Saturday, April 8, 2017

'All the hallmarks of a false flag': How the Alt Right was manipulated

When listening to Mike Enoch's hilarious on-air meltdown on the Daily Shoah during Trump's bombing of the Syrian airfields, I was struck by one thing: the absolute certainty with which Enoch believed that the Sarin gas attack was a false flag. He seemed convinced that it had never taken place. After the attack, the false flag meme had swept the Alt Right - and the Far Left - like wildfire, and, at a political meeting I went to on the Friday of the Trump air strike, I was regaled with accounts of how the gas attacks were faked.

It's well known that Putin, as part of his disinformatsiya campaign against his opponents in the Ukraine and in the West, relies on 'savushkinas' - armies of paid Kremlin trolls. My suspicion was that the same 'savushkinas' were working overtime to disseminate the false flag meme on behalf of Russia and Iran's client regime in Damascus. It turns out my suspicions were correct. I've just found an amazing article, 'How the alt-right brought #SyriaHoax to America: Tracing the "false flag" claim back to a pro-Assad website' by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab), and after reading it, you won't be able to argue with its conclusions.

It contains a lot screenshots and graphics, and you should click on the link to view them.

Here's a summary of the piece:

A conspiracy alleging a chemical weapons attack carried out in northwestern Syria last week was a "false flag" operation orchestrated by "terrorists" opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quickly made its way from a pro-Assad propaganda outlet to leading members of the far-right media in the US.
The trail leading directly from Al-Masdar News to far-right entities like the conspiracy-trafficking site InfoWars was documented by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research (DFR) Lab, which uses open-source information to trace patterns of disinformation and hybrid warfare. Al-Masdar is run by Assad loyalist Leith Abou Fadel, who pushed a conspiracy theory in 2015 that a refugee tripped by a Hungarian camerawoman while holding his young son was a "supporter of Al Qaeda."
So how did the meme make its way from Syria to Australia, where my meeting took place?

The Al-Masdar piece was quickly "reproduced verbatim by at least three conspiracy sites:, and The Lifeboat News," according to DFR Lab. 
It was also quoted extensively in an article titled, "This is why CNN and all mainstream media must apologize for FAKE NEWS Syria chemical attack," which was published by the pro-Russia site The Duran.
On April 5, InfoWars, a far-right site known for peddling conspiracy theories, picked it up. It ran an article claiming the gas attack was a false-flag operation funded by the liberal business magnate George Soros and carried out by the White Helmets — a civil defense organization comprised of volunteer first responders that detractors have attempted to brand as a tool of Al Qaeda-aligned rebel forces.
The InfoWars article, DFR Lab wrote, "made the same claims, and used the same sources, as the al-Masdar story," merely "reversing their order."
Once the theory was in the crosshairs of one of the country's most notorious conspiracy theorists — InfoWars founder Alex Jones — it got help from one of Jones' biggest fans: Mike Cernovich, the self-described "new right" commentator whose work has been praised by the Trump administration.
"#SyriaHoax is hash tag of the day! Don't fall for #SyriaHoax!," Cernovich tweeted to his nearly 250,000 followers on April 6.
The hashtag was retweeted approximately 3,000 times by some 40-odd Twitter accounts — including fake accounts operated by Twitter "bots" programmed to aggressively pump out propaganda. DFR Lab suggested the idea for the hashtag may have originated with a month-old, pro-Russia account with 18 followers. 
Much of the hashtag's "initial viral appeal appears to have come from suspiciously hyperactive accounts that tweeted it dozens or hundreds of times in the space of a few hours," DFR Lab wrote...
The hashtag owed its success largely to Cernovich, who is an influential tweeter in his own right. However, part of that success was due to bots.
So the 'savushkinas' who spread this weren't even human. Here's an image:

Again, I urge my readers to click on the link and read the report all the way through.

The Business Insider story writes, 'That the alt-right would pick up on a hashtag aimed at villainizing forces opposed to Assad and Russia broadly aligns with its  crusade against establishment politics  and perception of the US as a globalist, imperialist power working on behalf of liberal elites'. So all of this done for politics. Keep in mind that Iran and Russia - and China - are global imperialist powers as well as the US. The Syrian conflict is a war, and in any war, all sides - and not just the 'globalist, imperialist power' the US - tell lies in order to influence public opinion. Evaluate your information - and the sources of that information - carefully, folks: don't accept any meme just because it's anti-US. Don't be a bot, and don't fall victim to the 'Trolls from Oligino'.

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