On Jonathan Cahn’s Claim that the Bible “Pinpointed the Exact Date” of 9/11

After an extensive build-up, Jonathan Cahn’s Christian book The Paradigm has at last been published. According to a promotional website, the work promises to answer the following questions (emphasis added):

Is it possible that this ancient paradigm has determined and is determining not only the American presidency but also the timing of current events, in some cases even down to the exact dates?

Could a mystery from the ancient Middle East have foretold the course of current events more accurately than any poll or pundit?

Could the ancient paradigm have pinpointed the exact date of the 9/11 attacks before anyone had any idea? Could the paradigm have determined the exact years of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Osama bin Laden, Donald Trump, and others?

As I noted a few days ago, the book’s premise is that American politics is mystically re-playing the history of ancient Israel as described in the Bible’s two-part Book of Kings, and that various figures relating to American politics have Biblical counterparts. Thus Bill and Hillary Clinton are the modern-day equivalents of the Biblical villains Ahab and Jezebel, while Donald Trump is the warrior king Jehu, a Biblical hero – this reflects a broader trend within American evangelicalism to interpret Trump as being an instrument of God’s purposes.

On the claim that the Bible “pinpointed” 9/11, publication means that we can now see his reasoning for ourselves, such as it is – the book can be browsed on Google Books and Amazon.

Cahn draws attention to the following words from the Bible (plucked from 1 Kings 21 and 22; punctuation and gaps as presented by Cahn on page 95):

“‘See how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?’ Because he has humbled himself before Me’ …Now three years passed without war between Syria and Israel. Then it came to pass, in the third year…” (1)

The reason that Ahab had “humbled himself” was because he had just been rebuked and warned by the Prophet Elijah over the murder of Naboth and the theft of his vineyard:

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!'”

Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free…” (2)

However, because of Ahab’s repentance, God explained to Elijah that he had decided to put off his plans:

“Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

The war with Syria comes about because God allows a spirit in heaven to “entice” Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead across the Jordan, where he is killed in battle; but the plain reading of the Biblical text is that this is different from the postponed promised disaster that God has transferred from Ahab to his son. (3)

What does this have to do with American politics? Cahn fixates on the supposed significance of the three years between Ahab’s repentance and the battle:

In the paradigm the day of repentance is separated from the day of calamity by a space of three years. Thus starting with the day of the president’s repentance, we must add three year and see where it brings us. (p. 95)

Cahn draws attention to the fact that Bill Clinton had spoken publicly of his “repentance” over the Monica Lewinsky scandal at a White House prayer breakfast on… 11 September 1998! For those too dense to work out what this means, Cahn explains what happens if you add three years to this date:

It brings us to September 11, 2001. (p. 96)

Cahn thus expands on how Ramoth Gilead supposedly foreshadowed 9/11:

It was the day that the king’s reign came to an end. But it was also a day of calamity for Israel on several counts, a day of military defeat, a day of bloodshed, and a day of lives lost. (p. 97)

In fact, though, the Biblical text does not refer to a general bloodshed at Ramoth Gilead, and it specifically states that the king of Aram ordered his charioteers to target Ahab personally rather than engage in general combat. The death of Ahab was followed by a rebellion in Moab, but that there is no indication in the Bible that Ramoth Gilead was a great disaster that damaged Israel’s military capacity (indeed, by removing a dud commander it may have improved it).

Clearly, Cahn is interpreting the Bible idiosyncratically, and choosing whatever details from American politics he thinks he can make fit to his “paradigm”. So what about the rest? Bill Clinton was gone from office by 9/11; he was not killed on 9/11; and 9/11 was not a military attack by the US that went wrong. Such massive divergences from the Bible perhaps can be addressed via convoluted allegorical interpretations, but such an approach seems arbitrary when the “three years passed” detail is presented as a striking literal parallel.

It’s worth reflecting for a moment on what the popularity of such a book means for the state of American Christianity (and Cahn’s previous works have sold millions). God seems to be an impersonal force whose actions can be predicted (maybe even manipulated?) according to some rigid “template”, while human beings are pawns in a bizarre and pre-destined cosmic drama.

To state Cahn’s thesis baldly: all those who died on 9/11 did so because Bill Clinton repented on 11 September 1998; had he not done so, presumably other people would have perished in an earlier disaster of a similar kind. This is in extremely bad taste: the meaning of 9/11 is reduced to a “code” to be understood through an esoteric reading of various timescales in the Bible; the human dimension of the tragedy is thus inevitably diminished.

When Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell appeared on TV on 13 September 2001 to explain that 9/11 was the responsibility of “the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way”, the two men were widely reviled by an America that was not in the mood to indulge such an opportunistic reaction to the terrorist outrage.

Cahn deserves a similar reception; but in an age of conspiracy theories and fake news, in which the likes of David Icke and Alex Jones are increasingly normalized, anyone who claims to have special insight into hidden forces that supposedly explain world affairs has the potential to achieve prominence.

