On 11 September 2013, Bahrain’s Daily Tribune newspaper featured a huge front page splash: “WIKILEAKS PUTS MP IN THE DOCK”. The report, citing “reports in the media,” claimed that Bahraini MP Osama Al-Tamimi held secret meetings with US Ambassador Thomas Krajeski in May and June 2012, in which the MP provided the Ambassador with private Parliamentary communications and appealed for US citizenship. The article quoted the Parliament office as threatening legal action against Al-Tamimi, unless he discredited the Wikileaks allegation.
The “reports in the media” cited by the Daily Tribune consist of a single report issued by sister newspaper Al-Ayam on 7 September 2013. The Al-Ayam report cites a Wikileaks cable published on 13 December 2012, though no link or further details are provided.
Bahrain Watch located the documents on which the Al-Ayam/Daily Tribune story was apparently based. The documents were linked to by two different posts on the website “Bahrain Forums.” The earlier post was written by Bahrain Forums user “البرهان”, and was published sometime during the week of Sept 1 – Sept 7. The post includes links to two albums on Imageshack, published on 31 August 2013 by Imageshack user Bahraini00973. The albums contain screenshots of an English-language cable purportedly on Wikileaks’ website. Wikileaks called the cable “trivially fake,” noting that it did not publish any cables in 2012:
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 12, 2013
Ambassador Krajeski is a favorite target of pro-government groups and members of Bahrain’s government, who accuse him of interfering in local affairs. The allegations against Al-Tamimi come amid heightened government concern about meetings between the opposition and foreign groups — a 3 September 2013 decision required political societies to seek a three-day advance government approval before any meeting with a foreign political organization.
The incident has hallmarks of a smear campaign against Al-Tamimi. He may have been targeted due to his 28 July 2013 speech in front of Parliament, in which he spoke out against measures being considered to crack down on protests scheduled for August 14. Addressing the leader of Bahrain’s largest opposition party in his speech, Al-Tamimi said: “my blood will be spilled before yours.” Al-Tamimi has been targeted in the past, in the wake of other anti-government statements. In April, a business owned by Al-Tamimi was attacked in a drive-by shooting, after he stated that Bahrain’s Prime Minister should step down. Although the Government promised an investigation into this incident, no result has been announced.
Al-Tamimi’s Caliber Gymnasium in Sanad, after the drive-by shooting
The fake cable
Bahrain Watch examined the screenshots of the fake cable, dated 13 December 2012. The cable ID is listed as “12MANAMA73_a”, which could not be found in the Wikileaks Cablegate archives.
While the screenshots purportedly show this cable on wikileaks.org, they do not contain the URL bar of the browser, so it is impossible to see which website the screenshots are of. Further, some of the screenshots show a link to the following URL, which does not exist: https://www.wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/12MANAMA73_a.html. Thus, it is likely that the screenshots are of a page that has been deliberately faked to look like a Wikileaks cable. A deeper examination of the cable shows that is clearly falsified. Several passages in the cable are lifted, with slight modification, from a news article published on Al-Akhbar. For example paragraph 2 is lifted almost in its entirety:
2. AL TAMIMI HAS SURVIVED AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN APRIL, JUST DAYS AFTER CALLING FOR THE COUNTRY'S RULERS TO STAND ASIDE AND INTRODUCE DEMOCRACY. A GYM OWNED BY MP AL TAMIMI WAS PEPPERED WITH BULLETS ON SATURDAY EVENING, ONLY HOURS AFTER HE HAD LEFT THE BUILDING. TAMIMI CALLED FOR SHEIKH KHALIFA BIN SALMAN AL-KHALIFA, BAHRAIN'S PRIME MINISTER FOR FOUR DECADES, TO STAND ASIDE, AND HE SAID THE ATTACK WAS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. "THIS WAS A MESSAGE TO ANYONE TRYING TO TOUCH ON THIS SUBJECT," AL TAMIMI SAID. THE GOVERNMENT SAID IT HAD LAUNCHED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE EVENT AND PROMISED TO PROSECUTE THE PERPETRATORS.
