No one in British parliament has been more aggressive in inciting ethnic tensions in Kosovo than Alicia Kearns. A closer look at her record reveals intelligence ties and “probably illegal” regime change activities.
In a remarkable turnaround, after over two decades of turning a blind eye to the slow-motion erasure of Serbs in Kosovo, the EU and US have finally sought to rein in their vassal, issuing frequent condemnations and even imposing sanctions on Pristina.
While trivial compared to punitive measures applied to states where the West seeks regime change, the sanctions on Kosovo would have been inconceivable at the start of 2023. Both Brussels and Washington have made clear to Prime Minister Albin Kurti that the penalties will be reversed, if he eases tensions with the aspiring country’s Serb population and reintegrates them into the political fold.
Kurti remains defiant, however. One explanation for his intransigence could be the quiet encouragement from British intelligence. Inside the British parliament, no lawmaker has been more outspoken in their condemnation of the sanctions on Kosovo than Alicia Kearns, the head of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, and a close ally of various Kosovar officials.
The Grayzone can reveal Kearns is a veteran psychological warfare specialist and British intelligence operative. Her willfully concealed professional résumé contains strong suggestions of a background as an MI6 officer who has deployed dark arts in myriad theaters of Western conflict.
Could her recent public interventions on the Kosovo crisis be the spark that finally ignites the Ukraine proxy war’s second front in the former Yugoslavia?
British ‘peacekeepers’ lay foundations for war
This July 4th, Kearns delivered an extraordinarily belligerent speech in parliament. she painted a portrait of modern day Serbia as the center of a vast web of election meddling, organized crime, disinformation, terrorism, and destabilization spanning the Balkans and beyond. She concluded her remarks by demanding London take decisive action.
“The government…must recognise that the power to deter sits in this House and [the Foreign Office]. We can do this,” Kearns fulminated, before proposing London post peacekeeping troops throughout the region, to counter Serbia’s purported threats. She added:
“The UK has an independent voice within the quint and the international arena to say no to the EU and the US. We can say to them…you will not continue to take the approach that you currently are, because all you are doing is enabling the autocrats and, frankly, hitting our democratic allies with a stick.”
Central to her diatribe was the contention Serbian government-controlled terror cells were working to destabilize Kosovo, assisted by a steady flow of weapons and funding from Belgrade. Kearns claimed the British government and NATO’s Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping mission were “well aware” of the illicit Serbian activity, but had so far failed to take action.
“For too long we have failed to call out armed Serb militias operating in the North of Kosovo…” she declared. “There are weapons being smuggled across the border from Serbia into Orthodox churches in ambulances. When our troops become aware of that, and try to get permission to go and get them, the permissions take too long. By the time there is permission…an ambulance has turned up at the church and taken all the weapons out again.”
The allegation, which had never before been publicly leveled by any Western official, triggered widespread outcry in Serbia. It also prompted a rare public disavowal by KFOR. Just 24 hours after Kearns made her explosive claims in parliament, the mission firmly declared there was no evidence whatsoever that weapons were being smuggled into Kosovo from Serbia.
A spokesperson explained the incident to which she referred occurred in 2022, when British troops stationed in North Kosovo reported an “illegal weapon presence” to KFOR HQ: “After further investigation in order to find confirmation of that, no evidence has emerged of what was reported.”
Kearns’ crusade for British intervention against Serbia is unlikely to be impeded by disclosures like these. On the same day KFOR detonated her narrative, she was named by Politico as one of the top 40 MPs “most effective at securing policy change and setting the agenda in Westminster.”
As we will see, Kearns has wielded sinister and significant influence in other theaters of covert warfare, and through operations that have yet to be publicized.
Alicia Kearns’ record of Syria spook work ‘probably illegal’
Throughout the decade-long Syrian crisis, British intelligence ran a variety of elaborate, covert information warfare campaigns at a cost of millions annually. The objective was to destabilize the government of Bashar Assad, convince Syrians, international bodies and Western publics that genocidal CIA and MI6-backed militant groups pillaging the country were a “moderate” alternative, and to deluge media the world over with pro-opposition propaganda.
These efforts were delivered by a constellation of shadowy contractors. Leaked documents reviewed by The Grayzone show that between 2014 and 2016, their work was overseen and directed by Kearns under the auspices of Whitehall’s Counter Daesh Communications Cell.
