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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 February, 2003, 15:45 GMT
US escalates psy-ops war

As the USA broadens the scope of its psychological operations against Iraq, BBC Monitoring takes a look at the latest use of clandestine radio broadcasts to get the anti-Saddam message across.

Radio Tikrit, the latest broadcaster targeting listeners in Iraq, has been linked by some media analysts to the Iraqi National Accord (INA), a London-based opposition group.

The INA already operates two stations known to have received funding from the US Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) - Radio of the Land of the Two Rivers and Al-Mustaqbal (The Future).
A rare case of a 'black clandestine' station
Mika Makelainen

A report on the Radio Netherlands "Media Network" web site said the link with Radio Tikrit emerged after an INA representative responded to an inquiry about the three radio stations.

The representative invited listeners to send e-mail for all three to the main INA e-mail address.

The Radio Netherlands report noted: "The Accord and its station, Al-Mustaqbal, have long been known to receive funding and assistance from the US CIA.

"Multiple sources within the Iraqi opposition have independently confirmed that Al-Mustaqbal broadcasts from a 50-kW Harris transmitter located in Kuwait from a facility also used by the Voice of America."

Changing line

An article about Radio Tikrit by Mika Makelainen on the www.dxing.info web site, which tracks the origins of foreign radio stations, says it started off as "a rare case of a 'black clandestine' station".

In other words, it was designed to deceive listeners into thinking it supports the target it is actually aimed against.

When Radio Tikrit, named after President Saddam Hussein's birthplace about 145 kilometres (90 miles) north-west of Baghdad, was first monitored in early February, its initial programming was critical of the USA.

The station referred in respectful terms to the current Iraqi regime and "the wise leadership of President Saddam Hussein".

This came as a surprise to observers who remembered the station's frequency of 1584 kHz as one used in the past by yet another CIA/INA station, the Voice of the Brave Armed Forces.

But over the next two weeks the content of Radio Tikrit's two-hour broadcasts from 1900-2100 GMT every night shifted sharply to a vehemently anti-Saddam Hussein line.

On 24 February, for example, Radio Tikrit asked in a commentary: "Why should the brave men of the Iraqi army fight and sacrifice their dear lives so Saddam can live?

"He does not respect their capabilities and heroic deeds and has led them from battle to battle, destroying Iraq and its potential."

Electronic warfare

The US is stepping up psychological operations, or psy-ops, to destabilise the Iraqi regime in the run-up to the start of military action.

These include the Information Radio broadcasts carried since December 2002 by US Lockheed Martin EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft flying over southern Iraq.

The USA is also dropping millions of leaflets over Iraq telling the population where to find these broadcasts on their radio dial.

Information Radio broadcasts can be heard on 693 and 756 kHz mediumwave, 9715 and 11292 kHz shortwave and 100.4 MHz FM.

Other psy-ops campaigns currently under way reportedly include:

  • Sending e-mails to prominent Iraqi officials offering them clemency after the fall of the regime, in return for assistance in finding weapons of mass destruction

  • Swamping mobile phones of senior officials close to Saddam Hussein with calls urging them to disobey orders.

Intelligence analysts say the next steps could include the jamming of Iraqi broadcasts and the start of TV broadcasts produced by US military psy-ops specialists.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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