BONUS UPDATE: Cahn’s publisher, Steven Strang, is of the opinion that demonic forces sent Hurricane Irma to hinder the launch of the book. He explains that Irma refers to “the goddess of war, also linked to Jezebel”.

In contrast, Hurricane Harvey’s name means “warrior”, which is the role given to Jehu/Trump. Harvey was thus apparently a good hurricane, and it hit Houston because of the publication of Hillary Clinton’s book What Happened.  Why Houston? Cahn’s own book notes that in 1990s Clinton had an advisor named Jean Houston, who has some New Agey ideas, and as such she embodies the evil that he also attributes to Clinton. Thus, according to Strang:

 As in The Paradigm, the warrior strikes the priests, and the representative is the woman [Jean] Houston, so Hurricane Harvey—the warrior—strikes Houston…

In The Paradigm, the warrior (Jehu) strikes the priests of the pagan gods and goddesses. The modern representation of the priests of the goddess is a woman named HoustonSo now Hurricane Irma—the goddess of war, also linked to Jezebel—strikes the publishers of The Paradigm.

Once again, we are presented with interpretation of a tragedy that is both bizarre and callous: people are dead in Houston and the surrounding areas, but apparently it’s all because of the surname of Clinton’s former advisor. Theodicists will be up all night with that one.

Footnotes

(1) Cahn uses Young’s Literal Translation, which was published in the nineteenth century.

(2) New International Version.

(3) Although the disaster has been transferred to Ahab’s son, the Biblical author decides to have dogs licking Ahab’s blood after all – explained as having happened when Ahab’s body was washed in a pool in Samaria prior to his interment.

A Note on Yellowstone Park and Apocalyptic Fearmongering

Alarming news from WND:

NASA plan to stop supervolcano sparks doomsday fears

Amid a summertime swarm of hundreds of earthquakes underneath Yellowstone National Park, NASA is developing a plan to tame a “supervolcano” that some experts believe is well overdue for a catastrophic eruption.

The scientists’ plan: cool down the volcano.

Volcanoes erupt when a certain heat threshold is built up within the magma, meaning that if enough heat can be let out of the volcano, it will never erupt. NASA’s idea is to pump water into the volcano after opening up a path via drilling. In theory, the plan would extract heat from the volcano and could even provide a new geothermal power plant.

There’s only one problem: The process might trigger an eruption.

The supervolcano under Yellowstone Park is frequently cited as evidence of apocalyptic destruction just around the corner – and in religious terms as evidence of the last days. In 2014 WND ran a piece on claims that animals were in the process of fleeing an imminent eruption; and any variation in the common seismic activity at the site (which has been monitored for the last 30 years) is regularly treated as an ominous sign.

The UK Daily Express tabloid warned that the volcano was “on the brink” in February, and again in June; and just a week ago, the paper reported on warnings that Nibiru will bring about the cataclysm (although the text adds that “There is NO scientific evidence to back up the outlandish claims, and NASA has branded it a hoax”). One recent Christian book I found on Google Books claims that areas of the park are being mysteriously closed off, and seismic data held back for a time before being released to the public.

However, as even the sources linked by WND confirm, the likelihood of an eruption happening within the next few centuries is very low. Thus the attraction of a human causative agent to shorten the odds, and thus the fearmongering around NASA’s idea. To return to WND:

Brian Wilcox of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology told the BBC an attempt to drill from the top of the magma chamber could accidentally cause the very thing the drilling was designed to prevent. To avoid that risk, he suggested drilling from outside the borders of Yellowstone and coming into the supervolcano from the lower side.

In other words, the proposal specially takes into consideration what “might trigger an eruption”, and how to avoid it – the direct opposite of the headline’s implication. In any case, the plan is speculative: it would take decades to implement, and decades after that to see any measurable effect. But for WND, here following up on an Infowars article from last month, the image of scientists dooming the world with an ill-considered intervention is too attractive a trope to pass over.

The WND article continues with some general advice from a number of “end-times” prognosticators, such as Mark Biltz (“Blood Moons“), Joel Richardson (“Islamic Anti-Christ“) and the Sandy Hook truther Carl Gallups. The list consists mostly of evangelical figures, but a rabbi is mentioned first:

Jerusalem Rabbi Rami Levy said science has limits and told Breaking Israel News natural disasters and earthquakes will be an inevitable feature of the end times.

He said the natural disasters are “explicitly described in the Bible,” and the response should be “repentance.”

The Breaking Israel News story adds that Levy is a “kabbalist”, and the source has a more extensive quote:

Rabbi Levy stated that in many cases, science has portrayed itself as the savior while attempting to solve problems it had actually created. In the case of Yellowstone, the rabbi advised the scientists to delve into the prophetic writings of the Bible.

“This earthquake and volcanic eruption were explicitly described in the Bible,” Rabbi Levy said. “Now that scientists are finally realizing that it will happen, wouldn’t it be wise to look into the Bible for the solution?”

The answer, he said, is simple but unscientific: “Tshuva (repentance). According to Jewish tradition, it was created before the world so it can supercede nature.”

