Just Who’s Pulling the Strings? 1205


March 4 2018 Sergei and Yulia Skripal are attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury

March 6 2018 Boris Johnson blames Russia and calls Russia “a malign force”

March 7 2018 Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia arrives in London for an official visit

March 13 2018 Valeri Gerasimov, Russian Chief of General Staff, states that Russia has intelligence a fake chemical attack is planned against civilians in Syria as a pretext for US bombing of Damascus, and that Russia will respond militarily.

March 19 2018 Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia arrives in Washington for an official visit

April 8 2018 Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia arrives in Paris for an official visit

April 8 2018 Saudi funded jihadist groups Jaysh al Islam and Tahrir al-Sham and UK funded jihadist “rescue group” The White Helmets claim a chemical weapons attack occurred in their enclave of Douma the previous day – just before its agreed handover to the Syrian army – and blame the Syrian government.

April 11 2018 Saudi Arabia pledges support for attack on Syria

April 14 2018 US/UK/French attack on Syria begins.

I have always denied the UK’s claim that only Russia had a motive to attack the Skripals. To denigrate Russia internationally by a false flag attack pinning the blame on Russia, always seemed to me more likely than for the Russians to do that to themselves. And from the start I pointed to the conflict in Syria as a likely motive. That puts Saudi Arabia (and its client jihadists), Saudi Arabia’s close ally Israel, the UK and the USA all in the frame in having a powerful motive in inculcating anti-Russian sentiment prior to planned conflict with Russia in Syria. Any of them could have attacked the Skripals.

Today, Theresa May is claiming -astonishingly – that the UK attack on Syria is “to deter chemical weapons attacks in Syria and the UK”. I don’t think the motive for a Skripal false flag could be more starkly demonstrated.

We do not yet know how many children and other civilians have died so far in what the media always pretend are magically “pinpoint” attacks on Syria. Denying the “collateral damage” is part of the neo-con playbook. The danger is that they will not stop but continue to push, testing how far they can go in weakening Syrian government forces to promote their jihadist allies on the ground, before they spark a real Russian reaction. That way madness lies.

It is also worth noting that the most ardent supporters of this military action, outside Saudi Arabia and Israel, are the Blairites in the UK and the Clinton Democrats in the USA. The self-described “centrists” are actually the unhinged extremists in today’s politics.

This attack on Syria is, beyond doubt, a huge success for the machinations of Mohammed Bin Salman. Please do read my post of 8 March which sets out the background to his agenda, and I believe is essential to why we find our nations in military action again today. Despite the fact the vast majority of the people do not want this.


1,205 thoughts on “Just Who’s Pulling the Strings?

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  • Lizzie

    Do we have any evidence other than Russia saying so, that there was BZ present in the samples tested by the swiss lab>

      • fred

        Probably because the Russian Foreign Minister made his announcement on a Saturday knowing there could not be a response till Monday at the latest.

        • Roman_D

          There is a tweet from the lab (a few posts above) in reply of Lavrov’s statements.

  • John Goss

    Andrew Marr was never a journalist. I remember when he took over Neil Ascherson’s chair at Observer and the pulp-fiction began. Today he had an opportunity to raise questions regarding why nobody has heard from the Skripals and the false-flag in Douma, but simply went along with the government narrative. Big fail Neil.

      • Mark Russell

        Shocking interview. If the information concerning the analysis and report of the Swiss Lab to the OPCW is correct, then that surely is the endgame for this squalid shower. Makes you wonder what the “no doubt guy” at PD was referring to, last time Marr interviews Johnson.

        Desperate stuff.

        • Ophelia Ball

          this will be of no consequence;

          a) the story will be suppressed in Western media

          b) anything the Russians say ipso facto must be a lie

          c) So what? Assad is a butcher, Putin murdered Litvinenko, look! look over here! something else is happening!

          • Ophelia Ball

            May I suggest you write the following tropes onto small pieces of paper, place them all in a hat, and draw one out for use as the next diversionary tactic?

            1. Something to do with North Korea
            2. A doping scandal about the World Cup
            3. China threatening Taiwan
            4. A terrorist attack in [whose turn is it next?]
            5. Defenceless Ukranian tanks being attacked by viciously cruel schoolchildren in the Donbass
            6. Russian bombers being heroically intercepted by NATO fighter just inside Russian airspace
            7. A couple of rubber boats and lifejackets washing up on the shores of sudden Italy
            8. A Royal baby, marriage, death, abdication or Nazi salute
            9. A D-list celebrity getting pulled over for drink-driving
            10. Something to do with Cliff Richard
            11. All of the above, but not necessarily in that order

          • Ophelia Ball

            what a neat little Freudian typo. I don’t think I want to change that, come to think of it

  • Gary

    An extract from yesterday’s Independent in re the Skripal’s poisoning and referencing another, much earlier case.

    “The banker’s murder was eventually pinned on an acquaintance named Vladimir Khutsishvili. According to prosecutors, only Khutsishvili was in Kivelidi’s office during the hours the poison could have been applied. In their version, the poison, an “organophosphate,” was procured on the black market from a scientist called Leonid Rink. 
    Professor Leonid Rink was a star of Soviet science. Born in Leningrad, he worked at the Scientific Research Institute for Organic Chemistry and Technology in the closed town of Shikhany, Saratov Region. From 1985, he was a member of the secret team that developed Novichok nerve agents.
    By the time of Kivelidi’s murder in 1995, Rink was already well known to law enforcement, having been suspected and questioned over the sale of military-grade poison to Chechen gangsters.”

    The last paragraph especially, drew my attention by referring to “Chechen gangsters” as I seem to remember a Chechen connection in the supply of Polonium that was ultimately used to kill Litvinenko some years back.

    Taken together I think it must be obvious that not only is there no evidence that Russia attempted to murder the former spy and his daughter, but there are no grounds for the claim that it could ONLY have been a state actor.

    Certainly I think it WAS someone acting at the behest of a state, but not Russia. I think those who ordered this attack have used non-traditional methods and sources to mask their own identity. For them the most important part of this was that it pointed to Russia.

    Aside from those who were affected by Skripal having passed information to the UK, and may consequently have been arrested, tortured, killed or lost colleagues, friends or family – there is no one who would have motivation for this crime. Those who felt betrayed by him (directly) MAY have had access to people who were able to supply such a weapon, but I would still doubt this. Frankly they’d have chosen a simpler method, more effective and likely a LOT sooner.

    Forgive my ramblings on this but STILL we are seeing the BBC pushing forward, as fact, that this was Russia and that HMG possesses PROOF on this, which it certainly doesn’t and the BBC knows it. It’s not that the BBC has been hoodwinked, it’s more insidious, they are a PARTY to trying to hoodwink the public. And now, the reason for the entire fiction seems to have come to light. A reply of Blair’s WMD invasion of Iraq, now moved to Syria.

    At least this time the public are a little more cynical of out leader’s motives, support for action in Syria isn’t there…

  • Dan

    @Craig –

    DDoS attacks aside, has the number of unique visitors to your site increased much since Salisbury? Just curious – and thanks for all your hard work and commitment to the truth.

  • N_

    From the Sunday Times:

    Russian threat to wage dirty campaign against Britain’s elite.

    Spy chiefs are braced for a Russian revenge attack in which Kremlin-backed hackers release embarrassing information on ministers, MPs and other high-profile people.

    Theresa May has received intelligence risk assessments since the nerve-agent attack in Salisbury that the Putin regime could hit back with “kompromat” (compromising material) on members of her cabinet.

    That’s Boris “Cokehead” Johnson finished then. A couple of cocaine-related clips will do for him.

    And I don’t fancy the chances of many of the top people at Oxford and Cambridge universities either, who are involved in major corruption.

