A para from yesterday's explosive Los Angeles Times story caught my eye:
One of the military officials said that, as part of a psychological operations campaign that has intensified over the last year, the task force also had purchased an Iraqi newspaper and taken control of a radio station, and was using them to channel pro-American messages to the Iraqi public. Neither is identified as a military mouthpiece.I wonder if that might not be Ahmad al-Rikaby's Radio Dijla? It sure fits the neocon adventurist mould... profiteering from covert propaganda.
Al-Rikaby is the man who brought talk radio to Baghdad (will they ever fogive him for that?). He was one of the USA's Iraqi-exiles-in-waiting. He calls the station, indeed the whole of Iraq, an "experiment":
Just weeks after Saddam Hussein was deposed last year, Rikaby resigned as the London correspondent for U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe and flew to Baghdad, looking to start an independent radio station here...A Swedish aid organization? Really???? Ha ha ha!
Rikaby founded Radio Dijla with a $300,000 grant from a private Swedish aid organization whose name he prefers not to disclose.
If you don't understand my scepticism, maybe you missed yesterday's post: al-Rikaby is now working as VP of Dubai-based SignalOnTV with some very odd US partners, Mark Palmer and Jim Hake. Did somebody make him an offer he couldn't refuse for his radio station?
Radio Dijla admits that it gets more calls in a day than it can handle ("up to 18,000 calls a day") and reading a few articles on the station one cannot help wondering if the calls are screened to promote a certain agenda. From the BBC link above:
In one phone-in, listeners were invited to comment on the recent spate of attacks on Iraqi oil pipelines.Here's another example:
"What is your opinion on the issue of targeting the oil pipelines, which led to the full suspension of Iraqi oil exports from the northern and southern fields?" presenter Majid Salim asked.
"Are they patriotic acts that serve Iraq and the Iraqi people or are they acts of resistance or terrorism?"
Callers appeared unanimous in their condemnation of the violence.
"This is not an act of resistance or terrorism. It is a systematic subversive act aiming at harming Iraq," one woman said...
Several callers agreed that the attacks on the pipelines were not being carried out by Iraqis.
Another time, Salim asked listeners what they thought about the violent insurgency that has roiled Iraq.This latter article says the station was started "with seed money from the Swedish government." Hmmn... changing stories???
"We asked them, is it terrorism or is it resistance," Salim said. "A very large proportion -- almost 100 percent -- said terrorism. They did not like it."
Note: Radio Dijla helped cover the Iraqi elections earlier this year for Friends of Democracy, which was set up by Jim Hake's Spirit Of America, which was set up by Cyber Century Forum...
UPDATE: Al-Rikabi also helped launch the Iraqi Media Network, a brainchild of the Pentagon aimed at presenting a more pro-American slant on the news. The Iraqi Media Network also runs the al-Iraqiya television station and two Baghdad radio stations.
I can't help wondering if al-Rikabi presented himself to some Swedish peace-lovers as a wolf in sheep's clothing... Or does PNAC have a Stockholm office?