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April 16, 2015

The Richard Engel Kidnapping Fake - MoA Scooped MSM By 28 Month

The veil is lifting a bit over the slew of the "bad Assad" propaganda stories that built the case for the war on Syria. The New York Times reports today: NBC News Alters Account of Correspondent’s Kidnapping in Syria

NBC News on Wednesday revised its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, saying it was likely that Mr. Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by a Sunni militant group, not forces affiliated with the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

Moon of Alabama questioned the original Richard Engel story at that time and found that the whole "kidnapping" and "rescue" was likely a completely staged event:

Professor As'ad AbuKhalil, the Angry Arab, has reason to not believe that story and has indications that these were not Assad loyalists but FSA insurgents playing the role of Assad loyalists for a fake media stunt.

There is now new evidence that this was indeed a fake event and that, whatever Richard Engel may believe, he and the people with him (which included one ever unnamed "British engineer" who is more likely some special operations guy) were not in the hands of Shabiha but in the hand of well known experienced video fakers.

We had earlier looked at the fake citizen journalist Khaled Abu Salah who created and distributed fake videos about "Assad atrocities" sponsored by the shady U.S. para-government organization Avaaz. He was, as we documented, involved in the Richard Engels stunt. This led us to ask:

How come that this known serial producer of fake videos is involved in a murky kidnapping case that looks like a propaganda set up for "western" media consumption?


  • Who smuggled Richard Engel into Syria? Was it Avaaz?
  • Did "Danny" and Khaled Abu Salah knew that he was coming?
  • Did they prepare the kidnapping and the liberation of Richard Engel?

Some of the answers may be found if Richard Engel explains how he came to meet Khaled Abu Salah for this interview. Engel should urgently answer that question.

Engel still does not come clean on this issue. His new account of the fake kidnapping only comes, as HuffPo writes,

.. after new information surfaced suggesting he may have been misled about the identities of his captors, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The New York Times had recently started a new investigation about the case and only that has led Engel to "revisit" the issue - that is to cover his old lies with new ones.

His bosses at NBC put Engel on air with sectarian talk even when it knew that his story was very likely wrong:

NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.

Two years ago it was clear to the Angry Arab and to me that the Engel account was very wrong from start to end. The Daily Beast then added some details pointing out that NBC "reported" a story it knew to be wrong:

[T]he sources say the gunmen who seized the crew may also have included rogue members of the rebel FSA–something top FSA commanders are keen to obscure. According to one source, “NBC’s security advisers were convinced that there was some FSA involvement in this and contacted wealthy Syrian-American donors of the rebel group, pointing out that Richard had been supportive of the uprising against Assad. They urged them to put pressure on the FSA. They really screwed down on them.” Top FSA commanders were alarmed and promised to help.

How is that now, more than two years later, "new information"?

The alleged "Shabiah" show of the "kidnapped" Engel was clearly fake and the "rescue" by the fake "moderate Sunni rebel" journalist pointed to a bigger plot. 

Engel's lies continue. He now admits that the dead "he had seen" were not seen by him at all.

In his Vanity Fair article, Mr. Engel described one of his captors lying dead. In his statement Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did not see bodies during the rescue.

Engel still speaks of dead kidnappers and a firefight during which he was "rescued". But the NYT found a witness that lets one seriously doubt this:

Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release “we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.” He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.

So Engel still does not say how he was really "rescued" and how he immediately thereafter came to sit down with the video and news faker Khaled Abu Saleh. In the video Khaled Abu Saleh gets lauded by Engel as part of the group that freed him. That group was Ahrar al Shams who are pure Bin Laden Jihadists. Did Engel, an Arabic speaker, not notice that? What by the way does Avaaz, with whom Khaled Abu Saleh cooperated, knew about his relation to Jihadists?

Neither has NBC's Richard Engel come clean on this nor have the NYT or HuffPo really dug out the back story.