    Then there’s the big one: the murder of Princess Diana in 1997 by an “Increment” team. That remains a very sensitive point. Release of certain information could bring down the monarchy within a few days. No wonder the stinking elite in Britain is playing up Prince Charles’s elder son, whatever he’s called – the one who doesn’t wear Nazi uniform and boast about murdering people when he was in the army.

    Then we get the apparent non-sequitur:

    Security sources said yesterday Britain was prepared to launch an offensive cyber-attack against Russia if it targeted the UK’s critical national infrastructure.

    Big talk, huh? An offensive attack 🙂 Not a defensive attack or an offensive defence, then. Clearly the Tory scumbag elite that owns Britain – I mean seriously, how many families are we talking about? – considers itself to be “the national infrastructure”. We need them like we need water? Really?

    I read that as meaning that if they get in real danger they’ll bring the whole country crashing down. Think Thomas Malthus, their true hero. Or at least they are prepared to. But we’ve known that for a long time. Some of us have always known it. In the past few years it’s become apparent to a few more of us in relation to Brexit.

    Details of the preparations came after Theresa May told The Sunday Times she was prepared to order a new crackdown on Russian oligarchs in London, and Downing Street officials said cronies of Vladimir Putin could face further economic sanctions.

    May has been warned that politicians could be singled out in a Russian counter-attack, as Hillary Clinton was during the last US presidential election.

    Britain’s cyber-intelligence agency, GCHQ, and the Ministry of Defence are on standby to retaliate “proportionately”.”

    This is so reminiscent of the Black Knight in Monty Python. Proof that senior members of the royal family ordered the Paris assassination gets released? Non-disclosure agreements that Boris Johnson forced several women to sign get revealed? Or clips get posted to Youtube of Johnson or senior BBC newsreaders snorting cocaine? Right! Britain’s going to retaliate! They’ll turn off the Russian army’s communication systems! The traffic lights will go off in Moscow. Etc. etc etc.

    The truth? The Britty poshboys are absolutely shitting themselves with fear.

      • Sharp Ears

        You should have included a warning that our woman in NY, Mrs Karen Pierce, aka Mrs Charles Roxburgh, was just about able to read out her document. She sits alongside Ms Haley who talks through her closed choppers. What a pair of harpies.

        Q Why does Mrs Roxburgh always wear black. Is she the Witch of Endor? She is married to Charles Roxburgh, second permanent secretary at the Treasury. Wow!

        Karen Pierce becomes first female UK ambassador to the UN
        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/27/karen-pierce-first-female-uk-ambassador-to-un
        She looks nothing like the photo on here.

    • Sean Lamb

      I don’t want to spread alarm or panic, but I am informed by a reliable source that the GRU have a verified clip of Theresa May running through wheat-fields.

      • Rod

        What a stupid answer she gave when asked that question. The woman just has no ability to think on her feet. Why could she not have said : I killed a man in Reno, just to watch him die ? It was a stupid question in the first place, it says about as much of the quality of interviewers as it does those they interview.

    • N_

      There is also a lot of dirt at the top private schools.
      There is Theresa May’s husband Philip’s role in money-laundering through Panama.
      Another big one is the Madeleine McCann story.

      The Labour leadership has proved pathetically unwilling to rock the boat properly. Maybe the FSB can show them how to do it?

      No drip-drip. We need a huge amount to come out in a big avalanche. We need nobody from the posh elite to be able to go outside without people jeering at them, throwing pennies at them, while of course keeping a very close watch on our children because of how common it is for such individuals to engage in child sexual abuse. We want to make the Tories’ biggest nightmare come true.

      We want the notions of FILTH, MURDER, LIES, CORRUPTION to be associated with THE ELITE. The higher up somebody is, the more they are involved. That is in any case the truth. And do I need to remind people which family is at the top of the social elite in Britain, the “fount of honour”?

      • Dan

        “The Labour leadership has proved pathetically unwilling to rock the boat properly”

        Hard to do it properly until they are in government though. But the hysterical ramped-up smears against Corbyn from the MSM, the establishment and the Tories do suggest they all fear he will rock the boat good and proper should he get into Downing St.

  • Radar O’Reilly

    So smug-face Boris de pfeffel maintained on TV’s Marr show that “Only Syrian regime has helicopters that can fly & drop barrel-bombs, the rebels don’t have an air-force” (paraphrased as was only half-listening)

    This got me thinking about one sovereign nation state’s concept of having full spectrum dominance in all the new technologies (darpa-basically) ‘we own the spectrum etc.’ and could they ‘magic’ up an evil regime helicopter “that was seen by everyone in Douma” (Boris again) and drop a barrel of domestos or two? [£25 down at Lidl, bogof]

    A couple of years ago a few magic VTOL maskirovka (Russian: маскировка, lit. ‘concealment’/‘disguise’) Blackhawks of a type previously unknown to science were spotted in Abbottabad, when one crashed.

    The erstwhile owners, who showed everything live on TV at the time, were astonishingly keen that not an ounce of the broken ‘chopper should ever be seen by specialists. One US expert said it was likely that this super-squirrel aircraft had been successfully deployed in hundreds of missions, and only been seen this once. Just a hint of ‘spectrum dominance’ from the cousins, pushing some strings.

    http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/top-secret-stealth-helicopter-program-revealed-osama-bin/story?id=13530693

    I was a bit more awake during the good performance by her majesty’s leader of the opposition on the Andrew Marr show, took notes.

    Jezza: Treeza shouldve waited, we will debate tomorrow ?, yes. Introduce a War-powers act. Opcw chance to investigate. Bring political process to end the war, hard work, better than proxy war.
    2017 did opcw report correctly?, yes. Opcw must report in 2018.
    Confront Assad with the evidence, promote political solution.
    No legal basis for missiles. Policy made up by twitter.
    UN lead for Syrian intervention.
    12 countries & 400,000 dead in Syria.
    AM:Russia vetoed,
    JC: both-sides vetoed
    AM: strange, UK people are behind you. Never missiles?
    JC: media stories are fed by defense departments
    JC: talk
    JC: must protect civilians
    AM: list of JC neg votes against attack isis
    JC: cut off arms & money that is still flowing-in to KSA, ends up dropping in Yemen & with other groups
    AM: you didn’t vote in 2013 to kill Assad, are you now ashamed?
    JC: political process to save life
    AM: you have seen intel on Skripals, are you satisfied was Russia.
    JC: want to see more evidence, a challenge to Russia is needed.
    Need absolute evidence, first. Assertions and probability is not same as evidence
    More powers for opcw
    Chogham, no support for Charlie

    • Bunkum

      AM: you have seen intel on Skripals, are you satisfied was Russia.
      JC: want to see more evidence, a challenge to Russia is needed.
      Need absolute evidence, first. Assertions and probability is not same as evidence

      In other words, I have seen the goverments intel and there is no evidence it is all assertions and probability.

    • N_

      And only the British-funded mercenary group the “White Knob-Ends” saw the “two helicopters”.

  • reel guid

    Labour’s Chukka Umunna on Peston backing May’s military action 100%. He obviously doesn’t want a say as an MP though. Leave it entirely to May to decide. The Furherprinzip.

    Meanwhile BBC News and Sky News are trying to outFox each other. With the BBC slightly ahead.

    Scots who cherish freedom and democracy have to stand up for it or else it’ll go. We can’t be dictated to. Told we’re leaving the EU. Told that military action is going ahead despite our wishes. Told what powers Holyrood should have.

    Funny how so many holier than thou English lefties joined in the BBC and media trashing of Scotland in 2012 to 2014 and since. Now these same people are bleating about the BBC’s treatment of Corbyn and the BBC free pass to May whilst hypocritically still ignoring or participating in the monstering of the SNP and independence. We’ve tried to find common cause with you time and again and been slapped in the face. Take a hike.

