The UK regime is a primary player in the ostensibly US-led coalition whose objective for the last seven years, has been the removal of Syria’s President Assad and the inevitable imposition of a so called “moderate” Islamic State upon the people of Syria. This campaign has led to the destabilization of Syria and destruction of infrastructure across much of its territory. Not to mention, the wholesale suffering endured by the Syrian people under attack from NATO member state sponsored terrorism and punishing economic sanctions. It is therefore ironic that the UK Government funds the Syrian “opposition” via its Conflict Stability and Security Fund (CSSF):
“The Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) provides development and security support to countries which are at risk of conflict or instability. It’s the only government fund which uses both Defence spend and Official Development Assistance (ODA) to deliver and support security, defence, peacekeeping, peace-building and stability activity.”
Previously under the heading ‘Conflict Pool‘, the CSSF is a £1bn-plus slush fund dedicated to providing “development and security”, according to the UK Government overview.
“The CSSF has been allocated £1.163 billion for 2017 to 2018. It includes over £300 million mandatory contributions to peacekeeping operations.” ~ CSSF An Overview
From the outset, CSSF spending has been shrouded in secrecy, particularly with regards to Syria.
Following a recent Parliamentary Question from Baroness Caroline Cox, it has been confirmed that the UK FCO has financed the Syrian “opposition” for three years through the CSSF:
“The value of the CSSF for Syria is £69 million in the current financial year, was £64 million in 2016-17, and £66 million in 2015-16.” – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, FCO
Over the period of three years the UK government has poured almost £200 million of tax payer funds into a failed proxy military intervention in Syria. However, the British government will not release the names of the recipients of this funding and make the claim that they are not providing lethal aid:
“This support to the moderate opposition has included political support and non-lethal equipment. In terms of equipment, we have provided communications, medical and logistics equipment. We have also provided equipment to protect against chemical weapons attack. For security reasons we do not disclose the names of groups supported.” – Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, FCO
“We’ve spent £200m in Syria – for nothing. It is now clear that British backing for the ‘rebels’ in the Syrian civil war was not just a mistake, it was a disaster. The policy made a horrific war much worse, and facilitated the growth of ISIS. Though the Government said we were helping ‘moderates’, the main beneficiaries were Al-Qaeda and other jihadists…”
The Go-Betweens in East Aleppo
During my time in East Aleppo in 2016/17 with Syrian journalist, Khaled Iskef, we translated documents (in Arabic) found by Iskef, that referred to two UK organisations, Adam Smith International and Integrity Global in connection with the funding of Syrian “opposition” structures in East Aleppo.
These documents were found among the debris of the various Nusra Front (Al Qaeda in Syria) centres, East Aleppo Council buildings and White Helmet centres. It is noteworthy that these three entities operating in what was terrorist occupied East Aleppo until December 2016, always worked alongside one another, either sharing facilities and buildings or next door to one another in the various districts of East Aleppo where they centered their activities.—
Both Adam Smith International and Integrity Global are funded by the UK FCO via the CSSF to offer “assistance” to the Syrian “opposition” and this has been achieved via a variety of outreach agents, one of which is the Tamkeen Project, which claims to “build resilience in Syrian communities” and which establishes, funds and supports the “local councils” in terrorist held areas such as East Aleppo and Idlib. Appropriately, Tamkeen means “empowerment” in Arabic.
“Launched in 2013, and run by development consultants Adam Smith International, Tamkeen is different to anything else being funded by the global community in Syria. It is the first programme to combine the provision of aid – in the form of schools, hospitals and services as basic as waste management and water treatment – with the perilous job of trying to create the foundation for legitimate government in a war zone. In short, it is building democracy from the bottom up. And doing it as the bombs fall.” – The Guardian
The following video was filmed in the Ma’adi district of East Aleppo in July 2017 and shows a Tamkeen financed East Aleppo Council building opposite a former garage that was requisitioned as a Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) bomb-making factory. Watch:
This image (below) shows the black powder that Nusra Front used to pack inside shells & gas canisters, similar to what is used inside DIME or “Tungsten” bombs deployed against Gaza by Israel in 2012 and 2014. These missiles would release the metal nano-particles on explosion and the particles are transferred from the wounds to the internal organs of the victims, causing inoperable damage and eventual septicemia from which there is usually no recovery.
