The UK-based Independent newspaper has published a pro-conspiracy theory article that links the capture and killing of three Israeli students to an attempt by ISIS to distract attention from its ongoing offensive in Iraq and Syria.
Using a picture of the twin towers on 9/11, and the dead Israeli students as a hook, the article by Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn give serious thought to the idea that ISIS arranged for the three Israeli teenagers – Naftali Frenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – to be captured and killed in order to provoke Israel into attacking Gaza, thus distracting the world from its own operations in Syria.
“Do you think it possible,” asked my Syrian friend tentatively, “that Isis might have arranged to have the three Israeli teenagers killed – it certainly has militant cells on the West Bank – knowing that this would provoke an Israeli assault on Gaza and divert attention from its own operations?” I pooh-poohed the idea at the time as one more conspiracy theory based on no real evidence, but thinking it over I am not so sure.
Cockburn admits earlier in the article:
Conspiracy theories are damaging because they enable individuals, communities and governments to divert attention from their real problems and shift the blame for their failures elsewhere.
Yet this does not stop him giving credence to the theory of his Syrian friend, despite finding no hard evidence to support it:
I remember how in June 1982 the Israeli ambassador Shlomo Argov was critically wounded in London by three assassins working for the Abu Nidal movement directed by Iraqi intelligence. The aim, successfully accomplished, was to provoke the Israelis to invade Lebanon and become engaged in a war with Syria which was allied with Iran in the Iran-Iraq war and a hated enemy of Saddam Hussein. Israel knew Iraq was behind the assassination attempt but even so used it as an excuse to invade Lebanon to crush the PLO.
The kidnap of the three teenagers generated outrage in Israel, with Prime Minister Netanyahu saying they were “kidnapped and murdered in cold blood by animals” and promised that “Hamas will pay”.
The murders provoked the current Israeli action Gaza, as they try to stamp out Hamas. Their security service said that the two main suspects are “Hamas operatives”, calling into question any ISIS involvement.
Nevertheless, Cockburn is reluctant to dismiss the conspiracy:
“Could somebody in Isis, reputedly filled with former cadres of Saddam’s regime, have hatched a somewhat similar plot? For all those ludicrous theories, there are real conspiracies out there.”