That back story would reveal that "western" secret services, with the help of para-government organizations like Avaaz and some paid Syrian "revolutionaries", created false stories and videos about the "bad Assad regime". That back story would explain that "western" journalists from outlets like NBC, the NYT, including the writer of today's piece on NBC C.J.Chivers, and HuffPo willingly took part in and propagandized those scams even when they were known to be quite obvious lies.

Posted by b on April 16, 2015 at 11:24 UTC | Permalink


This is why so many people rely upon youm, b, and moonofa and the other amateurs who love the truth and live to uncover and examine it, unswayed by the buck.

Thank you b, for all you've done, do, and - I hope - will continue to do as the years unfold.

The MSM is worse than mind-deadening, worse than a waste of time, it is wall-to-wall disinformation and hazardous to the health of the world and all the living things upon it.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 16 2015 12:26 utc | 1

Half a world away; the MSM is not ever trusted and almost never read.
With the rainy season immanent (and welcomed), only trusted, independent news sources are perused. And even then, verified.
Having been fooled too many times; nothing is trusted; nothing is believed.
Verify, verify, verify...

Posted by: V. Arnold | Apr 16 2015 12:49 utc | 2

Dear b,
check in the comment section here for new information on the fact the Aleppo's Medecins sans frontières hospital was used as a hub to dispatch the so-called journalists and activists
Based on revelations from George Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, "Les Chemins de Damas"
and this comment
" I think the most interesting section of Malbrunot and Chesnot's book deals with the Khan-al-Assal chemical attack in March 2013 which they attribute to the Syrian opposition with the al-Nusra Front as the “number one suspect”. They state that “the UN investigated” this attack, and quote Moktar Lamani, the UN Special Representative in Syria at the time, as telling them:

"A rebel group allowed chemical substances in through the border post of Azaz. An insurgent opened the products, which immediately provoked spasms. He died the next day. Informed of the incident, the al-Nusra Front immediately surrounded the village and demanded the return of the products in question, under pain of an all-out attack. The jihadists recovered the products. We contacted the leader of the group that possessed the substances at the beginning. He acknowledged that he had given them up to the al-Nusra Front".
It's unlikely that Lamani didn't report his findings to the UN Secretary-General, and that that the Secretary-General wouldn't have passed this information to the US and UK governments. If so, the intelligence assessments issued by the US and UK governments after the Ghouta attack, stating that there was no evidence that the Syrian opposition possessed CW agents, were deliberately misleading. An article by Philip Giraldi in November 2013 described dissent among US intelligence analysts in the summer of 2013: “These concerns were reinforced by subsequent [to a National Intelligence Estimate completed in late 2012] UN reports suggesting that the rebels might have access to their own chemical weapons.” This may be a reference to Lamani's report of the Azaz incident.

Posted by: Mina | Apr 16 2015 13:01 utc | 3

Good one b.

Posted by: jo6pac | Apr 16 2015 13:52 utc | 4

Another good reason to peruse MOA, and avoid the corporate media. Kudos b.

And the forces of disinformation, here in the US, are working overtime to destroy Net Neutrality.

Posted by: ben | Apr 16 2015 14:22 utc | 5

Excellent post, b. NYT spins the story into an ordinary tale of greed gone wrong. They make it out to seem like the FSA branch, the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was just out to make money and the effort to pose as Assad partisans was merely an afterthought to cover their tracks. When in actuality I'm sure the false flag was the primary mission.

Chivers and his co-authors don't draw the obvious conclusion: if FSA working with Islamist groups like Ahrar al-Sham were hatching and executing false flag operations in December 2012 (when Engel was nabbed), why not Ghouta in August 2013?

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Apr 16 2015 15:53 utc | 6

Engel has dealt in fantasy "front lines" reporting for years. His whoppers make Brian Williams blush with envy.

