False Flags Operations Defined
Tagged: covert • covert operations • false flag • false flag operation • false flag operations
0login False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own. False flag operations are not limited to war and counter-insurgency operations, and have been used in peace-time; for example, during Italy's strategy of tension.
In naval warfare, this practice was considered acceptable provided one lowered the false flag and raised the national flag before engaging in battle. Auxiliary cruisers operated in such a fashion in both World Wars. British Q-boats were notorious for this behavior, which Germany used as an excuse for its own use of unrestricted submarine warfare. In the most notable example, the German commerce raider Kormoran surprised and sank the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney in 1941, causing the greatest recorded loss of life in an Australian warship.
In land warfare, the use of a false flag is similar to that of naval warfare. The most widespread assumption is that this practice was first established under international humanitarian law at the trial in 1947 of the planner and commander of Operation Greif, Otto Skorzeny, by the military court at the Dachau Trials. In this trial, the court did not find Skorzeny guilty of a crime by ordering his men into action in American uniforms. He had passed on to his men the warning of German legal experts, that if they fought in American uniforms, they would be breaking the laws of war, but they probably were not doing so just by wearing the uniform.
Opponents of the Kremlin have asserted that the 1999 Russian apartment bombings that precipitated the Second Chechen War were false flag operations perpetrated by the FSB, the successor organization to the KGB.
The planned, but never executed, 1962 Operation Northwoods plot by the U.S. administration for a war with Cuba involved scenarios such as hijacking a passenger plane and blaming it on Cuba. It was authored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nixed by John F. Kennedy, came to light through the Freedom of Information Act and was publicized by James Bamford.
In 1939, the Soviet Union shelled a village of Mainila on the Finnish border, and forged casualties. This Shelling of Mainila was cited a justification for the Soviet Union to attack Finland.
In the Gleiwitz incident in 1939, Reinhard Heydrich of Nazi Germany fabricated evidence of a "Polish attack" to mobilize German public opinion, and to fabricate a false justification, for a war with Poland. This would become the start of World War II in Europe.
In the 1931 Mukden incident, Japanese officers fabricated a pretext for annexing Manchuria by blowing up a section of railway. Later on, they falsely claimed the kidnapping of one of their soldiers in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident as an excuse to invade China proper.
In espionage the false flag technique is used to recruit people into spying or stealing critical documents, by convincing them that they are working for a friendly government or their own government. The technique can also be used to catch a spy by having a loyal agent pose as a spy from the other side and approach someone suspected of spying. Earl Edwin Pitts, 43, a 13-year veteran of the FBI and an attorney was caught when he was approached by FBI agents posing as Russian agents.
In business and marketing, similar operations are being employed in some public relations campaigns (see Astroturfing). Telemarketing firms practice false flag type behavior when they pretend to be a market research firm (referred to as "sugging"). Regarding its use by private security personnel, see the case of US Surgical Corporation and Fran Trutt (see also Entrapment).
During July 1954, the Israeli Operation Susannah (later known as the Lavon Affair) bombed several American and British targets in an attempt to frame Egypt.
During the Italian strategy of tension in which several bombings in the 1970s, attributed to far-left organizations, were in fact carried out by far-right organizations cooperating with the Italian secret services (see Operation Gladio, 1969 Piazza Fontana bombing, 1972 Peteano attack by Vincenzo Vinciguerra, 1973 assassination attempt of former Interior Minister Mariano Rumor, 1980 Bologna massacre, etc. and various investigations, for example by Guido Salvini). In France, the Masada Action and Defense Movement, supposedly a Zionist group, was really a neo-fascist terrorist group which hoped to increase tension between Arabs and Jews in France.
During a 1981 interview whose contents were revealed by documents declassified by the CIA in 2000, former CIA and DINA agent Michael Townley explained that Ignacio Novo Sampol, member of CORU, an anti-Castro organization, had agreed to commit the Cuban Nationalist Movement in the kidnapping, in Buenos Aires, of a president of a Dutch bank. The abduction, organized by civilian SIDE agents, the Argentine intelligence agency, was to obtain a ransom. Townley said that Novo Sampol had provided ,000 from the Cuban Nationalist Movement, forwarded to the civilian SIDE agents to pay for the preparation expenses of the kidnapping. After returning to the US, Novo Sampol sent Townley a stock of paper, used to print pamphlets in the name of "Grupo Rojo" (Red Group), an imaginary Argentine Marxist terrorist organization, which was to claim credit for the kidnapping of the Dutch banker. Townley declared that the pamphlets were distributed in Mendoza and Córdoba in relation with false flag bombings perpetrated by SIDE agents, which had as their aim to accredit the existence of the fake Grupo Rojo. However, the SIDE agents procrastinated too much, and the kidnapping ultimately was not carried out.