These deadly missiles were used on a regular basis against the 1.5 million Syrian civilians in the Syrian Government-protected West Aleppo during the terrorist & extremist occupation of East Aleppo. According to civilian testimony, after the liberation of East Aleppo, these missiles were also used against civilians in the occupied districts by the terrorist factions who then blamed such attacks on the advancing Syrian Arab Army.
Brita Hagi Hassan, “Mayor of Aleppo” with former French President, Francois Hollande December 2016. (Photo: Sputnik)
The Tamkeen Project birthed and then nurtured the “Local Councils,” operating in what was terrorist-occupied East Aleppo. According to Brita Haji Hassan, the self-proclaimed “mayor of Aleppo” 2016, in an interview with the Guardian, the programme provided (East) Aleppo city council with £ 820,000 (May 2016).
While Hassan took great pains to describe his assumed “municipality” as “liberated Aleppo”, he naturally avoided mentioning the Nusra Front dominated terrorist presence that was committing atrocities against the Syrian civilians who dared to resist their occupiers’ extremist ideology or brutal oppression. Hassan tried to reinforce the myth that very few Nusra Front fighters remained in East Aleppo in December 2016 and that they were outnumbered by the “moderates” who had elected Hassan to his post as their representative. A representative of the associated “democratic institutions“.
Democratic institutions… such as the Sharia court in the Ma’adi district Eye & Childrens Hospital compound that had been occupied by ISIS until 2014, then by Nusra Front in coordination with the Al Shameya Front & other extremist brigades. The following interview with Ahmad Aldayh was conducted in May 2017. Aldayh had been imprisoned in this particular “democratic institution”.
“The terrorists arrested a guy, the only child of his family. They arrested him because they found a picture of one of his friends carrying the Syrian flag, on his mobile phone. The terrorists tortured him for three hours, then they executed him”
“Returning to the subject of this pseudo-mayor, Brita Hagi Hassan, I can assure you, he is mayor of nothing. Nobody in Aleppo had ever heard of him before he was magicked out of nowhere by the West. […] I ask all my friends in the West, please don’t believe your media & government lies and I have one message for the media: Enough! Stop lying!”
The Adam Smith Scandal
In March 2017 the founders of ASI were forced to abdicate their roles when the UK government allegedly froze future contracts over questions about its ethical integrity. According to a Guardian article:
“Last month DfID cut off funding after it emerged that ASI, which has been entrusted with £450m in development cash since 2011, had tried to profiteer by exploiting leaked department documents. It was also heavily criticised for trying to “unduly influence” a parliamentary inquiry by engineering “letters of appreciation” from beneficiaries of its projects.”
A statement from ASI said three founding executives – Andrew Kuhn, Amitabh Shrivastava and Peter Young – would step down as it “completed its transition to an employee-owned company“. William Morrisson, a founding director and ASI’s executive chairman would also resign after leading the disgraced company through its “restructuring” & “reform” programme.
The DFID (Department for International Development) was further embarasssed as the Commons International Development Committee described ASI’s actions as “deplorable”, “entirely inappropriate” and said those involved had demonstrated “a serious lack of judgement”. Euphemisms for back channel corruption of the highest order.
However according to a Times article in September 2017, it appears that all promises of reform were merely paying lip service to the ASI detractors and there had been no intention of bringing an end to the ASI fraudulent & profitable procurement practices:
“The chairman of a controversial aid consultancy has been ousted after an aborted attempt to resume bidding for government contracts.
Adam Smith International (ASI), which has received hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, has been tarnished by scandals and claims that it has made excessive profits from aid contracts.
It is being investigated by the Department for International Development (Dfid) after officials found that it used “improperly obtained” government documents for commercial advantage. It has also been criticised by MPs for helping to write “letters of appreciation” submitted to an inquiry into the use of aid contracts. Four executives stood down this year and the company announced reforms after pressure from the government.” ~ The Times
Photo from Daily Mail article: ‘How Britain pours £568m of YOUR money into war-torn Somalia despite ‘certain’ risk it will be stolen by ISIS and used to fund terrorism.’
