We all know that VT can come up with some weird ideas, but sometimes their correspondents write good stuff. This is from their English barrister, Michael Shrimpton, who wrote an interesting book called Spyhunter a few years back. You might gather from a couple of his comments that he is not a fan of the Germans! This is part of his post today.
Was It Sarin?
I not only query Syrian involvement, indeed I don’t even regard Syria as a credible candidate for responsibility for this outrage; as presently advised I’m not buying Sarin ([(CH3)2CHO]CH3P(O)F). There are a number of arguments against Sarin. A Nazi-era nerve agent developed by our community partners IG Farben, Sarin is highly toxic – about 80 times more lethal than Zyklon-B. (Wikipedia, ludicrously, excuse IG Farben of being an accessory before the fact to war crimes by suggesting that IG Farben, arguably the most criminal corporation in history, stumbled across Sarin whilst trying to develop a new pesticide (!), a statement about as rational as suggesting that Beethoven stumbled across his magnificent Ninth Symphony whilst writing a jingle for Radio Berlin)
The death-toll at Khan Shaykhun just isn’t high enough for Sarin – there were far too many survivors, particularly for an aerial attack, in which the nerve agent would be dispersed in lethal concentrations over a wide area. This is good news if you’re the one being gassed. If Jerry offers you a choice of WMD before gassing you, don’t ask for Sarin, go for something fluffier, like phosgene. It’s bad news for General McMaster and Reince Priebus, who flogged Sarin to President Trump, who I suspect doesn’t like being made a fool of by his subordinates.
The next problem is the apparent lack of symptoms of Sarin poisoning in the survivors. One of the missing symptoms is diarrhea. With a Sarin attack what we like to see is lots of diarrhea. Basically a ward of survivors should look and smell like a dodgy restaurant in Delhi after a carelessly prepared curry.
Then we have the lack of full-body suits and the apparent lack of casualties amongst the medical staff and the ironically-named White Helmets (they’re black hats pretending to be white hats). Sarin can not only be inhaled, you can have dermal absorption, i.e. through the skin. With the low level of protection seen in the broadcast images, we would be expecting casualties amongst those attending the victims.
The child/adult ratio is also wrong, as it was at Q’ana. Seeking to cynically exploit what they see as Western sentimentalism, Islamic terrorist organisations murdering their own people for propaganda purposes usually go for a high percentage of children, the younger the better. They love murdering babies, as dead babies make good TV.
They don’t understand us of course – sentimentalism and a love of children are signs of strength, not weakness. The strongest are usually the gentlest.
The next issue I have is with the alleged delivery system, a Sukhoi Su-22. This aircraft could deliver a WMD package, but it’s also capable of carrying recon packages. The timings I have are: an Su-22 overhead at 0651LT, but no signs of illness or casualties until 0700LT or shortly thereafter. That timeline doesn’t work for Sarin, which is usually lethal inside 10 minutes.
The timeline works best for Al Qaeda affiliates on the ground waiting for an early-morning recon run, then setting up an explosion with a view to putting the blame on the Syrian Air Force.
And where are the overheads of the actual attack? We’ve been favored with plenty of overheads of the American response, but I’ve seen none of the alleged Syrian air strike. I also query why a valuable WMD package like Sarin would be entrusted to a single aircraft without a fighter escort in a combat zone like Idlib Province.
Then you have the problem of where the Sarin came from. I’m not aware that the Syrians had a large, viable stockpile of Sarin. Most of the Syrian Sarin was shipped over from Iraq in the six months leading up to the Iraq War. We’re talking five years’ shelf life, max, for that old stuff. It’s acidic, and tricky both to store and handle.
There is also no evidence of any large-scale movement of Sarin antidotes, such as atropine into the Khan Shaykhun area. No way was this attack not planned, even though it was probably put together in the last few weeks, as the manufactured allegations against President Trump collapsed, and Britain served her Article 50 notice. The White Helmets wouldn’t go anywhere near a Sarin attack without adequate supplies of atropine or another antidote. They’re not genuine humanitarians. I would be expecting bulk supplies of antidote being moved into the attack area in the 48 hours leading up to the attack.
I’m thinking phosgene. I don’t think it’s mustard gas, as I don’t see much sign of blistering. At any rate I think we’re looking a much less lethal chemical agent, with respiratory ingestion only. Phosgene (COCl2) is much easier to store, it has a longer shelf life and there’s plenty of it about in Syria. It’s a much better candidate than Sarin.