By Vanessa Beeley [originally published on Substack]
“Regarding the White Helmets, they are terrorists and Takfiris […] they have nothing to do with Humanity […] when they used to see an injured civilian, they used to finish them off. If you come to “rescue” a man would you slaughter them? The White Helmets and the terrorists are one and the same, they are hand in hand.”
This statement was made by Hassan Al Mahmoud Al Othman during a conversation I had with him in 2019 following the liberation of Eastern Ghouta, Damascus by the Syrian Arab Army in 2018. Al Othman was one of many prisoners detained by extremist armed group Jaish Al Islam (Army of Islam) in Douma’s notorious Tawba Jail during the six year occupation of the eastern suburbs of Damascus by UK/US-backed armed groups.
The White Helmets in Syria are a shadow-state propaganda construct initially midwived by US and UK intelligence agencies and embedded exclusively with extremist armed groups dominated by Nusra Front or Syria’s Al Qaeda. They were established in 2013, trained in Turkey and Jordan, by a former British Military Intelligence officer – James Le Mesurier employed by a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (UK FCDO) contractor, Analysis Research and Knowledge (ARK Group).
The primary role of this pseudo Humanitarian organisation was to produce the “corroborating evidence” to support UK FCDO foreign policy in Syria which is regime change, the balkanisation of Syria and the destabilisation of the entire region in the interests of Israeli ‘security’ and expansionism.
The Public Relations campaign for Jaish Al Islam, an armed group responsible for some of the worst atrocities of the regime change war against Syria, was also managed by the UK FCDO via another contractor – Innovative Communications and Strategy (InCoStrat) founded by a second British military intelligence veteran Paul Tilley and a certain Emma Winberg Winberg later became Emma Le Mesurier (after her marriage to James Le Mesurier) who went on to manage ‘strategy’ for the White Helmets at Mayday Rescue.
This NGO was established by Le Mesurier in 2014 to oversee the UK/UE funding of the organisation. The crossover between the White Helmets and the sectarian armed groups can be seen very clearly here and is the pattern repeated throughout Syria.
In particular the White Helmets were responsible for the staging of scenes related to alleged chemical weapons attacks invariably attributed to the Syrian government and armed forces – perhaps the most notorious of which was the 2018 Douma (Eastern Ghouta) incident that precipitated the UK, US, French unlawful aggression and bombing of Damascus in April 2018 before the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) had even been able to access the area and to report the findings of their official investigation.
Subsequently it has been proven that the White Helmets staged the ‘hospital’ scenes and the OPCW was compromised politically into corrupting their own senior Inspectors investigation to retrospectively justify the US/UK-led criminal aggression against Syria.
In 2018 during an interview with the Corbett Report the author made a prediction that the White Helmet construct would become a global franchise and I later made a statement to clarify what had been discussed:
“The White Helmets franchise is a terrifying extension of soft power infiltration deep inside target nations, exploiting trust, vulnerability and poverty with the “First Responder” construct that “everyone trusts” as James Le Mesurier so clearly stated in a recent interview in Brazil. This pseudo Humanitarian, NATO state-sanctioned fist will be used to crush many more nations in the future if it is not stopped in Syria. Just as Syria has contained the terrorist fire within its borders, so has it exposed the White Helmets as the terrorist alter ego, but for how long will both be contained?
“Terrorism is fanning out into Europe via the EU funded Turkish exit routes, the White Helmets are also establishing themselves further afield, in Venezuela, Malaysia, the Philippines to name a few. Terrorism and the White Helmets march in lock-step and can only be stopped by confronting the cancerous cultures in which they are cultivated – US Necolonialism, British Imperialism, EU Globalism, Gulf State Extremism & Israeli Parasitism.”
The White Helmets launched in Ukraine
“The ambition is to create a Ukrainian version of the White Helmets,” said Mr [Macer] Gifford in a fund-raising appeal.
