An Israeli company behind a campaign against the Red Cross in Burkina

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An Israeli company behind a campaign against the Red Cross in Burkina

The ICRC deplored the growing role of manipulation in countries at war.

An Israeli company orchestrated a campaign against the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Burkina Faso in 2020, spreading the thesis that the NGO had links with jihadists, according to the consortium of journalists from x27;Forbidden Stories investigation.

It is an elaborate manipulation operation, designed and operated by the Israeli company Percepto, with the help of Burkinabé security services, aimed at damaging the image of the country. an international NGO perceived as a little too critical in Ouagadougou, according to the French daily Le Monde, one of the partners of the consortium.

Concealing their function, journalists from this group pose as potential clients of companies, including Percepto, which propose to carry out disinformation, manipulation and interference operations on social networks.

They claim that Percepto organized the social media amplification of a column published on August 3, 2020 in the French weekly Valeurs actuelles, criticizing the action of the ICRC in Burkina Faso by implying that it was negotiating with jihadist groups.

It was during one of These meetings that Percepto detailed the course of the campaign against the ICRC, presenting it as a textbook case of its actions, according to Le Monde.

The column in question pointed to a common practice of NGOs in conflict zones – negotiating safe conduct with the belligerents to be able to carry out their actions -, but criticized the fact that the ICRC negotiates with the jihadist groups that are ravaging the country. It was written by the geopolitical analyst and consultant Emmanuel Dupuy, a personality established in France where he is regularly quoted in the media, including AFP.

Questioned by AFP, Mr. Dupuy claims to have no connection with Percepto, of which he was unaware, and explains that the theme of the forum, which did not give rise to remuneration, was suggested to him by the Israeli Samuel Sellem, an adviser to the Burkinabé president at the time, Roch Marc-Christian Kaboré. Everything is true in the gallery, I will not remove a comma, he said.

We maintain dialogues [with armed groups] not to please or to confer any legitimacy whatsoever on armed groups or on a government. We do this out of necessity, for a humanitarian need, had justified for his part the president of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, quoted in an AFP dispatch, denouncing the insinuations of the tribune.

The collective claims that the dispatch, dedicated to the reaction of Mr. Maurer, amplified the news and therefore ultimately contributed to the success of the Percepto campaign.

AFP reported in a September 14, 2020 dispatch on the ICRC President's press conference in Ouagadougou in a factual manner, in accordance with the journalistic practices of one of the largest international news agencies. At no time before had Agence France-Presse reported on the content of the Valeurs Actunaires forum, explains the director of information for the department. Agence France-Presse, Phil Chetwynd.

Requested by AFP, the ICRC deplored on Thursday the growing role of manipulation in countries at war. The example of Burkina Faso shows that certain information operations are sophisticated and coordinated, reacted Robert Mardini, director general of the ICRC.

Percepto presented journalists with this operation as a success explaining, in a document reproduced by the consortium, having amplified the article by all means on social networks, forcing Mr. Maurer to come to Burkina to explain himself.

The consortium recalls, however, that at the time, Percepto did not exist as such and that one of its managers, Royi Burstien, a former Israeli military intelligence officer, headed another company in this business.

According to Forbidden Stories, Samuel Sellem's company StoryTling did not respond to its questions.

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