    • Ophelia Ball

      oh, ok

      it’s refreshing to see that the Moderators don’t get a day off on Sunday, and are arbitrarily censoring out comments they don’t particular like for no particular reason

    • glenn_nl

      Here’s news for you chief – most of Scotland didn’t want independence either, and still don’t. You going to tell them all to take a hike too?

      • reel guid

        How do you know that most Scots don’t want independence since it’s been 4 years since the referendum and a lot has happened in the intervening period to change opinions and perspectives?

        Do tell us chief?

        • glenn_nl

          If you’re making the argument, you make the case for it. I’ve noticed you’re long on assertions, but a bit short on supporting evidence. We have the results of a referendum – that was a very clear result. Make the case, if you’ve got one, that it would all be different now. Expecting me to prove the last referendum still holds is lazy and disingenuous.

          I love the way your lot want to hold referendums repeatedly until you get the result you like, and naturally _that_ result would stand for all time. Most democratic.

          • reel guid

            Your assertion that there is still no majority for independence could only be proved by a referendum. Democracy is not a one off event.

          • glenn_nl

            I see… how often should these referendums take place – annually? Monthly?

            And would you be saying the same about the need for more referendums, should one of them EVER go in your favour?

            Thought not.

            You had your chance, it was rejected. Man up and accept it.

    • Ultraviolet

      Disappointed in this comment. I am London born and bred, and have only an academic interest in Scottish politics. I was appalled by the lies told about the Yes campaign, and spoke out at the time. Although I am a Corbyn supporter, I also have a very positive view of the SNP, and would be perfectly content for Scotland to be independent if that is what the Scots want.

      If we let these warmongering liars off the hook because of disagreements between ourselves, we all lose.

  • Blissex

    «This attack on Syria is, beyond doubt, a huge success for the machinations of Mohammed Bin Salman.»

    I suspect that MBS is a big player in these stories, but I am not so sure he is pulling the strings, because it is hard to see why he is targeting Russia before Iran, when Russia is not allied to Iran, but just to Syria, which is a bit player. I think that politically there are three factions that are fighting for their corner:

    * The one that wants Iran decimated, and that’s mostly Likud, saudis, in part Trump, the clintonites.
    * The one that wants to smash Russia, that’s mostly the “deep state”, Wall Street, most of the Republican right.
    * The one that is tendentially isolationist, and that is in part Trump, the alt-right, the libertarians, part of the corporate world.

    I suspect that the alleged east Damascus incident was to benefit the “decimate Iran” faction, and the alleged Salisbury accident has been used to focus on the “smash Russia” idea.

  • Barden Gridge

    Apologies if this has already been linked here.

    At a concert in Spain, former Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters denounces the “fake” White Helmets:
    “…I believe… the White Helmets are a fake organisation that exists only to create propaganda [indistinct] the jihadists and terrorists who are working in that part of the world…”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=6FFReCibdMM

    • N_

      Forget Oscar: Give The White Helmets the Leni Riefenstahl Award for Best War Propaganda Film“.

      Is the Oxfam story damage limitation?

      Clearly Britain has been heavily involved in the Syrian civil war for years, despite Theresa May’s lie that yesterday morning’s bombing raids weren’t an “intervention” in it.

      The term “tripartite aggression”, used in 1956, is being used in the Arab world to describe yesterday’s attack. (Shouldn’t that be quadripartite? Or did the French really withdraw at the last moment?)

      • Ophelia Ball

        I have been scouring the internet looking for a photo of what was termed “The Stresa Front” during the 1930’s – the troika of Hitler, Mussolini and Franco

        the problem is that all 3 of them had moustaches, and Macron hasn’t started shaving yet, so the analogy wouldn’t be strictly accurate

          • Ophelia Ball

            Really? I thought she had been embalmed towards the end of the last century?

        • Robert

          It’s obvious that the one common denominator in the Trump, May and Macron troika has to be this trait: Like Pinocchio, all three members of the new Axis of Evil have incredibly long noses.

    • Ahimsa

      Good old Roger Waters, Pink Floyd and the multitude of musical messengers…. Where would our society be without such rich culture through the past few decades?

      It’s so easy to overlook musicians as mere entertainers as many no doubt do, but true musicians along with all true artists are always channeling wisdom and clarity, to help us open the minds eye and keep it open to the wider game.

      Another Brick in The Wall made me stop and think as a 10 year old and was instrumental in my rebellious spark being lit… Even though i didn’t fully understand the lyrics at the time

      Going to dig a couple of their albums out this evening.

    • Kempe

      Should we be impressed? This is after all a man who left England because he disagreed with the ban on fox hunting.

      • Maggie Phelan

        @ Kempe
        What kind of cretin would support fox hunting – certainly no NORMAL person.
        That is what is wrong with our society we are led by a minority of hooray Henrys who get off on seeing innocent ‘animals’ and children murdered.
        If the fox is a nuisance to a farmer, why not just shoot it like they would a dog that had strayed into their fields where new born lambs were?

  • Lee Denness

    Could Jo Cox have been an innocent champion of the White Helmets and could putting them forward for a Nobel Prize (investigations by the Nobel Committee) have posed a threat which ultimately cost her life?

    • Barden Gridge

      I’d forgotten that she was a fan of that mob:

      “Jo was inspired by the White Helmets because they personified some of the best about humankind in some of the worst circumstances,” Brendan Cox said.”

      “Jo worked on Syria for many years…”

      “Cox was co-chair of the Friends of Syria All-Party Parliamentary Group with the Tory MP Andrew Mitchell…”

      “Ciarán Norris, director of the Rising Global Peace Forum…added: “Jo referred to the White Helmets in her nomination letter to the Nobel committee as ‘heroes’. We wanted to recognise their tireless, non-partisan work to help the victims of one of the worst conflicts of modern times.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/nov/12/jo-cox-white-helmets-peace-prize-coventry

      Andrew Mitchell piece praising the White Helmets:
      https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nobel-peace-prize-white-helmets-jo-cox-must-win-a7348286.html
      This is typical of the comments:
      “It is very difficult to understand how it is possible for a former Secretary of State to be as seriously misinformed as is evidenced by these comments on the head-chopper-embedded White Helmets.”

      • marvellousMRchops

        Does he not know that the UK Foreign office ‘in this age of austerity’ has spent £200 million in the last 3 years on non – humanitarian aid funding the Syrian ‘opposition’. Maybe he should watch this video courtesy of the Corbett Report. If you still can’t break the habit of looking at the Guardian it’s well worth a watch too. In fact it really is a must watch if you are not sure exactly who the White Helmets are.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vNwe7yKbwo

