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A golden spike completes America’s first transcontinental railroad; Nazis burn books in Germany; Rudolf Hess parachutes into Scotland; Nelson Mandela takes office in S. Africa; U2’s frontman Bono born.
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Exclusive: OPCW chief made false claims to denigrate Douma whistleblower, documents reveal
Aaron Mate, The Grayzone
The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has made false and misleading statements about two veteran inspectors who challenged a cover-up of their investigation in Syria, leaked documents show. The inspectors probed an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Douma in April 2018, and later objected when their evidence was suppressed.
Documents obtained by The Grayzone reveal that OPCW leaders have engaged in a pattern of deception that minimized the inspectors’ senior roles in the Douma mission and diminished the prestige they enjoyed within the world’s top chemical weapons watchdog.
OPCW Director General Fernando Arias has claimed that the first inspector, South African chemical engineering and ballistics expert Ian Henderson, “was not a member” of the Douma investigative team and only played a “minor supporting role.”
However, contemporaneous communications from the OPCW’s Douma Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) directly contradict Arias. They show that Henderson was indeed a Douma team member, and that OPCW leadership directed him to lead its most critical inspections. They also show that Arias, rather than acknowledge that Henderson was an FFM member, offered up a false explanation for why Henderson was in Syria at the time of the probe.
Arias has also disingenuously minimized the role of the second inspector, known only to the public as “Inspector B.” This will be examined in part two of this article.
The OPCW’s investigation was triggered when extremist anti-Syrian government militants and Western states accused the Syrian army of dropping gas cylinders on two buildings in Douma, killing dozens of civilians. The U.S., France, and Britain bombed Syrian government targets days later, asserting their right to enforce the chemical weapons “red line.” After a nearly year-long investigation, the OPCW issued a final report in March 2019 that claimed “reasonable grounds” existed to believe that a chlorine attack occurred.
However, a trove of leaked documents has shown that the OPCW leadership suppressed and manipulated evidence that undermined the allegation against the Syrian military. The first of such leaks was an engineering assessment authored by Henderson that concluded that the gas cylinders in Douma were likely “manually placed.”
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