The JIM’ll Fix It: UN Joint investigative Mechanism (JIM) ‘Fixes’ Syria Evidence

Earlier this month, the Joint Investigatory Mechanism (hereafter the JIM), a panel of ‘independent’ individuals set up by the UN to assign blame for reported chemical weapons incidents in the ongoing war in Syria produced its 7th report. In this report they concluded “the Leadership Panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017.”

However, a closer reading of the report shows that the evidential basis for their ‘confidence’ is very contentious, that their analysis was flawed, that they refused to ask many obvious questions, that they have misrepresented many key facts and otherwise show a clear intention of favouring one particular interpretation over all others.

By way of summary, here’s a (not exhaustive) list of some of the counter evidence that they either ignored or waved away in order to reach their conclusion:

· Evidence of serious, possibly fatal, injuries suffered by ‘victims’ AFTER being ‘rescued’ (completely ignored).

· Evidence of bizarre medical ‘treatments’ being applied to alleged victims (considered, but spuriously dismissed).

· Radar track show aircraft flying no closer than about FIVE kilometres from the town (considered, but spuriously dismissed).

· Evidence of dozens of ‘victims’ admitted to hospital BEFORE the alleged attack took place (noted, but spuriously dismissed).

· Evidence of the wind direction being 180 degrees opposite to that reported by the JIM (completely ignored).

· Dubious circular logic employed throughout the report.

· There is nothing like a consensus amongst the JIM’s experts on what caused the alleged impact crater (disguised in the report).

· Evidence that the crater was tampered with (noted, but not considered).

· Evidence of cross-contamination of medical samples (partially, but incorrectly noted, spuriously dismissed).

· Evidence of environmental samples being taken in wholly inappropriate manners (noted, but dismissed).

· Evidence that all early reports of incident stated chorine gas NOT sarin (noted, minimised, and dismissed).

· Witness statements are almost always contradicted by others (noted, but ignored).

· A quoted witness reported explosions without any indication of aircraft in the area (noted, but ignored).

· Witnesses report receiving warnings of the imminent attack up to half an hour AFTER it had allegedly occurred (ignored).

As the list above suggests, there are so many flaws in the JIM report that the panel’s ‘confidence’ can at best be seen as misplaced, but is probably more accurately described as completely bogus. I’ll deal with a few of the above problems in some detail as they show how the JIM went about their fixing process by means of excluding alternative evidence, misrepresentation, sly linguistic tricks and down-right falsehoods, but first a little word about the title of this blog.

“If only we’d known…”

Readers of a certain age and nationality will immediately have noticed the reference to a (in)famous BBC television programme of the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. Being of that certain age and British, the title leapt out at me as the JIM were clearly fixing the evidence here.

However, the more I thought about it, the more the reference seemed apt for another reason too. For those of you who don’t know, the programme was a hugely popular staple of early Saturday evening ‘family’ viewing in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s. The premise was simple — children would write in with requests to fulfil various dreams of theirs to the presenter — Jim — who would ‘fix it’ for them to do whatever it was. The Jim in question was, of course, the despicable paedophile Jimmy Saville.

Unfortunately, Saville’s crimes were only ‘discovered’ after his death (almost two decades after the last BBC version of ‘Jim’ll Fix It’ was broadcast). It transpired that he had been using his media and establishment position to both arrange, perform and protect himself from the consequences of his rapes and sexual assaults for decades. In all the outrage and hand-wringing after these revelations became public a familiar bleat could be heard from those who could (and f**king well should) have been able to stop him years before — it goes something like “if only we had known….”

Here’s a little thought experiment, what if the current UK’s ‘Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse’ finds that at the time there had been plenty of evidence that should have led to a much more serious investigation of Saville. Possibly some stills taken from videos showing him trying to stick his hand up a teenagers skirt or a photo appearing to show him with his nob out on the back seat of a minibus full of cub scouts. What if these images had been ‘in the public domain’ and people had written articles on their possible implications. What if an apparently serious investigation had been carried out, but that investigators simply ignored these images and bent over backwards to accept Saville’s improbable versions of the events (‘I was swatting a wasp’, ‘it was a battered savaloy, now then, now then…’)?

What would we think if it transpired that our media kept this evidence from the mainstream, not on its merits, but because a few of those who had taken notice were a bunch of ‘alt-right’ ringpieces? What if anyone pointing to the Saville pics was simply dismissed as a conspiracy theorist on this basis alone?

That, I would argue, is just about where we are at the moment as regards to the media’s coverage of the events of the April 4th alleged Syrian chemical massacre. There is just that kind of evidence of ‘abuse’ (indeed images very much more serious and harrowing than the notional Saville images I sullied your attention with just now), but no one in the media seems to care — and those of us who do are dismissed as conspiracy theorists or ‘deniers’.

What allows the bulk of the media to dismiss the sceptics as conspiracists is that august, trusted and ‘independent’ bodies like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and, now the UN OPCW, have ‘proven’ the mainstream line. What keeps me, and a plenty of other people plugging away in opposition, is that the reports they link to are always massively flawed and they probably haven’t sodding read them anyway (because it’s all about the press-release).

All of which brings us to the JIM.

[As a quick aside, I think the way that my Syria/Saville analogy breaks down is that there’ll never be an inquiry into the why ‘we’ got things so horribly, terribly, wrong about Syria — because I don’t think our establishment media give a tuppenyf**k about Syrian kids.]

Pitch fixing.

The fixing process started before the report was publically released with a process similar to that used by the OPCW’s Fact Finding Mission (FFM) in July. Firstly the headline (GUILTY!) findings were released to a press agency (in this case, the Associated Press) who reported the general conclusion, while the report itself was being considered by the respective governments to which it also been released.

This allowed the bulk of the corporate media to report the conclusions in the absence of any of the nuance or caveats of the final report and with the maximum of advantage for those who agreed with it to ram home their message (as the US, UK and French governments duly did).

A few days later a draft copy of the report was leaked, which allowed a degree of further coverage in the parts of the media that care about these things — and also the chance for company-line purveyors like Bellingcat to continue their heavily spun open-sorcery (Bellingcat were actually granted privileged early access to the FFM report to provide this ‘service’ — this time they just received a timely heads-up about the leaked draft).

By the time the official report was released (to very little fanfare at all) it was now old news — we know who did it, it was the Syrian government cos the UN said so. So when people read it and notice all the hoops the JIM leapt through, how far they bend over backwards (and almost certainly forwards) to accept the anti-Assad narrative the corporate media now cared only a fraction of the bugger-all they did in the first place about reporting it accurately.

A particularly egregious example of the spin came in a preposterously skewed piece on BBC Radio 4’s flagship morning current affairs programme ‘Today’ on the day of the Associated Press story. To comment on the report the BBC decided to call Reza Afshar, an ex-British diplomat who now works for a company called ‘Independent Diplomat’. Afshar was fed a series of softball, leading questions based on woefully misinformed and out-of-date information by the ever reliable, £650,000 a year, establishment low-Watter John Humphreys. Afshar was allowed to get away with all sorts of shite egged on by Humphreys in his trademark grave, accusative, but monstrously vapid way. Of course ‘we’ should have intervened earlier and of course ‘we’ should be intervening militarily now (as if ‘we’ hadn’t been doing so since 2011 anyway). In all the excitement though, the BBC forgot to mention that Afshar, and the company he now works for, are both paid lobbyists for the Syrian opposition. That’s the kind of naked propaganda we’re up against here.]

The case for the prosecution.

In reading the JIM report it’s difficult to avoid the impression that there was some official conclusion in mind from the start.

We are told that the JIM “examined eight possible scenarios regarding how the incident had occurred. On the basis of the information obtained, the following two scenarios were further investigated: (a) sarin had been released through an aerial bomb; or (b) sarin had been released through the explosion of an improvised explosive device placed on the ground. A third scenario with two alternatives was also investigated, neither of which was found to be linked to the release of sarin.” [p9, 38]

So we see that the JIM ‘investigated’ only scenarios in which it was already accepted that a relatively large amount of sarin was present and that the only consideration was how that gas had been released. Confusingly though, they immediately introduce a third scenario that was also investigated which again assumes a large scale release of gas. These were the suggestions made by Russia and Syria in the immediate aftermath that a conventional bomb had released toxic chemicals stored in a building in the neighbourhood. Quite why this, apparently secondary level of consideration was given to these scenarios is not clear.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what the other five ‘considered’ scenarios were, or on what basis they were rejected. I would like you to consider one possible scenario though, one of which the JIM should have been aware as it had been proposed for the 2013 alleged Ghoutta attack. This scenario holds that there was no huge release of sarin or any other gas, that victims were hostages killed using smaller amounts of gas, some of which may have been sarin, and that a small amount of sarin (or sarin-like substance) was then used to contaminate the alleged crime scene. All of this was them timed to coincide with Syrian aircraft flying in the vicinity with the possible use of ground-placed improvised explosives to simulate a ground attack. It all sounds very conspiratorial, but bear this explanation in mind as we consider the JIM’s ‘investigations’ and the conclusions they reach. See if you think this account fits the evidence better than the JIM’s favoured one.

Confidence tricks.

I have copied the JIM’s summary of the ‘facts’ that they used to justify their ‘confident’ conclusion below along with a short summary of the evidence they provide for each. I will then continue to examine some of their evidence in detail. The list of findings is also a pretty fair reflection of what constitutes the mainstream narrative to date (funny that…).

We start on page 10, paragraph 46, or [p10, 46] in the format I’ll be using from hereon.

