News of Assad Assassination is greatly exaggerated

UntitledThere’s a strange story out there about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s assassination and possible death.  It has little merit but the sourcing is interesting.

Gateway Pundit  reported:   BREAKING: Assad Shot By Bodyguard – Hospitalized in Damascus – Posted by Jim Hoft on Sunday, March 24, 2013, 12:22 PM

The sourcing on this leads to a French publication, JSS.  Gateway Pundit listed the link as “Translated from JSS News:”

JSS,  a French online publication,  cites the “Arab Media” as its source on Assad’s death.  This is when the story falls apart.

“Update: According to Arab media www.eltira.org , Bashar al-Assad would have been seriously wounded by gunfire last night Saturday, March 23 by his bodyguard but Iran is not dead. He is currently hospitalized, between life and death, Shami Hospital in Damascus which the streets were closed.

“Proprietary information (in France): According to reports in the Arab press (and then republished in the Israeli press ) [NEWS1] information that journalists say they have “verified” the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad was killed this morning by one of his bodyguards. An important safety device has been set up at the hospital in Damascus.”  JSS News, March 24, 2013

Let’s look at what JSS calls the “Arab media.”  The first source was the web site www.eltira.org

A whois search for eltira.org revealed the following:  ”

Admin Name: Fadi Mansour, Organization: Fadi Mansour, City: tira hamsholash, Country: IL

But maybe the translation from French to English was misleading.  Surely, the JSS link to the “Arab press” means media out of an Arab country.  Clicking in the link gets us to Alarab.net with an Arabic front page.

alarablogoWrong again.   A whois search for alarab.net revealed the it is administrative, technical and billing contact is Fayez Eshtiwy of Eksal Village, IL, also located in Israel (see box right below).

Further searching revealed what IPAddress.com had to say about Alarab.net:  “When pulling the information for bab.Alarab.net, we found that the organization tied to”  “Israel’s leading internet and international telecommunications provider,” Bezeq International.

All this brought us back to truth in labeling Israeli media, News.  That organization reported the following (Hebrew with Google translation)

“Whois” on third?

We have a right-wing blogger in Washington referring us to a French news service specializing in Israeli diplomatic news, JSS,  which announces the attack on Assad and then gives a source that implies it’s the “Arab media” – eltira.org.  But it turns out the organization is registered in Israel.  The unambiguous “Arab news” source, Al Arab, has similar problems regarding Arab authenticity.  While the page is written in Arabic, the administrative contact is in Israel with the Alarab.net web site associated with a top Israel internet company.

Here’s how the story is reported in the Israeli media after all that massaging by Israeli focused or owned publications, we get the official story in the Israeli media (or maybe that’s fringe media).

news1revAssad. Is assassinated by a bodyguard? [Photo: AP]

“Arab media reported the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad. On – reportedly not yet been validated and have not yet received echo Western media, Assad [was]  fired [on by]one of his bodyguards.

“This is an Iranian officer named Mehdi Jacoby, who was attached to Assad on – by allies of the Syrian president in Tehran.

“Various reports published that Assad al-Shami was rushed to the hospital and in serious condition. Also reported the big fuss that has developed around the hospital and that all roads leading to the hospital were blocked – by the Syrian army. Also reported large military forces are in the hospital.” News1 (Translated from Hebrew)

What does he Arab media say?

Syran Arab News Agency?   Al Akahbar – English? Al Jazeera-English? Egypt Independent?

A whole lot of nothing. If you hear anything, let us know.

END

This article may be reposted with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

The New York Daily News is taking this seriously:  Unconfirmed reports of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s shooting highlight chaos in country

25 comments to News of Assad Assassination is greatly exaggerated

  • Tina

    I have been following this too today, I figured by Arab Press they meant some blog. ;) To me the red flag is that his Iranian bodyguard killed him. However in other more Syrian news: Syrian opposition in disarray as its leader resigns

  • There’s always more news on Syria and that’s a good link.

    This is so obviously bogus, I wonder what the point is?

  • Steve Hynd

    VERY nicely done bit of work, Michael and Tina. Kudos.

    • Thanks Steve. Assuming Assad is still alive, which seems reasonable, who benefits from this contrivance?

      • Steve Hynd

        Given the head of the oppositions figurehead group has just quit and Israel definitely has a dog in the hunt, I’d surmise it’s general morale-building agitprop, designed to make people think about Assad not being for ever. Many in the region and beyond will never get the news of the utterly dodgy sourcing. A classic case of a lie running around the world before the truth can get its pants on.

