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[] Guardian 25.02.03: Wargames open with clandestine broadcasts,

Wargames open with clandestine broadcasts
Propaganda: Psychological assault led by 'RadioTikrit'

Brian Whitaker
Tuesday February 25, 2003
The Guardian

A voice in Arabic crackles over the airwaves: "This is Radio Tikrit." It 
sounds like an Iraqi station broadcasting from Saddam Hussein's home town, 
but it isn't.

Though the shooting war with Iraq has not yet begun, Radio Tikrit is just 
one sign that US psychological operations against the Baghdad regime are 
well under way. Inside Iraq, senior figures have also been bombarded with 
subversive emails and phone calls, and telephone lines have been hacked to 
give bogus instructions to the military.

When Radio Tikrit was launched early this month, it appeared to be just 
another regime-run station. It mocked the US and its efforts to win Arab 
support for a war. There was even a programme called Open Dialogue which 
praised "Saddam Hussein's Iraq".

The only clue that Radio Tikrit's mix of news, music and features might not 
have been what it seemed came when the station omitted to play the Iraqi 
national anthem either at the beginning or end of its broadcasts, as all 
government-run stations do.

By February 15, however, Radio Tikrit began to change its tune. This time 
the Open Dialogue programme talked about Iraqi citizens who were so poor 
they had to sell doors and windows from their homes in order to get money 
for food.

Then the station urged members of the Republican Guard to desert their 
posts "before it is too late".

On February 19, according to the BBC monitoring service, it told officers 
in public security to refuse the "orders of the tyrant" and "be brave 
before it is too late".

"This seems to be what is technically known as a black clandestine 
operation," said Andy Sennitt of Radio Netherlands.

"A station starts by pretending to be one thing when it's actually 
something else. It's a well-established procedure for psychological warfare."

Unlike the "black" variety, "normal" clandestine broadcasts start as they 
intend to carry on.

Traditionally, black clandestine broadcasts are launched at the beginning 
of military action. Radio Tikrit may have surfaced prematurely because of 
unexpected delays in the UN security council.

But there may be another explanation. Listeners have been intrigued by the 
station's horoscopes, which some believe may be passing coded instructions 
to undercover operatives inside Iraq.

The station broadcasts for two hours a night on 1584 kHz and, according to 
a radio enthusiasts' website,, its signal is so strong that it 
dominates the frequency, even in parts of Europe.

Its transmissions were first logged outside Iraq by Bjorn Fransson, an 
enthusiast in Sweden, on February 3.

There is little doubt among experts that Radio Tikrit is an American 
station, with programmes produced by the 4th Psychological Operations Group 
at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and broadcast from a CIA-controlled 
transmitter in Kuwait.

According to an Egyptian listener, Tikrit's main male announcer also 
appears on Information Radio, an overt anti-Saddam propaganda station whose 
launch was announced by the Pentagon last December.

At least some of Information Radio's broadcasts come from airborne 
transmitters on American EC-130E Commando Solo aircraft that were 
previously used for the same purpose in Afghanistan. They are also capable 
of broadcasting television programmes.

Radio Tikrit comes from Kuwait, where two Iraqi oppo sition stations, 
al-Mustaqbal and Twin Rivers Radio, broadcast from the CIA's transmitter. 
Radio Tikrit's broadcasts start at 7pm GMT when Twin Rivers shuts down. 
They end at 9pm, when al-Mustaqbal starts up.

The signal from all three stations is the same strength and they are 
obviously coming from the same transmitter, experts say.

The US is also using cyber-warfare, with an email assault directed at 
Iraq's political, military and economic leadership, according to the New 
York Times. The messages urge them to break with President Saddam's government.

Selected officials in Iraq have also received calls on their private mobile 
phones, officials at the Pentagon and in the regional central command told 
the paper.

According to an independent source in Baghdad, phone numbers of all top 
officials were changed by the Iraqi authorities at the beginning of 
February in response to hacking of telephone lines a few days earlier.

When Iraqi air defence units picked up their phones, instead of a dialling 
tone, they heard a male voice speaking in Arabic. It told them not to use 
chemical or biological weapons, not to offer resistance, and not to obey 
commands to attack civilian areas, the source said.

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