NEW YORK (Web Desk) – Pentagon ( headquarters of the United States Department of Defense) paid a UK PR firm half a billion dollars ($540mn) to create fake terrorist videos in Iraq in a secret propaganda campaign, it has been exposed by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
According to the details, US military joined hands with PR firm Bell Pottinger which is renowned for its controversial clients including the Saudi government and Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s foundation, to create the propaganda in a secretive operation.
The basic agenda of the operation was to track the sympathisers of Al-Qaida by making fake videos of the organisation. The firm reported to the CIA, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.
Shedding light on the operation, a former employee of firm Martin Wells revealed how he worked as a video editor in Iraq.
The firm made television ads portraying Al-Qaeda negatively as well as creating content to look as though it had come from “Arabic Tv“. Bombings were filmed with low-quality cameras to make it look like news footage.
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.” RT News reported.
After carefully creating fake videos, they were uploaded in a format only compatible with Real Player to track down the ip addresses of the computers they were being run on.
Reflecting the allegation, 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) although Pentagon did not comment on JPOTF operations.
Although the firm ended the work with US in 2011 but it grabbed a whopping amount of $540 million between 2007 to 2011. An additional $120 million were also paid to the agency in 2006.
Back in 2009, it was also disclosed that US hired PR firms to monitor the reporting of journalists for positive coverage of US led operations.