CIA 'BLACK' Radio in Iraq
By Will Knight
Clues gathered by radio enthusiasts suggest that a mysterious new Iraqi radio station is in fact a source of CIA "black" propaganda.
Radio Tikrit began broadcasting in early February. The station's programming reflected that of many other government-sponsored stations in Iraq by showing strong support for the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and his government. The station's name is also the name of the Iraqi town where Saddam and other members of his government were born.
However, by 15 February, the tone of Radio Tikrit's programmes began to change dramatically. One show reportedly described Iraqis so poor that they had to sell their windows and doors. Another, broadcast on 18 February, is reported to have encouraged Iraqi soldiers to refuse the "orders of the tyrant" and "be brave before it is too late".
Mika Mäkeläinen, who runs a web site dedicated to tracing the origins of foreign radio stations, DXing.info, says all the evidence points to a "black" radio propaganda operation. This means the apparent identity of the communicator is in fact false.
Radio Tikrit broadcasts at 1584 kHz, a frequency very close those used by two radio stations operated by a political group opposed to Saddam's rule. The Iraqi National Accord, which is thought to receive CIA support, broadcasts Two Rivers Radio at 1566 kHz and Radio Al Mustaqbal at 1575 kHz.
The strength of the Radio Tikrit signal is also similar to that used by these stations, Mäkeläinen says. This indicates that it may be broadcasting from the same station in neighbouring Kuwait.
"It's relatively simple to measure the strength of a radio signal and tell where it's being broadcast from," Mäkeläinen told New Scientist. Radio Tikrit also broadcasts only from 1900 GMT and 2100 GMT, in-between broadcasts by the other two stations.
Finally, a posting to the DXing.info web site, from a person identifying themselves as Egyptian, suggests the voice of the main Radio Tikrit announcer can also be heard on a non-clandestine US propaganda station called Information Radio. This station broadcasts from airplanes flying near Iraq, a technique also used in the war in Afghanistan.
Mäkeläinen, who published an analysis of Iraqi radio stations on Tuesday, says it is surprising that Radio Tikrit changed its standpoint before the start of any US-led military operation.
"I would have expected them to continue the pro-Saddam line until they wanted to pass over some misinformation," he says. "Maybe they just thought it was time to start influencing the republican guard and other Iraqi soldiers."
Other reports also suggest that the psychological offensive against Iraq is underway. Senior officials in the ruling Iraqi government are said to have been targeted with email and mobile telephone messages advising them to abandon Saddam and not to use chemical or biological weapons in any conflict with the US.
NewScientist.COM - 3/6/2003