        • SA

          file:///C:/Users/Saad/Documents/Politics/Nerve/conflict-stability-security-fund-annual-report-2016-2017.pdf
          CSSF Annual Report 2016/17
          18
          Tackling conflict and building stability overseas (SDSR NSO Objective 2d)
          Conflict destroys lives and economic opportunities and makes the world less secure. The Global Peace Index 2017
          assessed that the economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2016 was $14.3 trillion in purchasing power
          parity terms, or 12.6% of the world’s economic activity.
          4
          Tackling conflict
          2016/17 saw the sixth year of conflict in Syria and the situation remained extremely violent. CSSF funding was
          targeted to support basic security, lay the foundations for recovery and support for a political settlement.
          Programming for basic security included support of the moderate Free Syrian Police, including helping the
          establishment of 80 police stations in 2016/17. In addition, CSSF funding helped train and equip the Syria Civil
          Defence, the White Helmets, to carry out search and rescue, fire-fighting and first aid. Over 3,000 volunteers have
          been trained and over 85,000 lives have been saved. CSSF support for a political settlement included support to the
          political opposition at the Geneva talks and support to Syrian civil society, activists and community leaders to help
          support dialogue to resolve community level disputes.
          CSSF funding has also enabled the UK to respond
          to regional consequences of the Syrian conflict.
          More than 80% of the approximately 660,000
          Syrian refugees in Jordan live in ordinary towns
          and villages. The consequent sudden increase in
          population has contributed to a decline in the
          quality of life for host communities; tensions
          within communities and between residents and
          the Government of Jordan have increased and
          aggravated risks to Jordan’s overall stability. In
          2016/17 the CSSF helped address these
          challenges by investing in infrastructure projects
          as well as giving Jordanian and Syrian
          populations the tools to foster social cohesion
          and resolve conflict. CSSF funding enabled 46 community leaders to receive
          training in conflict management skills and supported 92 community based
          activities designed to promote cohesion.
          In Lebanon, in addition to work addressing pressures on the education system
          and on basic service delivery caused by the influx of around 1.5 million Syrian
          refugees, in 2016/17 the CSSF also helped to maintain the territorial integrity
          of Lebanon from threats in Syria. This involved training the Lebanese 3
          rd Land
          Border Regiment, who physically secured an additional 20% of the LebaneseSyrian
          border (resulting in 70% coverage).
          Building stability
          It is in the UK’s interest to support countries as they move away from conflict
          and build sustainable peace. Peacebuilding interventions can vary significantly,
          from supporting formal high-level peace processes to promoting grassroots
          reconciliation. Post-conflict recovery interventions can focus on strengthening
          governance and democracy or dealing with the aftermath of violent conflict
          through supporting transitional justice processes or removing dangerous
          remnants of war such as unexploded ordinance.

          • marvellousMRchops

            So the report specifically mentions the White Helmets………

            “It is in the UK’s interest to support countries as they move away from conflict
            and build sustainable peace”.

            by doing what we are told and dropping bombs on them…….

  • Steve Hayes

    The rationale for blaming Russia for the poisonings of Sergei and Yulia Skripal is that the substance was a “novichok” and therefore must have come from the Russian state. There were already reasons to discount this argument from ignorance, but the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov has now added another. He says the Swiss lab the OPCW used to test the samples provided by the British government says the compound was BZ, which was never produced by Russia or the Soviet Union, but has been produced by the United Kingdom, the United States and other NATO countries. So if Boris Johnson et al wish to stick with their logic(al fallacy), they must assume the guilty party is the UK or some other NATO country.

    • Josh

      I agree, this lends a definitive check to the lies told by the British government. I am curious what Craig’s take on this will be. Lavrov’s 15 minute exposition, showing exact reactions and facts over the two supposed chemical attacks and the Skripal case, is so convincing.

    • Maggie Phelan

      Of course the ‘chemical’ came from UK. Now else were Maybot and the Baboon able to name it so quickly. Christ, it has only taken 30+ days for the chemical to be identified, and then only with the help of the Swiss laboratory. as BZ which symptoms include dizziness, ataxia (a loss of motor control), vomiting, dry mouth, blurred vision, confusion, sedation leading to stupor, progressing to random unpredictable behaviour with delusions and hallucination within 12 or more hours.
      It is going to cost ‘multi millions” to clean up Salisbury… which is more than the budget for VISIT BY THE QUEEN?
      Me thinks the Council may be after a face lift in payment for going along with this pantomime.
      Porton Down already got theirs 48 million pound bonus…
      Scene 1 – Poison Pantomime.
      MI5/6 handler – Hey Sergei we have another job for you. We are going to pretend to ‘poison ‘ you and your daughter to make the public believe that Russia is threatening our citizens.
      Sergei – Oh I don’t know, will it hurt?
      MI5/6 handler – No of course not, haven’t we looked after you well for the past eight years? It will be a buzz.
      And you knew we would want something back eventually. Nobody gets a free ride in this country.
      Sergei – OK then, but we will need rewarding.
      MI5/6 handler – You will be rewarded extremely well if all goes to plan.
      When Sergei and Yulia came round from their`trip. ` She made a brief pre- determined supervised phone call to her cousin which did not go down well at all with the handlers. She suddenly realised all was not well because they were no longer allowed to speak to their family in Russia or speak to the Russian Embassy – (Yulia was still a Russian Citizen.)… and then the penny dropped…
      Yulia – I want to go home, I promise I will say nothing. My Grandmother and boyfriend who is a .
      FSB officer will be worried.
      MI5/6 handler – It’s OK, we are going to take care of you…. Come with us till the dust settles. We will relocate you for now and change your identities, you will be fine….
      We will put out a statement – from you – that will take the pressure off you having to explain/lie about what happened. All will be well, trust me.
      They are bungled into the back of a black van and driven to a remote location like Scotland, and disposed of, because they were simply useful pawns/players in the political pantomime, and are of no further value.
      And when their bodies are found it will be the Russians who tracked them down and murdered them –
      For what possible reason?
      God only knows. Or at least Maybot and the Baboon know.

      2

  • Barden Gridge

    “Deana Lynn” is a name that sounds like it ought to be painted next to a racy pin-up on the nose of a B-17, but apparently it belongs to a US “mother of eight” who fled Douma after the alleged chemical weapon attack.
    You can see Deana Lynn here (photo from March 2018):
    https://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/syrien-krise/das-sagen-die-menschen-aus-duma-55396546.bild.html

    She is one of only two people quoted by Bild when they asked what they call “refugees” from Douma for their opinion of the FUKUS missile attacks. The other person is an Anti-Assad “journalist”.

    Call me cynical, but WTF?
    This is pretty bad, even by Bild standards.

    Their thoroughly unsurprising verdict:
    “they didn’t do enough, they didn’t kill Assad”

      • SA

        The BBC as far as I know has only interviewed ‘activists’ in opposition controlled areas, whilst ignoring 75% of the population under the SG.

  • Dave G

    So did UK spooks use BZ to incapacitate the Skripals in order to enable them and Porton Down to set up the Novichok story?
    Or is the whole incident an invention and nobody was actually harmed by anything – creating their own reality, as Rove once said? But if it was all an invention, BZ wouldn’t have been allowed anywhere near a sample, I’d have thought, so it looks as if the Skripals were genuinely incapacitated, probably by BZ if the Russian info is accurate.

  • Billy Bostickson

    I remembered the title of this post was “Just Who’s Pulling the Strings?”

    I’m curious to see nobody has mentioned the possibility that the British Intelligence Services were drawn into a long term trap by their counterparts in Russia.

    1. Putin was annoyed at the constant accusations of poisoning his enemies that have been leveled against him in recent years and the interventions of USA, UK and France in Syria.
    2. He consults with Sergey Naryshkin at SVR and decides to launch an operation to draw them into a trap and expose them as liars
    3. SVR discovers that Julia Skripal’s mother-in-law is desperate to prevent her forthcoming marriage to her son.
    4. As we know, the mother-in-law is the protege of the vice-director of Nordsk Nickel, Gasumyanov, who was previously a high ranking figure in the SVR and is known to have strong links with Armenian/Caucasus mafia gangs.
    5. The mother-in-law is introduced to contract killers through intermediaries to make an attempt on the life of the Skripals.
    6. Another group supplies them with some of Leonard Rink’s remaining ampoules of Novichok with BX added at SVR labs,
    7. SVR knows that the compound will be identified as of likely Russian origin, so they introduce certain evidence to support that theory (a satellite phone call from Syria, a supposed manual leaked through a double agent showing door knob poison tactics, traces of GRU email hacking of Julia Skripal, etc) to drag British Intelligence into a trap.
    8. British State falls into the trap and accuses Russia. Thinking this is their great opportunity, they use the incident to frame an anti-Putin narrative which then allows them to launch attacks on on Syria and manipulate public opinion for other ends.
    9. At the right time, after FUKUS launches their illegal attack on Syria, Russia reveals that BX was the real chemical involved through a hacked lab report from the Swiss lab.
    10. End game, Popular anger in the UK, France and USA at their deception by their leaders and media leads to the overthrow of May, Macron and Trump and support for Russia increases.