Kearns’ work for the Cell variously included devising a “Prime Minister-approved communications strategy to defeat Daesh and support Syria,” leading the Foreign Office’s psychological warfare response to “Russian military activity” in Damascus, and representing London “at one-to-one meetings with Foreign Ministers, the most senior religious leaders of countries, NGOs, and foreign militaries for 15 countries.” Accordingly, her team delivered “overt and discreet communications campaigns” within Britain, and West Asia.
During this time, Kearns received three bonuses for “exceptional” work, and was nominated for the Foreign Office’s “exceptional policy delivery award.” A scathing internal review of the Cell’s activities, not intended for public consumption, was much less flattering. It concluded that these covert propaganda programs “were poorly planned, probably illegal and cost lives.”
The contractors Kearns supervised typically consisted of high-ranking military and intelligence veterans. Whether the spooks within these firms ever resigned their formal agency posts is unknown. Take for example InCoStrat, a shadowy cutout founded by former members of the British Army and Emma Le Mesurier, the wife of the late Syrian White Helmets founder and ex-military-intelligence officer James Le Mesurier. Emma Le Mesurier has admitted to being an MI6 officer, and acknowledged that her company conducted “covert influence ops.”
As head of the Cell, Kearns would meet with “former” MI6 representatives posted at these front groups every week, and “had the last say in everything.” It would be highly unusual for a civilian to be entrusted by British intelligence agencies to oversee the work of its operatives. This alone strongly suggests she was no ordinary Foreign Office employee during this time, but in fact, an MI6 officer.
After presiding over the spook-infested anti-ISIS Cell, Kearns moved on to Torchlight Group – yet another British intelligence front. From 2017 to 2019, Kearns held a position with Torchlight as a “freelance consultant” on “violent extremism, counter-disinformation, hybrid warfare and behaviour change programmes for governments, militaries and NGOs.”
It is unknown when and how Kearns crossed paths with White Helmets chief James Le Mesurier, but she stated she was “proud” to have worked with him. She described the highly controversial, supposedly humanitarian group’s founder as “incredible”, in the wake of his mysterious death in November 2019.
Given their evident kinship, Kearns authorship of an op-ed for Huffington Post in April 2018, days after the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria takes on a deeply suspect character. Like her recent speech on Kosovo, Kearns’ op-ed amounted to a thunderous call for Western intervention, hyping now-discredited allegations about chemical attacks and denouncing “conspiracy theories” by skeptics of the official story.
Subsequently leaked Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons documents amply confirm the Douma incident was a false flag carried out by armed opposition groups desperate to stave off defeat. Independent investigations indicate Le Mesurier was central to sabotaging the official probe into the incident, personally supplying Organisation scientists with mocked up soil samples and coached witnesses.
This was far from an isolated incident. The Grayzone has documented how an incestuous web of MI6-linked operatives staged and marketed every alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria with the specific aim of precipitating a US boots-on-the-ground scenario.
‘Global Britain’ creates secret regime change army in Balkans
Most normal business professionals and politicians tout their achievements as publicly as possible. Many even embellish their accomplishments to gain favor with future employers, investors or voters. But not Alicia Kearns.
In October 2011, Kearns registered a company called Public Communications Ltd. The firm, of which she was the sole director, never filed any accounts before its liquidation in January 2014. Typically, British law dictates these listings cannot be deleted under any circumstances, and must remain extant for 20 years after a company’s closure. But the record of the business has been scrubbed from existence – yet another suggestion of an MI6 tie.
Kearns, or someone close to her, has worked to severely reduce her online footprint elsewhere, too. All Internet Archive captures of her personal website prior to 2020, spanning two-and-a-half years, redirect to a blank page. Meanwhile, her LinkedIn profile was also scrubbed of any reference to her career prior to becoming MP, once she was elected in December 2019.
A local media report published during Kearns’ run for parliament that year nonetheless contains some revealing details, including that she was engaged in “counter disinformation and hybrid warfare interventions” around the globe, particularly in the Western Balkans.
Though the full record of Kearns work in the region remains unknown, the Foreign Office has run a dedicated campaign known as “Global Britain” in the Balkans since 2018. Leaked documents related to the operation reveal it is concerned with insidiously influencing the composition of local governments and legal and regulatory environments to advance London’s interests.
