American officials backed down Tuesday from claims that Syria is ramping up chemical weapons production, after the hacking of a private military company’s website revealed plans for a false flag attack on Syria involving chemical weapons.
“We haven’t seen anything new indicating any aggressive steps to move forward in that way,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told CBS News during a flight to Kuwait, adding that intelligence on Syria’s chemical weapons had “really kind of leveled off.”
The situation will continued to be monitored “very closely, and we continue to make clear to them that they should not under any means make use of these chemical weapons against their own population. That would produce serious consequences,” Panetta cautioned.
On December 6, Panetta said he had “strong, but circumstantial” evidence that the Assad government had begun to prepare chemical weapons for use at roughly two dozens storage bases in the country. U.S. officials continued to make these claims as late as last week.
On January 24, the computer servers of private military firm Britam were hacked. The culprits revealed e-mail correspondence showing the company had been approached by people in Quatar to conduct a false-flag event in Syria involving chemical weapons that was claimed to have been approved by Washington.
“We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have,” Britam Business Development Director, David Goulding, writes to founder and Director Philip Doughty. “They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.”
Surprisingly, the computer hacking and document dump has gone mostly unreported.
A senior member of Assad’s government recently told CBS News that claims of Syrian chemical weapons capability are largely overblown, and he does not see how the WMDs could be used logistically against the small, mobile group of rebels fighting the 22-month-long battle.