MH17 and OSINT, a suspicious narrative – part 6: Support from the DSB

In the first 15 months after the MH17 disaster the Dutch Safety Board (DSB) had an important part to play, as they conducted the research that had to uncover the causes (not the culprits) of the plane crash.

Contrary to what the JIT showed to the public – a lot of social media material and intercepted calls, as we saw in parts 1-5 of this series – the DSB had commissioned two professional organizations to conduct a clear technical investigation into damage pattern analysis on the MH17 wreckage, a possible device and/or weapon that matched it and, from there on, missile trajectory calculations to establish a launch site.

On its own this would be a good way to start a thorough and trustworthy forensic investigation into the origins of a shoot down. Their results would also lay down a firm framework for the operational boundaries the JIT had to reckon with. Or was it the other way around and was the framework set by the JIT, ie. their most influential member, Ukraine, to get to a desired outcome?

Part 6. Support from the Dutch Safety Board

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MH17 and open source intelligence, a suspicious narrative – part 5: Common goals

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The JIT, the SBU and the intercepted calls

In parts 1-4 of this series we have seen that the evidence as comprised of photos, videos and written reports about a transport and a launch of a Buk air defense missile system allegedly implicated in the downing of flight MH17 has connections to an organization tied to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry in cooperation with the Ukrainian secret service SBU. In fact, it seems the SBU is main provider of the evidence as it has a stake in almost everything, from the social media proof to the conversations of high-ranked separatists that they intercepted.

In this blogpost the most important intercepts that have been published on open channels will be reviewed. Three modes of manipulation of the tapes will be suggested to account for the contradictions and irregularities that surface from close inspection of the conversations displayed. Investigation lays bare that the transcripts of the tapes should not be consumed at face value, as they don’t show clear leads for accusations when closely read. Furthermore, the story that unfolds in this blog leaves behind some profound questions that need to be answered, not only about the MH17 evidence itself, but also about the conduct of the investigating and prosecuting parties.

Conclusion should be that the SBU is implicated in demonstrable pieces of manipulation or even outright fraud, not only supported by the uncritical anti-Russian OSINT community, i.e. Bellingcat, but also fully backed-up and endorsed by the JIT, which seems to have merged their objectives with those of the post-Maidan Ukrainian state. Reading this elaborate report will provide a “treasure trove” of information that is necessary to assess the value and quality of the evidence that will be presented by Het Openbaar Ministerie in the MH17 trial, which will start March 9th, 2020.

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MH17 and OSINT, a suspicious narrative, part 4 – Donbass Buk phantom or fact?

This blogpost is the fourth part of a series that I will publish in the last months before the MH17 trial starts, on March 9th, 2020. The series will review important parts of the evidence as publically disseminated or (implicitly) endorsed by the JIT.

The research presented will reveal more concerning the questions how the “main scenario” the JIT has worked with was framed, how the OSINT evidence has come about, who have been involved and how the Dutch Safety Board investigations have propped up the scenario. The series is supported by an assessment of most publically known evidence (comprising videos, photos, written messages and intercepts by the Ukrainian secret service) in a report of more than 100 pages containing more than 150 links to original sources and verifications.

As social media and open source intelligence (OSINT) played a pivotal role in the framing of the causes of the crash, first part of the series contained an assessment of the OSINT method the JIT also seemed to have embraced. The second part, “Strange Ways”, showed examples how some parts of the evidence came out in the open, who were the key players and how social and regular media channels were used to clean the alleged evidence from suspicion.

It seems most evidence ultimately arrived from a special unit, partly operating overtly and partly covertly, tied to the Interior Ministry of Ukraine and the organization that politically resorts under it, the Ukrainian secret service SBU. Part 3 of the series, called “Behind the screens“, shed more light on this unit of ultranationalist militia, spotters, infowarriors and SBU operatives.

In the next part, called “Donbass Buk, phantom or fact?some general observations about the Buk trail evidence will be listed. This automatically leads to a critical review of the way the (pro-)western press corps supported the official narrative by delivery of dozens of questionable witness accounts.

Part 4. Donbass Buk, phantom or fact?

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MH17 and open source intelligence, a suspicious narrative – part 3. Behind the screens

This blogpost is the third part of a series that I will publish in the last months before the MH17 trial starts, on March 9, 2020. It will review important parts of the evidence as publically disseminated or (implicitly) endorsed by the JIT.

As social media and open source intelligence (OSINT) played a pivotal role, first part of the series contained an assessment of the OSINT method the JIT also seemed to have embraced. The second part, Strange Ways, showed examples how some parts of the evidence came out in the open, who were the key players and how social and regular media channels were used to clean the alleged evidence from suspicion.

The research presented in the series will reveal more about the questions how the “main scenario” the JIT has worked with was framed, how the OSINT evidence has come about, who have been involved and how the Dutch Safety Board investigations have supported the scenario. The series is supported by an assessment of most publically known evidence (comprising videos, photos, written messages and intercepts by the Ukrainian secret service) in a report of more than 100 pages containing more than 150 links to original sources and verifications.

