The following article is the fourth in a series highlighting recent conspiracy theories from the Middle East. Following up on the previous reports from the summer and fall, conspiracies have continued to abound, specifically on such issues as: blaming the U.S. for 9/11; accusing "Zionists" of spreading AIDS; claiming that Abu Musab Al-Zarwaqi is an American propaganda invention; saying that the CIA is writing sermons for Egyptian imams and that the Jews are re-writing the Koran; and more recently, accusing Israel of killing Yasser Arafat.
Conspiracy theories surrounding Iraq have been especially popular - in fact, MEMRI has been the subject of several. For example, Hizbullah’s Al-Manar TV broadcast a program about MEMRI’s alleged activities in Iraq, claiming that MEMRI is commanding “Zionist squads specializing in car bombs.” Iranian TV channel 1 claimed that MEMRI was responsible for the bombing of Iraqi oil fields.
One of the most popular conspiracies about Iraq deals with claims of Jewish/Israeli/Zionist involvement in terror attacks and fighting Iraqis. For example, in a sermon broadcast on Sudan TV on September 19, Sheik 'Abd Al-Jalil Al-Karouri preached, “There are currently 1,000 Jewish soldiers in Falluja. Among them are 37 rabbis. The rabbis raise the morale among the Jewish soldiers fighting in Fallujah. So America is fighting for Israel… The Jews came to conduct urban warfare on behalf of America, and America is supporting them in exchange.”
Iran's Mehr News Agency published an article on October 5, explaining that “Israeli commandos played an active role in the occupying forces’ attacks on Najaf, Sadr City… Falluja, and some areas in Tikrit, Ramadi, and Baqubah.” The article added, “Israelis have taken over some military operations… According to certain reports, there are over 200 Zionist troops in Iraq dressed in U.S. Army uniforms…”
Similarly, Iran’s Al-‘Alam TV broadcast an interview with Jordanian MP Dr. ‘Adnan Hasouna on October 28, in which he claimed that the Mossad is responsible for attacks in Iraq: “The Israeli Mossad, the Jewish Mossad, and others strive to distort the image of Islam by striking the National Guard soldiers and civilians.”
The December 2nd edition of the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported that Mohamed Selim El-Awwa, a prominent Egyptian Islamist and Secretary-General of the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS), claimed that the Iraqi resistance had been infiltrated by "Zionist and international intelligence services." El-Awwa explained that Muslims would not decapitate a hostage. “It is no coincidence that decapitations or the brutal killing of innocent hostages always occur just after a scandal exposing the violations of the occupation forces.”
In the Saudi daily Arab News on September 7th, Hassan Tahsin wrote an article titled “Danger Of Israeli Presence In Iraq.” Tahsin alleged that there is a Jewish conspiracy to make another Jewish state in Iraq: “… Is this the fulfillment of the Zionist dream to create a Jewish state from the Nile to the Euphrates?… Those who follow what is happening in Iraq will see that Israel has a hand in the country. Mossad, its secret service, has many operation centers both in Baghdad and in other major cities in Iraq; their job is to organize terrorist activities to guarantee that Iraq remains unstable… "
According to Iraq’s Al-Zaman newspaper, a report on September 21st detailed that the Saudi Royal Family’s Muslim World League “accused Zionist and Christian Evangelist organizations of infiltrating Iraq to introduce programs to Iraqi youth in order to weaken their Islamic and national sentiments.”
However, the most popular conspiracy about Christians in Iraq has to do with the bombing of churches. In an October 18 article published by Iran’s Mehr News Agency, Hassan Hanizadeh wrote, “The criminals who bombed the churches in Baghdad were trying to create a religious crisis in Iraq, and the Zionists definitely have great experience in creating religious conflicts… Bearing in mind the goals of the bombers, it can be concluded that these terrorists most likely have some connection with Israeli intelligence agencies…”
A November 12th sermon by Hizballah Leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on Al-Manar TV explained the CIA and the Mossad are responsible for church bombings: “Examine very carefully those who blow up the churches… You will discover that some of these groups are run by the CIA … the Mossad…”
Writing in Al-Hayat on December 12, columnist George Haddad similarly explained, “During a few weeks only, a third wave of outrageous bombing of Christian churches occurred in Iraq… If we look at these crimes from a criminal investigation point of view, and ask who is benefiting from these attacks, it would not be difficult to discover that the American occupation, international Zionism, and Israel get the real benefits from such attacks.”
In addition to blaming the CIA for attacking Iraqi churches, a conspiracy which appeared on the Islamist website Islam Online on November 10 reported that “the U.S. occupation troops are gassing resistance fighters and confronting them with internationally-banned chemical weapons.” The article added, “The U.S. troops have sprayed chemical and nerve gases on resistance fighters, turning them hysteric in a heartbreaking scene… Some Fallujah residents have been further burnt beyond treatment by poisonous gases.”
It should be noted that while conspiracy theories continue to be rampant in the Middle East, Arab reformists and progressives have spoken out against them. For more information on this rising phenomenon, visit MEMRI’s Reform Project at www.memri.org/reform.
Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute.