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The OPCW Douma Leaks Part 2: We Need To Talk About Henderson

January 17, 2020

By Bellingcat Investigation Team

Executive Summary

  1. Henderson was an employee of the OPCW, but the organisation clearly did not consider him to be part of the FFM.
  2. Henderson delivered his report outside of protocol with less than a day before the final FFM report was published.
  3. Three independent engineering studies commissioned by the FFM contradict Henderson’s findings.
  4. Henderson’s report is fundamentally flawed by the assumption that these cylinders could not have fallen from an altitude of less than 500 meters.
  5. The methodology that Henderson employed for this report was not adequate for this task.

In our first article in this series, we examined the claims of “Alex” and the documents released by WikiLeaks. In this article, we will look at a report by a self-described “engineering sub-team” of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), headed by Ian Henderson. 

Henderson’s report examines the impact of what appear to be two chlorine cylinders associated with a chemical attack in Douma on April 7, 2018.  One of these cylinders was found on a balcony at Location 2 and one in a bedroom at Location 4. Henderson’s report concluded that it is more likely the cylinders were manually placed than dropped from altitude. Although Henderson’s report claims to have used the same data as the Fact Finding Mission (FFM) of the OPCW, it must be emphasised that three independent engineering studies commissioned by the FFM contradict Henderson’s findings

Henderson’s report was first leaked on May 13, 2019, however, the Russian Federation appears to have had access to it well before this date. On April 26, 2019, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW sent a critique of the final FFM report to the OPCW, sections of which were remarkably similar to Henderson’s report. The Director-General of the OPCW said that he learned this report may have been leaked as early as March 2019. 

Taking a closer look at Henderson’s report helps to explain why it is not consistent with the FFM’s conclusions. It is evident that Henderson’s methodology was fundamentally flawed, and that a major assumption was made about the altitude from which these cylinders could have fallen. There also appear to be several errors or inaccuracies in other aspects of the report.

As with Part 1 of this series, we have included a list of the documents leaked by WikiLeaks in an attempt to make the timeline of this event more transparent.

  1. Alex’s initial email of complaint
  2. PPB email chain
  3. First draft report
  4. Second draft report
  5. Interim OPCW report
  6. Information security reminder
  7. Toxicology minutes
  8. Emails regarding toxicology minutes
  9. Email chain regarding Henderson’s report
  10. Henderson’s engineering report
  11. Final report
  12. Henderson’s memo
  13. Alex’s second email of complaint email

Who Is Henderson?

Ian Henderson does indeed seem to have been a real employee of the OPCW, and the leaked documents do indicate that he deployed to Douma in support of the FFM. A memo sent by Henderson, dated March 14, 2019, appears to be an email from Henderson and describes his work. He stated he had visited the scene in Douma, and afterward spent five weeks in charge of the OPCW control post inside Syria. 

On return from Douma, Henderson claims to have been assigned the task of “analysis and assessment of the ballistics of the two cylinders”. After this point, Henderson claims to have been “excluded from the work”, presumably by the FFM team, but that he chose to continue working on his engineering report.

Extract from Henderson’s memo from 14th March 2019, claiming to have been excluded by the FFM “core team”.

However, in an earlier email chain regarding Henderson’s report, dated from February 26, 2019, Henderson only mentions that he was “tasked to contribute to the review of ‘location and munition’”. He also explicitly states that he has been excluded from the work because he is not a member of what he refers to as the “‘core team’”.

Extract from Henderson’s email dated 26th Feb 2019, from an email chain regarding Henderson’s report.

In this earlier email from February, Henderson does not appear to mention being explicitly tasked to create this report. Without further information it is impossible to identify who told Henderson to do exactly what task, or why. However, he does claim to have received some form of authorisation from the Director of Inspectorate (DoI) in order to gain access to engineering computational tools to continue his work. 

As such, it seems Henderson did have approval to do this work at some level of the OPCW. Without a detailed knowledge of the inner structure of the OPCW, it is not possible to assess whether this authority was sufficient for the work he was undertaking. As we will see, it seems at least one senior member of the OPCW was shocked when they found out Henderson had created this report.

Henderson’s Status As A Member Of The FFM

The main reason why Henderson may have been “excluded from the work” of the FFM is that the OPCW did not regard him as being part of the FFM team itself, and because the FFM is regarded as a highly confidential mission. Although he deployed in support of the FFM in Douma and was clearly involved in gathering evidence, this does not appear to qualify him as actually being a part of the FFM in the eyes of the OPCW. 