“With respect to identifying those responsible, the Leadership Panel has determined that the information that it has obtained constitutes sufficient credible and reliable evidence of the following:”

“(a) Aircraft dropped munitions over Khan Shaykhun between 0630 and 0700 hours on 4 April 2017;”

Supported by ‘several’, but by no means all, witness statements. Further supported by videos of smoke plumes (but no aircraft) taken and uploaded, that morning (see below).

“(b) An aircraft of the Syrian Arab Republic was in the immediate vicinity of Khan Shaykhun between 0630 and 0700 hours on 4 April 2017”

Supported by some (but again not by all) witness statements, statements from US and French governments and two maps showing radar tracks, at least one of which was provided by the US government. However, the JIM accept that there were TWO aircraft in the vicinity of the town at that time (a fact not mentioned by either the French or US in the previous months — see below). Neither radar map show the aircraft flying over the town — indeed the one the JIM notes shows the aircraft came no closer than about FIVE kilometres.

“© The crater from which the sarin emanated was created on the morning of 4 April 2017”.

Supported by evidence that the crater was not evident in an undisclosed satellite image taken the day before. However, the JIM offer NO EVIDENCE that sarin ‘emanated’ from this crater other than it was present in samples allegedly taken from it.

“(d) The crater was caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high Velocity”.

This is supported by the positive opinion of JUST ONE expert from the FIVE anonymous sources (three institutions and two experts) the JIM consulted, the others were either unable to rule out other explanations or their views were not reported at all (see below).

“(e) A large number of people were affected by sarin between 0630 and 0700 hours on the morning of 4 April 2017”.

Supported by initial internet-activity, medical records and subsequent statements taken from medical sources in the local area and across the border in Turkey. In fact, the JIM can only confirm seven positive cases of exposure to sarin or a sarin-like substance where a proper chain of custody existed. In the 4 other cases where this existed, the ‘victims’ showed no sign of exposure at all (see below). There is also significant evidence of cross-contamination in the non-chain-of-custody samples (that may have been deliberate) that was under-reported and dismissed by the JIM (see below). The JIM might also have noted that a lot of the early reports of a chemical attack came from a UK doctor who had been struck off the medical register for his possible participation in terrorist activities.

“(f) The number of persons affected by the release of sarin on 4 April 2017, and the fact that sarin reportedly continued to be present at the site of the crater 10 days after the incident, indicate that a large amount of sarin was likely released, which is consistent with its being dispersed through a chemical aerial bomb”.

The environmental presence is supported by Syrian government samples said to have been taken ten days after the event. The existence of a ‘large number’ of casualties of sarin again relies upon the medical records and statements raised for (e) above. The JIM here fail to note that these facts are also consistent with a bomb placed on the ground. Furthermore, if the bulk of the casualties were not caused by sarin, then a small amount of sarin would be consistent with these findings. A small amount could be at the time and again in the days after the event.

(g) The symptoms of victims and their medical treatment, as well as the scale of the incident, are consistent with a large-scale intoxication of sarin”

Again this relies upon the same evidence as (e) and (f). However, these records show that offered treatments were as likely to be ‘consistent’ with exposure to chlorine gas as they were to sarin (see below). The JIM also chose to dismiss the video evidence of medical staff offering bizarre ‘treatments’ not suitable for any such exposure.

“(h) The sarin identified in the samples taken from Khan Shaykhun was found to have most likely been made with a precursor (DF) from the original stockpile of the Syrian Arab Republic;”

Supported by experimental results. However, the JIM have not proved the sarin itself was from Syrian stocks or that a large amount of it was necessarily released.

“(i) The irregularities described in annex II are not of such a nature as to call into question the aforementioned findings.”

As the list of some of the over-looked and waved away evidence in my introduction suggests, and my subsequent discussion will prove, this statement is bollocks.

“On the basis of the foregoing, the Leadership Panel is confident that the Syrian Arab Republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Shaykhun on 4 April 2017.”

And that’s bollocks too.

One plane or two?

Whether a plane flew over the town of Khan Shaykun is central to the JIM’s confident conclusions and they take some time to make their case. With this in mind I’m going to spend some time going through this here as it is indicative of their approach in general.

The JIM set the scene by telling us that ‘witnesses’ informed them that a local spotter network had reported that a single aircraft, a Sukhoi Su-22 had taken-off from Sha’airate airfield at approximately 0630 that morning. They tell us that ‘one’ witness reported that the warning told them to be careful as it was ‘likely carrying toxic chemicals’. [p18, 14].