This has been achieved by the secret bankrolling of a covert nexus of civil society organizations, NGOs, and media outlets. Much of this work has been conducted under the aegis of “countering disinformation,” with a specific focus on the Russian state news outlets RT and Sputnik. The true purpose of these efforts is candidly spelled out in a leaked document, related to a Global Britain “rule of law” project in the region:
“In contexts where elite incentives are not aligned with our objectives/values…an approach that seeks to hold elite politicians to account might be needed…We can build relationships and alliances with those who share our objectives and values for reform…It is critical that the media have the capacity and freedom to hold political actors to account.”
In other words, London will not tolerate high-level political opposition to its agenda for the Western Balkans, and British intelligence is ready to deploy active measures to neutralize any and all local resistance.
Serbia was the key regional resistor identified by the Foreign Office, due to high levels of public and political antipathy towards Britain. The local population’s resentment related directly to the central role London played in the 78-day-long “humanitarian” bombing campaign by NATO, which hammered Pristina in March 1999. Considered by many Serbs to be the cradle of their civilization, Pristina was wrested from Belgrade’s grasp through the military assault.
It was therefore considered necessary for British intelligence to challenge negative perceptions of London in Belgrade through psychological warfare. This would help secure the permanent divorce of Kosovo from Serbia under the facade of a community bridge-building endeavor.
Dubbed “Strengthening Positive Peace in Kosovo and Serbia,” the operation cost £5 million between 2020 and 2022. Its objective was to increase support for Kosovo’s national government among North Kosovo Serbs, by convincing them to forsake their motherland, and embrace a wider local identity.
This was to be achieved by challenging existing “identity-based narratives” and securing “social change at a national level” by promoting “alternative narratives” through “national and regional media outlets and social media influencers.” At all times, Britain’s role in the conspiracy was to be a closely guarded secret. Participating organizations and individuals signed non-disclosure agreements, and were “briefed and instructed” on “how to represent project funding” if asked. Only operatives at the highest levels would have any idea of London’s involvement.
External staff running social media accounts for the project geotagged posts in “the area of the targeted population,” and ensured their activities were “carefully calibrated to ensure growth is perceived as organic, rather than the result of external funding.” They kept constant eye on how the project was locally perceived, working to identify “any association of the project with the UK government.”
Accordingly, a dedicated evacuation plan, including “measures to remove or destroy data, including hard drives,” was drawn up in the event the plan was publicly exposed.
British government ‘shares KFOR’s position’
Following KFOR’s repudiation of Kearns’ bellicose rhetoric in parliament, many Serbs accused her of purposefully putting lives at risk. In Kosovo, such malicious rumor mongering has produced untold bloodshed over the past two decades.
In March 2004, bogus local media reports accused Serbs of deliberately drowning three Albanian children, triggering a seismic upsurge of ethnically-charged violence that culminated in a massacre of close to 20 people, hundreds of injuries and the destruction of scores of Orthodox churches.
A subsequent OSCE investigation into the killings concluded that “without the reckless and sensationalist reporting…events could have taken a different turn,” and “might not have reached the intensity and level of brutality that was witnessed or even might not have taken place at all.” The probe concluded by starkly warning that, “in a post-ethnic conflict society such as Kosovo, biased reporting alone can lead to violence.”
How could a psychological warfare specialist and Western Balkans expert like Alicia Kearns be unaware of the potential consequences of her anti-Serb tirade in a tinderbox like Pristina?
A more senior figure in the British diplomatic establishment, and one situated much closer to the flashpoint of conflict, clearly recognized the incendiary nature of Kearns’ diatribes. On July 17th, the UK’s ambassador to Kosovo, Nicholas Abbott, flatly rejected Kearns’ charge that the Serbian Orthodox Church was implicated in smuggling arms. Dismissing Kearns as a mere parliamentarian, Abbott declared that the British government absolutely “shares KFOR’s position.” The diplomat also brushed off suggestions her Foreign Affairs Committee role could have granted her a privileged, secret insight.
“In terms of that specific allegation, we do not have that information,” said Abbott. “We do not have that evidence…This is not information she has received from the UK government. This is not information that somehow has filtered through the Foreign Office.”
Elsewhere, Abbott observed that “a lot” of what he’d seen in Pristina reminded him distinctly of Northern Ireland. There, throughout the half-century-long “Troubles,” London’s assorted spying agencies waged a covert war reminiscent of the “strategy of tension” pursued by MI6 throughout the Cold War in Europe, under Operation Gladio. The British government was in the dark about much of these activities.
As such, the ambassador’s comments may have been more apropos than he intended – for the same could be true in Kosovo today.