Dead professor, defunct organisations used alongside 750 fake media outlets, says Alexandre Alaphilippe
Islamabad, December 10 (KMS): A massive operation to serve Indian interests by targeting international institutions, through a systematic disinformation campaign against Pakistan and China has been uncovered by a EU based organization.
“The operation’s mission is to discredit nations in conflict with India in Asia, in particular Pakistan but also China to a lesser extent,” a study conducted by EU DisinfoLab, an independent NGO said. The operation was a follow up to a preliminary investigation published in 2019.
This network is active in Brussels and Geneva in producing and amplifying content to undermine – primarily – Pakistan. The operation codenamed “Indian Chronicles” resurrected dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs. It even resurrected dead people, the report said.
According to the EU DisinfoLab – the Indian Chronicles is a 15 year-long operation running since 2005; under which over ten UN Human Rights Council accredited NGOs, were resurrected including the resurrection of Prof. Louis B. Sohn, a prominent figure in human rights, who died in 2006.
The study discovered several identity thefts, including the names of Martin Schulz, former president of the European Parliament or the photo of James Purnell, a former UK Government minister. It also included over 750 fake media outlets, covering 119 countries; and over 550 domain names registered.
The NGO – EU DisinfoLab focuses on researching and tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the EU, its member states, core institutions, and core values.
The study, of the 15-year influence operation, was conducted through open-source investigation shows that the operation led by the Srivastava Group was amplified by Indian news media outlet – Asian News International – ANI. It began in 2005 and was still ongoing at this date.
Other long-term objectives included reinforcement of pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan, and anti-Chinese, feelings, within India. While internationally, to consolidate the power and improve perception of India, to damage reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN.
To achieve this objective the operation focussed on the support to minority and human rights NGOs and think-tanks, use of Members of the European Parliament to create a mirage of institutional support from European institutions to these minority groups, in favour of Indian interests and against Pakistan and China.
It also had an active presence in Geneva and the United Nations’ Human Rights Council through: side-events and demonstrations in support of minority rights; impersonation of extinguished UN-accredited NGOs or use speaking slots reserved to various NGOs whose original missions seem totally unrelated.
The creation of fake media in Brussels, Geneva and across the world and the repackaging and dissemination via ANI and obscure local media networks – at least in 97 countries – to multiply the repetition of online negative content about countries in conflict with India, in particular Pakistan.
The current study reopens and builds upon the previous work, which was documented in a report “Influencing policymakers with fake media outlets, an investigation into a pro-Indian influence network”.
Meanwhile, EU DisinfoLab Executive Director Alexandre Alaphilippe said that a dead professor and numerous defunct organisations were resurrected and used alongside at least 750 fake media outlets in a vast 15-year global disinformation campaign to serve Indian interests. The man whose identity was stolen was regarded as one of the founding fathers of international human rights law, who died aged 92 in 2006. “It is the largest network we have exposed,” he said.
The network was designed primarily to “discredit Pakistan internationally” and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament, EU DisinfoLab said.
EU DisinfoLab partially exposed the network last year but now says the operation is much larger and more resilient than it first suspected.