In the next paragraph the JIM tell us that the spotter network may not have been functioning properly as a group of White Helmets trotted off with no protective equipment and were poisoned. They also tell us that “Several witnesses stated that there had been no warning of an attack on the morning of 4 April, while others reported having received alerts at various times between 0630 and 0715 hours that morning.” [p18, 15]. This is just one example where the JIM put a spin on their evidence — the witness disagreements are due to a failure in the spotting mechanism. It is not even considered that some of the witnesses could be embellishing, exaggerating or just plain making things up. They are also not at all concerned that the spread of timings for when the warnings were heard shows that some witnesses reported hearing them half an hour AFTER the alleged attack took place.

A couple of paragraphs later they give us this:

“While there are varying accounts of the nature and timing of the attack, and the subsequent number of explosions, several witnesses interviewed by the Mechanism and the Fact-Finding Mission stated that they had seen or heard aircraft flying over Khan Shaykhun in the early morning of 4 April 2017, in keeping with the scenario in which aircraft dropped bombs on Khan Shaykhun that morning.” [p18, 17]. Again we’ve got the JIM falling into line. How about letting us know who didn’t hear anything at all? Were there ‘several’ of them too?

In the next paragraph they tell us:

“The Mechanism collected two original videos, filmed by two witnesses from different angles, showing several plumes; the videos were confirmed by forensic institutes to have been filmed between 0642 and 0652 hours during the morning of 4 April 2017. Forensic analysis of the videos found that, at a certain point in each video, the sound of an aircraft could be heard in the background along with an explosion.” [p17, 18] So the JIM have now fixed these aircraft with some time-specific plumes which apparently show the aftereffects of dropped bombs. That neither anonymous cameraman saw fit to pan away to see what the other explosions may have been or to film the aircraft does not appear to have troubled the JIM.

In the next paragraph the JIM tell us that they investigated whether a plane took off that morning and tell us “The Governments of France and the United States of America publicly provided information indicating that a Syrian Arab Air Force Su-22 had taken off from Sha‘irat airbase on 4 April 2017, flown over Khan Shaykhun at 0637 and 0646 hours, and launched up to six attacks around Khan Shaykhun.” [p23. 19] This is (as usual) unnecessarily vague on behalf of the JIM. Was this information from the French and American’s provided in response to specific requests they made or are they referring to the reports already made ‘publically’ by these (pro-regime-change) governments? This is significant as we shall see. Why did they not ask them for more specific evidence.

They then continue with a lengthy (at least for them) account of their investigations of Syrian air-force records that showed that TWO aircraft had taken off from Sha’irat around that time, about ten minutes apart. They confirmed this with flight records and interviewed a pilot who stated that he had not been within about 7 to 9km of Khan Shaykun that morning [p23, 20 to p24, 27]

The JIM follow this discussion with this paragraph, which I’ll copy here in full:

“On 7 April 2017, United States authorities publicly released a statement and a map depicting a flight path of an aircraft originating from Sha‘irat airbase that allegedly had been flying over Khan Shaykhun at approximately 0637 and 0646 hours. The Mechanism had access to another aerial map depicting the path of an aircraft alleged to have been in the airspace around Khan Shaykhun between approximately 0644 and 0651 hours on 4 April 2017. The aircraft was depicted as flying in a circular loop pattern in the vicinity of Kafr Zayta and north-east of Khan Shaykhun. The map indicated that the closest to Khan Shaykhun that the aircraft had flown had been approximately 5 km away. Additional information provided to the Mechanism referred to two aircraft that had taken off from Sha‘irat airbase at around the same time as indicated above, 10 minutes apart, following the same flight path. On the basis of the above, the Mechanism found that air activity had taken place around Khan Shaykhun at about the time of the sarin incident.” [p24, 28]

You will likely have noted that the JIM are, as is their wont, all rather imprecise here. Let’s disentangle it as much as we can. First they tell us the US provided a map showing a radar tracked flight path of a single aircraft that flew ‘over’ KS at 0637 and 0646 (in doing so, they chose not to remind us that that map was released on the very day that the US hand spunked a few hundred million dollars’ worth of cruise missiles at the Syrian airbase in question and were trying to justify that attack).

The JIM, however, immediately go on to tell us about a second map to which they had ‘access’ showing the path of an(other?) aircraft ‘alleged to have been in the airspace around Khan Shaykhun between approximately 0644 and 0651” which flew in an unspecified loop. They then go on to describe analysis applied only to this second map.

They tell us that this ‘two aircraft’ account was confirmed by the ‘additional information’, which appears to be that given to them by the Syrians.

They are not trouble at all that they have already established that the US and French governments only talked of one aircraft in the months after the alleged attack. Why was this?

More significantly, they do not offer any expert analysis whatsoever of the flight-path data of the first plane released by the US. They could, and bloody well should, have demanded a more detailed view than has previously been offered.

This one-plane-two-over-flights narrative has been a major part of the mainstream narrative to date (it’s the one that HRW support). Not to offer this the fullest scrutiny is pathetic.