The OPCW has previously denied Henderson was in the FFM, explaining that he “was tasked with temporarily assisting the FFM with information collection at some sites in Douma”. WikiLeaks also leaked an internal email from the Sebastien Braha, Chief of Cabinet of the Director General of the OPCW, questioning why Henderson had carried out this work “outside FFM authority… by someone who was not part of the FFM?”. This email was clearly never intended to be public, and Braha had no reason to obscure Henderson’s role.

Extract from email dated 28 Feb 2019, from an email chain regarding Henderson’s report. 

Despite Henderson’s distinction between the “FFM team members” and the “core team” and Alex’s complaints, it is clear that as an institution, the OPCW only regarded what Henderson describes as the “core team” as being the FFM. This did not include Henderson. 

When Did Henderson Submit This Work?

Henderson claims to have first attempted to submit his document “starting from 15 February 2019”, however, at the time of writing the earliest evidence we have of Henderson attempting to deliver his report appears to have been on February 27, 2019, two days before the final report was due to be published. The person he is emailing, Boban Cekovic, appears to have received contradictory information about how this report should be handled and offers to check. 

Emails between Cekovic and Henderson, from an email chain regarding Henderson’s report. 

(The pdF of the emails above, which were leaked by WikiLeaks, also, rather bizarrely, contain an email from a completely unrelated email regarding the minutes of a meeting with toxicologists. This does not appear to be part of the email chain discussing Henderson’s report.)

Henderson then informed Cekovic that he had “dropped” the report at the DRA. The DRA is referred to in multiple OPCW documents as “Documents, Registration and Archiving” and appears to be some kind of service that carries out these functions. Henderson claims he dropped off the document on February 28, 2019 at a quarter to three in the afternoon, the day before the final FFM report was due to be published. This would not have given the FFM or other stakeholders sufficient time to assess it before the publication of the final FFM report on March 1. As we have seen, Henderson’s report appears to have come as a surprise to others within the OPCW. 

Once brought to his attention, Braha asked why Henderson had placed such a sensitive report in the DRA and asked for it to be removed. Although some have attempted to portray this as a cover-up, Braha’s motivations seem clear: the Douma investigation is a “non-routine mission”, and the DRA was not supposed to hold those kinds of documents. 

Email from Mr Braha dated February 28, 2019, from an email chain regarding Henderson’s report. 

Henderson’s Report

So far, the only documentation which has been published regarding the findings of Henderson’s “engineering sub-team” has been this report, which is a summary document: it does not include the simulation or large amounts of the data associated with the simulation. Indeed, even the technical drawings in both versions of his leaked report are too low quality to read properly. This makes it very difficult to assess the simulation itself.

However, we can look at the data and information that Henderson fed into this simulation and compare it against what we know about the Douma attack and previous examples of chemical weapons usage in Syria. Once we do this, it becomes clear that Henderson has based this entire simulation on one major assumption and several errors. Although his simulation may be accurate with the data provided, a simulation based on an assumption is unlikely to return reliable results. 

The major assumption which potentially influences Henderson’s analysis was that the cylinders could not have fallen from an altitude of less than 500m. Although helicopters do usually operate at a higher altitude in Syria, it is entirely possible this helicopter was deliberately flying lower than 500m.  

Although a low-flying helicopter puts it within range of small arms, it can also make it more difficult to target, especially if it were deployed at night, as was the case in Douma. There are circumstances which may have led to this helicopter flying below 500m, and Henderson’s decision to exclude that as a possibility is based not on evidence, but assumption.

Indeed, Henderson explicitly says in the hypotheses section of the report that these cylinders should be considered to have fallen from an “unknown altitude”. By arbitrarily setting the minimum altitude to 500 meters for his simulation, Henderson is not only introducing a fundamental assumption into his analysis, he is not even testing his stated hypothesis in the simulation.

Extracts from Henderson’s hypotheses

Due to a network of plane-spotters who operate in the ground in Syria, we even know there were reports of two Mi-8 Hip helicopters taking off from Dumayr airbase, followed by two of the same kind of helicopters above Douma at the rough time this attack took place.

