“Our 9/11.” That’s what some Russians were (and still are) calling the September (9, 13, and 16) 1999 bombings of four apartment buildings that left close to 300 dead, more than 1,000 injured, and became the spark that reignited a brutal war with repercussions that have lasted to this day. Soon after the attacks, a device similar to the others was found and defused in the Russian city of Ryazan (about 122 miles southeast of Moscow) before it detonated.
The next day, then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered the aerial bombing of Grozny, the Chechen Republic’s capital, marking the beginning of the Second Chechen War. Russian authorities immediately declared the bombings the work of Chechen separatists, in what many took as an open-and-shut case. But then, not 36 hours later, three FSB agents were arrested by local authorities in connection with the defused Ryazan device, and murmurs of a false flag attack began to emerge. But just what are false flag operations, and how often have they been/are they used?
For those who may not be up on spy/conspiracy theory lingo, a false flag operation is one carried out in such a way as to appear to have been carried out by a government, entity, etc. other than the actual perpetrators. The term has its historical origins on the high seas, when sailing men o’ war would fly a flag other than their own before attacking an enemy vessel. Now here’s the kicker: It was forbidden to fly that false flag while the attack was underway, as it was seen as ungentlemanly. The false flag tactic has been used in some well-known (but not always well-executed) operations, such as the A-26C Invader aircraft painted in false Cuban Air Force colors used (poorly) to cover the April 1961 invasion at the Bay of Pigs by the CIA-sponsored Brigade 2506. We know how that went.
A lesser-known false flag operation was carried out (in part, although planned and led by then-Major Kurt Student) by Austrian-born Waffen-SS commando Otto Skorzeny. Skorzeny is best known for being part of the daring glider-borne rescue mission to liberate Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, but in December of 1944, under explicit orders from Adolf Hitler, a unit of his commandos was tasked with a bold undertaking to disrupt the aggressive Allied advance facing Nazi Germany. Dressed in American Army uniforms, the units had a threefold mission:
- Demolition squads of five or six men were to destroy bridges, ammunition dumps, and fuel stores.
- Reconnaissance patrols of three or four men were to reconnoiter on both sides of the Meuse River and also pass on bogus orders to any U.S. units they met, reverse road signs, remove minefield warnings, and cordon off roads with warnings of nonexistent mines.
- “Lead” commando units would work closely with the attacking units to disrupt the U.S. chain of command by destroying field telephone wires and radio stations, and issuing false orders.
As if the concept of the operation itself was not audacious enough, one unit heard rumors that they were being tasked by then-Lieutenant Colonel Skorzeny to infiltrate SHAEF (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) and kidnap or kill General Dwight D. Eisenhower. (It was just a rumor, and the order was never given.) And because Mr. Murphy (of Murphy’s Law fame) likes wienerschnitzel as much as he likes Coney Island hot dogs, while the units were comprised of the brigade’s best English speakers, only a few had any experience working undercover or in sabotage operations, and the situation was such that there would be no time to train them.
After a few days of demo and commo training, memorizing TO&E of American Army units, their ranks, and their uniform badges, off they went. Their initial infiltration was successful, but then, as they came into closer contact with U.S. troops, things began to fall apart. After one group of three was stopped at a checkpoint, it was noticed that they were carrying British Sten machine pistols…then that their English was not so hot…then that they were carrying U.S. dollars, British pounds, and German Wermacht (army) pay books…and…the coup de grace…wearing German Army gray uniforms under their U.S. Army olive drab. They were quickly captured and just as quickly gave up the plans. It took a bit, but allied military police and line units soon rounded up the remainder.
Seventeen of the captured commandos were tried and then executed, but for Skorzeny and nine other officers of the Panzerbrigade 150, a strange and different fate awaited. Originally charged with violating the laws of war (the same charges that led to the executions of the others), the 10 were eventually acquitted of all charges after it was decided that, while Skorzeny and his men had donned US. uniforms for the purpose of deception and infiltration, there was no evidence that he or any of the other officers had actually ordered the men to engage in combat while in said uniforms. Go figure.
