Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Fourth Estate

The Telegraph is notorious for its willingness to spout drivel on foreign policy matters but it's really excelling itself today (via).
Iran 'is training the next al-Qa'eda leaders'

Iran is seeking to take control of Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terror network by encouraging it to promote officials known to be friendly to Teheran, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

According to recent reports received by Western intelligence agencies, the Iranians are training senior al-Qa'eda operatives in Teheran to take over the organisation when bin Laden is no longer leader.

Sunni fundamentalist Al-Qaeda members do not consider Shiites to be "proper" Muslims. They may or may not occasionally cooperate in minor matters when it is in their joint interest (there is very little, if any, evidence that they do) but the idea that Shiite Iran could have that sort of influence over al Qaeda is palpably absurd. It'd be like Ian Paisley agreeing to allow Martin McGuinness to succeed him as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party only even more ridiculous.

So what's going on? Well, a google of Con Coughlin brings up this:
[In 1995], readers of the Sunday Telegraph were regaled with a dramatic story about the son of Col Gadafy of Libya and his alleged connection to a currency counterfeiting plan. The story was written by Con Coughlin, the paper’s then chief foreign correspondent, and it was falsely attributed to a “British banking official”. In fact, it had been given to him by officers of MI6, who, it transpired, had been supplying Coughlin with material for years.
It seems that Mr Coughlin has previous when it comes to disseminating unfounded government propaganda. This article appears to belong with the utterly fallacious yellow badges for Jews story instigated by neo-con stooge Amir Taheri.

This may simply be a matter of the government trying to pressure the Iranians into being more amenable to helping bail us out of Iraq. Or it may be an attempt to prepare the way for possible military action. Either way, it is a worrying state of affairs when such nonsense is being disseminated by "Western intelligence agencies".

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Max said...

Crooked Timber has a mention of Con Coughlin and his amazing intelligence sources. There's no doubt that he's some kind of conduit for intelligence services wanting to plant stories.

Either that or he really does believe the barmy nonsense he writes!

CuriousHamster said...

Thanks Max. Con seems to be a particularly apt name for this "journalist".

I noticed one of the comments on that post questions whether Frank Gardener at the BBC might also have a similar connection. He doesn't come up with anything as ridiculous as Coughlin but when watching one of his reports last week, I wondered again whether he was being fed lines by the intelligence services.