Posted by: Dirty | Apr 16 2015 15:54 utc | 7

thanks b.. i would like to echo others comments - jfl on down..

aside from reconfirming my views on the huffpo, the views on avaaz are especially interesting.. there seem to be a lot of these types of organizations on the net today seeking to gather information on people thru the idea of signing petitions. one of the first ones i was exposed to was ''.. it smelled funny to me right from the start... another one i ran across yesterday - turns out this one might be okay, but i do wonder about sites that collect data on my personal views, especially political - when they don't reveal much of anything about who they are..

i am not convinced of internet activism thru these mediums and continue to wonder if in fact these organizations are serving some other purpose.. your article today highlights a suspicion i have held for some time. thanks.

Posted by: james | Apr 16 2015 16:50 utc | 8

Meanwhile in Ukraine, eight opposition politicians have either been suicided or murdered. Recently, Oles Buzina, a Ukrainian journalist, who was pro-Ukraine but anti-kiev regime, was fatally shot by two masked assassins outside his apartment. I guess 'Reporters Without Borders' will be on the case of the assassinated journalist real soon now. Another Ukrainian anti-regime blogger, Anatoli Sharii, must be feeling very nervous now.

Posted by: Yonatan | Apr 16 2015 18:59 utc | 9

@Yonaan #9:

Surprise, surprise, Ukrainians are blaming Moscow for the murders, and the Western press are taking such claims seriously.

Reuters: Murders of pro-Russian lobbyists increase tension in Ukraine standoff

And Ukrainian opposition journalists and politicians get called "pro-Russian lobbyists" by Reuters, which makes the murders OK, I suppose.

The US State Department propanda outlet Der Spiegel also calls Buvzina "pro-Russian" as opposed to belonging to the opposition in its headline:

Ukraine: Prominenter russlandfreundlicher Journalist ermordet

Posted by: Demian | Apr 16 2015 21:33 utc | 10

P.S. Colonel Cassad reports that an SBU Web site which lists "enemies ofd Ukraine" listed Buzina as "liquidated".

Posted by: Demian | Apr 16 2015 22:29 utc | 11

jfl, ben, james and others,

ECHO, ECHo, ECho, Echo, echo:

Yeah, It is why I always, every morning, check into MoA. I read this post this morning when the comment section was 0. I thought exactly what y'all posted. Thanks for saying it and supporting b.

And thank you b for your continuing vigilance and acuity.


Posted by: juannie | Apr 16 2015 23:17 utc | 12

P.S 2 to #10::

If you listen to or read this interview with Buzin from last Monday, it becomes utterly clear why he was assassinated. (In typical Ukie fashion, the interviewers cut off his microphone several times.)

A very brave man. For being a sane Ukrainian voice, he gave his life.

BTW, there was a phone in poll about who listeners find more trustworthy, Ukrainian Pravda or his blog, and the audience voted 56%-44%. (The Ukie prestitute called that "practically half and half.) Another reason he had to be killed.

Posted by: Demian | Apr 17 2015 0:13 utc | 13

Piling on to the Engel debacle, Glenn Greenwald links to b, December 19, 2012

Other knowledgeable bloggers raised all sorts of questions about whether Engel’s captors were actually Sunni rebels posing as pro-Assad soldiers.

We who read moa daily are consistently a year or three ahead of the curve on what's up, in the Middle East especially. And b continues playin' real good for free. Thanks again, b.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 17 2015 0:40 utc | 14

Glenn Greenwald had this to say , weakly giving MoA credit:

Other knowledgeable bloggers raised all sorts of questions about whether Engel’s captors were actually Sunni rebels posing as pro-Assad soldiers

One had to hold the cursor on the hot link "raised all sorts of questions" to realize the "hot link" linked to MoA's Dec. 19, 2012 article.

Posted by: erichwwk | Apr 17 2015 0:55 utc | 15

gotta chime in appreciation. thank you b.

Posted by: lizard | Apr 17 2015 4:25 utc | 16

One suspects that the MSM has overdone its ratfink role in Info Management.
I was in the supermarket yesterday and had the following exchange with my favourite checkout chick...

CC: "I haven't read a newspaper or listened to, or watched, the news for three weeks."

