitarian organizations. A few such organizations are Oxfam America, Mercy Corps, and USA for UNHCR, all working to help the victims of the Syrian conflict.”
An entire PR network rallied around the dying embers of the “revolution” in East Aleppo, drawing on their global supremacy in the information market to attempt to turn the tide of public consensus that was rapidly seeing through their firewall of lies. Al Khatib directly called upon “World leaders to save our lives in Aleppo” via the Change.org petition.
Abdo Haddad is a representative of the ancient Christian town of Maaloula who has spent considerable time raising awareness on the origins of the Syrian conflict, in Europe and further afield. The town is 56 km northeast of Damascus and was built into the craggy mountains that rise out of the surrounding plains. It is one of the few remaining places in the world where Aramaic is still spoken and taught in schools. Maaloula was briefly and brutally occupied by Nusra Front-led forces in 2013 before being liberated by local Christian militia, SAA and Hezbollah in 2014.
Haddad shared his observations on Al Khatib with MintPress News and reported:
Hamza Al Khatib is a pseudonym; his real name is Zaher Emad Katerji. Here he is photographed surveying battle maps with Fastaqim, one of the many extremist groups occupying East Aleppo… I took these screenshots and photos from his social media accounts … many of the posts have since been deleted.”
Haddad also explained to MintPress that he had checked on Al Khatib/Katerji’s Aleppo University medical degree status.
Haddad had spent some time going through Al Khatib’s Facebook posts and translating conversations to get a better picture of the darker side of the “heroic Last Doctor.”
In the photo above, taken from the Facebook page of Reuters photographer Abdelrhman Ismail, we see Hamza Al Khatib with his arm around Mayof Abu Bahr, one of the Nour Al Din Zinki beheaders of 12-year-old Abdullah Issa in July 2016, 200 meters from the Al Ansari White Helmet center that featured in the Oscar-nominated Last Men in Aleppo.
Haddad told MintPress:
Al Khatib knew that the local foreign-backed organizations, like the local councils and the so-called civil defence [White Helmets], were thieves and criminals; but he never mentioned that fact to the media channels who relied upon his testimony.”
Haddad also pointed out:
Al Khatib was described by Western media outlets as some kind of saint. Do ‘saints’ leave mines and IEDs, booby traps to murder more civilians after they have been evacuated out of danger by the Syrian government in the green buses? Conversations that Al Khatib had on Facebook with his cronies demonstrate that he personally made sure these hidden killers were planted in East Aleppo residential areas.”
Finally, Haddad described how Al Khatib had clearly witnessed the execution of at least one SAA prisoner-of-war by the militant groups, but had never thought to mention these atrocities to Western media.
Crisis Action and Change.org were responsible for the whitewashing of crimes committed by the U.S. coalition armed groups in East Aleppo just as surely as Al Khatib participated in them or denied their existence in his reports on events in the beleaguered enclave.
“I consider Al Khatib a traitor to Syria and to his own people” Haddad told Mint Press, adding:
Al Khatib played a criminal role in enabling the terrorist occupation of East Aleppo; he watched Syrians die under foreign-financed torture and sectarian violence but said nothing. Is that the work of a genuine “doctor” or even a decent human being?”
From the Kosovo Protection Corps in the Balkans to the White Helmets of Syria, a group of well- connected people with the fundings of governments and elite billionaires have sought to wage a war on public opinion and to maintain a monopoly on the prevailing narrative. By using time-tested strategies to mobilize public outrage within the very countries whose governments fund and promote these emissaries of false “humanitarian” narratives, these individuals and those behind them seek to pull at our heart strings in order to manufacture public consent for destructive regime-change operations that leave a trail of bloodshed and failed states in their wake.
This model, perfected in the Balkans, has been used to great effect in Syria with the help of many of the same individuals who have worked to disguise a regime-change operation originally planned by powerful, corrupt interests. The favored Empire narrative producer this time is a “ragtag, grass-roots band of ordinary altruists from all walks of life,” more commonly known as the White Helmets. However, even a rudimentary examination of the White Helmets funding and their extensive PR network, as well as the true nature of the group, negates any notion of “humanitarian” motivation guiding the group itself or its Western and Gulf State masters.
This callous, calculating manipulation of humanitarianism for the profit and expansion of Western empire is made all too clear in the destruction that these narratives and their principal actors have wrought upon Syria — helping to prolong the conflict and, as a consequence, increase the horrifying toll on Syria’s beleaguered population. The Syrian people are faced with widespread destruction of infrastructure, displacement and long term trauma from the effects of this predatory campaign waged by the West against a sovereign nation.
As we will see in Part 3 of this series, the web of the main actors driving this manipulation of narratives and public opinion shares innumerable connections to prestigious “charitable” organizations as well as to each other. Notably, the founders of the Jo Cox Fund — Tim Dixon, Nick Grono, Mabel van Oranje, Gemma Mortensen, and Brendan Cox — have not only been at the forefront of such efforts in Syria, but they have all spent the majority of their careers engaged in similar efforts to whitewash imperial military adventurism on behalf of powerful political and philanthrocapitalist interests.
Top Photo | Brendan Cox makes a speech during a Jo Cox memorial in Trafalgar Square, London, June 22, 2016. Alastair Grant | AP
Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist, peace activist, photographer and associate editor at 21st Century Wire. Vanessa was a finalist for one of the most prestigious journalism awards – the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism – whose winners have included the likes of Robert Parry in 2017, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Nick Davies and the Bureau for Investigative Journalism team. You can support Vanessa’s journalism through her Patreon Page.
Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.