Could it be that the JIM requested a more detailed version of their first map, but the US were not forthcoming? We’ll likely never know, but such an account would explain why the JIM tell us that the first US flight path only ‘allegedly’ shows the plane flying over KS when this word DID NOT appear in the draft version.

Whatever the problems where, the JIM dismiss any possible issues with the MSN from the map data in the next-but-one paragraph, which starts “As noted in paragraphs 19, 23 and 28 above, the Mechanism obtained information detailing the presence of a Su-22 within 5 km of Khan Shaykhun,..” which you will note has subtly moved from “approximately” 5km to “within 5 km”. The JIM report the judgement of just one, anonymous, ‘weapons expert’ regarding this information, and offer us this hugely equivocal version of his/her judgement:

“The Mechanism consulted with a weapons expert to ascertain the confluence of distance and altitude from which it might be possible to hit Khan Shaykhun with an aerial bomb. The expert concluded that, depending on a number of variables such as altitude, speed and the flight path taken, it would be possible for such an aerial bomb to be dropped on the town from the aforementioned distances.” [p.24, 30]

This is, to be blunt, a load of useless bollocks from the JIM. A reasonable person might have asked something like: “Given these flight paths [from the maps], these altitudes [from expert judgements relied upon from their crater analysis], these wind conditions [from their dubious FFM judgements or inferred from the filthy great big smoke plumes on video] could a bomb of this size [from their crater experts again] conceivably have been dropped by one of these planes to hit this specific site? [not just reach the sodding town!]”

They might have followed this up with something like “Does the trajectory you suggest conform with the distribution of materials indicated in images of the alleged impact crater?”

Those are the questions that a reasonably thorough, well-funded and supported group of impartial non-f**kwits might have asked. Conspicuously the JIM asked nothing like it.

It’s also, to say the least, rather strange that the JIM did not appear to have asked the 3 defence research institutions or two experts in ‘energetic materials’ that they consulted for their crater analysis (see below) on whether a bomb could have reached the alleged impact site. Could it be that they did and just didn’t like the answer?

Luckily for us, the excellent contributors to the ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ (ACLOS) wiki have attempted such an analysis using the best available open-source evidence that they can find. In short, their (ongoing) analysis suggests that the chances of an unguided aerial bomb hitting the site are very low.

See:

http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/a-confident-final-failure-of-un-opcw.html

That the JIM think they can get away with that level of analysis speaks volumes about their approach and the complete lack of proper scepticism and rigour shown by our famously free press who failed to notice any of this tosh. Bear this in mind as I trot you through some of the other bits of evidence below.

The Crater — not quite as clear cut as the JIM would have us believe.

You will recall the JIM were quite definite about what caused the crater from which they tell us the sarin emanated. Specifically:

“(d) The crater was caused by the impact of an aerial bomb travelling at high Velocity”.

A close reading of the JIM report shows, however, their evidence is actually rather equivocal on this matter and, I’d argue, their description of it is more than a little slippery.

[Readers note: I included this analysis in my previous piece responding to George Monbiot so some of you may recognise it — apologies, but it does bear repeating…]

The JIM report states grandly “The Mechanism obtained expert analysis of the characteristics of the crater from three independent, internationally recognized institutes with specialization in the areas of forensics, defence and security, as well as by two individual independent experts in energetic materials.” [p27, 48]

The JIM note that one of these institutions “noted that the site appeared to have been disturbed after impact.”, but it had found “indications that the ground had been hit by a substantially heavy object that had travelled at high velocity.” These ‘indications’ were not conclusive however, as the institution “could not rule out the idea that the crater had been caused by other means, it stated that indications of the detonation of a high explosive on the ground were not visible.” (p2 7, 49]

A second institution stated “the damage was consistent with that of an impact from an unguided aerial bomb, possibly containing a small bursting charge.” They based their conclusion on the lack of evidence of a blast around the crater. This institution also said that a ground launched munition was not responsible as no remnants of such a device were found in or around the crater. [p27, 50]. The JIM do not offer any indication of their judgement regarding whether the crater could have been caused by a ground based device.

The JIM then apparently forgot that they actually asked three research institutions for opinions and simply move on to their evidence from their anonymous experts.

The JIM offer a lot of space to evidence from one expert in particular, [p27, 51 to p28, 53] who concluded “the munition most likely to have caused the crater was a relatively large bomb with a mass of 300 to 450 kg. The shape of the crater, which was relatively circular, indicated that the bomb had been dropped from a medium or high altitude, of between approximately 4,000 and 10,000 m.”

The JIM conclude their evidence by noting “The experts agreed that the crater was unlikely to have been caused by high explosives, as there were too few visible signs of damage caused by fragmentation…The expert analysis found that the characteristics of the crater were consistent with the impact of a heavy object travelling at high velocity, probably with a liquid fill.” Note how here they switch from ‘experts’ to ‘the expert analysis’ — which could mean that they are simply referring again to the evidence of just one of their two anonymous experts.

