"False flag operations are covert operations conducted by governments, corporations, or other organizations, which are designed to appear as if they are being carried out by other entities. The name is derived from the military concept of flying false colors; that is, flying the flag of a country other than one's own."
I guess the old Hollywood pirate movies would be a perfect example of literally flying a false flag, when a pirate ship would hoist an innocent-looking national ensign as it approached its intended victim, beguiling the crew, and then haul up the Jolly Roger at the last minute as it attacked. In real history, a classic example would be the German Raiders of WWII, vessels which had hidden guns and torpedo-launchers on board what were converted merchant ships flying false flags as they approached other vessels. They would raise the German flag at the last moment, demand the other ship's surrender through signal flags, or some other means, to give the crew a cursory opportunity to escape if the German captain was feeling gracious, and then strive to sink it whether it surrendered or not.
But the type of false flag operation I am specifically referring to today is when one entity commits a crime or stages what looks like a crime while pretending to be another entity, so as to have all the blame cast on the second entity. For example, the infamous Reichstag Fire in Germany in 1933, which was originally blamed on the mentally challenged communist, Marinus Van der Lubbe, who also confessed, after Nazi interrogation, to the fire, is now widely accepted as an "inside" job by the Nazis themselves to promote a murderous purge against German communists and catapult Hitler to dictatorial power through the Enabling Act.
It was later revealed that an underground tunnel running from Hermann Goering's residence to the cellars of the Reichstag allowed storm troopers, led by SA leader Karl Ernst, to steal undetected into the building to engage in their own significant arsonist activities while Van der Lubbe, clueless, apparently ran amok, half-naked, using his shirt as a torch. Indications are that undercover Nazi agents had befriended him and knew the time of his arson attempt.
The Nazis also employed a sinister false flag op against Poland in 1939, staging an attack on the Gleiwitz radio station on the German border with Poland. One of several slightly different historical accounts has the Nazis dressing up several German-held convicts in Polish uniforms, shooting them and then arranging their bodies as if they had attacked the station. A German agent then read anti-German polemics over the air in Polish, conjuring up, across Germany's air waves, the imagined scenario that Poles had overrun the station. German citizens were outraged and Hitler dutifully invaded Poland the next day, citing this and several other alleged incidents as justification.
False flag operations have been used repeatedly throughout history, dating back to Nero framing the Christians for the great fire of Rome and beyond. And there are now widespread arguments that this Machiavellian technique has become an ongoing tool in both the American and British Establishments' clandestine bag of dirty tricks, the Gulf of Tonkin incident with North Vietnam often cited as one prominent example, not to mention the historical controversy surrounding the justification for the American invasion of Mexico in 1846, as well as the controversy surrounding the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor that led to the Spanish-American War in 1898.
Currently, there are powerful allegations that both 9/11 and the London Terror Bombings also fall into the false flag category, as shock and awe catastrophies designed to jerk the public's chains in the United States and Britain and then manipulate them into the frenzied service of war. Various draconian terror alerts and "uncovered" terrorist plots also raise questions, particularly in those cases where we learn that government agencies had conducted surveillance operations on suspects for months or even run sting operations against them. A good case in point is last year's melodramatic announcement of a "Liquid Bomb Plot" against some 14 airliners, a case which has slowly been unraveling as various suspects both in Britain and Pakistan have been quietly released or had their charges downgraded for lack of serious evidence, as opposed to mountains of dubious circumstantial "evidence". The assassination of Harik Hariri in Lebanon may also be a classic false flag op, tarring Syria with the murder while many, including French Intelligence officials, now believe Israeli operatives were behind it. I am sure viewers of this website have their own opinions on all of this.
What is worse is that there are now heightening rumors and predictions that a new false flag operation is underway to justify retaliatory attacks or full-scale war against Iran and/or Syria. The recent storming of a de facto Iranian consulate in Arbil in Kurdish Northern Iraq is, quite possibly, a trial run in this direction, an escalation beyond the arrest and later release of Iranian diplomats in Baghdad last December. Five Iranians, although in Arbil at the invitation of Kurdish authorities and recognized as diplomats by the Iraqi government, were arrested and accused by Americans of being Republican Guard types clandestinely supplying Iraqi insurgents with weapons, etc. Never mind that the Iranian government is Shiite and the insurgents, as the US military defines them, are Sunnis involved in hostilities with the Shiites - reality is the last consideration in splashy propaganda operations by an Imperialist power.
Let us hope that a false flag disaster with a made-in-USA Iranian pennant hoisted over it is simply overwrought paranoia, for the very last thing the planet needs is another bloody war. But if another major terrorist attack does occur, let us not be shocked and awed into stupidity, but start to analyze the event immediately with a healthy dose of skepticism.