Simon Massey Special Correspondent
I have been looking into the Rhodesian “Bush War” for many years after growing up in the country through this period. I have an old copy of Plague Wars by Tom Mangold sitting right next to me and have recently read “The Myth of Smith” by Doug Schorr, “Assignment Selous Scouts “by Jim Parker and “Special Branch War” by Ed Bird. All of these books describe in some way the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons or false flag atrocities by the pseudo-terrorist Selous Scouts (Schorr).

The book begins with a brief overview of the Rhodesian war mindset. It describes how Rhodesians were subject to a propaganda campaign that sought to dehumanise and demonise their black enemy. Of course, Rhodesian civilians were the same colour as the terrorist insurgents.

The Rhodesian government retained tight control of the media and of its own information and when their actions began causing a sharp increase in seemingly accidental poisonings and deaths amongst civilians, even in the city of Salisbury, the government forced the media to cover it up.

Because the modern, well-equipped and well-trained Rhodesian security forces tended to win direct battles easily they were struggling against their enemy.

The sheer numbers of insurgents in the country and their tendency to attack soft rather than hard targets using hit-and-run techniques meant that the insurgents did not often engage in direct combat with the considerably more advanced Rhodesians. This asymmetric style was running rings round the well-equipped Rhodesians and as such the Rhodesians developed their own asymmetric techniques.

It is clear that desperation amongst the Rhodesians in their battle of attrition against the liberating forces of black nationalism drove the Rhodesian regime to measures that can only be described with the benefit of hindsight as war crimes.

This desperation also brought the well-publicised Selous Scouts false-flag atrocities blamed on the insurgents against African civilians as well as Catholic missions, which often aided and abetted the insurgents. Rhodesians faced a huge economic and moral decline through the 1970s and this created an environment where the more desperate measures of the regime became tolerable and acceptable.

The Smith regime ran what Cross described as a “rudderless bureaucracy”, with Smith intent on preserving his own position and often refusing to delegate to more experienced individuals. Cross says, “factionalism and rivalries crippled decision-making”. Rhodesia’s regime was riddled with persons Cross describes comfortably as “right-wing racists” including Defence Minister PK van der Byl.

It is obvious that the indiscriminate use of chemical weapons came out of a deep hatred for the blacks regardless of whether they had taken up arms or not. Obviously no one cared that innocent persons were being killed so long as white hegemony in Rhodesia was protected.

When Ed Bird as a recruit discovered contaminated clothing being packed and asked how it was assured that only terrorists would find the clothing and not civilians, he was asked, “you’re new here, aren’t you mate?” Collateral damage, they call it now. Innocents caught in the “cross-fire”.

The Rhodesians developed counter-insurgency chemical warfare from the early-to-mid 70s, which, once its success was known, expanded to the point where, by the end of the war in 1979, it was causing health problems amongst the civilian population.

The techniques employed were questionable right from the start in the early 70s, when clothing and food soaked in toxic organophosphates were distributed by a double-agent, to recruits on their way to terrorist training camps in Zambia or Mozambique.

The recruits would die in the bush long before they reached the border. Here, right from the start of their CW programme, the Rhodesians were effectively poisoning persons who had not actually taken any armed action against Rhodesia, other than sign up with the revolutionaries.

The morality of murdering Israeli schoolchildren on the pretext that they will grow up to join the Israeli security forces is equally morally bankrupt.

Later, boxes of poisoned clothes or food or medicines would be left on known terrorist routes where they were often recovered by local civilians, who put on the clothes, ate the food or used the medicines, and then died.

Boxes of tainted products were also stored in local shops so that when these shops were raided by insurgents they would steal tainted goods. It seems pretty clear given the numbers of civilians suffering from poisonings that these materials often made it into the hands of innocents. It is not known how many civilians might have been harmed or killed by poisonings but such is the preserve of indiscriminate action.

The Rhodesians probably tested their materials on captured insurgents at secret Selous Scouts bases hidden away in the bush! There are few if any records of animal testing so it seems the Rhodesians jumped straight to testing on humans. This is utterly beyond the Geneva Convention! It is a war crime to experiment with lethal compounds on captured enemy subjects. Once the Rhodesian war ended much of the material and techniques learned were exported for use in South Africa, Namibia and Angola.

Cross’ work researching the funding for the Rhodesian chemical and biological weapons programme threw up something interesting. Cross found that funds for the chemical weapons work as well as for the Rhodesian Selous Scouts, the purveyors of false-flag, so-called “terrorist atrocities” during the war, was channelled first through Saudi Arabia and then through what was then apartheid South Africa.

As there cannot be any obvious reason for Saudi Arabia to fund the Rhodesian Bush War, it strikes me as extremely likely that the United Kingdom funded the chemical, biological weapons effort in Rhodesia and the Selous Scouts pseudo-terrorist groups.

The Selous Scouts are now thought to have performed numerous atrocities against both black villagers and Catholic missions as part of the propaganda war. The false flag attacks were used to pin atrocities on the freedom fighters and drive international public opinion against the insurgents.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are presently being used to funnel Western funding to ISIS as they battle to remove Assad in Syria. This shows circumstantial evidence and precedent suggesting that it’s most likely that the Saudi funds through Pretoria had come originally from the United Kingdom. The same thing is happening right now except it is ISIS receiving the funds instead of Rhodesia.

The Rhodesian propaganda war is STILL in full force, with most ex-Rhodesians unwilling to accept that Rhodesia committed the most vile of war-crimes and used chemical weapons indiscriminately, directly affecting the civilian population in the process. Cross describes ex-Rhodesians who would prefer to “glorify the past as the realm of heroes” rather than dredge up this dreadful issue. They would rather not have to face the facts of this “ungentlemanly footnote”.

Simon Massey was born in the UK but grew up in both pre- and post-independence Zimbabwe. He left in 1987 but has returned several times for long trips and follows Zimbabwe affairs closely. He wrote this exclusively for The Herald.

Although Rhodesian war-crimes have been documented and discussed before, “Plague Wars” was published in 1999, Glenn Cross’ book is by far the most well researched and detailed examination. His credentials are second to none and infallible, and although it repeats itself in places, the book is very well written and flows effectively.

The revelation that funding for the Selous Scouts and the chemical weapons programme that leaked into the civilian population came first through Saudi Arabia and then through apartheid South Africa, obviously originating in the United Kingdom, should be a heads-up for anyone who thinks that the West has some sort of moral high ground in the war against terror.

The Rhodesian Bush War was, in fact, a microcosmic prototype for the kind of underhanded illegality of Guantamamo Bay and the extra-judicial drone killings of the Middle East now common as well the Islamaphobic propaganda streaming from our media outlets since the inside-job, false-flag attack of 9/11. The fact that the Rhodesian Bush War was primarily a propaganda war should give anyone who watches TV or reads the newspapers a compelling and rather rude awakening.

Trust no one. Believe Nothing. Question Everything. This was once the mantra of the conspiracy theorist. It’s now just plain common sense.

Simon Massey was born in the UK but grew up in both pre- and post-independence Zimbabwe. He left in 1987 but has returned several times for long trips and follows Zimbabwe affairs closely. He wrote this exclusively for The Herald.

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