Graphic from the New York Times Visual Investigations Team investigation into Douma

Analysis Of Location 2

Henderson’s assessment about Location 2 is flawed from the outset by the assumed minimum altitude at which the cylinder dropped. Bizarrely, the report does in fact state it was possible to simulate an impact that was consistent with Location 2, but that the velocity was significantly lower than cylinders dropped from 500 m or higher. 

Extract from Henderson’s report

The report also appears to dismiss other circumstances that could have affected the impact. For example, the report does consider the possibility of an “intermediate impact” with the corner of the terrace wall. However, this scenario was dismissed due to lack of observed damage on the rest of the cylinder, as well as the perception that this intermediate impact would not have been consistent with the secondary impact that created the crater. It is not made clear in the report whether Henderson actually simulated this scenario or not. 

Extract from Henderson’s report

It should be noted that the final FFM report did simulate this scenario and the damage to the cylinder did appear to be consistent with an intermediate impact.

Extract from final FFM report

Henderson also dismisses the idea that the cylinder was fitted with the framework found on the roof.

Extract from Henderson’s report

However, Forensic Architecture recreated this framework and identified that the mild steel framework not only fits onto the munition perfectly, but is also almost identical to that seen at Location 4, and indeed many other examples of chlorine munitions used in Syria. This framework being attached to the cylinder was entirely consistent with the hypothesise that Henderson was supposedly testing, yet he chose to ignore it. 

Forensic Architecture recreation of the framework.

Henderson’s statement that the cylinder did not appear to have been fitted with the framework is also odd: no example we have identified of this kind of framework appears to be bolted, welded or otherwise physically attached to the cylinder. Rather, the framework is held on by the tension of the securing bands, leaving no obvious trace on the cylinder itself. Henderson’s decision to simply discount this framework is not supported by what we know about this kind of munition. 

Henderson also states that the crater on the balcony at Location 2 is “more consistent with that expected as a result of blast/energetics (for example from a HE mortar or rocket artillery round)”. In support of this he mentions several points: the way the rebar in the roof has deformed, a crater of similar appearance on a roof close to the balcony (which he does not confirm was created by a blast), an “unusually elevated, but possible” fragmentation pattern, indications of concrete spalling and black scorching underneath the crater.

The final FFM report directly disagrees with these findings. They also considered the possibility that the crater was a result of an explosive device, but concluded that it was “unlikely given the absence of primary and secondary fragmentation characteristic of an explosion”. We also know that the scorching under the crater was likely not from an explosion: the final FFM report includes an interview where a witness states that the black scorching underneath the crater was as a result of someone lighting a fire in the room in a crude attempt to decontaminate it.

Analysis Of Location 4

Henderson included a graphic in his report that showed the cylinder at Location 4 overlaid on the hole in the roof. Although this was included for “illustrative purposes”, the manner in which it has been placed, with the front of the cylinder jutting out over the hole, appears to support Henderson’s claims that this cylinder could not have passed through this hole with the “valve still intact… and the fins deformed in the manner observed”.

 Extract from final FFM report

Bellingcat and Forensic Architecture worked together to re-create the cylinders based on dimensions found in various OPCW reports. The final FFM report noted the height of both cylinders found at Douma to be 1.4 m. They also noted the width of the cylinder at location to be 0.35 m. Additionally, the final FFM report reported the dimensions of the hole in the roof to be 1.66 x 1.05 m. We assessed these measurements and noticed that the cylinder used in the image above appears to be approximately 8 cm too long, a notable difference in the stated measurements.

It is also notable that Henderson used an image of the cylinder post-deformation to “illustrate” his work, when it is much more informative to compare the pre-deformed cylinder to the hole. In short, this “illustration” is unsuited to show the cylinder in relation to the hole. Its format in the report is potentially misleading. 

We can also call into question Henderson’s statement that “The observed deformation… were clearly consistent with a cylinder having impacted in a flat configuration on a horizontal surface, and not that of a cylinder having penetrated through a crater.”

Images of the cylinders with their framework clearly show that the fins have been bent in a manner that suggest it has passed through a gap, while at least one of the securing bands has ruptured in a way that indicates it was pulled apart, which could have been the case if the cylinder had passed through a hole in the roof.

Bottom: Location 4. Note the manner in which the rear-most securing band has ruptured and deformed. The top image is an example of a virtually identical munition found in Aleppo in 2017.

Note the deformation of the strut, marked in red, and of the securing band. 

Although Henderson noticed the heavy corrosion on the cylinder, he states that this corrosion would “most likely not have degraded to such an extent in the case of it being inside the bedroom” and that it seem unlikely that such an “old, rusty, already damaged cylinder” would be deployed from an aircraft. 