False flags come clean
The list of alleged false flag operations is a long and notorious one. There are whole pages dedicated to this list, as evidenced here from the Global Research website. Among the lesser-known (I will continue to use the word “alleged” because I cannot confirm the veracity of the site or the information) operations:
- In 1955, after a Turkish usher at the embassy in Thessaloniki, Greece was arrested and confessed to planting and detonating a bomb that was purposely blamed on the Greeks, the Turkish government admitted to being complicit in the false flag attack, which resulted in wide-scale riots, looting, and the deaths of a dozen civilians.
- In March 2010, Russian president Vladimir Putin and the Russian parliament admitted that, in 1940, Joseph Stalin ordered the massacre of 22,000 Polish officers and civilians near Katyn, then blamed the murders on the Nazis in a bid to stoke anti-Axis sentiment. This was not the first time the Russian officials had admitted the government’s role in the incident, having first done so in 1990.
- Partially redacted and recently (2013) declassified documents give testimony to the Central Intelligence Agency’s admission that it hired Iranians in the 1950s to pose as communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically elected prime minister.
9/11 and melting steel
And then there is one of the most recent and, for many, most notorious alleged false flag operations in U.S. history. On September 11, 2001, terrorists hijacked passenger airliners out of U.S. airports, flying one each into the north and south towers of the famous World Trade Centers in New York City, and one into the seat of America’s national defense, the Pentagon outside of Washington, D.C.. A fourth airliner crashed into a field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers fought back against the hijackers. Within days of the attacks, conspiracy theorists across the globe decided that the power behind the attacks was the very government that was supposedly its target—the United States of America.
The theories take many forms, including one that alleges the aircraft used in the attack were actually military aircraft or civilian aircraft modified for remote control, and that the planes’ passengers were already dead when they struck their targets. Then there is the theory that explosives were already in place in the towers for a controlled detonation that would bring the towers down, and that no aircraft could have done what occurred. This is the famous “jet fuel doesn’t melt steel” theory (this is not me making fun of those who believe these theories. You believe what you believe, just don’t expect me to.)
There is no shortage of documentaries, books, YouTube videos, and so-called experts who have come forth for and against the theories, and the attacks will remain a source of angst and debate on par with (and in my view, surpassing) the assassination of such notable figures as President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. (Both are said to have been the victims of “Manchurian Candidate” false flag attacks in which the assassin is placed under mind control before carrying out the attack, having no recollection of the event, but still in place to take the full blame.)
Today, in the era of Hurricane Katrina and FEMA camps, JADE HELM, and the “UN troops on U.S. soil” theories, the term “false flag” is used more times than Oliver North pleaded the fifth during Iran-Contra. I personally don’t subscribe to many conspiracy theories (the topic of an ongoing series I will be starting), but history has proven that, in the matter of “national security and interest,” many nations, to include the United States, have not hesitated to hoist the flag of another entity while carrying out some questionable and sometimes downright heinous acts against its own and other citizens. But given the nature of the term itself, and unless the perpetrators themselves are bumbling idiots, how will we know?
Update: In a twist on the theme of this story, and as reported by SOFREP, this past weekend (17 – 19 September, 2016) brought multiple attacks within U.S. borders by way of pipe and pressure-cooker bombs being planted and detonated at a race to honor the Marine Corps in Seaside Heights, New Jersey (no injuries). Another device was discovered (no injuries resulting) near a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey. A pressure-cooker bomb detonated near a dumpster in the Chelsea section of New York City (29 injured, non-life threatening), and a knife-wielding man referencing Allah and asking one man if he was a Muslim attacked dozens at a mall in Minnesota before being shot and killed by an off-duty police officer (hero). The smoke had barely cleared (literally) before—you guessed it—folks were coming out of the woodwork confidently blaming Donald Trump (to gain credibility for his “block all Muslims” stance) and Hillary Clinton (to stoke the “Trump’s rhetoric caused this” fires). Oy ve….