One way to reconcile religion and science is to suggest that they offer different but complementary ways of understanding the world; but placed alongside Wilcox’s scientific explanation, Levy’s commentary comes across as intellectually complacent and obscurantist.

Breaking Israel News (previously discussed here) is also mentioned by the Daily Express, which quotes a different end-times rabbi in its June article:

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, told Breaking Israel News: “Tsunamis, earthquakes, and forest fires are more catastrophic than ever, despite technology giving us the ability to cope with them better.

“And now scientists tell us of threats we absolutely cannot protect us against, like a volcano that threatens the world.”

He added that “This is a special attribute of the end of days.”

Berger was also on hand in August, when he purported to have special insight into the North Korea situation based on his understanding of an esoteric Jewish text in relation to eclipses.

Jonathan Cahn on Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and the Biblical “Paradigm”

Right Wing Watch has the latest from Jonathan Cahn:

During a recent appearance on “It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth,” Cahn told guest host Michael Brown that the elections of Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump had all been foretold in the Bible, specifically, in a handful of chapters out of 1 & 2 Kings.

As Cahn explained, Bill and Hillary Clinton are the modern day versions of the ancient king and queen of Israel, Ahab and Jezebel.

Cahn went on to claim that just as the Clintons are modern day version of Ahab and Jezebel, Donald Trump is a modern day version of Jehu, who was raised up by God to become king and to slay Jezebel.

Jezebel was a Phoenician princess who married into the Omride dynasty ruling over northern Israel in the ninth century BCE; in the Hebrew Bible (2 Kings 8-10) she is reviled for persuading her husband Ahab to adopt Pheonician religious practices and for persecuting Yahwist prophets. Jehu not only slew Jezebel (by ordering her eunuchs to defenestrate her) – he also massacred the prophets of Baal, although to the dismay of the author of Kings he also adhered to the golden calf images that were part of the Yahwist religion of the time. The Phoenician influence may explain child sacrifice in Israel in the centuries that followed, whether performed as a rite to Baal or as a part of Yahwist worship. (1)

Jezebel is now a synonym for feminine wickedness: in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Christian tradition, there is a horror of a “Jezebel spirit” that is supposedly responsible for dysfunctional behaviour and manipulative relationships, particularly between men and women; it has been suggested that Bill Clinton brought a “Jezebel curse” on America. Further, child sacrifice as condemned in the Hebrew Bible is seen by many Christians today as a relevant rebuke against the practice of abortion: in its strongest form, it is claimed that abortion providers are literal Satanists, performing occult sacrificial rituals under the guise of medical interventions.

Cahn brings these strands together in reference to Hillary Clinton:

Cahn said that just as Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, was “a champion of Baal worship,” so too was Hillary Clinton “an advocate of female power and advocate of abortion.”

Cahn’s belief that America is somehow reliving the history of ancient Israel was apparently inspired by an incident the day after 9/11, when Tom Daschle publicly quoted Isaiah 9:10 in the Senate:

“The bricks have fallen down, but we will rebuild with dressed stone; the fig trees have been felled, but we will replace them with cedars.”

Daschle thought that the verse referred to perseverance in the face of adversity, when the text is actually cited by Isaiah as an “arrogant” boast by the people of Ephraim and Syria, who have failed to understand that recent military disaster was a punishment from God. Senator Jonathan Edwards committed the same goof three years later.

For Cahn, this was not simply evidence that plucking Biblical verses out of context does violence to the wider meaning of the text – it showed that the USA was literally replaying Israelite history. This was the basis of his 2011 bestseller The Harbinger, and he followed up with a complementary theory that economic cycles are linked to the Jewish calendar. In both instances, God becomes a predictable impersonal force, and the evidence is compiled from extremely selective datasets of incidents from recent history that are interpreted as fitting the theory. Cahn’s new book, The Paradigm, claims that the Bible actually predicted “the exact date of 9/11”, although we will have to wait for the release day to see his reasoning.

It’s worth noting Michael Brown’s role as the guest host of Sid Roth’s programme; Brown is one of the less speculative writers to appear on Charisma News, yet here he is hosting a show that is one of the gateways for conspiracy thinking within Evangelicalism. In the past, It’s Supernatural with Sid Roth has featured Roth in conversation with Tom Horn and Chris Puttnam on the topic of “Aliens in the Vatican” , and with Chuck Missler on “UFOs and the Nephilim” (more on Horn and Missler here).

Footnote

1. On this last point I rely on two academic works, both viewable on Google Books: (1) Patrick D. Miller, The Religion of Ancient Israel (2000), pp. 59-60, and (2) Deeanne Westbrook, Speaking of Gods in Figure and Narrative (2011), p. 97.

Sex Abuse Allegations: How John Hemming’s Name Was Publicised by Activists in 2015

A detail from John Hemming’s statement regarding the allegations made against him by Esther Baker:

It is bad enough to have false allegations made about yourself to the police, but to have a concerted campaign involving your political opponents and many others in public creates an environment in which it is reasonable to be concerned about ill founded vigilante attacks on your family and yourself.