The implication of this is that the cylinder has been recycled from another attack, indicating a “false flag”. However, in Part 1 of this series we demonstrated without doubt that the framework of this cylinder was initially clean and un-corroded. The rapid corrosion was almost certainly as a result of the metal having come into contact with chlorine gas, which results in rapid corrosion.

1: Still from video by Forensic Architecture, 2: Still from video by Forensic Architecture, 3: Image taken on 8th or 9th April, 4: image from Russian news report aired on 26th April, 5: image of cylinder in FFM final report, 6: image of cylinder in Final FFM report after tagging, indicating it was taken on the 3rd June 2018.

The Methodology

The report’s methodology describes how an attempt was made to create two clear opposing hypotheses which were then tested against each other. The problem with this methodology is that Henderson didn’t actually apply it properly. 

We have already seen that Henderson did not even simulate his stated hypotheses. Instead, he arbitrarily set the minimum altitude from which these cylinders could have fallen at 500 m. It is also evident that although Henderson has examined the impact of the cylinders in detail, he does not appear to make any attempt to examine the actual likelihood of the cylinders having been placed manually.

Indeed, the report provides no actual information directly supporting the hypothesis that the cylinders were been placed manually: it only provides information that might detract from the likelihood of the cylinders falling from height. Comparing two scenarios and deciding one is unlikely does not necessarily make the other more likely. 

Needless to say, this is a major oversight. The reality is that the circumstances which would lead to the cylinders having been placed manually (thereby implying the attack was faked), are extremely complex. Any analysis of how the cylinders reached their positions must take this into account. 

As such, we decided to complete Henderson’s analysis for him. Part 3 of this series will examine all we know about this event and identify what exactly it would take for the Douma attack to have been faked.

Conclusion

Ultimately, Henderson’s report is flawed from the outset by a major assumption which undermines the validity of his simulation. Trust in his report’s findings are not reinforced by the implication that it was written without proper authorisation, by someone the OPCW did not regard as being part of the FFM. Henderson then attempted to submit this report, which appears to have been unexpected, outside of protocol, and without time for anyone to reasonably review it. This document then appears to have been leaked shortly afterwards.

Henderson’s assumption that a helicopter could not have operated under 500m is a major assumption upon which he bases his simulation. There is no direct evidence about the height that these cylinders were dropped, yet Henderson arbitrarily decided it could not have been under 500m. 

Despite Henderson including a seemingly rational methodology, it is completely inadequate for this task. In this situation, the question of how the cylinders reached their locations cannot be rid of context — attempting to do so is misleading. At no point does Henderson consider in detail what it would mean for the cylinders to have been placed manually. Indeed he does not touch on that hypothesis until the conclusion, where he decides that it is in fact the most likely scenario.

Finally, there is the elephant in the room. The fact the FFM carried out three independent engineering analyses, by three independent teams, all of which contradict Henderson’s findings.

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69 Comments

  1. Servus

    Very interesting report, thanks a lot.
    I wondered what was the status of the Henderson’s report, now we have an answer ; none.
    The lack of evaluation of feasibility of the « false flag » operation alarmed me as well and thus jumping inti conclusion without it is an error.

    This is an elementary methodological error…. something like that does not happen.

    Reply
    • oui oui

      Servus – January 16, 2020
      Congatulations Peta!

      You are following IRA guidelines to the point. Only generalities, mocking remarks and pretentious advice suggesting deep knowledge rather then resounding echo between the ears.
      Your supposedly corrosive remarks are a much needed comic relief

      Reply
    • JustPassingThrough

      Also what Bellingcat seem to have done is made a cylinder that is 140cm tall including valve

      https://imgur.com/QRXg7EK

      Which is wrong, it should be 140cm *without* the valve as per the blue FFM diagram in A.7.5

      Henderson’s basic cylinder body is to scale

      Reply
      • Adam Larson

        Final report SAYS:
        described by witnesses: about 1.5 by 0.4 meters.
        stated: approximately 1.4 x 0.4 meters
        the dimensions of cylinder of 140 x 35 cm

        https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1218697744950280192
        Scaled proportionally ’til the bases were equal width, the h/w ratios are roughly:
        EST – 4.406:1
        Bellingcat visual: 4.115:1 (shouldn’t it be exactly 4:1?)
        Final report, A.7.5 – 4.26:1

        Other depictions could be checked, but might vary and be non-gospel. The measurement taken as gospel is the same way. Isn’t there a tape measure photo showing the right end? If not, is there a reason the FFM left the exact sizes vague like this?

