IMAGE: Franklin Lamb, top source for Iran’s Press TV and London’s Daily Telegraph

Britain’s Daily Telegraph does love a sensational headline — even if it’s not accurate — about Syria, such as “Al-Qaeda Seizes Village That Still Speaks the Ancient Language of Christ” and “Syria’s Neighbours Fear Biological Weapons Attack“.

And the same Daily Telegraph is quite keen on titillating its readers by playing up the threat from Tehran, regardless of evidence, with scary-sounding exclamations such as “Iran’s Plan B for a Nuclear Bomb“.

But what would happen if Iran’s favorite “analysts” were to serve up a delicious, ready-baked Syria story to a salivating Daily Telegraph? Would the British paper say No or would the temptation of a thrilling headline (even if factually inaccurate) be just too much?

We now have the answer — Temptation Wins.

On Friday, the Telegraph featured this spine-tingling story by Ruth Sherlock, “Syria: Western Activists Volunteer to Become ‘Human Shields’“.

The Telegraph does adore its intrepid tales of deluded Western leftists protecting nasty foreign dictators, such as this story about Saddam Hussein and Iraq 2003.

So it is unsurprising that Sherlock serves up a fresh version of the tale a decade later:

The “International Human Shields” movement, started by a group of activists in Britain and the US, plans to bring to Syria civilians from countries around the globe, who will try to deter US strikes on the country by staking out potential military targets.

Ooh, exciting! But what exactly is the “International Human Shields” movement? Where is it based? Who are its “hundreds of activists”?

Sherlock’s source is one Franklin Lamb, who portrays himself as the group’s “legal adviser” and claims he has been “inundated” with requests to join from Canada, France, Italy, the U.S., and Britain.

Franklin Lamb is, to put it mildly, a colorful character. “A former Assistant Counsel of the US House Judiciary Committee and Professor of International Law at Northwestern College of Law” who now lives in Beirut, Lamb is well-known to Iran watchers as a regular commentator on Iran’s State English-language news service Press TV where he is trotted out to inform viewers about menacing American-Zionist plots and Washington’s deviousness in the Middle East. For example:

Lamb does not confine his outpourings to Press TV, however — he is also a featured columunist for Veterans Today, a conspiracy-theory site warning of American and Israeli evil — it recently claimed that Israel had dropped a nuclear bomb near Damascus.

In this recent piece for Veterans Today on Syria, Lamb expounds his theories of a far-reaching, heinous U.S.-Saudi-Bahraini-Zionist plot to invade Damascus. Lamb informs his readers that behind the nefarious plot is a Bahraini Jew working with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee:

Long known, for having myriad contacts at AIPAC HQ, and as an ardent Zionist, Houda Nonoo has attended lobby functions while advising associates that the “Arabs must forget about the so-called Liberation of Palestine. It will never happen.”

A reliable source of information on the Syria conflict, then.

Through Lamb, Sherlock has a second source: one “Ken O’Keefe, an ex-US Marine who gave up his American citizenship in disgust at Iraq war and who became a leader of [a] Human Shields group” in 2003.

I have been sharing my experience with Mr Lamb. I have a feeling that if the Syrian government allows it, there would be a huge inundation of volunteers. The policies of Britain and the US make no sense; we are aligning ourselves with the people who we were supposedly fighting in Iraq.

Would it be too much to expect O’Keefe to be a regular contributor to Press TV?


Here is O’Keefe on Press TV on Thursday, “shedding more light on the hawkish position of the Western countries and their Persian Gulf allies against Syria”, and in an earlier appearance, calling a debate opponent “a prostitute for Zionists” and arguing about his genitalia:

Indeed, O’Keefe is a regular fixture on Iran’s State channel, with declarations such as “Western Bankers Fund World War III“.

And, like Lamb, O’Keefe is also is a columnist for Veterans Today. Here he is complaining about the “thought police” of the Middlesex University Free Palestine Society, who allegedly accused O’Keefe of anti-Semitism, and discussing the “Jewish supremacist movement” and Hitler.

So much for Sherlock’s sources. But what about the supposed “human shields”? The journalist speaks with “Andrew, 33, a Canadian pianist, who did not wish to provide his full name”, who according to O’Keefe and Lamb “is one of several hundred people who contacted the group”:

I don’t want to see Syria turn into another Libya. If I had a hand big enough to squash the US tanks then I would. Democracy is America’s deadliest export, they use it as an excuse to destroy countries.

And that’s it.

There is no information on the Internet about a movement called “International Human Shields”. No website, no list of activists beyond the surname-less “Andrew” the Canadian.

There are no statements — except for this, from CounterCurrents on Wednesday and reprinted in CounterPunch the next day:

An International Human Shield movement is coalescing according to informed sources here and abroad. One initiative is to bring 1000 Americans and thousands of others, to Syria within the next ten days to guard likely bomb sites….

Some redacted specifics have been disclosed to this observer from an international organizing committee working around the clock on this Human Shield initiative.

And who is “this observer” bringing us the news?

Yes, you guessed it — it’s Franklin Lamb again.

Could it be that Lamb, who lives in Beirut, was put in contact with Sherlock, who is based in Beirut, bringing “Western Activists Volunteer to Become ‘Human Shields'” out of relative obscurity — or out of the murky depths of Franklin Lamb’s head — and into the limelight?

Maybe. But then again, why should one quibble about Sherlock’s elementary sources? It’s impact that matters, and one media outlet is ecstatic about the story being featured in a British broadsheet:

Hundreds of western peace activists, including from Britain and from the US, have volunteered to become human shields in Syria, the London-based Daily Telegraph said.

And who is this news outlet?

The Syrian Arab News Agency.