The JIM conclude “on the basis of the foregoing, the characteristics of the crater are more likely to have been caused by an aerial bomb with a small explosive charge, and that it probably contained liquid.

Later in the report, following a short, hand-wavey, discussion of the munitions the JIM return to this topic by asking the JIM ask all three institution s whether the crater could have been caused by an IED placed “on the ground”. [p29, 61] In a piece of linguistic slipperiness that will be familiar to anyone who has read HRW’s ‘Death By Chemicals’ Report, they immediately follow this with a statement assuring us that all the institutions and experts agree that it was not caused by a device placed (my emphasis) “underground” [p.28, 60].

In the next paragraph, when they actually consider a device placed on the surface we are told “The experts generally ruled out that possibility, because such an explosion would have caused much more damage to the surroundings than what had been observed.” This is all rather equivocal — did ALL the institution and experts rule this out? One reading suggests that it is only one of the experts who has done so. Why are they choosing to be so imprecise here? Don’t they know how important all this shit is? Perhaps they do.

There also appears to have been some collaboration here — at least between the experts. We’re told that ‘One expert’ noticed the lack of damage to a metal box {p27, 51] and later that “The experts agreed” that this was indicative of something. [p28, 51]. This may not be best practice if one is looking for independent assessments.

So let’s be clear as to exactly what evidence the JIM have provided:

1. That one unnamed institute suggests the site has been tampered with.

2. That that institution reported ‘indications’ consistent with one possible causation, but could not rule out that others may have caused the crater.

3. That a second institution said that the crater was ‘consistent’ with an air-dropped bomb, but do not specifically address the possibility of a ground-detonated device.

4. The evidence from the third research establishment is not mentioned at all — what did they conclude?

5. Just one of the experts offers anything like a comprehensive rebuttal of the Syrian government’s.

6. The ‘experts’ only “generally” rule out the possibility of a surface based device.

Which is very much more equivocal than their eventual conclusions. Read the discussion yourself — there really is no reason for it to be so vague and imprecise in its language.

Evidence of serious, possibly fatal, injuries suffered by ‘victims’ AFTER being ‘rescued’.

Another major flaw in the approach of the JIM is apparent in the way that they completely ignore certain evidence. The first of these I alluded to while explaining my Saville analogy and is pretty conclusive proof that the JIM are either hugely biased, pliable dimwits or just a bunch of indifferent careerist c***s (I tend toward them being a combination of the three).

This evidence is, I’m afraid, the most distressing of the lot as to test it involves studying pictures of dead or dying children. I will understand fully if you do not want to follow any of the links below to make up your own mind. What I cannot understand, however, is why the JIM and the OPCW FFM failed to investigate these images at all. The FFM state, falsely, that none of the victims appeared to have any accompanying injuries (which led them to conclude that they all had been killed with chemicals administered in one way or another).

The images shown in the below links show this to be far from the truth (at least seven children and one adult show evidence of serious head and/or neck wounds.

From careful analysis of upload times and sun angles, and comparison of clothes and facial features, Adam Larson (and others) have shown that some of these injuries occurred AFTER the casualties had been ‘rescued’ by the White Helmets..

The images can be viewed here (warning they are distressing):

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Alleged_Chemical_Attack_Khan_Sheikhoun_4_April_2017/Victims#Head_Wounds

This, along with the dubious medical treatments identified by the JIM (see below) is clear evidence that the ‘rescuers’ were at very least indifferent to the health of the victims and at worst — actually finished them off.

Evidence of wind direction in 180 degrees opposite to that reported by JIM.

The second egregious case where the JIM ignore glaringly contradictory evidence regards their assertions regarding the spread of the alleged gas cloud. They take the weather conditions from those described in the earlier OPCW FFM report, who stated:

No meteorological data was available for Khan Shaykhun” and so they were forced to infer them from data taken in “Hama City, Idlib City and Latakia.” , all many miles away, but on this data “the wind speed was low but with no certainty of wind direction. The team estimated the likelihood that the wind was coming from somewhere between the South and the East, but could not be certain.” [FFM para 5.6–5.7 on p.18]

From this the JIM state:

“Sarin of an undefined purity was disseminated from the crater in a direction that was defined by local air movements. The Mechanism noted that the wind speed in the area that day had been <0.5 m/s, which would normally result in a considerable variation in the direction of the air movement. The Mechanism also noted that the location of victims, as described in the report of the Fact-Finding-Mission, serves as an indicator of prevailing air movements west to south-west of the location of the crater during the early morning on 4 April 2017” [p28, 64]

So here we have the JIM eager to use the FFM’s report of where the alleged casualties were allegedly found — to the south and west of the crater — but ignoring the fact that the FFM had said it was likely that the wind was blowing FROM the south east which would tend to put the casualties toward the north-west. If only there was other evidence that could be used to more accurately determine the weather and clear up this possible discrepancy.