Perhaps rather naively, one might assume that the scandal that had affected DFID would be transferred over to the UK FCO CSSF managers. A quick look at the UK FCO spend ‘over £25,000’ for 2017 certainly shows continued payments being made to ASI, including in the updated entry on 29th September 2017.
In fact, in the month of August 2017 alone, ASI received £ 3.79m from the UK FCO. It appears that the FCO is happy to be using a known criminally questionable & corrupt conduit to transfer funds that will almost certainly make their way into the hands of internationally proclaimed terrorist groups and their affiliates, this time in Syria.
East Aleppo Council
Factions in east Aleppo announce formation of "Aleppo Command Council" in attempt to bring groups under 1 command pic.twitter.com/FqC4TdxEJc
The Aleppo Command Council, a unification of all eastern district “councils,” was set up mid November as the fierce battles for the liberation of East Aleppo from western backed terrorist factions were drawing to a close. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) allied advance was tightening the noose around the final terrorist enclaves that included the Old City of Aleppo and the Omayyed Mosque, where these photos were taken. So the last stand by the Tamkeen established, UK FCO financed, Local Council was reaching its finale.
A study of the photo & the nature of its subjects might give a few clues as to the terrorist affiliations of these Council members but one individual in particular stands out, Omar Salkho. Salkho (see image below) was a member of US backed “moderate” extremist group, Harakat Nour al Din Zenki & is seated in the centre of the photograph. This group’s notoriety rose to prominence after they publicly tortured and beheaded Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa in July 2016.
Did the UK FCO ‘overlook’ the terrorist activities and affiliations of the Local Councils they were financing by proxy just as they had overlooked the criminal fraud and seedy double-dealing conducted by ASI?
UK FCO-financed Terrorism
AbdulAziz Maghrabi seated centre, with Ahrar Al Sham fighters. (Photo: Maghrabi’s Facebook page)
In December 2013 a militant fighter, Abdulaziz Maghrabi (seen above) was elected President of the East Aleppo Council. At that time, aforementioned Hagi Hassan was his deputy. In an Al Araby article that focused on Maghrabi, he informed them that he had been with the Muslim Brotherhood-Qatari-backed Al Tawhid Islamist brigades when East Aleppo was first invaded in 2012. He was then elected to the presidency of the East Aleppo Council AND he helped form the “civil defence” aka the White Helmets in East Aleppo in 2013, with the backing of the international sponsors & creators of this hybrid, pseudo first-responder organisation.
According to a report in Al Monitor, al-Tawhid Brigade’s military commander, Abdul Qadir al-Saleh, made the following statement in 2013:
“Saleh recently praised Jabhat al-Nusra and “the high coordination between them and the rest of the factions fighting on the ground. … [There is] great coordination with them on the military side.” That was not the first time he made such a statement. In April, he expressed his “complete rejection to include Jabhat al-Nusra on the US terrorism list,” adding that the group didn’t engage in terrorism.”
When I spoke to crew members of the former East Aleppo REAL Syria Civil Defence who had been expelled from East Aleppo by the militant groups, they told me these groups had taken over the East Aleppo centres in 2012-2013, killing many crew members, kidnapping others and stealing their equipment. One crew member told me they had tried to force him to stay and work with them, but he succeeded in escaping to the secure, terrorist-free West Aleppo which remained under Syrian government protection throughout the Nusra Front-led occupation of East Aleppo until December 2016. In his haste, he had been forced to leave his teenage sons behind in East Aleppo.
White Helmets and terrorist factions had marked him for assassination should he try to re-enter East Aleppo via any of the terrorist checkpoints. Other crew members told me how they & their families now working & living in West Aleppo had been deliberately targeted by militant factions in East Aleppo, even during rescue missions.
Maghrabi (better known as Abu Salma) did not relinquish his terrorist connections at any point. He remained an active member of Nusra Front according to testimony from Syrian civilians & ex-fighters in East Aleppo who resumed normal life in Aleppo after the final evacuation of terrorist factions in December 2016. Maghrabi has regularly been photographed with Ahrar Al Sham and at demonstrations with Nusra Front militants.
