Pentagon Caught Paying PR Firm $540 Million to Make Fake Terrorist Videos

isis-propagandaBy Claire Bernish

According to a new joint investigation by the Sunday Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Pentagon paid a PR firm based in the U.K. over half a billion dollars to make fake terrorist videos in Iraq as part of an enormous propaganda campaign.

PR firm Bell Pottinger fabricated short TV segments designed to imitate Arabic news networks and “fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee,” reports the Bureau.

High-ranking U.S. military officials worked with the firm’s employees at Baghdad Camp Victory to create anti-terrorism propaganda to imitate the real thing, the Bureau claims.

Besides the Pentagon, Bell Pottinger’s list of clientele reads like the who’s who of unsavory characters — Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s foundation, Margaret Thatcher, and the government of Saudi Arabia, for example.

Bell Pottinger’s former chairman, Lord Tim Bell, reportedly confirmed to the Times collaboration on a “covert” military operation “covered by various secrecy agencies” — and reported to the CIA, the Pentagon, and the National Security Council.

According to the report, the firm was brought to Iraq and began working shortly after the United States first invaded, under the condition it negatively portray Al Qaeda — and then track who watched the propaganda.

Both the White House and General David Petraeus, then commander of coalition forces in Iraq, signed off on the program — thus the president was almost certainly well aware of its existence.

“In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the US military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells – who no longer works for the company – told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was ‘shocking, eye-opening, life-changing,’” the Bureau reports.

By tracking U.S. Army contracts, records of federal procurement transactions, reports for the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, corporate records from Bell Pottinger, and more, the Bureau was able to discover the extent of the program.

One military contractor, who spoke with the outlet to explain the three types of labels given to media operations, or Ops, used in Iraq during that time, said:

White is attributed, it says who produced it on the label. Grey is unattributed and black is falsely attributed. These types of black ops, used for tracking who is watching a certain thing, were a pretty standard part of the industry toolkit.

Records revealed the operation involving the PR firm cost well over $100 million each year — and at its height, employed more than 300 British and Iraqi staff.

All told, the Bureau “identified transactions worth $540 million between the Pentagon and Bell Pottinger for information operations and psychological operations on a series of contracts issued from May 2007 to December 2011.”

A former Bell Pottinger employee, Martin Wells, discussed his unusual job with the Bureau in an interview, saying he had no idea what the job was about when he came on board in 2006.

“You’ll be doing new stuff that’ll be coming out of the Middle East,” the video editor was told by his agent.

“I thought ‘That sounds interesting,’” Wells recalled. “So I go along and go into this building, get escorted up to the sixth floor in a lift, come out and there’s guards up there. I thought what on earth is going on here? And it turns out it was a Navy post, basically. So from what I could work out it was a media intelligence gathering unit.”

For the ‘grey ops’ portion of the work, the employees crafted television commercials showing Al Qaeda negatively, and others involved making segments designed to look as if they’d been “created by Arabic TV,” Wells noted.

Bell Pottinger film crews went on location to tape low-definition bombings by Al Qaeda, which would then be edited appropriately for believability, voiced over in Arabic, and distributed to TV stations in the region — though the outlets weren’t always made aware of the American involvement in such segments.

Writes the Bureau:

The third and most sensitive programme described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. He told the Bureau how the videos were made. He was given precise instructions: ‘We need to make this style of video and we’ve got to use al Qaeda’s footage,’ he 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.’

US marines would take the CDs on patrol and drop them in the chaos when they raided targets. Wells said: ‘If they’re raiding a house and they’re going to make a mess of it looking for stuff anyway, they’d just drop an odd CD there.’

Those CDs were made to play using Real Player, which connects to the Internet to operate, and, as Wells told the Bureau, ‘the team embedded a code into the CDs which linked to a Google Analytics account, giving a list of IP addresses where the CDs had been played.’

Only three people had access to who was tracked in this way, he explained — himself, a U.S. military commander, and a senior manager at the PR firm.

Bell Pottinger did work for the DoD under the Information Operations Task Force, the Pentagon confirmed for the investigation, but insisted the information it distributed was “truthful.”

However, an unnamed and thus unverified U.S. defense official confirmed Wells’ account that Bell Pottinger also performed work under the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF) — bringing to mind similarities to Operation Mockingbird.

Wells explained to the Bureau, “We’d get the two colonels in to look at the things we’d done that day, they’d be fine with it, it would then go to General Petraeus. If [Petraeus] couldn’t sign off on it, it would go on up the line to the White House, and it was signed off up there, and the answer would come back down the line.”

Clearly, the military would have interest in shifting the regional narrative in its favor — but continued government hijacking of the media seems at best highly questionable, and at worst, detrimental to the very idea of a free press.

Bell Pottinger cut ties with the U.S. military propaganda operation in 2011, when the unit it worked with left Iraq.

Claire Bernish writes for, where this article first appeared.