        • Tina

          Israel’s dog:

          Assad Confirmed Dead, Iran Attempts To Control Syria Army

          By Israel News Agency Staff

          Jerusalem, Israel — March 24, 2013 … Russian media sources have confirmed that Syria President Bashar Assad was shot by an Iranian bodyguard Saturday night.

          “The lone assassination pumped several bullets at point blank range into Assad,” said the source. “Assad was rushed to Al-Shami Hospital in Damascus in critical condition. He died on the operating table from heart failure resulting from massive blood loss.”

          An Israeli security analyst believes the report to be accurate.

          “In the last 24 hours have we seen Assad? Any photographs or video? No. Nor will we see any as loyalists who are closest to Assad have been threatened if any leaked photos or reports reach Western media. Iran is attempting to take control of the Syrian army and its wealth of weapons as Syrian solders are now deserting in mass. I don’t believe that the West will allow any Iranian control of Damascus.”

          “There was a reason why Barack Obama visited Israel. And it was not for a photo op with Miss Israel. I don’t think Netanyahu would apologize to Turkey or to anyone. But if it was between a dead Assad and saying sorry to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan I think there was no hesitation in making that telephone call to Ankara.”

          The Israeli analyst said that several events have taken place in the last 24 hours including the Syrian army shooting at an Israeli border patrol unit. It is believed that this action was coordinated by Assad loyalists who stood outside the dead President’s hospital room to deflect the global media from the assassination and to pull Israel into a war with the Syrian army. The leader of the Western-backed Syrian opposition coalition announced he was resigning.

          Moaz al-Khatib didn’t detail what motivated his decision, in a status update made on social media Website Facebook.
          But he did say that he now had the ability to “work with freedom that cannot be available within the official institutions.”

          Al-Khatib also said the international community has failed to adequately support the rebels’ fight against Assad.

          Opposition members from Syrian’s President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect demanded his overthrow today and urged their co-religionists in the Syrian army to rebel.

          “We call on our brothers in the Syrian army, specifically members of our sect, not to take up arms against their people and to refuse to join the army,” the delegates said in a news release after two days of meeting in the Egyptian capital.

          The Israeli analyst said that the Israeli army is on heightened alert in the North and the US is moving a battle carrier group off the Syrian coast. That the US would not tolerate any further action by Iran inside Syria and has warned Iranians to leave the country.

          “Assad had complete and total support from both Iran and Russia. They backed Assad in his bloody campaign which resulted in the loss of over 70,000 Syrian civilians. No one helped those Syrians except for one country – Israel. They have taken in dozens of wounded Syrians across the border who are now being cared for in Israeli hospitals.”

          “We can expect to see a photo of a dead Assad within 48 hours. There are many phone cameras in the pockets of those guarding his body. One of those photos would be worth almost a million dollars to the one getting that photo out to the Western media.”

          • Tina, as we reall Roseanna Roseanadana saying: “It’s always something.”

            The peroration, the rationale for a “strike” is right there in the article – Iran is going to take over the Syrian Army. That’s Bush II Iraq invasion class justification. The editor of the agency is Joel Leyden, a PR consultant who claims to be a moderate. Sounds a bit rash to me.

    • Tina

      Thanks Steve, Michael got a lot further than I did. I didn’t even know he was looking at the same story.

  • Tina

    Michael, reply button doesn’t appear for your Roseanna comment, but now Haaretz is in the act:

    IDF turns attention to Lebanon as Syrian army falls apart

    While Assad’s forces have reportedly lost some 13,000 men, and some 40,000 soldiers have deserted, Iran and Hezbollah are gaining access to treasure trove of weapons in Syria.

    Can we say proxy war? Will Israel go for Lebanon or Syria first ;)

  • adrena

    Oh, the intrigue … All hell is about to break loose.

    • What’s wrong with these guys (and I stress the gender, although HRC is one of the guys)?

      A rational person assuming power as president would look at the utter disaster of Iraq and, as a result, be extremely cautious of any meddling, particularly in the ME. But President Obama is every neocon’s sucker. He bit on more troops in Afghanistan. He took forever to leave Iraq (is taking;) He trashed, I mean trashed, Libya along with NATO. And, now, turning over the apple cart in Syria. I guess that leaves him very little time to negotiate our way into a rapprochement with Iran and an open trading relationship. That is the rational course. Make friends, sell them something, buy something, and so forth. But we don’t get that from this leader.