In this photo, Maghrabi is seen being interviewed by Halab Today TV, during an East Aleppo, Nusra Front demonstration in September 2014 (Nusra Front black flag can be seen in the background):
Maghrabi posted the following video to his Facebook page in August 2017, paying tribute to the Ahrar Al Sham militants in the video – “A year ago, with one of the good guys before the launch of the Ramousie battle”. Ahrar al Sham were preparing the campaign to prevent the SAA and allies retaking the Castello Road, an arterial humanitarian supply line for Aleppo civilians and an essential weapons entry point for the terrorist groups occupying East Aleppo:
While the US and UK have steadfastly refused to designate Ahar Al Sham a terrorist organisation, it is worth noting that in October 2016, “a German court convicted four supporters of hardline Islamist group Ahrar Al-Sham, who supplied munitions and equipment worth thousands of dollars to Syria, of aiding terrorism. It may serve a precedent for further trials.” This landmark decision marked Ahrar Al Sham as an atrocity-committing, international terrorist group operating in Syria:
“Describing the radical group as “a foreign terrorist organization” that seeks to portray itself as a member of the so-called moderate opposition in Syria, the court cited the group’s public acknowledgments of mounting suicide attacks and preparing assaults on Alawite villages.” ~ Aiding Terrorist Groups
Ahrar Al Sham are included in the Fatah Al Sham (Army of Conquest) alongside Nusra Front. This terrorist “Army” is led by child-suicide-bomber-trainer, Riyadh educated Sheikh Abdullah Muhaysini. The following excerpt is taken from a video filmed in the Hama countryside earlier this year, featuring Fatah Al Sham fighters, White Helmets and Muhaysini welcoming terrorists from Daraya. Watch:
Maghrabi was therefore, undeniably, a terrorist at the same time as he was both president of the UK FCO financed East Aleppo Council & the founder of the White Helmets in East Aleppo who are also financed by the UK FCO, via the infamous CSSF, among a number of other international sponsors which include the US, via USAID & Chemonics, Qatar, Holland, France, Germany, Japan, Denmark, Canada. Those offering logistics support or training to the White Helmets include New Zealand.
White Helmet jackets with East Aleppo Council logo on sleeve, found in abandoned White Helmet/Nusra Front centres in East Aleppo. May 2017. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
The close connection between East Aleppo Council and the White Helmets are demonstrated by:
1. They are both funded by the UK FCO CSSF (among other sponsors) via various intermediaries. For the White Helmets, it is Mayday Rescue that acts as the primary laundering agent for UK FCO funds.
2. Their operating centres in East Aleppo were always next door to each other and alongside Nusra Front military centres – and also alongside UK FCO funded “Free Syrian Police.”
3. The White Helmet group in East Aleppo was established by the president of the East Aleppo Council (EAC), Maghrabi, who has clear affiliations to terrorist groups inside Syria. Maghrabi is also an active militant member of those groups, by his own admission.
4. White Helmets in East Aleppo, Idlib and other terrorist occupied areas of Syria have consistently and unreservedly proclaimed allegiance to terrorists groups such as Ahrar Al Sham and Nusra Front on their social media accounts. A recent survey carried out by the Syrian War Bloghas identified 65 White Helmet operatives who have professed their membership of, or alliance with, extremist groups. This survey analysed more than 200 digital media accounts belonging to individual White Helmets and the investigation is ongoing. The 65 accounts that have been highlighted are the most extreme, but all other accounts also displayed extremist tendencies.
White Helmet team leader in Idlib reveals allegiance to Ahrar Al Sham via his Facebook posts.
5. The East Aleppo Council logo was seen on the sleeve of White Helmet jackets left behind in the abandoned White Helmet centres in various districts of East Aleppo. The White Helmets were evacuated from East Aleppo in December 2016 alongside the Nusra Front-led militant and extremist factions. Photo below shows White Helmet, Ismail Alabdullah, wearing the White Helmet uniform with the East Aleppo Council logo on the left sleeve of the jacket. (Photo: Alabdullah’s Facebook page)
White Helmets receiving awards from Ahrar Al Sham with “moderate” extremist FSA flag in background. (Photo: Screenshot from AS video)
6: In the following infograph you will see that Hagi Hassan had replaced Maghrabi as president of the EAC by 2016. Hassan accompanied overall leader of the White Helmets, Raed Saleh (upper left-hand corner of infograph), to Paris in October 2016, where they were both welcomed by former French president, Francois Hollande and given access to the Assemblee Nationale. The East Aleppo “Local Council” working hand in hand with the White Helmets and terrorist groups in Syria, while lobbying for military escalation or faux-humanitarian intervention from the US coaliton, in this case, France.
