According to the Daily Mail newspaper, a London-based PR firm carried out a $500m covert ‘propaganda’ operation from an office in Iraq, it has been revealed.
Bell Pottinger, the firm set up by Margaret Thatcher’s PR guru Lord Bell in 1989, set up a base in Camp Victory in Baghdad, in what is believed to be one of the most-costly PR contracts in history.
From here, nearly 300 staff operated a top-secret ‘Psychological operations’ task force, which included writing soap operas and allegedly distributing fake al-Qaeda videos which were used to track the people watching them.
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed the details of the multi-million pound operation.
Bell Pottinger is understood to have been funded some $500million from the US Department of Defence (DoD) for five contracts from May 2007 to December 2011, according to the Times and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Lord Tim Bell, the former spin doctor to Margaret Thatcher, confirmed Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq.
Lord Bell, who resigned as chairman of the firm this year, told The Sunday Times: ‘It was a covert military operation.
‘It was covered by various secrecy documents. We were very proud of it.’