It seems most if not all evidence ultimately arrived from a special unit, partly operating overtly and partly covertly, tied to the Interior Ministry of Ukraine and the organization that politically resorts under it, the Ukrainian secret service SBU. This blogpost, part 3 of the series called “Behind the screens”, will shed more light on this unit of ultranationalist  militia, spotters, infowarriors and SBU operatives.

 

Avakov and Gerashchenko


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MH17 and open source intelligence, a suspicious narrative – part 2: Strange Ways

This blogpost is the second part of a series that I will publish in the last months before the MH17 trial starts, on March 9, 2020. It will review important parts of the evidence as publically disseminated or (implicitly) endorsed by the JIT. As social media and open source intelligence (OSINT) played a pivotal role, first part of the series contained an assessment of the OSINT method the JIT also seemed to have embraced.

The research presented in later parts of the series will reveal how the “main scenario” the JIT worked with was framed, how the OSINT evidence came about, who were involved and how the Dutch Safety Board investigations supported the scenario.

It seems most if not all evidence ultimately arrived from a special unit, partly operating overtly and partly covertly, tied to the Ministry for the Interior and the organization that politically resorts under it, the Ukrainian secret service SBU.

 

part 2: Strange Ways

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The narrative of an alleged Russian Buk trail through the Donbass to a perceived launchsite and then back to Russia was ready-made from a few written messages, pictures and videos that were disseminated on social media. More than once the way how this alleged evidence in the MH17 case was popping up, showed some bizar aspects.

To tell the stories behind the construction of the narrative, one could start with discussing two videos allegedly posted by “ordinary citizens”, a photo allegedly taken by a freelance photographer for the French magazine Paris Match and an anonymous eyewitness account from an Associated Press reporter. We have at hand two social media sources which allegedly provided spontaneous, authentic, bottom-up information from civilians and two reporters from two well respected and widely trusted western media organizations. So at first glance all these sources were unsuspected, which might have made a fine start for OSINT gatherers like Bellingcat to use.

These stories convey some insights into the question how social media was used as a cleaning layer to support the impression only “ordinary people” were involved in the dissemination of the points of information that could be used to fill in the blanks towards a desired narrative. They also shed some light on some of the important players in the middle, the bloggers, OSINT gatherers and representatives from the (pro-)western mass media. Finally, one might get a glimpse of the way how western journalist sources retreated from openness to anonimity, playing their part in the OSINT information relay of the nameless evidence that was bubbling up from the infinite container of presumed neutral information, the world wide web.

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MH17 and open source intelligence, a suspicious narrative – part 1

This blogpost is the first part of a series that I will publish in the last months before the MH17 trial starts, on March 9, 2020. It will review important parts of the evidence as publically disseminated or (implicitly) endorsed by the JIT. Subtitle will be: “The SBU and its voluntary intelligence unit”.

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Part 1: Open source intelligence

The story about the way that evidence has been built-up and disseminated to the public sphere in the case of the downing of flight MH17, seems to be part of a new phenomenon. Perception management to gain popular back-up for political decisionmaking founds itself in cases of international importance more and more on “open source intelligence” (OSINT [1]), collected and explained by non-state actors (bloggers, NGOs).

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Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match

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From the series “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation”. This series contains the following blogposts:

Part 1, preface: Generating “mounting evidence” in 5 examples

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriera della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match.

In the information war that was ignited moments after MH17 crashed, a lot of stories appeared in (pro)western mainstream and social media in which statements from separatists were misinterpreted. This was done to construct a story that actually an implicit admission of guilt was conveyed. Actually in all cases the conclusion was based on rather biased and sloppy thinking or even on deceitful intentions.

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Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

afluisteren

From the series “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation”. This series contains the following blogposts:

Part 1, preface: Generating “mounting evidence” in 5 examples

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriera della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match.

In the information war that was ignited moments after MH17 crashed, a lot of stories appeared in (pro)western mainstream and social media in which statements from separatists were misinterpreted. This was done to construct a story that actually an implicit admission of guilt was conveyed. Actually in all cases the conclusion was based on rather biased and sloppy thinking or even on deceitful intentions.

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Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

disconnect civilians

From the series “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation”. This series contains the following blogposts:

Part 1, preface: Generating “mounting evidence” in 5 examples

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriera della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match.

In the information war that was ignited moments after MH17 crashed, a lot of stories appeared in (pro)western mainstream and social media in which statements from separatists were misinterpreted. This was done to construct a story that actually an implicit admission of guilt was conveyed. Actually in all cases the conclusion was based on rather biased and sloppy thinking or even on deceitful intentions.

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Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriere della Sera)

From the series “How to use sloppy thinking for disinformation”. This series contains the following blogposts:

Part 1, preface: Generating “mounting evidence” in 5 examples

Part 2. The separatist from Oplot (Corriera della Sera)

Part 3. The separatists at the crashsite (BBC video)

Part 4. The Leonid Kharchenko intercepts

Part 5. Jérôme Sessini, photographer for Paris Match.

In the information war that was ignited moments after MH17 crashed, a lot of stories appeared in (pro)western mainstream and social media in which statements from separatists were misinterpreted. This was done to construct a story that actually an implicit admission of guilt was conveyed. Actually in all cases the conclusion was based on rather biased and sloppy thinking or even on deceitful intentions.

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