Infograph by Vanessa Beeley showing funding chain from UK FCO to the terrorist-led White Helmets and the terrorist run East Aleppo Council, via ASI, Integrity and the Tamkeen Project.
A little further evidence of the UK FCO close working relationship with the Tamkeen Project can be demonstrated by UK FCO’s Special Representative for Syria (based in Turkey) Gareth Bayley and his letter to the Tamkeen team, regarding the loss of their leader, Ayman Sheikha during battles for East Aleppo in November 2016.
Unfortunately, Bayley never expressed such personal concern or condolences for the 11,000 plus civilians murdered in West Aleppo by the hell cannon gas canister missiles, mortars, grad rockets, explosive bullets, chemical weapon attacks, snipers, suicide bombers emanating from terrorist controlled East Aleppo during the 5 year siege by the very organisations the UK FCO had been financing during that time. The majority of Syrian civilians maimed or killed in West Aleppo were children.
On November 7th 2017, Labour MP, Emily Thornberrychallenged UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson in Parliament. Thornberry asked Johnson to provide assurances that the CSSF funds were not going to extremist or international terrorist groups inside Syria. Johnson ignored the question.
[Editor note: Thornberry misread her brief and cited figure of £20 million instead of the correct £ 200 million]
With reference to the UK FCO funding of what are clearly terrorist controlled “opposition” groups, the most recent questions tabled by Baroness Cox have asked whether the UK Govt can be sure that funds are not going to proscribed organisations with past or present links to Al Qaeda or associated extremist groups in East Aleppo and Idlib, via Tamkeen:
1. With reference to Lord Ahmed’s answer of 20 September (HL 1252) will the government clarify the role of Tamkeen in delivering UK support for moderates in Syria; in particular will the government make clear which local councils are receiving UK assistance through Tamkeen, and will they state whether individuals associated with proscribed organisations, notably those with links past or present to Al Qaida, are members of those councils or have been members during the periods in which the councils have received assistance?
2. With reference to Lord Ahmad’s answer of 20 September (HL1252) will the government clarify whether the assistance they have channelled through Tamkeen has been spent in areas of Northern Syria presently under the control of Hayat Tahrir Al Sham (the jihadi coalition led by the organisation which changed its name from Al Nusra), and the jihadi group Ahrar Al Sham, and whether that assistance continues to be made available to those areas?
“International law is indifferent to the perceived legitimacy of the state and to the form of government; both democracies and authoritarian regimes have the right to fight insurgencies and to defend themselves from external powers which aid the insurgents. Either way, it falls under the domestic jurisdiction of the state. Foreign powers are prohibited from assisting insurgents. General Assembly resolution 2131 (XX) declares that “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.” This was reaffirmed by the International Court of Justice in Nicaragua v. USA. The injured state is even entitled to adopt countermeasures against the intervening state.” ~ Amal Saad
Promotional poster for the new UK-backed “Local Councils”, the Free Syrian Police and White Helmets found at a White Helmet base in East Aleppo (Photo: Patrick Henningsen @21WIRE)
The White Helmets, the Free Syrian Police, the Local Councils in terrorist held areas of Syria – are all being financed, promoted, equipped and supported by the UK FCO in its campaign to undermine the Syrian state, its people & its leadership. Money that is taken under false pretences through taxation is almost certainly funding terrorism that has undergone various branding, and rebranding schemes in order to conceal this nefarious activity.
Questions must not only be asked, they must be answered, and a full investigation into what has been “done in our name” should be demanded, so we may stem the flow of cash-for-terror into Syria, before we too, are implicated in the criminal, rogue-state foreign policy of our morally bankrupt government and its allies in the imperialist War Bloc.
“They Dont Care About Us – White Helmets True Agenda” – since my intervention at the Geneva Press Club on November 28th, where I presented the evidence in this article, the Tamkeen website is no longer available:
Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.