HW: "And do you feel better?"

CC: "I do. I really do. The world seems much less gloomy, and it's getting better."

HW: "I know what you mean. Something's gone wrong with the News and I'm not convinced it's accidental.

CC: "I don't think it is either...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Apr 17 2015 4:35 utc | 17

ot @9 yonaton and @10 demian - kremlin stooge poster yalensis is saying Gerashchenko’s online hit-list Mirotvorets is the site giving the releasing addresses and personal info.. interesting court of law they have going on their.. here is a video discussing the same.. all links are in russian, so good for demian, but not many others..

ot note on off guardian also at ks..
"OffGuardian was fatally sabotaged by one of its own admins the other day. The site is down and if we hadn’t fortuitously mirrored it a few days earlier everything would be gone.

But some slightly good news is we have already relaunched at (note the hyphen!)"

Posted by: james | Apr 17 2015 6:03 utc | 18

OT: b this might be a story for MoA. Some commenters on the ZEIT found some interesting stuff on Ukrainian websites with servers in Dallas.

Sorry for the long links.

Posted by: Fran | Apr 17 2015 8:33 utc | 19

There goes Samantha again:

Oh the activists aka rebels aka FEE Syrian army or al_Nusra are such choir boys and Bad Assad tautology needs to be pushed on

Posted by: Yul | Apr 17 2015 13:59 utc | 20

I don't understand why the NY Times would turn on NBC for lying about this kidnapping. The Times was quite willing to lie us into the Iraq war through Judith Miller. I don't recall NBC ever calling them out on that.

Posted by: ToivoS | Apr 17 2015 15:25 utc | 21

Agreed with everyone re msm, I just want to add that the level to which the news is not just spun but entirely fabricated and/or 100% the opposite of the truth/reality has been kicked up a notch lately, it's completely insane. Surprised no one mentioned the House hearing yesterday or day before concerning online media, bloggers, the "conspiracy theorist" community and the hordes of Russian propagandists littering comment sections, who along with RT are poisoning the minds of the world- and how all this needs to be countered with massive amounts of money to US organizations to get THEIR truth out, THE truth as they claim to see it, which they may or may not believe. But the info war is going to get real nasty here real quick, we've already seen the opening salvos in France and Google ad sense dropping and some other sites, that's just the beginning of some serious draconian measures to come in order to drive independent media out of business. And we need Indy media now more than ever.

Posted by: Colinjames | Apr 17 2015 17:20 utc | 22


I'm watching what Comcast will do vis a vis RT. The powers that be really want it taken out.

Posted by: chuckvw | Apr 17 2015 19:08 utc | 23


Thanks for the link to the BBC's account of the UN hearing; it covered more than I had heard from American sources. Interesting that this is chasing the Engels story about the faking insurgents out of top news coverage. Along with the handy map showing just how near Idlib is to the Turkish border, this bit is interesting:

The attack on Sarmin came just days after the UN Security Council approved a resolution that condemned the use of toxic chemicals such as chlorine in Syria, and threatened military action in case of further violations.

It's also worth noting that the testimony and film was compiled by the Syrian American Medical Society, an organization that, according to NPR, has taken a pro-insurgent stance from early in the conflict:

The Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, has a long track record of supporting health care in Syria.

But as Syria's 18-month revolt has grown more lethal, these Syrian-American doctors have sided with the revolution and undertaken risky work delivering medicines and volunteering in field hospitals.

Even if these doctors' account of the gassing is accurate, the SAA is not the only organization in the area with helicopters. Turkey has funneled arms and supplies to the insurgents from early in the conflict; also, the SAA has abandoned some helicopters in some of the northern bases that have come under insurgent control. The timing of these chemical attacks are just as suspect as some previous incidents, during a UN inspection or within days of a UN resolution.

In her memoir, Clinton admits to conferring with Turkish leaders about what events would trigger a US intervention (oh, who will rid me of this troublesome president!?):

In mid-August, I headed to Istanbul ...