        Reply
        • JustPassingThrough

          Adam – the dark outer lines on the FFM diagram are the frame where top fin and wheels are attached, see how they line up with the second image to the right in the report showing the cylinder end-on. Match the cylinder width with the inner part of the FFM diagram.

          Reply
          • Adam Larson

            Hey. A bit slow here but back. I tried to line it up so outlined areas corresponded, with all lines outside the matched area. Also I was tired, and re-did it all today as a start to a blog post. Some interesting comparisons. Bellingcat prop. revised to 4.03:1, or correct per description. But other descriptions and some or all images have it some 13 cm longer, about 4 cm longer than what Henderson drew. https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2020/01/and-lets-continue-that-discussion-about.html

          • JustPassingThrough

            The red line labelled 1.4m matches the bottom of the valve but is not 1.4m in length. The red line for 0.35m should be 1/4 the length of the 1.4m line but it is not. The Bellingcat cylinder and measurements are not to scale, are you going to fix it?

            Just to note, the line below the hole on the Henderson diagram matches 166cm but the top edge of the hole has a section where only the top layer is broken (see https://youtu.be/S_WX10kqwbo?t=52 ). Hence the 105cm damage being larger than the hole through to the room below as drawn by Ian Henderson.

  2. Rob

    Henderson’s assertions that the cylinder in location 2 should have fallen through the small hole, and the cylinder in location 4 could not have fallen through that big hole always was sort of a head scratcher to me.

    But it is good to see that your findings are consistent with the final OPCW report’s note that the cylinder was smaller than the hole in the roof at location 4 :

    “…creating a crater with dimensions of approximately 166 x 105 cm, which is in keeping with the dimensions of cylinder of 140 x 35 cm. ”

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EOjFI4lUcAAYA_u?format=png

    Reply
  3. IanH

    It’s not at all unusual for helicopters to be flying below 1000′, it’s shortens the line of sight for surface shots when over built up areas. There’s also an assumption of no forward velocity, why, if they weren’t interested in a particular target, why would they loiter rather than fly at utility speed, thereby completing negating any minimum height?

    Reply
  4. Jeroen

    Ian Henderson is/was from about 1998 an OPCW inspection team leader involved with routine inspections and challenge inspections, the later though were never caried out.
    He might also be possibly involved in some way with either or both setting up the new OPCW tool Rapid Response and Assistance Mission in 2016 and its training exercise in Romania in November 2017 as he was briefing others within OPCW noth on IC (which never took place) and RRAM (which also was not yet deployed).
    Ian Henderson though being a CI expert, was not deployed by OPCW within the FFM.
    Understandable though he did want to contribute nevertheless, and have more influence within OPCW.
    How that worked out is well illustrated here in these articles.
    Thank you Bellingcat!

    Reply
  5. Adam Larson

    “Henderson’s report was first leaked on May 13, 2019, however, the Russian Federation appears to have had access to it well before this date. On April 26, 2019, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation to the OPCW sent a critique of the final FFM report to the OPCW, sections of which were remarkably similar to Henderson’s report. The Director-General of the OPCW said that he learned this report may have been leaked as early as March 2019. ”

    Hey, that’s a conspiracy theory. The Russians did do an investigation, and the timing would line up with a response to the FFM report issues almost 2 months earlier. But Henderson’s and the Russians’ reports reach similar conclusions, so it “appears” like one was copied from the other.

    OK, but you should know the conspiracy appears to be wider than that. Here’s Michael Kobs also reaching remarkably similar conclusions shortly prior to the leak, in that same span:
    https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1131213353714454528
    I and others had also reached similar conclusions from early on – even back in April, 2018.
    https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/987631873730822144
    https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1012294879513178113
    Henderson leaked his findings to all of us and we’ve kept it quiet? Maybe Henderson copied us before the Russians copied him? How deep can this go? We think it’s because we’re all looking at the facts and assessing it honestly. But then these FFM chaps have to disagree, and all these agreeing voices have to “appear” suspicious.