The text in the Al-Akhbar article reads:
A leading Sunni Bahraini MP has survived an assassination attempt, just days after calling for the country’s rulers to stand aside and introduce democracy.
A gym owned by MP Osama al-Tamimi was peppered with bullets on Saturday evening, only hours after he had left the building.
Last week Tamimi called for Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s ruler for four decades, to stand aside, and he said the attack was political motivated.
“This was a message to anyone trying to touch on this subject,” al-Tamimi told Bloomberg.
The government said it had launched an investigation into the event and promised to prosecute the perpetrators.
A sentence structure in the third paragraph is apparently lifted from Wikileaks cable 08ISLAMABAD3070. The sentence reads:
3. THE AMBASSADOR MET AL TAMIMI JUST AFTER HIS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN MAY, IN A MOVE THAT MANY ANALYSTS SAW AS A PRECURSOR TO A PLAN FOR SUPPORTING AL TAMIMI.
The passage from 08ISLAMABAD3070 reads:
Ambassador met Nisar just after he had been voted as the new Opposition Leader in the National Assembly. Pakistan Muslim League (PML) leader Pervaiz Elahai resigned from the position on September 14, in a move that many analysts saw as a precursor to a plan for the PML and the Pakistan People’s Party to oust Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party from power in the Punjab.
We transcribe the complete cable below. Grammatical errors and typos are from the original screenshots:
C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAMA 012073 l. SUMMARY. IN SEPARATE DISCUSSIONS WITH THE AMBASSADOR IN MAY/JUNE, OSAMA AL TAMIMI (SUNNI), A BAHRAINI PARLIAMENT MEMBER, INSISTED THAT HE IS TARGETED BY THE GOVERNMENT OF BAHRAIN AND SUNNI CITIZENS DUE TO HIS OUTSPOKEN CRITICISM AGAINST THE WAY BAHRAIN'S GOVERNMENT DEALS WITH OPPOSITION. HE STOOD UP WITH THE MAJORITY SHIA POPULATION TO PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS. BAHRAINI SUNNIS' HAVE BEEN FORCED UNDER PRESSURE TO OFFER SUPPORT FOR THE KINGDOM'S RULERS IN THE FACE OF UPRISINGS LED BY THE MAJORITY OF SHIA POPULATION. AL TAMIMI, WHO RAN AS AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IN 2011 BY-ELECTIONS (HELD DUE TO THE RESIGNATION OF ALWEFAQ 18 MPS), IS A CRITIC OF THE SUNNI MONARCHY. AL TAMIMI REQUESTED US CITIZENSHIP FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY AND THE AMBASSADOR AGREED TO SUPPORT HIM WITH CERTAIN CONDITIONS. 2. AL TAMIMI HAS SURVIVED AN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN APRIL, JUST DAYS AFTER CALLING FOR THE COUNTRY'S RULERS TO STAND ASIDE AND INTRODUCE DEMOCRACY. A GYM OWNED BY MP AL TAMIMI WAS PEPPERED WITH BULLETS ON SATURDAY EVENING, ONLY HOURS AFTER HE HAD LEFT THE BUILDING. TAMIMI CALLED FOR SHEIKH KHALIFA BIN SALMAN AL-KHALIFA, BAHRAIN'S PRIME MINISTER FOR FOUR DECADES, TO STAND ASIDE, AND HE SAID THE ATTACK WAS POLITICALLY MOTIVATED. "THIS WAS A MESSAGE TO ANYONE TRYING TO TOUCH ON THIS SUBJECT," AL TAMIMI SAID. THE GOVERNMENT SAID IT HAD LAUNCHED AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE EVENT AND PROMISED TO PROSECUTE THE PERPETRATORS. 