Although there had been continuous consultations between us and the Turks since the conflict started, I thought we should intensify operational planning by our militaries in order to prepare contingency plans. What would it take to impose a no-fly zone? How would we respond to the use or loss of chemical weapons? How could we better coordinate support for the armed opposition? The Turks agreed, and two days later Davutaglu and I got on the phone to discuss our thinking with the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain, France and Germany.

So, now we're at the latest attempt to use a false flag to trigger intervention.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Apr 18 2015 0:36 utc | 24


' But the info war is going to get real nasty here real quick ... Google ad sense dropping and some other sites ... '

I picked up on that and wrote to on it. Why are you silent on this? I asked. No answer. Whatever Google, Facebook, and the rest of the billionaires club do is OK with ... after all, they're billionaires themselves.

Class interest is thicker than 'the public' interest.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2015 7:21 utc | 25

@jfl #25:

So Richard Stallman is a billionaire? I didn't know that.

Maybe EFF have noticed that there is a new McCarthyism in the Anglosphere, so they chose not to endanger the cause of free software by getting involved in a geopolitical conflict that they would have an insignificant impact on in any case?

As for Google, even the EU is fed up with it. Let the EU bureaucracy and European citizens who care about their privacy take care of Google.

Posted by: Demian | Apr 18 2015 7:57 utc | 26

' The Electronic Frontier Foundation was formed in July 1990 by John Gilmore, John Perry Barlow and Mitch Kapor ... '

I'm sure they're all better men than I am, but they are all of the libertarian stripe. They may not be billionaires, maybe only hundred millionaires. But they go easy on the 'entrepreneurial' class because there're all buddies. They are anti-state but pro-corporate. They know on which side their bread is buttered ... when the ones in the rack are their not-so rich libertarian 'brothers' at ... its the money that talks. Or that doesn't, in this case. Thats where the solidarity seems to lie.

Richard Stallman is not listed as being 'on the board' at Is he? I didn't see him mentioned.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2015 11:14 utc | 27

I see the case on Google in the EU ... maybe they'll act. I'm sure you'll tell us all when they do. I'm afraid the EUnuchs are on the TTIP corporate payroll. But maybe I'm dead wrong. Maybe they'll stop supporting the NAZIs in Ukraine, too.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2015 11:18 utc | 28

The cause is larger than geopolitical conflict ... it is repressing journalistic freedom by tightening up the financial screws. It's corporate 'sanctions' applied to news they don't want to see ... or their buddies presently on the other side of the revolving door at the USG don't want to see.

Western neo-liberal governments' and neo-liberal corporate interests are the same. Neo-liberal corporations own the government. At least that's how it appears to me.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 18 2015 11:27 utc | 29

Chomsky on Yemen (audio, scroll down)

Posted by: Mina | Apr 18 2015 14:22 utc | 30


I just read that Thousands March Against TTIP in Germany

Attac, an alterglobalization association who had called for a "global day of action" against free trade all over the world, estimated that 15,000 people marched in Munich — 3,000 according to authorities, while protests also took place in German cities of Leipzig, Stuttgart, Frankfurt. About 400 more reported in the world on the same day.

Helmut Edelhauesser, 52, said he would prefer a free trade deal with Russia: "The U.S. push for world domination is unacceptable. Obama sends out drones to kill people and wins the Nobel peace prize. This has to stop."

Merkel, however, expressed several times its support for the free-trade treaty with the United States, although her allies in the government, the social-democrats, remain divided on the issue.

Protests are good. Great to hear the truth from Helmut! But Merkel does not care what the people want. She's on board for her patron, just like the good ole days in East Germany. Just a different patron now. The 'social-democrats' ... the Demoblicans to her Republicrats, in American terms ... are 'split' ... aka, ready to go along with whatever Merkel's patron decides. Which is a foregone conclusion.

But maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by: jfl | Apr 19 2015 6:28 utc | 31

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