    11. Never again is Putin accused of poisoning his enemies and all such previous claims are disregarded.
    FUKUS leave Syria with their tail between their legs.
    NATO collapses in a torment of recriminations and accusations again st UK and France.

    Check Mate!

    Now, slice me up with Occam’s Razor, but you must admit, it would make a great film….

    • Sean Lamb

      Billy it is even worse than that. Putin with his supreme malice and cunning, did absolutely nothing at all – secure in the knowledge that the British would make complete and utter clowns of themselves.

      The absolute gall of the man, choosing complete inaction just to spite the West

    • Jo Dominich

      Billy, you’ve missed your vocation – you’d be a brilliant writer of thriller fiction!

  • Emily

    If this statement has been posted – forgive me – but i think it very important.
    Please note towards the end – where it could be interpreted – I stand corrected – that the samples received by the Swiss at least had been possibly doctored with the second nerve agent attributable to Russia..
    Comment 182 from Moon of Alabama – current thread.
    Quote in full.

    Sorry, if someone have already published the following/ May be I’ve missed it. But everybody may stop speculating on what or didn’t find the Swiss laboratory or what did Lavrov said. You may read it yourself now in English (in Russian it became available yesterday): Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s address at the 26th Assembly of the Council for Foreign and Defence Policy, Moscow, April 14, 2018

    “As you know, in the Skripal case the British specially invited a group of OCSW experts. It was done exclusively in a bilateral manner, it was announced that the others would be informed about the conclusions reached by the group. The report of this group of experts was initially distributed as a summary for public consumption and following that, a detailed and fairly substantial confidential version was distributed to the OPCW members only. In that report, in accordance with the OPCW way of conduct, the chemical composition of the agent presented by the British was confirmed, and the analysis of samples, as the report states, was taken by the OPCW experts themselves. It contains no names, Novichok or any other. The report only gives the chemical formula, which, according to our experts, points to an agent that had been developed in many countries and does not present any particular secret.

    Our colleagues tell us (I have already given examples as I described previous situations) that they have secret data that they cannot share. As you understand, we also have the capacity to obtain confidential information. Since this information concerns issues that are literally connected to death and life, we are not going to keep anything secret. We became aware of this from the Swiss Federal Institute for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection in Spiez. The information was obtained on conditions of confidentiality. On March 27, experts of the Institute completed their study of the samples collected on the site of the incident in Salisbery, in line with OPCW, and sent to them by the OPCW. This laboratory in Spiez, where, I am sure, professional scientists who value their reputation are employed, came to the following conclusions. I will now be quoting what they sent to the OPCW in their report. You understand that this is a translation from a foreign language but I will read it in Russian, quote: “Following our analysis, the samples indicate traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursor which are second category chemical weapons. BZ is a nerve toxic agent, which temporarily disables a person. The psycho toxic effect is achieved within 30 to 60 minutes after its use and lasts for up to four days. This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. Also, the samples indicate the presence of type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state and also products of its degradation.” End of quote. According to the specialists’ estimates, the significant concentration of A-234 discovered would have inevitably been lethal, and taking into account its high volatility, the fact that the specialists in the city of Spiez found it in its virgin state and also with high purity and in high concentration, appears to be utterly suspicious, because the period which elapsed between the poisoning and sampling was fairly long – I think, over two weeks.

    Taking into account that Yulia Skripal and the policeman have already been released from hospital, whereas Sergei Skripal, as the British claim without letting us see either Yulia or Sergei, is still recovering, the clinical pattern corresponds more to the use of a BZ agent. Nothing is said whatsoever about a BZ agent in the final report that the OPCW experts presented to its Executive Council. In this connection we address the OPCW a question about why the information, that I have just read out loud and which reflects the findings of the specialists from the city of Spiez, was withheld altogether in the final document. If the OPCW would reject and deny the very fact that the Spiez laboratory was engaged, it will be very interesting to listen to their explanations.”

    • Steph

      ‘If the OPCW would reject and deny the very fact that the Spiez laboratory was engaged, it will be very interesting to listen to their explanations.”

      This can’t happen now as the Spiez laboratory have already responded via twitter, confirming that they were engaged. .

    • Kempe

      ” This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. ”

      Why would the laboratory mention that? It doesn’t appear to be correct anyway. I can only find reference to the US stockpiling it and they destroyed it all in 1988/89.

          • Sergei

            Clearly you do not understand the difference between CW stockpiles (enough for killing/incapacitating millions, designed to be delivered through various military platforms — artillery, bombs, missiles, etc.) and minute amounts produced in a laboratory (enough for killing/incapacitating a few people, no special design, just an ordinary flask to be delivered by an assassin).

      • Node

        Why would the laboratory mention that?

        If Sergey Lavrov has lied or misquoted the report that he claims the Swiss Federal Institute for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection in Spiez gave to the OPCW, then the OPCV will refute his claims and he will look a fool. If they don’t, you will.

      • Jo Dominich

        Kempe, the USA were also meant to destroy their chemical weapons as agreed with the USA and Russia with the OPCW. Now. Russia, as confirmed by the OPCW in 2017, has destroyed all of its chemical weapons just as it confirmed Syria did in 2013. You can find a reference to the USA having stockpiled it and then say they destroyed it in 1989. I don’t think so because they haven’t destroyed any of their chemical weapons stockpile yet claiming they cannot afford it.

  • Billy Bostickson

    On the topic of BZ, I earlier posted information about the terrible experiments at Porton Down, in case you missed it. read it please:

    MOD’s PORTON DOWN AND SECRET EXPERIMENTS
    Eye Spy Magazine | 10.02.2002 20:41

    Priest Claims Top Secret Base Injected Dying Patients With Killer Viruses

    The police are to investigate gruesome allegations that military scientists at a top secret Ministry of Defence
    research facility used old and sick people as guinea pigs in germ warfare experiments. Porton Down is already at the centre of another police investigation – Operation Antler – which concerns the duping of servicemen with the deadly sarin and tabun nerve gas, mustard gas, CS and CR riot gas, LSD and another mind-binding drug believed to be known as BZ. According to intelligence sources, more than 400 complaints and allegations have been made from surviving servicemen and women covering a period of time from the 1950’s right up to 1989.

    The new allegations may strengthen the belief that there has been yet another major cover-up by the British Government and intelligence services.

    https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2002/02/22239.html

    • Dave Lawton

      Billy Bostickson
      Yes they tried to do me while I was serving in the RN as the offered two weeks free leave if I volunteered for research into the Common cold.An angel told me not to go.Was at a shore base at the time.A few guys in my Mess went .I never saw them again.Also twenty five years ago I met a ex RAF nurse at a friends house and he told he had been tracing his past history when he was stationed at small secret RAF hospital were he had been nursing the servicemen who had been used as guinea pigs for Sarin nerve agent trials.He had gone back to where the hospital was located but had found it had been bulldozed and grassed over.

  • SA

    So the plot thickens. The Skripals may have been poisoned by BZ which explains thier recovery. High purity i.e laboratory grade agent uncontaminated must have therefore been added later and not gone through thier system.

  • Madeira

    A possible explanation for the apparent divergences between the OPCW report and the Russian claims of what the Swiss lab found:

    1. The UK requests Porton Down to confirm the presence of A-234 (motivated no doubt by its “secret intelligence” that the Russians for 10 years had been building up a “small stockpile” for such purposes).

    2. Porton Down confirms the presence of A-234. Whether or not it carried out additional tests to determine the presence of other possible toxic agents is uncertain.

    3. The UK refuses to provide sample(s) to Russia, arguing that the “exchange of information and consultations” called for by Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention does not mean that they need to provide evidence to the “guilty party”.