Above – Gifford’s high profile Western media presence
Who is Macer Gifford, the British mercenary who has fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria now heading to Ukraine to “do something for Britain”. Gifford likes to be portrayed as a former London City investment banker from Cambridge and Conservative Party councilor who, aged 27, had a “goldilocks” moment, broke up with his partner, pulled out of a house purchase and was smuggled over the Iraqi/Syria border. From there he fought alongside the Kurdish Separatist YPG backed by the US Coalition including Israel as part of the project to annex Syrian territory, occupy Syrian oil fields and to partition Syria into sectarian statelets.
Syria – the Rojava Project
Gifford promotes the associated “Rojava” project as “a living, breathing experiment in democratic confederalism, a blend of socialism, local democracy and feminism” which is to align oneself with the Western propaganda to present the YPG as a viable political opposition to the Syrian government in Damascus and to push for an “autonomous region” in the North East which by no small coincidence is home to the bulk of Syrian oil resources and is considered the bread basket of this beleaguered nation.
Gifford fails to mention the necessary ethnic cleansing of the majority Arab, Assyrians and Armenians that has happened as a result of the empowerment of the Kurdish contras, the incidents of kidnapping of civilians, the brutal forced conscription, the banning of the Syrian curriculum in schools, the theft of Syrian oil, wheat, barley and other agricultural produce facilitated by the US Coalition – and perhaps most importantly the actual collaboration with ISIS the very entity they claim to be fighting. Much evidence of these activities can be found in this compilation of articles and videos.
The repercussions of Kurdish Contra activities for the Syrian people include fuel and energy-deprivation, widespread starvation and poverty, a crippling refugee crisis as a result of ethnic cleansing and US unlawful military occupation of the north-east region and the subsequent insecurity Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan.
According to a number of articles in UK media, Gifford’s “mission” was to make sure Rojava is seen as a major player in the so-called international community. That Gifford works in lock-step with the US Coalition agenda in Syria should be noted when reviewing his current involvement in Ukraine. Gifford is an advocate of the US/UK soft power complex, promoting CIA/USAID projects in Syria:
“More aid and investment, coupled with open and free borders, will ensure the liberated region of NE Syria remains peaceful.”
More aid and investment from such trojan horse organisations will ensure that Syria remains trapped in a perpetual war cycle determined by the establishment of warring statelets designed to permanently fracture Syrian territorial integrity. Gifford is pushing UK and US-led agendas hard.
From Syria to Ukraine
The headline and tagline of this article has actually been changed from the original after the special report I did for UK Column News on 4th May. The original (below) was more subtle. The fact it has been changed to ‘British mercenary’ and the White Helmets are mentioned in the title as a special operation is perhaps a hat tip to our research and the exposure of the White Helmets as a UK FCDO-sponsored intelligence construct :
In Syria, Gifford fought alongside other British mercenaries during his three year stint that began in 2014. He established recruitment pages on Facebook including ‘The Lions of Rojava’ to encourage former military veterans or naive activists to enlist with the Kurdish Contra forces. He established a Switzerland-based charity , The Friends of Rojava Foundation, that aims to promote education and healthcare in northern Syria.
Gifford was given a regular platform by the BBC, The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, VICE and the Jerusalem Post. He was a permanent fixture at the Conservative Party’s Carlton Club. He lobbied Congress. He admits to being in regular contact with the FBI and with British Security Services.
“He worked to drum up support for the YPG and attended meetings with financiers in Switzerland, the FBI in New York and inside the British parliament…I’ve been to the Carlton Club [a private Conservative club in central London], you would not believe, so many times,” he said to The Guardian in 2016.
Gifford credits his high profile presence in British media for the failure by British security services to prosecute him for fighting with the YPG. It could also be argued that the evidence that might be revealed in such a trial would be equally damning for the UK Intelligence Agencies. An example of this backfire was the case against Moazzam Begg and other mercenaries who had been fighting with armed groups trained and equipped by British Intelligence inside Syria. It is believed that the trials of these military embeds collapsed spectacularly to prevent the public revelation of MI6 involvement in the dirty war against Syria.
