British journalist and author Yvonne Ridley is a member of the RESPECT Party and a patron of Cageprisoners.
Well it has now emerged that the British Government used spies, lies and community leaders to spew out anti-Palestinian propaganda during the Gaza War. And the proof is there, in black and white, for any of you who care to wade through the weighty document called the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC).
Most MPs are still too busy trying to tot up the shortfall left by the expenses scandal, to leaf through the document which was quietly slipped into Parliament a few days ago.
But hidden among the layers of government-speak there is confirmation that a Government propaganda unit which was originally set up to tackle terrorism was used on a black propaganda exercise.
Its aim was simple – to promote Israel and depict the innocents suffering in Gaza as extremists and therefore, anyone helping these people must be themselves regarded as extremist. The aim, as always, was to frighten people, intimidate them and turn them away from showing any support to the besieged community of Gaza.
It could’ve been a huge victory for the Zionist lobby which has its tentacles reaching in to most government departments. We now know the top secret unit set about influencing and twisting British public opinion during the brutal Israeli attack on Gaza last year in which more than 1400 died.
The report also outlines a number of other steps taken by the Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU), including the creation of a network of community organisations.
RICU is linked to the UK Government's decidedly dodgy Prevent programme which was set up on the pretext of preventing "violent extremism." It’s a filthy little black propaganda unit … the sort of which operates in tinpot dictatorships and the type of which fell under the CIA control of most Latin American juntas in the 70s.
The activities of its grubby employees bends, corrupts and distorts democracies and it is shameful this Labour Government employs such tactics. The job of these shadowy types is to mobilise public and voluntary sector workers and ordinary people to Hoover up government policy and spew it out to friends, family and local communities.
The unit operators usually pick on naive and gullible community leaders moulding them into foolish propagandists for odious Government policies. Admittedly, some do it in the simple belief they are doing good for the community, while others are influenced by the seemingly generous bounty on offer. And then there are those who money can’t buy, but their egos can be massaged and swayed by the very notion of being awarded a gong … an OBE or MBE, or even higher. Down they fall on their knees as their imaginations are allowed to run out of control, egged on by whispers from their RICU handlers.
This nasty, secretive unit poisons public debate by planting the idea that any sort of opposition to the Government's foreign policy can only be viewed as support for "extremism." And all of this is done in the name of democracy because it is organized within a framework of suspect Government initiatives already notoriously linked to intelligence-gathering. It’s always difficult to quantify success, especially on a public as jaded and cynical as the Brits but they do target the more vulnerable communities in the UK, especially the Muslim communities.
My friends in the Scotland Against Criminalising Communities (SACC) cite the RICU and the wider Prevent programme as examples of this poisonous government influence. They say Prevent promotes views that are at odds with the views of most folk over the border and with the views of the Scottish National Party.
How I wish we could get the SNP into England – the nearest we have is the RESPECT Party led by Salma Yaqoob and founded by George Galloway, MP.
The rather shallow Prevent scheme encourages support for the war in Afghanistan - most Brits want the troops to come home – even the troops have had enough. But of course say that in any Muslim community and you’ll be reported, called an extremist; someone who should be monitored and put under surveillance.
And now it has emerged that the masters of Prevent, hidden deep inside the intelligence units of MI5 and Special branch, slithered around the community on a whispering campaign. While the dirty tricks were at play, the British Government appeared to be sitting on the fence agonizing silently over Israel’s attack on the civilian population of Gaza. But now we know those pained expressions on the face of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Minister David Miliband were either caused by acute wind or a RADA lesson.
As war crimes were being committed and the children of Gaza were slaughtered by the Israeli army, it now transpires some Prevent leaders went about urging people to remain quiet.
Read the contents of the report and ask your MP more about the Prevent programme. In short it is a shameful project which should be scrapped and denied anymore taxpayers’ money.
There, among the pages of the Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee are written boasts from the Home Secretary:
"During the Gaza conflict RICU ensured that the Government’s position was communicated… a major counter-narrative campaign has been initiated… a network of community organisations established… local partners in priority areas have been briefed and provided with communications advice… relationships have been built with key media channels… research into audience segmentation… has been completed… [and] guidance on communicating with Somali and Pakistani [communities] in the UK has been circulated."
And so the letter goes on – this is not British. This rails against our sense of fairplay and justice.
A report by the Institute of Race Relations in October last year certainly contradicts the Home Secretary’s view: "There is evidence that the Prevent programme has been used to establish one of the most elaborate system of surveillance ever seen in Britain."
Now if your little community project receives thousands of pounds from shadowy government organizations, ask yourself what is the real price of taking this money? What did your group do about the war on Gaza? Did you encourage your community to demonstrates, protest, rally, cry and shout for an unarmed community being bombarded and shelled daily for 22 days or more?
The war in Gaza was a crime against humanity – and perhaps you should ask yourself what did you do to stop it? By remaining silent, looking the other way or even just sitting on the fence doing nothing while innocent women and children were slaughtered in their hundreds puts you in a rather strange position? And while remaining silent over mass murder is bad enough, did you actually start to brief your community against taking action?
Were you encouraged to prevent others from taking a stand, or did you encourage people to remain silent? Does your group or community accept funding from Prevent? Prevent is an intrinsically racist initiative set up to target the Muslim community and to buy silence. Can you afford to remain silent any longer?
- The latest Annual Report of the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) is at www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/346792/isc-annualreport-0809.pdf
- The report by the Institute of Relations, entitled "Spooked - how not to prevent violent extremism is at http://www.irr.org.uk/pdf2/spooked.pdf