    4. After much prodding by the Russians, the UK belatedly agrees to request “technical assistance” from the OPCW to confirm its findings. The precise form this request took is confidential, but one might surmise that it would have been: Please confirm the presence of the toxic substance A-234 which we have identified in the samples (with the understood message “no need to waste time and resources looking for other toxic substances”).

    5. As per its standard protocol, the OPCW sent out the samples to various “partner” laboratories, of which one was the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland, which is the government “ABC” lab (atomic, biological, chemical). They are asked to confirm (only) the presence of A-234.

    6. For an unknown reason, the Spiez Laboratory exceeds its mandate and not conly confirms the presence of A-234 but also traces of 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, better known by its NATO code name BZ. The Spiez Laboratory sends its report to the OPCW.

    7. The OPCW issues 2 reports (one private, the other confidential) on 12 April. In response to the specific request made by the UK, the OPCW truthfully confirms that the “toxic chemical identified by the United Kingdom” was indeed A-234. The formula for this “toxic chemical” was (apparently) provided in the confidential report.

    8.The OPCW also provides the additional information that “this toxic chemical [i.e. A-234] was of high purity”. And for those without the necessary scientific background to digest this statement, it helpfully adds that this technical conclusion was based on ” the almost complete absence of impurities”.

    9. As the OPCW had not been asked to confirm the presence of any toxic chemical other than A-234, it naturally did not take into account the superfluous discovery by the Spiez Laboratory of traces of BZ.

    10. The Russians obtain access to the Spiez Laboratory report — from a “whistleblower” at the lab or the OPCW, or by “hacking”.

    Entirely implausible?

    • IM

      That’s what I thought happened as well- OPCW TAV was asked to confirm cf. identify, and the Swiss did too good a job. If what Lavrov is reported as saying, i. e. that not only BZ but also its precursor is in the samples cf. pure A234 in suspicious quantities, there is a lot of explaining to do by the UK. OPCW can actually come out clean in this case though by simply saying TAV was tasked with confirming the presence of A234 and not investigating the samples, i. e. we stuck to the very narrow scope tasks we were asked to do. I suspect the Russians would be within their rights to send a full FFM (made up of non-NATO members) to the UK in light of BZ and its precursor, if their presence is detected in the samples.

    • Emily

      Excellent analysis.
      No 3. The UK refuses to provide sample(s) to Russia, arguing that the “exchange of information and consultations” called for by Article IX of the Chemical Weapons Convention does not mean that they need to provide evidence to the “guilty party”.
      Why?
      Because they knew that Russia didn’t do as claimed and the Russians could/would have dug that little deeper – as have apparently the Swiss.
      The fact that Russia is still NOT allowed a sample – speaks volumes.

      • Emily

        Madeira
        Correction
        Excellent analysis.
        I gave you credit for a sensible remark not for your ridiculous last line – I missed
        ‘Entirely implausible.’
        You made a great case and then blew it from some sort of political bigotry – what a shame.
        Why ever did you bother.

          • Emily

            Then I offer a humble apology.
            It was an excellent analysis as I wrote.
            My faith in sensible posts is restored.
            My wrists – both slapped!!
            Sorry Madeira – very sorry.

        • Madeira

          Sorry, think you must have mistunderstood me.

          There was a question mark after “Entirely implausible” — it was an understated (and suitably humble) way of saying that I thought it was entirely plausible!

    • Amateur chemistry

      The proportions tell a strange and incriminating tale.
      A quick look online regarding BZ and Novichoks shows that they are very different chemicals with different properties.

      1 Novichoks are volatile substances that are designed to disperse quickly in the hours (never mind weeks) after an attack, yet they are the main agent found/mentioned.

      2. BZ agent found in trace amounts. BZ is much less volatile and can persist for some time. It was chosen by NATO because it can linger for days and would have been a major impediment to Soviet era troops if the Cold War had ever got hot. It is incapacitating rather than fatal so matches the clinical picture reported much better.

      Unless the initial amount of Novichok was gigantic at the start (enough to endanger most of Salisbury which seems unlikely), the most convincing way to end up with these proportions would be for it to have been added to the mix later.

      There is no logical reason to attack with Novichok and BZ at the same time (Novichok would always ‘trump’ BZ making it a waste of time having BZ).

      -BTW Regarding Novichok, I dislike the term as using it is in itself a propaganda coup for the ‘it won the Russians wot done it brigade’. Using the Russian terminology automatically sets the scene for blaming them, I think ‘New Nerve Agents’ or ‘New, easier to make nerve agents’ is less more neutral. Strange how some words get translated and others are left in the original language.

      Expect the media playing down the BZ as ‘only trace amounts’ or denying it altogether as this is a subtle …but it is a very damning finding.

      I don’t know who did this attack but if both agents are present in the final sample then it suggests that the evidence has been tampered with.

      • Sergei

        Chemists use the term “4th-generation nerve agents” to describe this class of compounds.

    • Paul

      plausible … which would suggest dissenters in swiss and opcw … chemists against nuclear armaggedon

    • Tom Smythe

      5-6. As per its standard protocol, the OPCW sent out the samples to various “partner” laboratories, of which one was the Spiez laboratory in Switzerland, which is the government “ABC” lab (atomic, biological, chemical). They are asked to confirm (only) the presence of A-234. For an unknown reason, the Spiez Laboratory exceeds its mandate and not conly confirms the presence of A-234 but also traces of 3-Quinuclidinyl benzilate, better known by its NATO code name BZ. The Spiez Laboratory sends its report to the OPCW.

      I don’t believe such a narrow request is admissible, professionally acceptable, or scientifically possible. That would undercut the whole idea of analysis by an independent laboratory.

      The problem is the gas chromatography step that precedes the ion spray mass spectroscopy. Whoever is analyzing the sample sees two all-too-familiar pair of peaks of BZ and synthetic precursor coming down the line with their usual retention times, then exiting the mass spectroscopy device with their characteristic fragmentation pattern which were logged long ago into a vast database of known compounds and pop up via installed AI as blinking lines and loud beeps on the analyst’s screen for what they are.

      With the encouragement of the OPCW, the gc-ms attributes of the five novichoks recently synthesized by the Iranians were entered into this same database two years ago. That was the whole point of the J Spectroscopy article. This makes it unnecessary for the Swiss or anyone else to have reference samples to identify them. Again, A-234 and its (low level of) degradation products would set off more blinking screens and annoying beeps. The analyst can no more shut off or delete the analysis than you or I can shut off the seat belt chime-nanny in our cars. The lab tech, the supervising Ph.D. chemist and the lab chief would all know immediately.

      Frankly, after a lifetime working across the scientific community, I cannot imagine a qualified scientific professional going along with non-reporting of a category two chemical warfare agent when detecting these precisely is their job. While we don’t know how Lavrov obtained the report (lab leak, computer hack, another recipient), my guess is leak: an analyst went ballistic upon seeing no mention of their painstakingly verified BZ in the public OPCW report. This is someone’s whole professional life, developing expertise in complex analytic chemistry and reporting with integrity. Participating in some tawdry cover-up is not in the Swiss scientific character.

      Lavrov quote (translated from original language (German?) to Russian to English is again in executive summary language, ie missing scientific methods and data that are assuredly in the full document (which Lavrov may or may not have):

      “Following our analysis, the samples indicate traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursor which are second category chemical weapons. BZ is a nerve toxic agent, which temporarily disables a person. The psycho toxic effect is achieved within 30 to 60 minutes after its use and lasts for up to four days. This composition was in operational service in the armies of the US, the UK and other NATO countries. The Soviet Union and Russia neither designed nor stored such chemical agents. Also, the samples indicate the presence of type A-234 nerve agent in its virgin state and also products of its degradation.” end of quote.