    Special case: did Henderson leak me this lie about the amazing mesh pattern that proves impact? Bellingcat vouches for this numbskull notion that helped get the New York Times an emmy award, and even the FFM seemed to find it compelling? FA supports this project – can they EVER show us a 3-D modeling of how this proof of airdrop would play out in real life? Please? Would love to see that.
    https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1218505170759208961

    And here’s the Russian report image noting traces of ‘blast fragmentation’ on the balcony: correct, but missed in Henderson’s report. So that point anyway is not copied from it. (he didn’t get to visit there himself and apparently didn’t notice it in photos as he only claimed the secondary fragmentation also seen on the upper walls of the room below.)
    https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/1134404911804833793

    “correct” explained: https://libyancivilwar.blogspot.com/2019/05/douma-location-2-explosives-damage.html

    But conspiracy theories aside, the questions are, in reverse order of importance:
    * was Ian Henderson a part of the FFM whose work SHOULD have been considered?
    * Either way, was he correct in his assessment?

    I’ll have to come back with the rest of my commentary. It’s taking some review.

    Reply
    • Jasper

      I don’t see how those tweets are relevant. The “conspiracy” in this case wasn’t that the Russians had reached similar conclusions to Henderson, it’s that they used incredibly similar language to describe those conclusions. Almost to the point where paragraphs are copied.

      This isn’t some improbable theory either. As mentioned in the article, the report is known to have leaked before the Russians presented their critique. It doesn’t even require them to have actually done the leaking/hacking. But given their history of attempting to hack the OPCW, that might well be the case. And the fact that these documents were published by WikiLeaks is also suspect, considering that they’ve published Russian supplied documents before while lying about it.

      Reply
  6. Jeroen

    “Hey, that’s a conspiracy theory. The Russians did do an investigation, and the timing would line up with a response to the FFM report issues almost 2 months earlier. But Henderson’s and the Russians’ reports reach similar conclusions, so it “appears” like one was copied from the other.”

    Indeed the Russian did do an investigation, not only in Syria but also in The Hague, trying to hack the OPCW 10-13 April 2018.
    And their GRU agents Aleksei Morenets, Evgenii Serebriakov, Oleg Sotnikov and Alexey Minin. got caught red handed.
    https://www.ad.nl/buitenland/nederland-verijdelt-hackaanval-russen-op-opcw~a4c7f2c8/

    Reply
    • Adam Larson

      What was the point of that reply? There was a hacking effort alleged, and maybe it was even true. And it’s stupid to presume two people/groups reaching similar conclusions means one must be copying the other or even coordinating their efforts.

      Reply
      • Servus

        This is funny. 4 GRU officers were caught trying to break into the OPCW LAN and subsequently expulsed rather then tried because of their diplomatic status, and Adam L has problems with these simple facts ; ´maybe even true ´.

        If you have obvious problems understanding simple events, its also obvious that you will have with more complicated ones like ´is chlorine toxic’

        I’m afraid that perhaps, after considering ample examples and circonstances, your credibility is not entirely helped by your recent contributions.

        Reply
        • Adam Larson

          Another hit. I’m not sure about that claim you brought up. Laugh it up! Also, that presumption is still stupid, like I said. And it’s a low move too, trying to cast Henderson as a Russian spy, hoping many biased readers will take it as a clue Henderson is some Russian agent and that – not the facts – explains his assessment.

          Reply
          • Servus

            You make some unjustified judgement of BS intentions, never mind, the facts ? In spite of your sharp eye for miniscule details like centimetres here and there you seem to have missed a pink ELEPHANT in the room.

            Lets try en explanation be an analogy.

            Mr Xsson evaluates two hypothesis, (1) the chlorine cylinder was dropped from a Syrian helicopter flying between 500m-2000m , (2) The chlorine cylinder was miraculously dropped or carried in by the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
            When analysing (1), Mr Xson stumbled over a difficulty he could not resolve so he gladly came into conclusion that (2) is more probable. Without writing a single line about Flying Spaghetti Monsters’ existence probability. Have he analysed (2), he would find (1) more probable but with a reservation for the unresolved issue.

            I see a value of Henderson’s report in the page of unreadable drawings. Now that the memo is out could somebody that has a real pdf send it to Bellingcat or Wikileaks ?

  7. Jeroen

    We should judge Henderson for his written and spoken words and actions.
    Like we should judge these Russian state agents trying to break in at the OPCW network.

    Reply
    • Adam Larson

      Yep. And we shouldn’t have to supplement that by suggesting conspiracies that cast doubt, when the only basis is two parties reached similar conclusions (that those judging happen to disagree with, of course).