      I was in Canada a few years ago. The people we were visiting were making Cretien jokes. I said, “Are you nuts? That guy saved you more trouble by saying no to Bush.” they said calm down, we do it out of affection;)

      • JustPlainDave

        Excuse me? This is what “extremely cautious of any meddling” looks like. This narrative that you’ve built just doesn’t match reality.

        On Afghanistan he basically said, they get one more roll of the dice, but there’s an end date. Come 2014, they’re out of there with a very small residual capacity – if any overt residual capacity at all.

        Taking forever to leave Iraq – sorry, but that’s what an expeditious withdrawal looks like once one has been handed the shit sandwich they inherited.

        Libya is up to the Libyans and American involvement was very carefully calibrated – if the other NATO partners thought it was so important, they had to take the lead. That’s a very smart move.

        If this is galloping towards intervention in Syria, I’d hate to see what a slow walk looks like. If they were to move any slower, they’d be going frickin’ backwards in time.

        And Iran? I mean c’mon, one can make the case that they haven’t been as serious as they could have been with negotiations, but this notion that there’s some magic measure they could take that’s going to suddenly be so attractive to the current regime there? If you know anything about the structure of the Iranian economy and how power flows there, you know they don’t want open trading relationships.

        • You are excused.

          Meddling is when you give 20 million to the rebels for communications and say that it’s somehow OK because it isn’t arms. What do they coordinate assaults with, tin cans?

          Meddling is when you set up a base with Turkey in Adana, near Aleppo, and train folks to go across the border and kill and maim at n that ancient city.

          And, meddling, on a broader scale, is when the President of the United States tells the NYT that every Friday he sits down to personally pick out people to kill in Pakistan and elsewhere.

          “One more roll of the dice” means a lot of dead and injured people in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops. It cost $85 billion dollars, the current budget shortfall leading to sequestration. It’s been too long, the mission will never be defined, let alone accomplished. This is worse than meddling it’s malfeasance on the part of the chief executive and Congress.

          Leaving Iraq would have taken six months six years ago. Bill Richardson laid out the logic of that with proof in the Washington Post in an editorial. The Bush people handed themselves a lousy sandwich and forced us to eat it. What was accomplished by those extra years? Nothing.

          Libya is a disaster, totally unnecessary. There would have been no ongoing rebellion had NATO not dragged the rebel’s the finish line. Obama didn’t get his hands dirty. He got other NATO powers to do the dirty work along with the Gulf oligarchs. There’s a sucker born every minute.

          Seeking to open Iran for trade is infinite orders of magnitude better than the bifurcated policy of threatening war, the neocon dream, and trying to tame the neocons. What a pathetic spectrum of policy.

          The United States has a role to play in the world. But violence, war, and intrigue against other states is not in the picture. We’ve been there. We’ve done that. And it has been and will be a miserable failure.

          • JustPlainDave

            Shades of Dr. Evil. $20 million? ZOMG! $20 million is pocket change (even given that the current figure is actually a bit north of $100 million, it’s still pocket change) and those units aren’t what they’re using for C3I – look the stills, they’re running and gunning with handheld icons and Thuraya phones. The comms out of State is all agit prop hardware (sold as giving ground truth without needing to expose roundeyes to the danger of assaults against their Very Precious Persons).

            If the US is sitting there pulling the strings, why is it that the dominant policy question of the day is whether they’re going to have to start putting up armed UAV orbits so they can hit transnationals? Sorry, they’re predominantly on the outside looking in. They’re trying to influence the border nations and manage fallout – the guys really in the drivers’ seats are the Saudis and the Gulf powers. The US has a reasonable degree of influence on the Jordanians and somewhat less on the Turks – with everyone else, they got pretty much bupkiss in terms of issue-specific control. Their posts in neighbouring countries have two primary purposes – 1) to try and monitor what factions in country are in the ascendancy and develop intel on who the transnats might be “using”, and 2) to be ready for consequence management if the regime loses sureity over sensitive military technologies. The secondary purpose is to try and develop int that gives the policy echelon warm fuzzies about whether they know what’s going on. That’s about it.