…This sort of situation is inevitably an attack on my family not just myself. I am still in discussion with the police about some of the criminal incidents involving my family and myself during this process. Therefore I do not wish to make further comment on those at the moment.

I looked at the allegations and their context here. Baker accused Hemming, who until May 2015 was a Member of Parliament, of having abused her over an extended period in the late 1980s when she was child in settings that included woodland meetings involving police guards and VIPs. Staffordshire Police has now dropped the case due to lack of evidence.

Hemming was not named in the media until he chose to come forward with his statement last week; however, his name had been informally circulated by Baker and others long before then, and he was denounced at at least one public meeting. As such, his fears of physical attack (from “pitchfork-wavers”, to use his phrase from a follow-up quote in the Daily Mail) were very reasonable.

In particular, Hemming was publicly accused at a rally against child-sex abuse that took place on 27 June 2015 in the open air opposite Downing Street. Bill Maloney, an activist who has made a number of aggressive and accusatory videos on the subject of VIP abuse, asked the crowd:

What can you do when your Prime Minister is protecting 76 MPs that are being investigated? Not have been investigated, they are being investigated. So, I don’t want to name anyone but I fell out with [redacted] and John Hemmings [sic] seriously. You get the message? I’ve fallen out with them. Big time. (1)

Maloney accused David Cameron of being a “paedophile protector”, and he suggested that the refurbishments of Parliament and Buckingham Palace were being undertaken to destroy forensic evidence:

How can you start refurbishing a building that is a crime scene? How? 76 MPs. Then, just down the road, we’ve got Dolphin Square, where one Member of Parliament was having sex with a kid while another one was soaking him to death. Have you heard that one? That’s in the papers. Murder, torture, rituals.

This is a reference to an allegation made by Operation Midland’s “Nick”, who said that he “was raped over a bath-tub while my head was beneath the water”.

Maloney then referred to Baker:

Anyone see Esther a few weeks ago, on Sky? Esther yeah? She was being abused, Esther, in the forest. The forest is a very dangerous place to be taken to be abused, because you’re either going to wind up in the ground, but you know it’s going to be ritualistic.

Maloney also suggested that the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi were also part of the cover up, because of what they knew: “A lot of their kids were educated in this country and they mixed with royalty”.

This was all received very enthusiastically by the crowd, and the event’s co-organiser, Chris Tuck, described him afterwards as “brilliant as always”.

This was not some marginal street-corner protest: Tuck is a member of the the Victims and Survivors’ Consultative Panel at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, and she was interviewed in the studio of London Live the day before the rally, which had the formal name “Victims & Survivors Unite – Breaking The Cycle Of Abuse”. The event also very nearly had an MP in attendance: Nadine Dorries, who had just accused a deceased vicar of sex abuse, accepted an invitation from Tuck to speak, although she withdrew ahead of the event.

Footnote

1. A video is available online, but Maloney’s denunciations are so extravagant that I have chosen not to link to it. Hemming is often mistakenly referred to as “John Hemmings”. The Daily Mail article also came up with “John Henning”, although this has since been corrected.

Edward Heath Sex Abuse Allegations: Media Circus Continues

Today’s Mail on Sunday front-page splash by the paper’s political editor Simon Walters brings on a sense of déjà vu:

Sex abuse probe WILL investigate Ted Heath over paedophile claims: Public inquiry set to look at explosive report by Chief Constable who says allegations against the ex-PM are ‘120 per cent’ genuine

The controversial investigation into allegations that Sir Edward Heath was a paedophile has been dramatically widened, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Officials at Britain’s biggest ever public inquiry confirmed that they are to study the findings of an explosive police report into claims that the former Prime Minister was a child abuser.

A spokesman for the IICSA told The Mail on Sunday last night: ‘In the context of the Westminster investigation, the inquiry will be interested to see and consider the outcome of Wiltshire Police’s investigation into allegations against Sir Edward Heath.’

This apparent revelation comes just five months after the Daily Mail reported that

Wiltshire Police has already briefed the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and has pledged to pass on a confidential report on Operation Conifer when it is wound up in June

…and a whole month since Walters wrote that

The police chief in charge of an investigation into paedophile claims concerning former Prime Minister Edward Heath is to send his findings to the woman leading the national child sex-abuse inquiry.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Mike Veale has already had talks with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), chaired by Professor Alexis Jay.

Given this background, it is difficult to see why the bland quote from someone at the IICSA – a quote that merely confirms the earlier reports – is being treated like some shocking revelation requiring the word “WILL” in block capitals, other than to provide a yet another sensationalising headline on the subject. There was never any likelihood that inquiry WOULDN’T look at the material.

However, “see and consider” does not mean the same thing as “investigate”, and the Press Association has a longer version of the same quote that puts a different light on its significance (emphasis added):

A spokesman for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said: “In the context of the Westminster investigation, the inquiry will be interested to see and consider the outcome of Wiltshire police’s investigation into allegations against Sir Edward Heath.

“The inquiry’s remit is institutional failure to protect children and the inquiry is unlikely to need to examine whether allegations of abuse made against any particular parliamentarian are true during the course of its work.

