In an exclusive video interview with RiskHedge, a long-time geopolitical expert says there is an alternate story making the rounds about the United States’ April 7 missile strike on Syria’s Shayrat Airbase in response to the Syrian regime’s alleged use of sarin gas on its own people.
“Not all missiles made their target,” says Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior advisor to Gulf State Analytics. “There were supposed to be 60. One malfunctioned on one of the ships. 36 made target, the remainder did not. And, there’s a question of where did they go?”
Dr. Karasik, a former senior political scientist in the International Policy and Security Group at RAND Corporation, spent the last decade in the Middle East and retains an extensive network in the region.
“The missing [missiles] were either brought down by S-300 battery or were taken over by Russian electronic jamming and were plunged into the sea,” explains Dr. Karasik. “Now, this alternative theory means that the US and Russia have already clashed if you will—technically—with the use of the TLAMs (Tomahawk missiles) and then being intercepted or taken over by Russian control.”
If true, this means the US and Russia have had a direct military confrontation for the first time in decades.
“This is very important,” says Dr. Karasik, “because it illustrates that we’ve had our first encounter with the Russians, and that sets the stage for potentially future encounters between Washington and Russia on the Syrian battlefield.”
In addition, the rationale for the missile strike in the first place—Bashar al-Assad’s sarin gas attack on his own people—may be based on faulty intelligence.
“Apparently, the location of the attack itself is in an industrial area where there are a lot of toxic industrial chemicals located,” says Dr. Karasik. “The attack on this location produced a toxic cloud that was deadly enough, obviously, to kill and maim hundreds. The issue here is that in this particular attack, where this industrial gas was released, this is not in any way related to a sarin-type attack.”
Dr. Karasik says sarin is an odorless agent while victims complained they smelled an odor. He also explains that medics who were treating the victims were not properly dressed to handle sarin gas.
“Yes, there was an industrial toxic agent that killed and maimed people,” says Dr. Karasik. “But, whether or not it was sarin still has not been proven.”
This alternative theory is coming from a number of different places, according to Dr. Karasik, including sources in Washington, the Gulf region, and Russia.
RiskHedge reached out to the White House, Pentagon, and Russian Embassy in Washington, DC to comment on this story. As of press time, the White House and Russian Embassy have yet to respond. Pentagon spokesman Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway referred back to the press conference held by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and General Joseph Votel immediately following the Syrian missile strikes. During the briefing on April 11, General Votel said the United States “targeted 59 locations on the airfield and struck 57 of those.”
Watch the full interview above.