            As to killing folks in Pakistan, it’s a little late for buyer’s remorse. That’s what’s buying the strategic room to withdraw from Afghanistan, which is what everyone jumped up and down and said they wanted. You don’t like it? Write this down on your hand: “Be careful what you wish for.” Don’t wash the hand, you’ll be needing the advice.

            Actually a viable mission has been defined. It’s called “paper it over and get the fuck out”. Thanks to the conditions that were imposed on the front end of the “surge” that’s now politically and militarily viable. This way, at least you got clarity even to the fucking pols. Before that, without that clarity and the consequent political space, you meander about, you keep futzing about with the real danger in Pakistani safe havens, you’d end up at the end of the process with absolutely zip. This way, at least you got a minimal set of military and political conditions for viable disengagement.

            Absolutely nothing was achieved with the slow withdrawal from Iraq? Wrong. Right now we’re looking at a relatively low level Sunni opposition that uses political violence as one tool among a number. That’s because they’re damped down by the institutions of the Iraqi state. Withdraw at a high tempo and the state would have had much less capacity, the Sunnis wouldn’t be damped down at all, the transnats would have much higher capability and the flow into Syria would be even worse than it is. Hate to tell ya, Iraq isn’t attractive, but it could have been made an awful lot worse by fucking off into the sunset too quickly. I remember the summer of 2007 even if everyone else seems to have conveniently forgotten – or never understood it for what it was in the first place.

            Yeah, I’m sure Libya’s totally unnecessary. Just like I’m sure that no one here would have been bitching at all if Libyan security forces had slaughtered Libyans in the thousands. Just like I’m sure that folks wouldn’t have ended up being all bent out of shape by everyone in MENA hating you even more than they do already ’cause of the inaction. You’ll have to pardon me again, but if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the past decade it’s that Internet commentators wouldn’t know a least worst option if it leapt up and bit them in the ass.

            As to Iran, again, give me a break. You know about zip about how Iranian formal and informal institutions operate and all you’re doing here is stringing together buzzwords. Trade is better than threat of war? No kidding. The issue is whether it’s at all viable. It ain’t, no matter how much you say it. Just saying stuff doesn’t make it magically happen, doesn’t matter whether it’s guys saying that war’s easy like them or trade’s easy like you.

            I agree that the United States has a role to play in the world and that exclusive reliance on kinetics is a real bad idea. However, from where I’m sitting that policy bankruptcy is in large part because United States citizens like yourself are failing TOTALLY in buying political space for better policy. You folks spend all your time building fantasy views of how the United States is pulling the strings behind the scenes rather than helping develop alternatives, apparently because you’d rather feel the “rush” and moral purity and simplicity of saying how the whole edifice should be torn down rather than strapping on the hard work of moving to fix things. You want to help the members of this community and Americans more generally? Start acclimatizing them to the central reality of coming decades – America is not calling the shots, it isn’t sitting behind the scenes pulling strings, it has much less influence than you think and the level of that influence is only going to decline over time.

          • To: JustPlainDave in reply to the above

            Every single thought and word above is predicated upon what? Why are we involved in all of these political and military conflicts in the Middle East and central Asia? It is for democracy? Is it to save lives? Or, is it the need to preserve the status quo of the fossil fuel economy with the stimulus of a politically dominant defense industry? I’ll let the readers decide.

            Absent some justification for all of this effort and suffering, you points amount to absolutly nothing. The ontological question is paramount. You did not and, from my recollection, you have never explained the presence of the European powers and United States?

            The size of the original contribution to the rebel cause represents one of the most frightening aspects of the current U.S, British, French, and Turkish efforts. Iraq cost over $1.5 trillion. That’s what it took to end up with 1.0 million or thereabouts dead civilians who otherwise would not have been dead were it not for the invasion and occupation. Now, for just a few hundred million contributed by the involved powers, a nation state is being destroyed and tens of thousands are dead.

            This is the new calculus of death, on the cheap.

            Your straw man argument about the U.S. influence is capsulized in this sentence: “You folks spend all your time building fantasy views of how the United States is pulling the strings behind the scenes.” First, you assume I argue for U.S. omnipotence whereas I used the term “meddling.” Second, I don’t spend “all my time” building the fantasy view you wrongly attribute do to me. I fact, I’ve been clear in a number of instances (particularly the Iranian election of 2009) that U.S public commitment to the opposition does not mean U.S. control.