      Servus: and there’s a nice spaghetti strawman, and this “Russians appear to have seen the report” thing is still stupid and/or low. Also, there’s plenty evidence Jaish al-Islam truly existed, and ’nuff said for now.

      Reply
  8. Ahmed Sakkal

    This Aristotelian discussion by Henderson, and others trying to deny that Assad militias did the chemical weapons crime is useless, there are hundreds and even thousands of masssacres done by them, and each one comprise a war crime.
    1,000,000 lives lost, 14,000,000 displaced, Civilians neighborhoods under siege until kids die of hunger and cold weather, others are butchered by knives, whole families summarily executed. Cluster and phsphorus bombs used on civilians, farmers markets, schools and houses of worship targeted by missiles and indiscriminate bombing, hospitals and health facilities attacked after the UN gives their location to avoid it , even refugee camps and UN aid convoys are targeted by air attacks.
    Whole towns and large suburbs of major cities were completely destructed, and laws formulated to deny the displaced a return to their homes are enacted!
    Do we need the chemical weapons discussion ?
    We need the media especially the US TV stations and news programs to show the true picture to the world and push the world leaders to take care of their responsibilities towards the civilians being displaced using the burned land approach by the war criminals: Assad and his supporters; Putin and Khamenai .

    Reply
    • Adam Larson

      Certainly no denying the Houla massacre for one. Shi’ite / Alawite militias butchering 90 members of the Abdulrazaq family, and some Sunnis who were loyalists anyway. Some 60 little kids shot and hacked to death. I looked into that. Definitely a strong fall-back if this chemical weapons thing gets too awkward to keep pushing. Who needs it? Plenty of other crimes. Barrel bombs on schools, markets, shooting 100+ soldiers in the back at Jisr al-Shughour as early as June, 2011. Black clad foreigners were brought in, surely Iranians there by the Turkish border. Hamza al-Kahtib tortured for a month. Assad brought this on himself, so let’s pick whatever and kick some ass.

      Or, otherwise, I’m for sticking to the topic. I don’t find it to be a dead end. I’m excited where this is going.

      Reply
      • Roger

        Anyone who uses phrases like ” kick some ass ” is not worthy of being listened to.
        Syria has been seen as a ‘problem’ for Sunni states and their Western associates ever since the beginning of Ba’ath Arab Nationalism. The UK should never have got involved due to the sure result of ‘blowback’ ( we sow a little trouble and get much trouble bacl).

        Reply
    • Servus

      Ahmed, I share your indignation.

      Unfortunately there is an organised effort to defend Syrian government and their Russian allies, deny the chemical attack reality or perpetrator, or even chlorine toxicity. But the evidence of Syrian government chemical weapons war crimes in Douma and elsewhere is overwhelming.
      The discussions in here just expose the lies and manipulations of professional deniers or other confused individuals.
      Necessary but not always respectful of the victims.

      Reply
  9. Freja Meincke

    The report, supported by the Federal Foreign Office of Germany and the Robert Bosch Foundation, held Syrian government responsible for 98% of all recorded chemical weapons attacks over the course of the Syrian civil war and believes its use of chemical weapons “is best understood as part of its overall war strategy of collective punishment of populations in opposition-held areas”. Commenting on the OPCW FFM report of 2019, Bellingcat remarked that the detail provided, ‘continues to make it clear that the Douma attack was yet another chlorine attack delivered by helicopter, using the same type of modified gas cylinders as seen in previous chlorine attacks.’

    Reply
    • Adam Larson

      You guys are all over the place. The GPPI report w/300+ attacks listed? Yeah – no fresh research, just compiled previous acts of faith in opposition claims. It ignores several attacks against Syrian soldiers, some with sarin (OPCW verified). Not worth listing. But after that and no fact-checking, they found ISIS did 2%, Syria 98%, and everyone else – the moderates that cannot be blamed – none at all. Another state-funded affirmation of the running mass delusion. We could argue that with a ton of details I know, or stick to the evidence re: Douma and this effort to cast doubt on inspector Ian Henderson.

      Reply
      • Servus

        ” Syrian soldiers, some with sarin (OPCW verified). ”

        Would you care to provide a reference to it an OPCW document that states that?

        You made it up or mixed up the sides, anyway details apparently don’t matter too much when you seem to be right.

        Reply

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