In order to denounce the opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islam, communicators linked to Qatar usually used pseudonyms. He could also occasionally call on François Burgat, a retired researcher, now president of the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies (CAREP) in Paris, an organisation financed by the gas emirate. However, the latest article, “Mud on Qatar,” published on June 20 on a blog hosted by Mediapart, is signed by Paolo Fusi, a scandalous character, author of crude forgeries during the last Gulf War.
The document, written in English, is dated March 3, 1994, several years after the embargo on Iraq. Its letterhead is on the Panamanian company Radistal Inc. Corporation, suspected of hiding money from Saddam Hussein. The document is said to have been drawn up in Lugano, the capital of the canton of Ticino in Switzerland. “The new contracts for Dassault and Thomson were signed in B [for Baghdad] last week,” it says. The letter adds that “the commission of the council was set at 7.5 per cent of the amount of the contracts”. The information was widely reported by the Sunday Times on April 13, 2003, and by the Swiss French-language Television. The latter even widely opened its airwaves to the author of this “scoop”, Paolo Fusi, presented as an Italian journalist. At the time, he was living on the shores of Lake Como, in the north of the peninsula.
The objective: to make people believe that two of France’s largest arms companies are linked to Saddam Hussein’s regime, and thus compromise Paris, which is hostile to the war in Iraq. Because this document, which is still in our possession, is a crude forgery. It is not even signed! And above all, have we ever seen cheaters write their schemes in black and white? Other forgeries, distilled by Paolo Fusi, will involve the Banca del Gottardo, accused of managing funds belonging to members of Saddam Hussein’s regime. As well as… Yeslam Bin Laden, Osama’s half-brother, based in Geneva and head of the Saudi Investment Company (SICO). On November 17, 1987, this company allegedly sought to acquire companies linked to Saddam Hussein. “SICO is going to take control of these companies and their contracts in agreement with the Iraqi government,” it is discovered in another document, citing the companies Dumynta, Radistal, Saidomin and Techno Services.
Shortly before that, the same Paolo Fusi had claimed that the Swiss ambassador in Luxembourg was managing the money of the Iraqi dictator via his half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, who was based in Geneva… A fable also made up from scratch. The Sunday Times quickly corrected, acknowledging that “there is no evidence suggesting that an account existed with Banca del Gottardo after the UN sanctions in 1990 (…) We regret that our article has accredited a contrary idea.” One of the authors of the article was none other than Paolo Fusi. For its part, the Swiss news agency ATS said that the report “was based on documents which, according to the Ticino public prosecutor, turned out to be forged”, adding that the latter had “immediately filed a complaint against unknown persons for forgery”.
The author of this article, who had covered the American intervention in Iraq for Le Matin dimanche, met at length with Paolo Fusi in April 2003 on the shores of Lake Como. This “journalist” was then accompanied by a curious character who introduced himself as a member of the Italian secret service. Very unconvinced by the falsified documents as well as by the arguments of the author of the “scoops”, he had published an article on April 20, 2003 in Le Matin dimanche, soberly entitled: “A gross manipulation”, illustrated by photos of Saddam Hussein and Yeslam Bin Laden.
Since then, the forger had been particularly discreet, even disappearing from the journalistic landscape. Until he reappeared very recently to serve the emirate of Qatar. His article, published on the Mediapart blog, was also published in Italian under the title “Fango su Qatar”, illustrated with several photos. But apparently, the author is still as approximate as ever, getting the captions wrong.