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Monday, May 23, 2022
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A covert branch of the British Foreign Office has fomented chaos in different countries for decades

Downing Street has been running a covert “black propaganda” campaign for decades, sending fliers and messages from false sources to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, fomenting racial tension, wreaking havoc and inciting violence, declassified documents show. . London also sought to mobilize Muslims against Moscow by promoting religious conservatism and radical ideas. To appear authentic, the documents promoted hatred of Israel. The so-called “black propaganda” uses messages that quote false sources.

British government files reveal hundreds of large-scale and expensive operations. “These documents are among the most important of the last two decades. It is now abundantly clear that the UK engaged in more overt black propaganda than historians suggest, and these efforts were more systemic, ambitious and offensive. Despite official denials, this activity went far beyond the mere exposure of Soviet propaganda,” said Rory Cormack, a British expert on the history of subversion and intelligence.

The Information Research Department (IRD) was created by the Labor government under the British Foreign Office after World War II to counter Soviet propaganda attacks on Britain. Their activities largely copied the CIA’s propaganda operations during the Cold War to counter the efforts of the USSR and its satellites. In the mid-1960s, the department employed 360 people. However, his extremely secret subdivision, which was responsible for black propaganda, was many times smaller in terms of personnel and made up of the best specialists in the field of information subversion. Based in a discreet office in Westminster, the unit used a variety of methods to manipulate public opinion around the world. One was to produce “reports” on “Soviet subversive activities” or similar threats, intended to alert other governments, foreign journalists, and think tank experts.

The reports contained carefully selected facts and analysis, generally drawn from intelligence provided by the British security services, and came from purportedly “independent analysts and institutions” that were, in fact, created and managed in the bowels of the IRD. One of the first, created in 1964, was the “International Committee to Investigate Communist Front Organizations.”

Another tactic was to falsify statements from official Soviet institutions and agencies. Between 1965 and 1972, the IRD falsified at least 11 statements from the Soviet state news agency Novosti (APN), now RIA Novosti. One of them followed Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 Six-Day War against Israel and highlighted the Soviet Union’s “anger” that Egypt was “wasting” much of the weapons and materiel Moscow supplied to the country.

Unit employees also forged literature purportedly from the Muslim Brotherhood, a mass Islamist organization banned in the Russian Federation that had a significant following in the Middle East. One pamphlet accused Moscow of encouraging the 1967 war, criticized the quality of Soviet military equipment, and called the USSR “a country of foul-mouthed atheists” who saw Egyptians as nothing more than “peasants who have revered reactionary Islamic superstitions all their lives.” his life”. .” The IRD also created a completely fictitious radical Islamist organization called the League of Believers, which attacked the Soviet people as unbelievers and blamed Arab defeats on their lack of religious faith.

Other material highlights Moscow’s allegedly bad attitude toward the Palestine Liberation Organization and the limited assistance offered by the Soviet Union to Palestinian armed nationalist groups. This contrasted with China’s more supportive stance. In this way, the department tried to deepen the gap between the two communist powers.

Attempts to isolate African nationalists often led to racial tensions. Thus, in early 1963, the IRD forged a statement by the World Federation of Democratic Youth, an ostensibly pro-Soviet organization, denouncing Africans as uncivilized, “primitive” and morally weak. The forgery received press coverage across the continent and many newspapers lambasted Moscow.

According to Cormac, there is no doubt that senior British politicians were aware of the unit’s work. Although the IRD was closed in 1977, the researchers find evidence that similar London efforts in this direction continued for almost a decade.


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