3. THE AMBASSADOR MET AL TAMIMI JUST AFTER HIS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN MAY, IN A MOVE THAT MANY ANALYSTS SAW AS A PRECURSOR TO A PLAN FOR SUPPORTING AL TAMIMI. AL TAMIMI SAID THAT AFTER HIS ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT, AFTER LOSING HOPE WITH THE GOVERNMENT, HE SOUGHT ASYLUM FROM THE AMBASSADOR TO WORK WITH HIM TO SUPPORT DEMOCRATIC ACTIONS AS PER THE U.S. VISION FOR THE MIDDLE EAST. SUCH AS PUSHING FOR MORE CHANGES TOWARDS AN ELECTED CABINET AND A PARLIAMENT WITH WIDER POWERS ECHOING WHAT THE PRO-DEMOCRACY OPPOSITION WANT. HE WAS CONCERNED THAT WITH THE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT OF THE PAST MONTH (SAYING THAT HIMSELF, HIS MOTHER, HIS WIFE AND CHILDREN ARE IN DANGER). AL TAMIMI REQUESTED FOR POLITICAL ASYLUM OR U.S. CITIZENSHIP FOR HIMSELF AND HIS FAMILY AFTER HIS PARLIAMENTARY PERIOD ENDS IN 2014. AL TAMIMI DID CONFIRMED THAT HIS VISIT TO THE U.S. EMBASSY IN MANAMA SHOULD BE CONFIDENTIAL AND WILL CONTINUE AVOIDING BEING SEEN AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN MANAMA. THE AMBASSADOR AGREED TO SUPPORT HIM AND HE PROMISED HIM TO ORGANIZE A TRIP FOR HIM TO TRAVEL TO THE U.S. TO FOLLOW UP HIS APPLICATION.
MANAMA 02090131 003 OF 003 4. AMBASSADOR MET AL TAMIMI ON JUNE AT AN UNDISCLOSED PLACE IN MANAMA, AL TAMIMI REPORTED THE EXISTENCE OF ACTIONS FROM A GROUP OF MPS TO MOBILIZE PUBLIC OPINION, SUNNI CITIZENS, AND THE GOVERNMENT TO SUPPORT PARLIAMENTARY PROPOSAL TO STOP FOREIGN INTERFERENCE. THIS IS ESPECIALLY CONCERNING THE AMBASSADOR IN THE LOCAL AFFAIRS. AL TAMIMI CONFIRMED A PRESS CONFERENCE THAT WILL BE HELD TO ANNOUNCE MPS REJECTION FOR THE DEMANDED POLITICAL AND DEMOCRATIC REFORMS IN BAHRAIN BY THE U.S. ADMINISTRATION. AL TAMIMI SUBMITTED TO US ALL OFFICIAL CORRESPONDENCES AND REPORTS ISSUED BY: 1) COUNCIL OF REPRESENTATIVES 2) MINISTRY OF SHURA COUNCIL AND REPRESENTATIVES COUNCIL AFFAIRS 3) MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AL TAMIMI DISCLOSEDED THE NAMES OF FIVE (SUNNI) MPS THAT MADE THE PROPOSAL: l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l) DISMISSAL OF THE AMBASSADOR. 2) STOP FACILITATING U.S. MILITARY AIDS TO BAHRAIN. 3) EXPULSION OF THE FIFTH FLEET 4) REVIEW OF ALL AGREEMENTS BETWEEN U.S. BAHRAIN. BASED ON THE AGREEMENT BETWEEN AL TAMAMI AND THE AMBASSADOR, AL TAMIMI STATED TO CNN HIS REJECTION TO WHAT HAD BEEN ANNOUNCED IN THE PRESS CONFERENCE BY MPS, AND EMPHASIZED THE IMPORTANCE OF ESTABLISHING U.S. RELATIONS WITH BAHRAIN. REASONING THAT THE U.S. IS A PIVOTAL STATE, A PERMANENT MEMBER OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL AND ITS POLITICAL, ECONOMIC AND MILITARY IMPORTANCE. IT IS THE INTEREST OF BAHRAIN TO MAINTAIN A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THE U.S.