Macer Gifford is a pseudonym, one that was taken to allegedly protect his identity and his family yet there are few such mercenaries that have a higher media profile. A Twitter follower actually managed to track down what appears to be Gifford’s real name from the program of an event at the New World Embassy in Oslo, Norway in 2016 – Harry Rowe. This is seemingly confirmed by a profile for Harry Rowe at Loughborough University in the Department of History, Politics and International Relations.
Gifford’s dramatically entitled book “Fighting Evil” was published by Hachette in 2020 with a foreword by author and former British Military Infantry soldier Andy McNabb (real name Steven Billy Mitchell) and reviews by award winning conflict correspondent Damien Lewis.
Aside from his claims of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gifford describes himself as a long-term human rights activist. He has conducted expeditions into the Congolese rainforest, campaigned for “democracy” in Zimbabwe working for Morgan Tsvangirai, the late Zimbabwean opposition leader. He has worked for the flagship of Global Britain’s soft power complex, the British Council, participating in their Horn of Africa Project identifying future young leaders.
With the emerging British neo-colonialist interests in Aden, Southern Yemen and economic interests in the Horn of Africa – described as the ‘jugular vein’ of trade between East and West we must question the involvement of Gifford as a member of the British Council team, with a background in finance. What was his role? How does this ‘ordinary’ mercenary get elevated to such a level and so quickly?
Gifford’s role in Ukraine
When NATO’s Nazi-linked puppet President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, issued the call to arms for an International Foreign Legion after February 24th and the start of the Russian special operation, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she would “absolutely support” UK nationals who choose to go to Ukraine to fight. According to an article in Newsweek:
“Gifford is advising potential recruits on how to get to Ukraine and what to expect when they get there. He plans to help ex-service personnel, engineers and other experts.”
Frontpage of one of the Ukraine Foreign Legion recruitment websites.
It was Macer Gifford who stepped up to produce the recruitment website although he insisted on being called a ‘facilitator’ not a ‘recruiter’. His role in Syria as facilitator for Kurdish Separatist recruits is now being mirrored in Ukraine. Gifford imagines that “hundreds if not in the low thousands” of Britons will sign up to fight in Ukraine”. His views on the conflict in Ukraine mirror those of UK regime officials. Truss claimed:
“The people of Ukraine are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine but for the whole of Europe”
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry said:
“Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight side by side with the Ukrainians against the Russian war criminals. There is no greater contribution which you can make for the sake of peace.”
Speaking to The Telegraph Gifford said:
“The war in Ukraine is more noble in ways because it is for European security.”
Among the named mercenaries fighting in Ukraine are former comrades of Gifford’s from Syria including Aiden Aslin now captured and facing trial for war crimes against the Donetsk Popular Republic.
These mercenaries do not consider the implications for the people of the countries they are selling their expertise to. They do not consider the universal suffering of the Syrian people deprived of their own resources and agricultural produce by the Kurdish Contra groups the mercenaries fight for. They do not take into account the atrocities being committed by the Nazi and Ultra-Nationalist battalions they are fighting alongside in Ukraine. Beyond this they must be considered tools for UK and US-led globalism which is responsible for these wars. Wars sold to the public as the only road to “peace”.
The Nightingale Squadron – a Nazi-linked White Helmet rebrand
Macer Gifford and vehicle with the Nightingale Squadron logo. Photo: Gifford’s Twitter account
Gifford has not only established recruitment websites he is now raising funds to:
“create a website that will allow medically trained volunteers to offer their services to the Government of Ukraine [..] to create a fast response medical team, staffed by international volunteers that will deploy to the frontline within the next month.” (emphasis added)
Gifford echoes the NATO taglines “Putin’s particular brand of nationalistic imperialism has laid waste to Syria and now he wants to do the same to Ukraine” – Gifford conveniently forgets that ISIS flourished in Syria empowered and afforded air cover by the US Coalition until Russian intervention in September 2015 when ISIS was finally pushed out of the majority of Syria into the north-westerly region where they still receive training, weapons and equipment from the US and UK Coalition. Gifford was on the ground in Syria, he cannot claim ignorance of these facts.
