‘The Dirty Deeds of the Pentagon in Syria’: An Example of Russian Propaganda

September 28, 2016
Syria. Photo by Federal News Agency/Dmitry Zhavoronkov

‘The Dirty Deeds of the Pentagon in Syria’: An Example of Russian Propaganda

The following is a translation by The Interpreter of an article by Dmitry Pyatov that appeared September 18, 2016, in the Russian online news publication Federal News Service (FAN), titled “The Dirty Deeds of the Pentagon in Syria: How the USA’s
Friendship with IS Turned into an Explosion in New York

We are publishing it as an example of Russian propaganda and disinformation around the war in Syria.

The reader will note that the two experts quoted by Pyatov actually don’t confirm that claim made in the headline and the first paragraph, to the effect that the bombs in New Jersey and Manhattan were “payback” from ISIS for the US bombing of Syrian soldiers on September 17, which the US claimed was a mistake. This claim holds no merit. The errant US airstrike in Syria took place at 5 PM local time, approximately 10 AM on the US’s East Coast. The first bomb exploded in  Seaside Park at 9:30 AM and the failed attack was clearly planned in advance. 

We should note that contrary to what FAN says, US law-enforcers in fact have linked the bombing at the road race site in Seaside Park, NJ and the site in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City and other Manhattan sites and have apprehended a suspect.

According to research by Fontanka, an independent news site in St. Petersburg, Russia, FAN is part of the media empire of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the company Concord known for personally catering President Vladimir Putin and obtaining a number of lucrative food services contracts with the Defense Ministry as well as for founding Internet Research, Inc., which runs the “Kremlin’s troll factory”. 

FAN is widely reported to be part of the Prigozhin media empire devoted to publishing propaganda and disinformation notably about the wars in Ukraine and Syria.

Adrian Chen of The New York Times found that FAN was located in the same office building as the “troll factory” at 55 Savushkina Street in St. Petersburg, but in an interview with Chen, Yevgeny Zubarev, head of FAN, denied that his news agency was related to Prigozhin. Afterward, Chen found himself targeted by FAN and related publications in a smear campaign.

Thus, while FAN is not definitively tied to Prigozhin’s company, it nevertheless appears to be part of the pro-Kremlin network publishing articles like these which are careful — in the traditions of the best disinformation — to tell some truths and not outright lies.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Dirty Deeds of the Pentagon in Syria

by Dmitry Pyatov (translated by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick)

No sooner did the American Air Force bomb the positions of the
Syrian military in Deir ez-Zor, mistaking them for terrorists (as Washington
claims) than in the States itself two powerful explosions went off, and the
second caused a large number of victims. This provided an occasion for a number
of experts to conduct meaningful parallels between these events. Could a
situation have come about under which the USA made an agreement with the
terrorists, but they violated that agreement and organized a terrorist attack?
The Federal News Agency investigated.

The first explosion went off on Saturday afternoon at the
marathon in the state of New Jersey, and the second in the evening in the
Chelsea quarter in the center of Manhattan. In the first instance, fortunately
there were no casualties, but in the second, about 30 people were injured. US
law-enforcement agencies found no connection between these two explosions
despite the fact that New Jersey is not far from New York.

A video appeared on the Internet of the explosion in Chelsea
— after a loud noise and a plume of smoke, panic broke out on the street, and people
simply ran ahead regardless of the roads. Someone later described that it was as
if he had felt lighting strike the building and there was the smell of
gunpowder. Pieces of metal and shards of glass lay everywhere.

All of this seemed rather unexpected, especially in light of Washington’s latest actions in the Middle East: earlier the American Air Force had delivered four strikes on Syria troops encircled by fighters from IS (the Arab name is Daesh, banned in Russian Federation–RIAFAN). More than 60 soldiers were killed, and another 100 people were wounded. This helped the terrorist to rear their heads and even go on the offensive. The Pentagon later explained these actions as mistakes in calculations. But where these mistakes?

Anatoly Tsyganok, head of the Center for Military Forecasting, comments:

“Judging from everything, the Americans are playing their own game, regardless of agreements with Russia. They want obedience from all terrorists, so that they [the terrorists] fulfill their commands, but far from all are obedient. Despite this, the States supply the radical Islamists weapons. And those agreements which were made with Russia at the level of foreign ministries are torn up by the States. The issue of cooperation between Moscow and Washington will be decided in a week or two, and then if such a situation is repeated, Syria may declare the Americans persona non grata. Then war will nearly break out between Damascus and Washington, but such an option is extremely undesirable. The Americans categorically refuse to accept the government of Bashar Assad, but even so, they don’t know to whom power in Syria should be entrusted. All of the groups they support do not have a powerful capacity, and no one knows who is fighting them. A war of all against all is under way. In America, no one knows what the right hand and the left hand are doing. The Americans never implement their own decisions, and change them all the time.”

Another FAN expert, on the contrary, does not see in past and subsequent events direct and casual links. Only indirect ones. 

Vladimir Shapovalov, political commentator and director of the Institute of Politics, Law and Social Development of the Sholokhov Moscow State University for the Humanities believes:

“We can talk about how the actions of the USA in the Middle East for the last 10 years are a provocation for terrorists.If we take the events in Syria, the sponsoring and assistance to the moderate opposition leads to the States appearing with the terrorists as a united front. All their attempts to overthrow Assad turn against them. In Iraq, they tried to destroy the government of Saddam Hussein, in Libya, the government of Muammar Gaddafi. In each of these countries, the States enabled the terrorists. All of this increases the terrorist threat and has an effect on security throughout the whole world and on USA territory, and the active military intervention of the USA in the situation in the Middle East leads to the violation of the rights of the residents of countries, and that also leads to the growth of radical sentiments. We recall not the terrorist act not so long ago during the Boston marathon; now a terrorist attack is repeated in New Jersey, and also during an athletic competition. In all likelihood, new terrorists were inspired by the example of those radicals who acted in the States previously.”