    • Robert

      Yes, Emily somebody has some explaining to do but in geopolitics when one tells a lie and it does not work then one has to tell another lie to cover the first lie. Than a third to cover the second lie and so on. Otto Von Bismarck once said that “People never lie so much as after a hunt, before an election or during a war.”

      And he added wisely “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” So please be prepared.

  • Ben

    Eh?

    No post on Putin charging UK with chemical attack?

    In light of histrionics and shite thrown at walls, is there no credible human waste sticking to them and not mucking up the sidewalk?

  • Ben

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-14/wikileaks-secret-cable-overthrow-syrian-regime-play-nice-russia

    It is also essential to recall that the al-Qaeda linked group which originated the claims of a government orchestrated chemical attack on civilians in the Damascus suburb of Douma, called Jaish al Islam (JAI), is and has always been state sponsored by the Saudi regime. The Guardian, among others, reported beginning in 2013 that Saudi Arabia founded and trained the group, spending millions.

  • Billy Bostickson

    If anyone is interested in BZ, here are some fascinating links for in-depth reading:

    Lab Notes from an Unintentional BZ Experience by Dr. James A. Moor
    https://www.erowid.org/chemicals/bz/bz_chemistry1_james_moore_synthesis.pdf

    CHEMICAL WARFARE SECRETS ALMOST FORGOTTEN by James S. Ketchum, MD
    (With a foreword by Alexander Shulgin, PhD)
    A Personal Story of Medical Testing of Army Volunteers with Incapacitating Chemical Agents During the Cold War (1955-1975)
    https://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/chemical_warfare_secrets_almost_forgotten_ketchum.pdf

    Acid Dreams (The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond)
    Martin A. Lee, Bruce Shlai
    https://www.erowid.org/library/books_online/acid_dreams.pdf

    Detailed Facts About Psychedelic Agent 3 -Quinuclidinyl Benzilate (Agent BZ)

    -The chemical quinuclidinyl benzilate, Chemical Abstract Service Registry No. 6581-06-2.
    U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine

    https://www.scribd.com/document/1838782/US-Army-detbz

    The UK’s Search for an Incapacitating (‘Non-Lethal’) Chemical Agent in the 1960s
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.181.942&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    Interesting secret but now declassified review of work on transmission/toxicity and gels for chemical warfare nerve agents (old but relevant considering there may have been chemical traces from the gelling compound if supposedly used on door knob)
    http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/c950285.pdf

    • Dave Lawton

      Billy Bostickson
      Yes CIA gave me some rather nice LSD in 1971.Not going say any more.

    • Sergei

      Psychedelic action would explain reports of Sergei Skripal waving his hands at the sky while sitting on a bench with Yulia. Remember, witnesses thought Skripals were on drugs.

  • Tom Smythe

    Someone put forward the notion that BZ could have been recommended to the hospital by Porton Down as an antidote to A-234. While it’s true that poisoning by the latter results in too much acetylcholine accumulating and poisoning by the latter blocks even normal levels of acetylcholine from the reaching the signal receiving (muscarinic-type) receptors, this would be a hugely risky balance to seek compared to standard pharmacological phystigamine and atropine, with massive predictable side effects from the BZ. The timing would seem very delayed (multiple days had elapsed before PD ‘discovered’ it was A-234) and no way could ‘environmental samples’ like bench or door handle be contaminated with BZ, as reported.

    The real weirdness here with BZ and A-234 is that the Skripal’s did NOT have symptoms of BZ alone, for example loss of bowel and bladder control, seizures, severe narrowing of pupils (miosis) reported at the time by people early to arrive at the scene. Those are symptoms of acetylcholine esterase poisoning. BZ has the opposite effect, severe widening of pupils (mydriasis). However a multi-hour delay in symptom onset — Sergei’s temper tantrum in Zizzi’s — is more compatible with BZ (as well as the 40 minute delay in getting served). BZ is active percutaneously.

    Recovery from A-234 exposure is again more consistent with BZ, though the exposure dosage and route aren’t known, nor the effectiveness of antidotes. On the novichuk side, Uglev and others describe symptoms of a lab fume hood malfunction and two Russian officers dying during a Dugway-type field test. Organophosphate poisoning is quite common in migrant field workers here and the symptoms are well documented.

    The real mystery is with the (since disappeared) DS Bailey’s timeline. His route that day was surely determined immediately but it has never been disclosed. Detectives are neither trained nor deployed as first-responders to suspected fentanyl over-dosers because of hepatitis C and AIDS risk. Door handles only came onto the scene very late in the investigation, after the pub, restaurant, bench, corridor spray, cemetery flowers, car doors, car ventilation, cosmetics, bay leaf, buckwheat and Yulia’s clothing had run their course.

    The three main ideas with Bailey are (1) hit man who got accidentally exposed, (2) minder who implausibly shared some of the contaminated risote or liaised with the kitchen staff of middle eastern immigrants and/or MI6 representative called there during the 40 minute delay, (3) minder who travelled with the Skripals to some unknown intelligence rendezvous during the four hour blackout of their cell phones that day and got slightly exposed. along with them.

    Continuing employment fits with Sergei’s astonishing accumulation of wealth for a poorly paid ex-spy retired without pension. Possibly the Skirpals refused an assignment that day. As too much had to be explained to them in the course of job offer, they became a huge security risk. Rather than stuffing them in an athletic bag like with the young cryptographer who returned to GCHQ rather than continue with some raunch MI6 assignment, the pre-arranged plan was a fatal traffic accident (BZ) or failing that, A-234 back-up. Their escort, DS Bailey, was then caught up in friendly fire but fortunately PD knew right away what antidote to give the hospital.

    • Billy Bostickson

      Well, that’s as may be, although I consider it unlikely.

      “While it’s true that poisoning by the latter results in too much acetylcholine accumulating and poisoning by the latter blocks,,,,”

      Do you mean latter and former or former and latter?

      “this would be a hugely risky balance to seek compared to standard pharmacological phystigamine and atropine”

      About BZ, atropine as you know would actually worsen the situation, while physostigmine is no longer used in treatment.

      you might find this update on treatment of interest:

      “The antidotal effect against BZ intoxication is based on an increase of ACh levels caused by reversible cholinesterase inhibitors. From this group of compounds, physostigmine was used as the first antidote against BZ. However, physostigmine has a very thin margin between its therapeutic and toxic doses. Therefore, new inhibitors were developed, and acridine derivatives were found to be the most promising. From these compounds, 7-methoxytacrine (7-MEOTA) was the most effective. It is less toxic than physostigmine and tacrine and its central effect is pronounced. It was introduced in the Czech army as an antidote against BZ poisoning.”

    • Madeira

      It will be very interesting to see the UK response to the discovery of BZ, assuming there is one. I wasn’t aware of the argument that it could have been used as an antidote. Another possibility is that they will say the (diabolical) Russians combined the “known Russian” nerve agent A-234 with the “Western” BZ in order to throw investigators off the track (!).

      • Billy Bostickson

        It can’t be used as an antidote, That’s not correct.

        Another possibility that hasn’t been raised is that the Russians were “given” a forged report via a double agent or hacker in order to embarrass them publicly on Monday. We shall see..

        • Madeira

          If the report were forged, it would be very easy for both Spiez Lab and the OPCW to point this out. I await for this announcement with bated breath, alas I fear in vain.

        • Jo Dominich

          Billy, Spiez has already confirmed its involvement – they so far haven’t said that Sergei Lavrov’s statement is untrue, so I suspect it probably is the truth. Why would Lavrov tell a lie at this stage?

          • Billy Bostickson

            Sorry, Tom Dominich, you sound confused. “Why should Lavrov tell a lie at this stage?” What do you mean by that exactly? What I said was the document he was given might be a false document or forgery. Do you not understand that?

            Regarding Tom’s “Science” it is actually not correct, as I pointed out quite clearly. He also seems confused about BZ and its antidotes and does not write clearly.