Gifford claims that he set up a medical unit in Syria called TMU (Tactical Medical Unit). He crowdfunded and acquired two ambulances and 15 combat medics. Allegedly over a 16 month period the unit treated hundreds of “Syrian” casualties, trained hundreds of local volunteers in life saving techniques and distributed vital aid to local government”. There is very little to be found about TMU on the web, I have spoken to real Syrians in the region who have never seen or heard any evidence of TMU operations.
Gifford aims to raise 15000 sterling to purchase an armoured land-rover, personal protective equipment and medical supplies for the first team. The first team will deploy immediately to the frontlines with “other teams following as funds come available”. Then Gifford informs us:
“I want to be absolutely clear here, the ambition is to create a Ukrainian version of the White Helmets.”
Gifford signs off with the Azov Nazi Battalion salute “Slava Ukraini!”
The Nightingale Squadron a throwback to the Nazi Nachtigall Battalion
Gifford has established the Nightingale Squadron brand. The organisation is operating out of Lviv. With these two facts, Gifford demonstrates his and Global Britain’s allegiance with the Nazi and Ultra Nationalist elements that control Western Ukraine and which are responsible for many of the atrocities and war crimes committed against the Donetsk and Lugansk Popular Republics since 2014, the Odessa massacre in 2014 and stand accused by Ukrainian civilians of a multitude of other crimes since the start of the Russian operations in February.
Just as the White Helmets in Syria were embedded exclusively with Al Qaeda-controlled factions trained and equipped by NATO member states, Gifford is setting up his teams in an area under control of the notorious Azov and Aidar battalions trained and equipped by NATO member states. When challenged on this fact and his claims that it is “hard to find a Ukrainian Nazi”, Gifford did not respond:
The Nachtigall Battalion – in 2011 extreme right wing deputies at a nearby town in the Lviv district renamed a street (previously Peace Street in the Soviet-era) Nachtigall street to commemorate a Ukrainian Nazi faction involved in the massacre of Jews in 1941. The Nachtigall Battalion were directly linked to the Stepan Bandera-established OUN-B which was considered an ultra radical group supported by Gestapo secret police official, Mykola Lebed who would become “notorious for his involvement in the WW2 torture and murder of Jews”. As journalist Jonathan Marshall wrote for Consortium News:
“Bandera’s OUN-B collaborated closely with the German foreign intelligence service, the Abwehr, to form a German-led Ukrainian Legion. On June 30, 1941, just days after Hitler’s invasion of the USSR, OUN-B declared an independent Ukrainian state with Lviv as its capital. Lebed served as police minister of the collaborationist government. (Emphasis added)
In the days that followed, OUN-B’s Nachtigall Battalion and its civilian sympathizers apparently slaughtered several thousand Jews and Polish intellectuals before moving on to join German forces on the Eastern Front. Another 3,000 Jews in Lviv were soon murdered by an SS death squad outside the city. OUN publications called these “exhilarating days.”
One could argue that it is mere coincidence that Gifford chose the name ‘Nightingale Squadron’ but the fact that Gifford is operating out of Lviv in Western Ukraine does lead to speculation that the choice of name is harking back to the glory days of Nazi dominion in Ukraine.
LVIV – the hub of NATO military and Ukrainian Nazi Brigades
Lviv was historically weaponised by the West as a pressure point against the Soviet Union (USSR) as the majority of WW2 Nazi collaborators reside there. After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the West promoted and moved Nazi elements into government and military institutions exploiting their Russophobia.
