The whole story was breathtakingly stupid from the start. It said that
Saudi Arabia had slipped some chemical weapons over the Jordanian border
to the FSA, who did not know what they were, and sent them on a mission
to deliver them to Al Qaida. But on the way, the clumsy FSA folk tripped
over in a tunnel (perhaps after a drunken party) and spilled the sarin,
thus causing the massive deaths from chemical weapons on August 21.
Even though the sarin attack in the Japanese subway a couple of decades
ago killed 13 people, all inside the subway, in this accident the sarin
managed to escape the tunnel, and managed to kill hundreds, perhaps over
a thousand, people scattered across 8 different villages, with spaces in
between where people were not killed.
Never mind that Saudi Arabia and Al Qaida are arch enemies, as Al Qaida’s
reason for existence is the overthrow of the “apostate” Saudi monarchy –
yeh, right, the Saudis are going to supply them, not with a few small
arms just to be a pest, but with chemical weapons. People writing
bullshit conspiracy theories should at least do their homework. And
sending the FSA on a special mission to bring stuff to Al Qaida, when
the FSA and Al Qaida have been clashing all over Syria, including in
this very region in the south and the outskirts of Damascus. Right.
The story seems to have been invented because it seemed to fill the
holes in other conspiracy theories that aimed to absolve the Syrian
regime of blame (imagine thinking that a regime as nice as that one
would do such a terrible thing?). You see, if you wanted to claim the
FSA carried out a black ops, you had the problem that while the FSA
fighters were on the front lines, it was their families that killed back
at home. So you had to make it so they didn’t know what they were doing,
but the bumbling idiots were still to balme anyway (imagine trusting
anyone who trips over with sarin to run a country). But if you wanted to
blame Al Qaida, you had the problem that if such an organisation, that
has little regard for human life, had such quantities of Chemical
weapons, or any, then why hadn’t they been throwing it around Syria, at
regime troops, or the FSA, or the Kurds? So you had to bring in a
Now the story has been exposed as a fraud, with even the
arch-conspiracist red-brown Buchaninite antiwar.com apologising to its
readers for running such bilge. If even they admit it is BS, that’s when
you know it is.
Retraction and Apology to Our Readers for Mint Press Article on Syria
Eric Garris, September 20, 2013
On August 31, Antiwar.com reprinted an article from Mint Press News:
“Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack.”
We originally linked to it, but then reprinted on our site at the
request of Mint Press because traffic on their site was crashing their
server. The validity of the story was primarily based on the fact that
the supposed co-author (Dale Gavlak) is a reporter for Associated Press.
Many other articles have been written which refer to the information
contained in the Mint Press piece, including ones appearing on
Dale Gavlak has issued a statement saying she did not co-author the
article and denies that she traveled to Syria or contributed to the
article in any way. Here is his statement:
Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published
on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels.
Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel,
they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not
the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint
Press News piece. To date, Mint Press News has refused to act
professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual
authorship and sources for this story.
I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or
do any other reporting on which the article is based. The article is not
based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based
on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to
attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.
The staff of Antiwar.com sincerely and deeply apologizes for being a
part of spreading this article. We also apologize to Dale Gavlak.
More on the story:
And since then, the actual writer himself has also been exposed as a
Yahya Ababneh exposed
Syria “rebel chemicals” story may have come from Russian source
New questions have arisen about Yahya Ababneh, the alleged author of an
article claiming that the chemical deaths in Damascus last month were
caused by rebel fighters mishandling weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia.
The story, originally published by an American website, Mint Press News,
has since been cited by Russian officials (and others) to cast doubt on
the findings of the UN weapons inspectors in Syria.
Mint Press named the journalists who wrote the story as Dale Gavlak – an
established freelance based in Jordan who has worked regularly for the
Associated Press – and Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian.
In a dramatic twist last Friday, Gavlak issued a statement denying that
she was an “author” or “reporter” for the article. “Yahya Ababneh is the
sole reporter and author,” she said. However, she followed this up
yesterday with an email to the Brown Moses blog conceding that she had
helped Ababneh to “write up” the story, that she had sent it to Mint
Press herself once it was completed, and that she had vouched for
Ababneh’s journalistic credentials.
According to Ababneh’s profile on LinkedIn, the professional networking
website, he has carried out journalistic assignments “in Jordan, Syria,
Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Libya for clients such as al-Jazeera,
al-Quds al-Arabi, Amman Net, and other publications”.
So far, though, no evidence has emerged to support this claim and
internet searches in English and Arabic for articles that carry his
byline have drawn a blank.
To add to this mystery, Ababneh’s profile was deleted from LinkedIn
yesterday, though a cached copy can be found here.
One thing that doesn’t show up in the cache is the endorsements given to
Ababneh by other LinkedIn users. On the deleted page, he had received
endorsements for his skills from two people – Ghazal Omid of the Iran
Future organisation and Sufian Ababneh, a legal adviser at the Jordanian
embassy in London. Among other things, Sufian Ababneh had endorsed him
for his skills as an actor.
* * *
Let’s now turn to a column written by Peter Hitchens for the Mail on
Sunday on 26 August, which a reader pointed out to me in an email.
There’s no need to read the column – just scroll down through the
Here we find a comment posted at 9.31pm on August 28 in the name of Yan
Barakat. Note the timing, because Dale Gavlak says she didn’t send the
“Saudi chemicals” story to Mint Press until August 29.
This means there is no way Yan Barakat could have read the article on
Mint Press’s website – and yet Barakat’s comments bear some interesting
resemblances to the story allegedly written by Ababneh.
“Who used the chemical weapons?” Barakat asks. He continues:
“The answer is neither the Syrian regime, nor the rebels. This is the
game of Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief. He gave these
weapons to the rebels via tunnels but they did not have enough
information about them. Almost all of the rebels handling the weapons
were killed because they used them incorrectly.
“Many people inside the village were really angry with Jabhat Al Nazrah
[sic] (an Al Qaeda associate in Syria).”
Barakat then adds some information that wasn’t included in the Mint
Press story which has done so much to excite Russian officials:
“Some old men arrived in Damascus from Russia and one of them became
friends with me. He told me that they have evidence that it was the
rebels who used the weapons.”
So who is Yan Barakat? Clicking on his name in the Mail on Sunday
comments thread leads to his Facebook page where there is a photo of
Like Yahya Ababneh, Yan Barakat appears to be a Jordanian freelance
journalist. There was an article published under his name in the
* * *
Let’s now turn to another website – this time a blog in Spanish about
Cuba. Here we find another blogger getting excited about Ababneh’s
The interesting part of this is that it includes a link to Ababneh’s
now-deleted profile on LinkedIn – together with a photograph which bears
a striking resemblance to that of Yan Barakat.
Just out of interest, this Yahya Ababneh/Yan Barakat character’s article
in Jerusalem Post just happens to reveal him to be one of that small
band of dedicated “Zionist Arabs”:
No surprise at all that this is who comes to Assad’s rescue