Les Américains ont payé des imams sunnites pour faire de la propagande
US firm enlisted aid of Iraq Sunni scholars -NYT
Mon Jan 2, 2006 1:15 AM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Pentagon contractor that paid Iraqi newspapers to publish positive articles by U.S. soldiers has also been compensating Sunni religious scholars in Iraq for help with its propaganda work, The New York Times reported on Monday.
Citing a former employee of the Lincoln Group, a Washington-based public relations firm, the Times reported that the Pentagon directed the company early in 2005 to identify religious leaders who could help produce messages that would persuade Sunnis in the violent Anbar Province to participate in national elections and reject the insurgency.
The company then retained three or four Sunni religious scholars to offer advice and write reports for military commanders on the content of propaganda campaigns, the Times said, citing the former employee.
In addition, the Times reported that documents and Lincoln executives said the company's ties to religious leaders and other prominent Iraqis were also aimed at exerting influence within Iraqi communities on behalf of clients, which included the U.S. military.
The newspaper quoted a Lincoln executive vice president as saying, "We do reach out to clerics."
"We meet with local government officials and with local businessmen," said Paige Craig. "We need to have relationships that are broad enough and deep enough that we can touch all the various aspects of society." Craig declined to discuss specific projects the company had with the military or commercial clients, the Times said.
Craig added, "Most of the people we meet with overseas don't want or need compensation, they want a dialogue."
The Times said internal company financial records showed Lincoln spent about $144,000 on the program from May to September, but it was unclear how much of that went to the religious scholars, whose identities were not disclosed. That amount is a tiny fraction of the tens of millions worth of contracts Lincoln received from the military for "information operations."
The former Lincoln employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the scholars underwent a review process before joining the program to ensure they were not involved in the insurgency.
A spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad declined to comment to the newspaper.
The Pentagon ordered an investigation after it was disclosed in November the military used Lincoln to plant articles written by U.S. troops in Iraqi newspapers.
Payments to the scholars were originally part of Lincoln's contract to aid the military with information warfare in Anbar Province, the Times said. Known as the "Western Missions" contract, it also called for producing radio and television advertisements, Web sites and posters and placing advertisements and opinion articles in Iraqi publications.
In October, Lincoln was awarded a new contract by the Pentagon for work in Iraq, including continued contact with Muslim scholars.
Record also showed Lincoln had turned to U.S. scholars and political consultants for advice on the content of the propaganda campaign in Iraq, the Times said.