And of course there is. We have the videos of the huge plumes of smoke that elsewhere the JIM have proven were taken on the morning of April 4th.

Again Adam Larson and the excellent folk at the ACLOS wiki have looked at these plumes from multiple angles and confirmed air movements to be just about 180 degrees in the opposite direction to those inferred by the JIM.

See here:

http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/4-4-17-wind-direction-explainer.html

It’s also worth noting that Prof Theodore Postol also made similar observations in the immediate aftermath of the event. However, in his rush to counter the rush to lay blame in the immediate aftermath of the event, he also confused a report of another alleged sarin event in his explanation and for this reason alone his (factual) observations have been completely ignored by the likes of Bellingcat and George Monbiot. As far as I am aware none of the mainstream sites (including Bellingcat) have attempted to counter this work — they have their reasons, but the JIM and the FFM have no excuse whatsoever for ignoring this.

See:

https://consortiumnews.com/2017/06/07/nyts-new-syria-sarin-report-challenged/

Postol also notes that there is little evidence in satellite images of the kind of damage that would be associated with the bombs that allegedly caused the plumes. In the videos — again this assertion has remained unchallenged by the mainstream.

Begging the questions.

The facts of the weather conditions are hugely important as they form a key component of the (frankly f**king infantile) dollops of circular logic that the JIM employ to bolster their confidence.

The sarin cloud MUST have travelled in the south-westerly direction because this is where the large number of victims were reported as being found. So if the facts of meteorology and physics rule this out, what weight should be place on their other evidence of their first responders?

Are there any other reasons why we might question the JIM’s view of the number of victims affected or question the trustworthiness of their sources?

You now (I hope) won’t be surprised to hear that there are quite a few. I’ll whiz you through just some of these now as this article is getting rather long and (I think) I’ve already done enough to show the JIM to be wrong, wrong, wrong, but here we go…

No Evidence of immediate aftermath — no victims, no searches, no rescues.

For me, possibly the most persuasive argument that the events did not involve the gassing of mass casualties across a wide area of a town is the complete nonexistence of ANY photographic or video evidence of the immediate aftermath. There simply is no evidence of any kind of search and rescue taking place at all. We have witnesses talking of ‘judgement day’ (see HRW’s ‘Death By Chemicals’ Report and Karem Shaheen’s reports in the Guardian) and plenty of harrowing testimonies, but nothing at all from the scene — just pictures of ‘victims’ being treated elsewhere.

Even though we have a named White Helmet, Anas Al-Diab, telling Al Jazeera that he documented the chaos with his camera, no pictures at all have been provided to support this narrative.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/04/idlib-gruesome-170405115057834.html

We have to believe that not a single one of the many White Helmets who said they attended the scene bothered to pick up their cameras — even though some had the chance to return to base to collect other equipment. Every one of them would have known the possible importance of such footage — but it appears none of them bothered to try to collect any. It’s simply unbelievable that they would forgo this opportunity to prove Assad’s guilt once and for all.

Evidence of dozens of ‘victims’ admitted to hospital BEFORE the alleged attack took place.

From the JIM report:

“Certain irregularities were observed in elements of the information analysed. For example, several hospitals appeared to have begun admitting casualties of the attack between 0640 and 0645 hours. The Mechanism received the medical records of 247 patients from Khan Shaykhun who had been admitted to various health –care facilities, including survivors and a number of victims who eventually died from exposure to a chemical agent. The admission times noted in the records range from 0600 to 1600 hours. Analysis of the records revealed that in 57 cases, patients had been admitted to five hospitals before the incident (at 0600, 0620 and 0640 hours). In 10 of those cases, patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 125 km away from Khan Shaykhun at 0700 hours, while another 42 patients appear to have been admitted to a hospital 30 km away at 0700 hours. The Mechanism did not investigate those discrepancies and cannot determine whether they are linked to any possible staging scenario or are the result of poor record-keeping in chaotic conditions.” [p31, 77]

So here we go again — the JIM by their own admission, and without any explanation, simply chose not to investigate these potentially hugely significant discrepancies — even when they note they could be evidence of a staged event (FFS!).

Much of the early evidence came from a struck-off UK doctors.

The doctor, Sajul Islam, who provided much of the early ‘evidence’ for the alleged attack was suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of two foreign journalists (the trial collapsed when one of the journalists was re-kidnapped and the other refused to testify to attempt to protect him).. He has since been struck off the medical register.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/british-doctor-who-documented-chemical-attack-previously-held-terror-offences-1615849

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4388780/Doctor-Syria-stood-trial-terror-offences.html

Evidence of bizarre medical ‘treatments’ being applied to alleged victims.

The JIM note serious evidence that those providing the medical records cannot really be trusted because they don’t actually appear to be medics at all.