            His other theories are patently absurd, especially regarding Bailey as a hitman.

    • Jo Dominich

      Tom, what a brilliant analysis here. You have the gift of turning complicated science into understandable plain English. I am no scientist but I have learned something from your posts

      • Jo Dominich

        Billy, thanks for your response. However, he does have legitimate questions about Bailey’s presence doesn’t he? Are we being asked to believe he was just strolling by? A Det Sargeant would not, routinely, be asked to attend a scene where Fentanyl poisoning was suspected, that would be a purely medical matter. Added to which, earlier in this blog, is a situation where someone had phoned into an LBC phone in and during the discussion, identified themselves as one of Bailey’s neighbour. When the LBC host said to the caller to get Bailey to telephone him as he would love to speak to him, the neighbour said he couldn’t because Bailey had been on holiday since Salisbury. Just saying

  • Mme Pouliquen

    Hello, everybody ! I just would like to put this testimony of a young French teacher who is living in Syria and tries to tell the truth about the real situation in place via YouTube. Some of his videos are translated into English. So, who understands à French language, please watch and communicate to other people. He looks very sincere.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?t=54s&v=jvVCrCG-fnQ

  • Tom Smythe

    Some interesting further details of the Salisbury testing protocol have been released. Four unnamed labs were involved. Two labs got biomedical splits from the three affected individuals. Two DIFFERENT labs got splits from the environmental samples. The UK received splits of both sample types.

    Spiez was one of the four. It sounds like they got an environmental split, not a biomedical. A second unnamed lab received an identical sample set. We do not know at this point whether this second lab also found BZ (competency), missed the BZ (incompetency), found and reported BZ but remained silent despite its burial in the OPCW report (competent/ethically dubious), or found but did not conceal BZ (competent/unethical) from OPCW.

    Astonishingly, it sounds like Porton Down may have been the other designated lab for the environmental samples which would explain the frantic supporting tweet from Spiez’s site. (This would be in addition to the UK State splits.)

    This would be huge for OPCW to lose an accredited designated lab (scenarios 2 and 4 above). They should really have sent the second split off to an Asian lab rather than presume a lab from the affected member state would provide a decent analysis.

    This is the end of PD as a reference lab if they failed to detect or found but failed to report the routinely assayed BZ. There will be some very unhappy campers there among scientific staff.

    There may not have been sufficient BZ/A-234 left in the biomedical samples for the other two labs to have found anything after the long time delay before chain-of-custody collection. These labs may be have just enzyme assays rather than gc-ms in view of the complexity of biological fluids. For example, fentanyl spray, as put forward today by Leontid Rink, would affect mu-opioid receptors, not acetylcholine receptors like BZ.

    “The OPCW experts visited the locations where two of the victims were reportedly exposed to a toxic chemical and collected several environmental samples. The team also took biomedical samples from these two victims, as well as from a third individual, a police officer reportedly exposed to a toxic chemical. These samples were sealed and brought to the OPCW laboratory on 23 March 2018. Samples were split in the presence of an expert from the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom was provided with one split of each sample.

    The environmental samples were then delivered to two designated laboratories, and the biomedical samples were delivered to another two designated laboratories.

    The Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, thanked the four OPCW designated laboratories that supported the technical assistance request for their swift and thorough analysis. 

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland requested technical assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat, under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, in relation to an incident in Salisbury on 4 March 2018 involving a toxic chemical—allegedly a nerve agent—and the poisoning and hospitalisation of three individuals. 

    The OPCW team worked independently and is not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities. No State Party was involved in the technical work carried out by the Technical Secretariat.”

    https://www.opcw.org/fileadmin/OPCW/EC/M-57/en/ecm57dg01_e_.pdf
    https://www.opcw.org/news/article/opcw-issues-report-on-technical-assistance-requested-by-the-united-kingdom

    • Billy Bostickson

      The updates you talk of are from April the 4th and April 12th. They are not updates and are not related to your new claims. Please provide a link or source if you can.

    • Tom Smythe

      To clarify, I meant to write above “found but concealed BZ (competent/unethical) from the OPCW.” This hypothetical scenario, suppression by management, would leave professional staff foaming at the mouth. The decision to suppress would be made after consultation and orders received from a higher level and passed down through the beleaguered Aikenhead head of DSTL to the PD facility head to the analytic lab head to the analyst to the instrument technician as well as to whomever knew or was involved with writing PD’s submission to OPCW. (

      Note though OPCW itself is party to concealment of the Spiez Lab finding, of that we are certain since Spiez is not contesting the BZ announcement. That would take an order or existential pressure from a very high level.

      Lavrov again, saying they didn’t have to hack Spiez’s computer network (even though they easily could):

      “Our colleagues tell us [other States] that they have secret data that they cannot share. As you understand, we also have the capacity to obtain confidential information. Since this information concerns issues that are literally connected to death and life, we are not going to keep anything secret. We became aware of this from the Swiss Federal Institute for Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Protection in Spiez. The information was obtained on conditions of confidentiality.

      On March 27, experts of the Institute completed their study of the samples collected on the site of the incident in Salisbery, in line with OPCW, and sent to them by the OPCW. This laboratory in Spiez, where, I am sure, professional scientists who value their reputation are employed, came to the following conclusions. I will now be quoting what they sent to the OPCW in their report.”

      Speiz isn’t some random non-profit public interest Swiss lab or UN facility. It is their national laboratory for the protection of civilians against chemical and biological warfare, a government laboratory overseen by the interior ministry.

      If someone can shed some light on this, it would be no problem to deconstruct the “long chemical formula” and the widely available chemical compound that it “points to”.

      Lavrov on Saturday also said the report from the Swiss lab mentioned no nerve agents by name, such as Novichok, but instead gave a long chemical formula that points to a substance that has been developed by many countries.

      • intp1

        @ Madeira
        But wasn’t that all structured from the start? secrecy and restrictions on what OPCW could report back and to whom, as a condition before they got the samples? Speiz may well have reported per Russian statements to OPCW, maybe other labs too but the scope that OPCW agreed to with the Brits was perhaps carefully engineered to omit any BZ finding.

        How did the Russians get this data? doesn’t look like they have documents or we would have seen them.

        The more we get to hear and think about the more holes there are (The statement of the Doctor at the hospital may tie in with this) but they skate right over it, MSM waved onto the next un-proven anti-Russian news cycle etc. Been doing that since 2001 at least.

      • Billy Bostickson

        Which is claimed to be very easy to synthesize:

        Synthesis is very simple. This is from Chemical Abstracts, 1959, vol 53,#1385h, under the heading “Esters of diaryl hydroxyacetic acids.” It references US Patent # 2,843,593.

        “Thus, 15 grams anhydrous methyl benzilate in 50 cc dry toluene is added with stirring to 1.2 gram of sodium metal dispersed in 50 cc toluene, the mixture kept below 30 degrees (C) by external cooling during hydrogen evolution. (1 hour). Whereupon 5.2 grams anhydrous 3-quinuclidinol in toluene is added, the mixture refluxed 30 minutes (turns reddish), cooled to -20 degrees C, (turns pale yellow) extracted 3 times with cold 1-normal HCl, made alkaline with 35 cc 15% NaOH, extracted 3 times with chloroform, dried over sodium sulfate, evaporated till crystallization begins, 50 cc of acetone added, allowed to stand 24 hours in a refrigerator (not further defined), and the precipitate filtered off and washed with acetone to give 84.2% benzilic acid ester of 3 quinuclidinol, melting point 160-161. ”

        Also: Journal of the American Chemical Society, May 5, 1952, page 2215-2219+

        Also, from the Merck Index, a reference to a WHO (World Health Organization) publication, under heading 3-Quinuclidinol. “Health Aspects of Chemical and Biological Weapons (WHO, Geneva, 1970, pp 49-51)

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