“A large percentage of the population is Russian speaking and Orthodox Christian, these Polish-dialect Catholic factions started passing laws forbidding Russian language in public spheres and against the Russian Orthodox church. When legislation failed, they reverted to Nazi methods of intimidation and execution.”
Lviv is home to the Nazi Azov and Aidar Battalions and is believed to be the Major Western Military training hub in Ukraine. In fact the Nazi and far-right elements have bragged publicly about being trained by NATO member states including Canada. A report produced in September 2021 and published by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University (GWU), is an in-depth investigation into this phenomenon:
“Evidence uncovered in this paper suggests that since 2018, the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Army Academy (NAA), Ukraine’s premier military education institution and a major hub for Western military assistance to the country, has been home to Centuria, a self-described order of “European traditionalist” military officers that has the stated goals of reshaping the country’s military along right-wing ideological lines and defending the “cultural and ethnic identity” of European peoples against “Brussels’ politicos and bureaucrats.” The group envisions a future where “European right forces are consolidated and national traditionalism is established as the disciplining ideological basis for the European peoples.”
In 2016 the Office of the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) issued a report carrying accusations against the Azov Battalion that included claims of torture and other war crimes since the 2014 US-engineered coup. The Ukrainian National Guard incorporated the Azov Battalion into its ranks and it has been legitimised as the Azov Regiment.
The author of the GWU report, Washington D.C.-based investigative researcher, Oleksiy Kuzmenko said that he “discovered evidence that a far right group composed of military members, officers and cadets with a clearly spelled out international agenda and seemingly dozens of members was able to operate in a prestigious and Western-backed military academy in Ukraine, proselytizing to the academy’s cadets since 2018,”
Oleksiy Kuzmenko @kooleksiyUkraine: An in-your-face neo-Nazi graduated in 2018 from a tactical medicine program supported, per the military of Ukraine, by the Canadian military and the USA. He now trains Ukrainian cadets in the “Desna” center, sometimes alongside Canadian instructors. Thread March 5th 2020125 Retweets132 Likes
If I had to compare Lviv to anywhere in Syria it would be Idlib where Al Qaeda dominate the military and religious/extremist landscape, extorting money from Syrian civilians living under their occupation, using civilians as human shields, refusing to allow them to depart into the Syrian government safe zones via the humanitarian corridors and carrying out a systematic ethnic cleansing pogrom of religious minorities in all areas they invade and take over.
Any mercenary or journalist embedded in such areas is not defending the civilians in these militarised zones, they are whitewashing the Western-backed fanatics, Nazi or Al Qaeda, that are preying on civilians and forcing them into the crossfire of a war that is being fueled and sustained by the NATO member states that are training and equipping these extremist organisations.
Gifford falls into this category, whether by design or usefulness to the UK regime he is an accessory to the murder of the Ukrainian people in a war provoked by NATO and fought by Nazi ultra-nationalists against all those who do not comply with their fascist, racist agenda.
For further links on the collaboration between NATO member states and the far-right, Nazi brigades in Lviv please go here, here, here, and here.
The White Helmet resurgence and the Global Franchise
On cue, the Syrian White Helmets operating out of Al Qaeda-held territory in Idlib or Gaziantep in Turkey known as the Jihadi Express, have begun to refresh their public profile. Since the suspicious death of their founder James Le Mesurier in Istanbul in November 2019 the group had largely disappeared from the headlines.
A quick look at the recent activity of their “Director” Raed Saleh, a former mobile phone salesman from Idlib, demonstrates that they are regaining traction in political, diplomatic and Intelligence-linked-agency spheres. Saleh has been speaking at UK FCDO policy influencer Chatham House, SOAS University London, meeting with US and Canadian officials including Samantha Power now Administrator of USAID under the Joe Biden administration.