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20 Comments on "Pentagon Caught Paying PR Firm $540 Million to Make Fake Terrorist Videos"

  1. “We now live in a nation where doctors destroy health, lawyers destroy justice, universities destroy knowledge, governments destroy freedom, the press destroys information, religion destroys morals, banks destroy the economy….& neocon psy-op/ spin doctors destroy reality.”….(tribute to Michael Ellner)

  2. And the truth is ‘out there’ but not on the boob tube, nuthin but lies and damn lies.The beast in the east has no credibility, they are all criminal and all complicit.
    more reason to say:

    • So is using the internet, gsp, highways, courts, police and fire departments……using without paying taxes is theft! Fortunately, only the poor pay taxes.

      • There is absolutely NO reason for anyone to pay tax! Taxes are NOT used as revenue for the government and definitely not the source for infrastructure development! This is the reason why so many Trillions can be wasted and stolen and no one actually cares! Taxation is a scam and is primarily a method of ablating the wealth from the population.

        Start on a process of waking up Dale!……..Unless, of course, the trolling is too lucrative for you?

        • iF YOU don’t pay taxes, you are stealing when you use devises created with public funds, such as the internet, gps, highways, etc. I suggest you GO TO ONE OF hose nations without taxes. No roads, no food safety, no fire department, no public schools, etc. And don’t come back until you are willing to pay for the services y ou use. LOL>

          • Doug Stevens | October 4, 2016 at 5:16 pm |

            You are incredibly ignorant regarding “government revenues”.

            You are trying to convince people that it is their “tax money” which is allowing them to use highways, GPS, internet etc. That is complete bullsht.

            How could the fed “print” 85 BILLION dollars a month for years, call it “quantitative easing” and spread it freely around the banking industries for their exclusive use and benefit?

            In the case where the Sovereign state creates its own Sovereign money it will use that money as the source of liquid to float its own existence and also as a hydraulic pump at the core of that country’s industrial economy.

            The population is supposed to extract money productively from “the government”, not the other way around where “the government” parasites on the population while all the “primary money” disappears down that gigantic black hole like the “quantitative easing” type scam.

            Get rid of that enormous, bloated arachnid Parasite that has attached itself to the state, usurping/annexing the currency function of the state and start creating SOVEREIGN money and the taxation system will be exposed for the extortion racket it is!

  3. Most Americans live in a world lit only by a candle, then a light is turned on and the shadows now reveal themselves for the evil we suspected, but tried hard to ignore. The light now shows indications of a larger evil behind that still.
    Like peeling an onion, there are many layers, and you have to ask yourself if what I believe now is really the truth?
    It can be confusing if you listen to the rhetoric instead of looking at the results.
    Look at what they do, not what they say. Use your own judgment. Look at the result of their actions.
    Question everything.

    Eventually, and it may be right now, the Internet will be completely compromised and you will be forced to go face to face with communications. Better to move to that position NOW than later out of desperation.
    Believe me, if they can infiltrate all of the facets of our lives that they already have, the Internet would not be a very big deal, and because all of us have been conditioned to rely on it so much, it is inevitable.

  4. Many have said for years the original ISIS snuff videos were a part of the same black operations. The US MSM couldn’t wait to advertise their newest mercenary terrorist forces to the gullible public. If only these people could put as much effort into telling the truth. But when you do illegal, immoral things for unsavory reasons, the truth is the last thing you want people to know.

    • Exactly. Maybe a good way to discern if what you have is the truth.
      The truth empowers people and frees them, so when you hear something, ask yourself, does this free me, does it empower me or curtail me.
      This statement is meant for all that read it.

  5. He lost me at Margaret Thatcher being unsavory!

  6. mind boggling when one thinks of what can be purchased when having access to unlimited amounts of counterfeit money supply.

    • You must be counterfeit if your money is not accepted anywhere. Shells, etc were once used AS MONEY, but of course, they were very expensive to buy! LOL!

  7. The idea that the videos were made to track anyone who watched them doesn’t sound right to me. It’s much more likely that the Pentagon was attempting to recruit because, remember, before the Americans invaded Iraq, there was NO al-Qaeda. Until the CIA looked up their old database from Afghanistan and began contacting and recruiting from all over the world mercenary proxies that would rip the solidarity of the Iraqi people apart, and bring horrors to the people unimagined. Tot rack the viewer seems really nonsense to me.

  8. Where are the sources? Where can I trace this article to something that by default is undeniably a fact? Until then, I choose not to believe this. This is ridiculous.

    • You make a point of not investigating the links supplied in the article?

      • I have clicked on the links (though it’s possible I didn’t click on all of them). My overall concern is not with the information, but that it’s the same information cloned over multiple websites, most of which I have trouble verifying as a reputable source. No “.org,” no original footage of this propaganda that was supposedly shown to multiple people, no transcripts. It seems to be national interest, but I can’t find anything reputable. A blog website just won’t convince me, I’m sorry.

        • Well, I suppose one will have to fully investigate the credentials of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism but I find Activist Post quite authentic and trust worthy.

          Also, this revelation seems to exactly correspond to the methods and m.o of the CIA and the Pentagon so I am quite convinced that many of these obviously fake videos could have been commissioned by these US State Department swamp critters. I’m only a little surprised how much money have gone into only one production company for such low quality work. Considering the costs of some of the high quality James Cameron epics.

  9. This is the kind of crap the Usurped ztates does with our hard earned taxes. So much b.s.
    TAXATION is THEFT and Unconstitutional.

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