Pentagon Paid PR Firm $540 Million to Make Fake Terrorist Videos
1 October, 2016
Pentagon paid a UK PR firm half a billion dollars to create fake
terrorist videos in Iraq in a secret propaganda campaign exposed by
of Investigative Journalism.
firm Bell Pottinger, known for its array of controversial clients
including the Saudi government and Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet’s foundation, worked with the US military to create the
propaganda in a secretive operation.
The firm reported to the
CIA, the National Security Council and the Pentagon on the project
with a mandate to portray Al-Qaeda in a negative light and track
Both the White House and General David
Petraeus, the former general who shared classified information with
his mistress, signed off on the content produced by the agency.
Bell Pottinger operation started soon after the US invasion of Iraq
and was tasked with promoting the “democratic elections” for
the administration before moving on to more lucrative psychological
and information operations.
Former employee Martin Wells told
the Bureau how he found himself working in Iraq after being hired as
a video editor by Bell Pottinger. Within 48 hours, he was landing in
Baghdad to edit content for secret “psychological
operations” at Camp Victory.
The firm created
television ads showing Al-Qaeda in a negative light as well as
creating content to look as though it had come from “Arabic
TV.” Crews were sent out to film bombings with low quality video.
The firm would then edit it to make it look like news footage.
would craft scripts for Arabic soap operas where characters would
reject terrorism with happy consequences. The firm also created fake
Al-Qaeda propaganda videos, which were then planted by the
military in homes they raided.
Employees were given specific
instructions to create the videos. “We need to make this style
of video and we’ve got to use Al-Qaeda's footage,” Wells was
told. “We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in
this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner.”
videos were created to play on Real Player which needs an internet
connection to run. The CDs were embedded with a code linking to
Google Analytics which allowed the military to track IP addresses
that the videos were played on.
According to Wells, the videos
were picked up in Iran, Syria, and the US.
"If one, 48
hours or a week later shows up in another part of the world, then
that’s the more interesting one,” Wells explained. “And
that’s what they’re looking for more, because that gives you a
The Pentagon confirmed the PR firm did work for them
under the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF) creating content
they say was “truthful.” The firm also worked under the
Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF). The Pentagon said
it could not comment on JPOTF operations.
prohibits the government from using propaganda on its population,
hence the use of an outside firm to create the content.
show the Pentagon paid $540 million to Bell Pottinger in contracts
between 2007 and 2011, with another contract for $120 million in
2006. The firm ended its work with the Pentagon in 2011.
2009, it was reported that
the Pentagon had hired controversial PR firm, The Rendon Group, to
monitor the reporting of journalists embedded with the US military,
to assess whether they were giving "positive" coverage
to its missions.
It was also revealed in
2005 that Washington based PR company the Lincoln Group had been
placing articles in newspapers in Iraq which were secretly written by
the US military. A Pentagon investigation cleared the group of any
Western Media Propaganda On Syria Continues
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