“The Mechanism also noted scenes recorded just after the incident at the medical site to the east of Khan Shaykhun, where rescue and decontamination activities filmed shortly after 0700 hours showed rescue personnel indiscriminately hosing down patients with water for extended periods of time. That video footage also showed a number of patients not being attended to, as well as paramedical interventions that did not seem to make medical sense, such as performing cardiac compression on a patient who was lying face down.” [p30, 75]

In fact there is very little video evidence of ‘victims’ being treated correctly at all. Certainly the JIM and the FFN before them have not pointed to any.

Cross-contamination of samples.

Another reason not to trust these medical institutions comes from their possible manipulation of samples. The JIM state:

“An inconsistency was identified in one of the Fact-Finding Mission’s biomedical results from samples lacking a chain of custody. In sample №13,1 the blood sample tested negative for sarin or a sarin-like substance, while the urine sample tested positive for the sarin degradation product isopropyl methylphosphonate. There is currently no explanation for the inconsistency. Medical experts consulted by the Mechanism indicated that the combination of the negative result in the blood and the positive result in the urine was impossible. That inconsistency was considered to be most likely the result of cross-contamination in the sampling process.” [p31, 78]

The JIM are again over generous to their sources here. In fact, according to Table 4 on page 40 of the FFN report, there are TWO examples where this is the case — numbers 11 and 13. Also in the other case where the blood sample was negative there was a positive hit for a degradation product in the hair sample.

They might also have noted that of the 11 alleged victims for which the FFM had witnessed the samples being taken, 4 of them showed NO indication of having been exposed to sarin at all. What did these people die of if not sarin and if no other symptoms were apparent?

Evidence of treatment more suitable for exposure to chlorine gas, not sarin.

The JIM note:

“The Mechanism observed from open sources that the treatment administered to victims from Khan Shaykhun had frequently involved oxygen and cortisone therapy. Such treatment is not recommended for sarin poisoning, but is recommended mainly for lung damage, as would be caused by either chlorine or vacuum bombs.” [p31, 79]

Again the JIM are slippery here — they fail to note that one of these ‘open sources’ was the OPCW’s very own Fact Finding Mission (FFS!). The FFN report the Idlib Health Directorate records which showed 163 treatments of hydrocortisone and 102 with oxygen, compared to 220 Atropine [FFM p34. Fig 19]. Records from the Khan Shaykun Medical Centre show that they treated all their 201 alleged casualties with both atropine AND hydro cortisol (FFN p36, Figure 23].

Evidence of reports of exposure to chorine gas NOT sarin.

The JIM also state:

“In reports from open sources in the immediate aftermath of the incident, it was noted that victims in Khan Shaykhun appeared to show symptoms consistent with exposure to organophosphorus chemicals also expressed as a neurotoxic agent. In addition, open sources reported that chlorine might also have been released, as indicated by the smell of bleach. While the Mechanism could not rule out the possibility of the use of chlorine, it focused its investigative efforts on the use of sarin.” [p70, 30]

In fact all the early reports were of chlorine rather than sarin gas.

[Link to follow shortly]

Bin the JIM.

I could go on here — I could detail the hugely confused witnesses, the pisspoor evidence the JIM squeeze in regarding the alleged bomb fragments, the irrelevance of their chemical analyses or any other little examples of their lack of objectivity, but I think my case is made. There is ample evidence here to mistrust the JIM’s confidence. There is also ample evidence to mistrust the judgement of anyone who read the report and did not notice the problems at all.

Acknowledgments and thanks.

As you may have noticed from the links above, much of this evidence has been provided by contributors to the most excellent ‘A Closer Look On Syria’ wiki-site and by Adam Larson in particular. There you will find a wealth of considered discussion and ‘citizen journalism’ that far exceeds the level of ‘analysis’ offered by the likes of Bellingcat.

See:

http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page

And for Adam’s work:

libyancivilwar.blogspot.co.uk/

You don’t have to take my word for it, just take a look at how the discussions there evolve — and compare them to any one of the comments sections following one of Bellingcat’s pieces on the KS incident. On Bellingcat any deviation from the company line is never too far away from accusations of being an Assadist stooge, some kind of 9/11 truther, or, as was the case with me until all my comments on various threads were mysteriously deleted, compared to OJ Simpson! (FFS).

You can see a very good example of this in the first dozen or so comments on this Bellingcat thread, where Paul Masterson spends a while banging his head against a brick wall trying to get a straight answer out of Elliot Higgins regarding very dubious claims Higgins has made about fragments from the KS incident. Elliot Higgins has still not responded to his perfectly reasonable questions (click the link to ‘Older Comments’ to find them):

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2017/11/13/russia-accidentally-provide-best-evidence-syrian-governments-involvement-sarin-attacks/comment-page-1/#comments


 Originally published (medium.com) 

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