New evidence suggests Trump fell for WMD scam in Syria

By: Rachel Marsden

MOSCOW — In April 2018, President Donald Trump ordered the Pentagon to launch missile strikes against Syria. The president’s son Eric told London’s Daily Telegraph that the decision was influenced by Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who was “heartbroken and outraged” by images of what appeared to be women and children suffering from a chemical attack in the Syrian city of Douma. Eric Trump added that the president’s unilateral decision was proof that he’s willing to defy Russian President Vladimir Putin, who condemned the knee-jerk military response.

Trump gave a seven-minute TV address to accuse Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being responsible for the alleged atrocities. “The evil and the despicable attack left mothers and fathers, infants and children, thrashing in pain and gasping for air,” Trump said. “These are not the actions of a man; they are crimes of a monster instead.”

France and Britain rode shotgun in the adventure, joining the U.S. in attacking Syria with more than 100 missiles. Syria was hardly in a position to defend itself, knowing that any attempt to do so would be considered further proof of its belligerence.

But evidence has emerged that suggests it may all have been a lie.

The Organization of Prohibited Chemical Weapons (OPCW) is the internationally recognized entity tasked with investigating chemical weapon attacks, and its final report, dated March 1, 2019, found the presence of chlorine in the Douma area. In gas form, chlorine is considered a chemical weapon.

However, a recently leaked memo from one of the fact-finding team members, Pakistan’s Aamir Shouket, sent to the OPCW’s chief of cabinet at the time, British diplomat Robert Fairweather, two weeks before the public release of the interim report in July 2018 accused the OCPW’s Office of Directorate General of doctoring critical facts.

Shouket took issue with the report describing the detected levels of chlorine as “high,” arguing that “they were, in most cases, present only in parts per billion range, as low as 1-2 ppb, which is essentially trace quantities.” He added that it was disingenuous to deduce that the chlorine detected on surfaces was derived from gas, since such quantities of the chemical can also be found in more common items such as bleach.

According to Shouket, the OPCW omitted details about how the choking and frothing symptoms displayed by victims in video recordings made by the White Helmets — a so-called humanitarian group that former French ambassador and Syria expert Michel Raimbaud described to me as the “armed humanitarian branch of al-Qaeda” — were inconsistent with what was observed by witnesses at the time of the alleged attacks.

Just days after the Douma incident, a Russian official, Lt. Gen. Viktor Poznikhir, told reporters: “On April 7, probably the last attempt to stage a chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta was made. The notorious White Helmets, who operate as part of terrorist groups, staged and filmed a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the town of Douma.”

WikiLeaks obtained a memo addressed to the director general of the OPCW from an anonymous member of the fact-finding team claiming that “about 20 inspectors” expressed their concern about the official account of the findings published in the final report.

“At the conclusion of the in-country activities in the Syrian Arab Republic, the consensus within the (fact-finding mission) team was that there were indications of serious inconsistencies in findings,” the memo said. “After the exclusion of all team members other than a small cadre of members … the conclusion appears to have turned completely in the opposite direction.”

When inspectors examined the site, they found two gas cylinders. A leaked report authored by OPCW engineering team member Ian Henderson earlier this year concluded that there was a “higher probability that both cylinders were manually placed … rather than being delivered from aircraft.”

It seems likely that Trump and his Western allies were manipulated into bombing Syria. At the time, the response was considered largely “symbolic,” since the targets were obscure and most of the missiles were reportedly intercepted. Nonetheless, committing an act of war against a sovereign nation to simply send a message is dangerous. Once that Pandora’s box is opened, rapid escalation is always a distinct possibility — particularly in the powder keg of today’s Middle East.

On Oct. 19, Trump tweeted about the Iraq War: “We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. There were NONE!”

As more leaks emerge, the Douma episode is showing how easy it is for a U.S.president to be fooled into rushing headlong into military action.