James Le Mesurier, the co-founder of the Syrian aid organization the White Helmets, was found dead near his home in Istanbul, Turkey early Monday morning. His body found with fractures in his head and legs, indicating that he most likely fell from a balcony. Turkish investigators said Thursday that this was by all indications a suicide. Officials told the Guardian, “From the first day investigators thought this to be a suicide. Nothing in the forensic evidence has changed that view.” Le Mesurier, an English citizen, was 48 and a former army officer in the British army. His body was sent back to England on Wednesday, after an autopsy, for Burial in the United Kingdom. He helped to found the Syrian Civil Defense, known popularly as the White helmets, who were the subject of an academy award winning documentary in 2017. They are a group of about 3,000 first responders who help to rescue civilians caught in the wake of the civil war that continues to ravage Syria. Le Mesurier is not, however, a figure without controversy — the organization has been accused of having ties to many extremist groups including Isis while receiving over a hundred million dollars in aid money from Western countries.
Left & Right
Remarkably in our day, the White Helmets and by extension Le Mesurier, have been the objects of praise and affection on both sides of the American political spectrum. The tragedy in Syria has elicited sympathy from all types of people and the work of people like Le Mesurier has received almost universal recognition. They have been the subject of numerous popular documentaries on Netflix. In the wake of his death, Le Mesurier has been praised by the New York Times and the Guardian as an inspirational humanitarian leader worthy of emulation.
Aspects of both Le Mesurier’s life as well as the actions and mission of the White Helmets have long been questioned by a small minority of the media, especially by some who have been on the ground in Syria and witnessed events first hand. Whitney Webb, an investigative journalist for Mint Press News, wrote a piece two years ago which details the many questions concerning Le Mesurier’s background and the White Helmet’s connections with Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and Isis. As well, the Corbett Report has an insightful video documenting the darker sides of the White Helmets and the Greyzone made a documentary exposing several deceptive films made by and about the White Helmets with staged atrocities to engender further support from the West.