The White Helmets have used the NATO-provoked conflict in Ukraine to relaunch their brand even offering to send members of their team to Ukraine to train first responders there. Currently their involvement appears to be restricted to instructional videos. Al Qaeda auxiliaries offering assistance and training to Nazi auxiliaries:
ARK Group driving the ‘Civil Defence’ Global Franchise
Alistair Harris, CEO of ARK Group the UK FCDO contractor that is responsible for the majority of Global Britain’s Intelligence operations inside Syria, Lebanon and the Balkans had his role exposed by a series of UK FCDO document leaks published by ANON in December 2020. Journalist Kit Klarenberg has covered much of Harris’ infiltration of Lebanese Security, Military and Government institutions and has highlighted the formation of a Palestinian Civil Defence (White Helmets). Klarenberg writes:
“Leaked files [..] reveal the British Foreign Office has for many years secretly meddled in Lebanon’s refugee camps, courtesy of ARK, a shadowy intelligence cutout run by probable MI6 operative Alistair Harris. London’s agenda is rather different than Tel Aviv’s, however – it seeks to subtly stir up revolutionary fervor, and exploit them as unwitting foot soldiers in its ongoing clandestine war against Lebanon’s ruling elite.“
Klarenberg demonstrates the manipulation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon at the hands of ARK. According to French journalist Thierry Meyssan ARK has been operating a “myriad of social services in Lebanese refugee camps administered by UNWRA”. This has allowed ARK operatives to propagate British foreign policy in the minds of vulnerable communities and to push for “political change” that complies with the UK FCDO agenda in the region, to groom and recruit ‘volunteers’ and ‘citizen journalists’ to instigate the desired ‘changes’. A repeat of operations in Syria also led by ARK and Alistair Harris, the White Helmets and embedded ‘citizen journalists’.
Consequently in the midst of the Lebanese ‘revolution’ in October 2019 and the violent protests of August 2020, Palestinians could be seen “on the streets protesting against the political establishment including Hezbollah” Israel’s nemesis in the region.
Included in the soft power package is the creation of a Palestinian White Helmet copycat organisation:
The above screenshot is taken from Harris’ LinkedIn profile. It clearly reveals his involvement in the creation of a Lebanese/Palestinian White Helmet brand and mentions the potential for supporting “civil defence activities” in Ukraine – just as Gifford conveniently launches his civil defence brand.
Harris also alludes to the possibility of a similar Civil Defence initiative in Yemen where Global Britain is reasserting influence. The White Helmet global franchise can no longer be dismissed as a “conspiracy theory”. It is a reality and it will be used time and time again to support UK FCDO intelligence and proxy military operations in nations destined to be sacrificed to perpetual war and bloodshed – to secure US/UK globalist supremacy. The war in Ukraine is a de-facto NATO proxy war and the White Helmet involvement is further evidence of that.
The White Helmets will be used to support and reinforce Russophobic propaganda and anti-Russian narratives just as they corroborated US Coalition anti-Syrian government narratives for the last nine years. Perhaps the “chemical weapon” narrative will take centre stage in Ukraine as it did in Syria and the fall-out used to justify an increase in funding and arms supply to the Ukrainian forces among which the Azov and Aidar battalions are being propelled to dominance by virtue of NATO member state support and their rule of brutal reprisals and punishment of civilian populations.
It also cannot be denied that the White Helmets are accused of running organ trafficking cross border operations in Syria alongside the armed groups and are also accused of child abduction and human trafficking.
The arrival of the White Helmets will signal more war, more devastation, more economic hardship and more suffering for the Ukrainian people and the people of the EU, not less. Their remit is certainly not to foster peaceful resolution because that is not on the agenda of their handlers in London and Washington.
Vanessa Beeley is an independent journalist and photographer who has worked extensively in the Middle East – on the ground in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Palestine, while also covering the conflict in Yemen since 2015. Follow her on Twitter @VanessaBeeley, or read her blog at The Wall Will Fall and subscribe to her substack.