“Its job is to examine institutional failures in connection with allegations made, and this will include considering the adequacy and propriety of law enforcement investigations.”

That’s an odd sort of “probe”, and it completely undermines Walters’s claim that Heath will be “investigated” by the IICSA. Given that quote was “told The Mail on Sunday last night”, how is it that Walters has used less of it than the PA?

The Mail on Sunday article goes on to rehash coverage of allegations against Heath; thus we’re told that

A paedophile dossier compiled by Labour peer Baroness Castle, a member of Harold Wilson’s Labour Government in the 1970s, said Sir Edward offered young boys trips on his yacht. In a separate incident, one man claimed Sir Edward picked him up in the 1960s when he was a 12-year-old hitchhiking in Kent and lured him to his Mayfair flat.

Heath’s yachts (there were several of them over the years) were small racing vessels which required a crew and lacked private space; it has been said that groups of children were given the opportunity to take a spin on them, but whether or not this is true it hardly amounts to an “incident”.

And there is no evidence that Barbara Castle’s dossier ever existed: we only have the word of a journalist named Don Hale, who says that Castle gave it to him in the 1980s but that it was seized by police before he could make use of it. For some reason, Hale didn’t mention this publicly until July 2014, when he said that it named the late politicians Keith Joseph and Rhodes Boyson. A few days after Leon Brittan’s death in January 2015 Hale said that Brittan had also featured in the document, but he didn’t mention Heath until August 2015, just after the police probe was announced.

According to Hale, the document proved that Heath “was present at more than half a dozen Westminster meetings of the notorious Paedophile Information Exchange”. Given the exceptionally sensational nature of such a disclosure, why didn’t Hale mention this a whole year before? And why does Walters gloss over this particular claim in his own report? (1)

I previously wrote about abuse allegations against Heath here (including the “hitchhiker” story) and here, and about claims he was an orgiastic Satanist here. Whatever information Wiltshire Police may have gathered, the material in the public domain does not appear to hold up to scrutiny.

Walters’s article is followed by a short op-ed by rent-a-quote right-wing Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen, who suggests that criticism of the investigation is “the Establishment” seeking to “shelve” investigations into historic VIP abuse (2).

However, Walters and Bridgen appear to both be completely oblivious to a concern that was raised in the April 2017 Daily Mail article, which was written by a crime correspondent (Rebecca Camber) rather than a politics hack. This was that

 senior officers will seek to bury their report on the late politician by dumping it on the national child abuse inquiry.

Further:

[C]ritics fear that the report, which is expected to conclude that there is not enough evidence to prosecute anyone for any offence, will be swallowed up in the avalanche of evidence being examined by the child abuse inquiry which means it could take years before the truth emerges.

Critics do not want the Wiltshire Police findings to be “shelved”; rather, they want everything out in the open so that we can all see for ourselves the basis for the investigation and make our own informed judgement about it. Instead, though, it looks like the public will get to see only a very partial summary, perhaps supplemented with some strategic leaking for the benefit of Wiltshire Police’s reputation.

Footnotes

(1)  In December 2016 the right-wing anti-Islam activist Stephen Gash suggested on Twitter that there was actually a “video showing Ted Heath talking at PIE” online somewhere, although he had unfortunately lost the link to it. He was assured that “someone on here” must have the link, although it doesn’t seem to have surfaced yet.

(2) It is perhaps worth noting that Heath was the Prime Minister who took Britain into the European Common Market, while Bridgen is a Eurosceptic. Bridgen is also a critic of the BBC, and so his op-ed also weaves in the detail that

For decades, rumours about Jimmy Savile were dismissed by institutions such as the BBC, terrified about the impact of negative publicity on their reputation.

European Psychiatry and Satanic Ritual Abuse Conspiricism

From the latest Private Eye magazine (link added):

The Eye has been alerted to an article that appeared last year in the peer-reviewed European Psychiatry, the official journal of the European Psychiatric Association, titled “The Satanist Cult of Ted Heath: Ethical Implications of Authority Compromise”. It was based on a conference paper delivered at the 24th European Congress of Psychiatry in Madrid by Dr Rainer Kurz, a chartered occupational psychologist.

Kurz states the Satanic Grocer scenario as fact to an audience of mainstream psychiatrists and in a peer-reviewed journal – which makes one wonder what respect his peers have for corroborative evidence.

The main source he cites is an Essex body-builder called Chris Spivey, who also believes that the murder of Lee Rigby was a government-organised hoax. Of Spivey’s online post naming 235 supposed members of Heath’s satanic cult, Kurz writes: “No indications were found that would throw the veracity of the document into doubt”

I: Heath, Spivey,  and the “Helen G.” Document

The publication in European Psychiatry is actually conference abstract, and as such one would not expect a rigorous peer-review. Even so, it is odd to see such a title receive an academic imprimatur of any sort – the journal is the the official organ of the European Psychiatric Association, published by Elsevier and available online via Science Direct.