            You said, “America is not calling the shots, it isn’t sitting behind the scenes pulling strings, it has much less influence than you think and the level of that influence is only going to decline over time.”
            The U.S is most certainly trying to pull the strings in many areas of the world – a coup in Venezuela, invading Iraq, the meddling in the Middle East. The best illustrations of the desire to “pull strings” (not necessarily the ability to or success therein) is found in: a) the way the US has divided up the world in to “Commands” – CENTCOM (Middle East etc.), AFRICOM, etc. How odd that a government without any desire to pull the strings sees the world divided by military commands. Also, what about drones? Find me a historical precedent. That’s not behind the scenes but it is certainly about control.

            I fell for the “prevent the slaughter” argument regarding the Libyan intervention, albeit very briefly. It wasn’t relevant since we’re not the world’s policeman. Second, the intervention was not to prevent slaughter, it was to be on the winning side of regime change or, better put, to create the winning side for regime change.

            You say I’m using “buzzwords” regarding the notion of trading with Iran. Let me remind you that there was a robust commercial relationship between Iran and the US prior to the fall of the Shah. There’s no reason that can’t return over time and every reason that the focus should be on something positive rather than the neocon goal of attacking that state.

            Your ad hominem quotient is unusually high in this thread. Rather than believe it’s gratuitous, I’ll assume that it is a way of distracting from the strength of the arguments presented.

          • JustPlainDave

            I hate to tell you Mike, but it’s pretty hard to tell you you’re personally pursuing the wrong strategy without it being “to the man”. This is very, very much about the man. It’s about whether this place is simply a podium for people to lecture from in the name of driving traffic or if it’s a place where people can obtain better understanding of things and in the process demonstrate that there is a significant body of political support for different initiatives and different, more subtle, more useful forms of power beyond the kinetic. From where I’m sitting, what we have here amounts to little more than a podium for ranting and it has been so for a very long, long time – and that’s a big part of the reason why there’s very few people around here who know anything of significance about military-political affairs (there used to be a fair number). There was a time long ago when the guys who run our version of The Early Bird for Staff kept this site on their morning roundup – I’d bet big money they don’t any more.

            All you’re doing here is piling up words to paper over the reality that the reader will obtain no increased understanding of these conflicts from the time they devote to this. I mean c’mon, the best evidence for an interventionist America is the regional organization of the military command structure? Really? That’s the best datapoint to prove that? How does that demonstrate that there’s political support for alternatives? If you stand up and say that you might as well wear a t-shirt that says “These are my convictions. I don’t know the details of why they’re my convictions or how we got here, but I really believe them – and I want you to believe them too.” That might get a “Testify!” out of the folks that already believe, but me, crazy old me, I’d like to convince folks that don’t already believe – that mass of folks who aren’t already one of the 227 registered members. And I’d like to convince them “hard” enough that they actually do something with that new perspective, such that maybe we might eventually get some new better options.

            Here’s some advice – if you want to change opinion, you have to know the details of the material, to describe reality in detail, explain what the levers are that the United States could use to act in its interests and particularly highlight how the non-kinetic levers are actually more potent than is currently understood and how they will continue to increase in potency. That means that you can’t cover everything under the sun. What we’ve been doing so far, this “I believe, you should believe too”? It’s not working, and it’s not going to work.

            As an example, that “robust commercial relationship” you’re talking about? It sounds great, but anybody who has a historical perspective more than 20 minutes deep knows that really big part of that was selling them GUNS in return for money (predominantly extracted from countries other than the US) from OIL. Lots and lots and lots of very sophisticated guns (famously DoD was directed to give them anything they wanted short of a nuclear capability) and a great deal of lovely cheap oil. (Exactly the type of thing that people hop up and down and scream about currently when it’s the other countries in the Middle East, I’ll point out in passing.) There was bilateral trade beyond arms, in heavy industrials and tech, but arms was the largest part, by a non-trivial margin. Right now, the big trade items are butter and bull semen. Call me crazy, but that’s not a basis for deep bilateral ties. The US and Iran each don’t have a lot that the other is willing to give them and they have other preferred markets and suppliers – quite apart from not taking any of this into account, there’s no discussion of what the challenges are of coming up with trade attractive enough to get an embattled country to give up pursuit of a nuclear capability. If you want to go beyond the buzzwords, you need to explain that – and then you have to hop over the hurdle of explaining how the powerful parties inside Iran who benefit from this “rent” would viably be sidelined. Do you maybe start to get why I’m saying there’s a gulf between the words that you’re using and reality?

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