The presentation itself is available via Kurz’s page on ResearchGate. Spivey’s list is actually an upload of a document that has been around for some time; no author is named, but it was apparently compiled by the Ritual Abuse Information Network  & Support (RAINS) organisation, based on the testimony of one “Helen G.” – SAFF (the Sub-culture Alternatives Freedom Foundation) has also highlighted the existence of the list (and provides the only searchable copy of it), as evidence of RAINS’s gullibility and Evangelical fanaticism. I previously noted the document here, as a possible source for new “historic” allegations against celebrities.

On Heath, the document states:

Ted Heath. Former Prime Minister. Homosexual but not exclusively, where children are concerned. He has been mentioned by at least 5 SRAS, none of whom know each other. Several have described long finger nails. Am told that he wore false claws added to his nails, with which he clawed his child victims. He died in 2005. The cult held their own funeral on 31st July – 1st August 2005.

I previously wrote about the Satanist allegations against Heath here, and more general abuse allegations against him here.

Kurz states in his presentation that Spivey suffered “persecution by state powers” after the posting: this appears to refer to Spivey’s 2015 conviction (later confirmed by an appeal court) for harassing Lee Rigby’s family with postings that accused them of complicity in the supposed “hoax” of Rigby’s murder by two Islamists on a south London street in 2013.

However, Kurz does not rely solely on Spivey’s website: he also commends an episode of UK Column, an online conspiracy broadcast hosted by Brian Gerrish. The particular episode features Gerrish in conversation with Wilfred Wong, an Evangelical “Child Protection Campaigner” whom I discussed last year. Kurz’s conclusion is that

extreme abuse ‘Death Cults’ with Daesh-like practices appear to be well-established in the UK and continue to operate with ‘de facto’ impunity.

II: From Heath to Hampstead and Norwich

Kurz’s Ted Heath paper was presented at the 24th European Congress of Psychiatry of the EPA in 2016; this year, he presented a sequel,  “From Hampstead to Norwich: Ritual Violence or Coaching?”, in which he waded into the Hampstead Satanic Ritual Abuse claims. The allegations were concocted as part of a custody dispute, but according to Rainer a judge’s ruling dismissing the claims was “extremely unsafe”. In support of this, he again turns to stuff he found on the internet, in this instance the conspiracy blog Aanirfan.

However, there’s an unexpected twist: the “Norwich” part of his title refers to the case of Marie Black, who was convicted of running a paedophile ring in 2015 and is currently serving a life sentence. Suddenly, Kurz discovers some scepticism:

One allegations was that Marie ostensibly put a baby that her friend had ‘run over’ into a bag, carried it into her house and made her children drink its blood! What is the credibility of these allegations when the friend did not own a car and did not have a driving licence either? No baby was reported missing and no dead baby was found. Without any physical evidence a criminal case ensued against 10 defendants most of whom were members of Marie’s family while the remaining 30 ‘alleged abusers’ were not even interviewed! In extremely dubious circumstances Marie and two former partners were found guilty of sexual abuse.

There are some grounds for concern about the Black verdict, from what can be gleaned from media reports, although one should of course be cautious with such limited information: six defendants were acquitted; lurid SRA-type allegations were not substantiated; the way that social workers coaxed the allegations from children was controversial; and Black was perhaps not well-served by her legal representation (1). The Chief Constable of Norwich Police described the case as just “the tip of the iceberg”, although the force doesn’t seem to have located the rest of it so far.

There was also an odd disconnect with a previous story about how Black and her partner had moved to France to avoid overzealous social workers: the journalist Christopher Booker wrote sympathetically about her plight in the Daily Telegraph in 2012, but although he was critical of the allegations during the 2015 trial he seems to have avoided the subject since the convictions.

But why would such doubts be shared by someone who is very ready to believe the most outlandish SRA claims? Black forcing a child to drink blood is beyond credibility, yet we are to accept a narrative about Hampstead that involves baby-eating and the wearing of baby-skin shoes. The contrast is bizarre.

There is, though, an explanation, to be found in Kurz’s views about the UK’s family court system: he recently expressed these on the David Icke-associated Richie Allen Show (blogged here), under the title “Family Court Child Smuggling Is A Cover For Satanic Ritual Abuse”. He also describes himself on LinkedIn as a “volunteer” for Ian Joseph’s “Forced Adoption” website; Josephs was profiled in the Mirror in 2014 as “Millionaire helping pregnant women flee UK to avoid babies taken into care”, and he has also himself appeared on The Richie Allen Show to discuss the issue.

Black was one of those Josephs assisted, and this seems to be basis on which her case is presented by Kurz as evidence of a corrupt system rather than as an exemplary example of the reality of organised child sex abuse. (2)

Footnotes

(1)

Black has twice been refused leave to appeal. In the first instance, she was represented by Richard Hendron, who was rebuked by the judges for his tardiness in bringing issues to the attention of the court (“simply not the way that anyone who wears a wig and gown as a barrister of this country should behave” – Hendron appears to have concurred, and is now a journalist; and his twin brother Henry Hendron doesn’t seem to have fared much better in his legal career, either).

The second hearing, a few months later, rejected her claim that she had been “bullied” into not giving evidence in her own defence:

…they rejected her claims, insisting it was made “absolutely clear” to Black that the decision whether or not to testify was hers alone.

Mr Justice Spencer said the court was “not remotely persuaded” there was anything negligent or improper in her trial lawyers’ handling of the case.

He added: “Quite the reverse, from everything we have heard and read it is apparent that they valiantly and skilfully defended her in accordance with the best traditions of the bar…”

(2)

As noted by the Hoaxstead Research blog, Josephs’s activism also brought him into association with Sabine McNeill and Belinda McKenzie, whose “Association of McKenzie Friends” was created to support parents in family courts. Belinda McKenzie – formerly David Shayler’s landlady – is a 9/11 Truth activist, and the two women did much to promote the Hampstead allegations (blogged here). Josephs has since distanced himself from these particular claims.

The Hoaxstead site also notes that one of the defendants in the Norwich trial is Facebook friends with Brian Gerrish – this is Carol Stadler, who was convicted of actual bodily harm, but not of sexual abuse. However, I doubt that there is any personal link – Gerrish has thousands of friends, and I expect it rather reflects her support for Black during her time in France in 2012; Gerrish has also spoken of the “corruption” of family courts.

Stadler’s husband Anthony Stadler was also a defendant; he was acquitted, and as far as I am aware he is the only acquitted defendant to have made a public statement since.

Chief Constable “Accused of Complicity in Child Sex Abuse”: A Note on the Claim and the Rhetoric

From the SKWAWKBOX, last month:

…the SKWAWKBOX has seen evidence that the Chief Constable of a UK police force has been accused of complicity in child sexual abuse.

The SKWAWKBOX has also spoken to a serving MP who was one of several witnesses present at the time that a positive identification was made by a young adult who had suffered sexual abuse since childhood. The MP told this blog,

We were all in the Strangers’ Bar [in the Houses of Parliament]. The young victim was holding a phone and looking through pictures online, looking for someone else. Suddenly s/he screamed, dropped the phone and stood there shaking and crying, saying ‘it’s him, it’s him!’ The picture on the screen was that of a serving Chief Constable. It was a very real and spontaneous reaction.

A retired Metropolitan Police officer was also among the witnesses.

After they reported the allegations, the MP and Ms [Sharon] Evans were both interviewed at length by the police force – not that of the accused senior officer – to which the accusation was reported, but in the roughly nine months since the report was made, neither have received any word of any action taken.

The SKWAWKBOX is run by a left-wing activist based in Liverpool; the site came to wider attention in June in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, when it published the false claim that media reports about the fire were being suppressed by the use of a “D-Notice”.

The author believes that the allegation against the chief constable is “credible”, based on two points. First (emphasis in original):

The young victim has given around one hundred hours of evidence – not limited to the involvement of the police officer – to police investigators about the abuse suffered, which suggests that officers consider the victim’s claims to be highly credible for them to spend so much time interviewing.

Further, in a follow-up:

Within hours of the publication of the article, the Daily Mail contacted charity head and former panel member on the government’s child abuse inquiry, Sharon Evans, in an attempt to persuade her to give them the story – thereby showing the credibility of the reports.

This is somewhat over-excited. The fact that someone has given extensive testimony to police (and in this case, about a number of individuals) does not mean that their testimony is otherwise supported, while the Mail‘s interest in a sensational story from someone with a public profile is evidence of nothing more than normal journalistic instinct.

The whole thing is simply “no smoke without fire” at this stage – and the context here particularly absurd, with a supposedly “left-wing” website asking us to suspend our critical faculties when it comes to the police and to defer to the (apparent) judgement of the Daily Mail.

However, doubters should perhaps keep their views to themselves – the same site also alleges an “Establishment backlash“:

…Anonymous troll accounts – in fact, worse than trolls – have begun a smear campaign on social media attempting to attack the credibility of a key whistleblower who exposed issues with the inquiry and, even more unforgivably, of a victim of terrible abuse.

At least one of these provocateur accounts is run by someone with a sinister history of stalking – including arrest – and who is known to have connections to key Establishment figures, including at least one who has expressed controversial views about sexual consent and a history of accusations of online and offline bullying. All have the vile tone of the bully.

The reference to “arrest” rather than “convicted” or “cautioned” heavily implies that the alleged “sinister history” has not been substantiated, and it is difficult to understand why this person was arrested if he was acting on behalf of some all-powerful “Establishment”. Presumably the arrest went nowhere (cf. here).

Evans was a member of the Home Office’s historic child sex abuse panel, before it was reorganised into a statuary inquiry in 2015; she and another panel member, Graham Wilmer, are bitterly critical of the IICSA, and in August they expressed their concerns about plans for an inquiry into Grenfell Tower. The Guardian reported:

…Sharon Evans and Graham Wilmer revealed how government officials intervened with the independent panel members by preparing a 23-page document instructing them how to answer questions from MPs.

Both left the inquiry when the original panel was disbanded within months of its formation and have since been critical of the inquiry.

But they said they wanted to warn relatives, victims or other laypeople co-opted on to the upcoming inquiries about the tendency of May and her team to seek close control over such processes. “We wanted openness, and she broke every single promise made to us,” said Evans, who runs the Dot Com children’s charity. “The top promise was that it was going to be an independent and open inquiry. And it’s been neither.”

The SKWAWKBOX story about the chief constable appears to have been a spin-off from this, presented as evidence that the IICSA is not just flawed but a bad-faith attempt to protect “VIP abusers”. Some conspiracy theorists have gone so far as to implicate Theresa May as having a personal motive here, based on an incoherent non-story about her late father not having a Wikipedia page (discussed by me here – the author afterwards Tweeted the first SKWAWKBOX story to me as evidence).

Christian Right “Firefighter Prophet” Warns on Illuminati DNA Manipulation by Radio Wave

From Right Wing Watch:

Last week, we highlighted “firefighter prophet” and right-wing conspiracy theorist Mark Taylor’s belief that the Illuminati and the Freemasons are using a special frequency to change people’s DNA in order to make them oppose President Trump.

On Friday, Taylor appeared on “The Sharpening Report” where he expanded on this theory, explaining that people who have had their bloodlines corrupted by sins committed by their ancestors are now being targeted by Satan via a frequency that is making them unable to see how God is using Trump to save America.

The Sharpening Report is hosted by Josh Peck, who is part of a group around Tom Horn that mixes Christian fundamentalism with fantastical David Icke-style conspiracy theories – the two men are co-authors of Abaddon Ascending: The Ancient Conspiracy at the Center of CERN’s Most Secretive Mission (more on anti-CERN conspiricism here). This may all seem rather “fringe”, but Horn and Taylor have both made appearances on The Jim Bakker Show and have exposure within broader currents of the Christian Right.

In particular, Taylor has been celebrated as the man who received a special message from God prophesying that Trump would become president. WND has promoted his book The Trump Prophecies (co-authored by Mary Colbert, wife of Don), and Charisma News has run various articles about his claims.

However, for some reason his new disclosures about Masonic manipulation of DNA through radio waves isn’t receiving the same amount of attention.  Why the silence on such an urgent and important message?

You’d think Taylor and his associates would be grateful to Right Wing Watch for faithfully transcribing Taylor’s utterances and making them available to a wider audience, given the odd reluctance of conservative sites to do so. Alas, however, Right Wing Watch‘s efforts are not appreciated – Sheila Zilinsky, who is also part of the group around Horn, has complained that the site’s coverage amounts to a “steady diet of hit pieces”, and warned that “God will deal” with it. Zilinsky’s rebuke appeared on Facebook, although she has now deleted it following the appearance of sceptical comments. Zilinsky has interviewed Taylor on her Weekend Vigilante podcast. (1)

Footnote

(1) Zilinsky, who describes herself as “a former government top adviser”, is the author of Green Gospel: The New World Religion, and the co-author of Power Prayers: Warfare That Works; the latter work was co-written with Carla Butaud, who has a “ministry of casting out of demons”. She also contributed to Horn’s When Once We Were a NationGreen Gospel comes with an endorsement from Christopher Horner, a more mainstream conservative. One recent episode of her show was on the topic of “Satanic Rituals, Pedogate & The Deep Underground Occult”, featuring Pastor Russ Dizdar.

VIP Child Sex Abuse Claims: A Note on Esther Baker and John Hemming

(revised and expanded)

From Mail Online:

A former Liberal Democrat MP today revealed he was the subject of a two-year probe into historical sex abuse allegations after police and prosecutors dropped the case.

John Hemming was interviewed under caution as part of the investigation following allegations made by Esther Baker, who waived her anonymity in May 2015.

…In May 2015 Ms Baker went public with allegations that she was molested during the 1980s and 1990s in woods in Staffordshire and at Dolphin Square in London.

Those allegations were first aired in an interview with Sky News on 25 May 2015, and were then followed up by Mail Online under the headline “VIPs Raped Me in Wood as Police Stood Guard: Child Sex Abuse Victim Claims Judge and Peer were Among Gang”.

Soon afterwards, Baker appeared on Channel 9’s 60 Minutes news programme in Australia, in a segment called “Spies, Lords and Predators”. The interviewer used a mobile phone to show Baker photographs of “a Lord” and a “senior politician” and asked her to confirm that she recognised them as her abusers (1). In September, the Guardian reported that the politician (who we now know was Hemming) “contacted police in April this year after he became aware via a national newspaper that the allegations were being made against him”.

By this point, however, a certain amount of scepticism had set in, and the following month the Daily Mail published “I’m the Latest Victim of Sex Abuse Witch-Hunt, Says ex-MP: VIP Police Quiz Former Backbencher”. I discussed the articles and some of the background at the time.

Baker has now published part of a document which appears to show that the case against Hemming was dropped because of the possibility of a mistaken identification on her part (2). Hemming, meanwhile, has issued a statement in which he asserts that “police have now made it clear that there has been a concerted effort to promote false criminal allegations against me”. However, that does not appear to be substantiated by Staffordshire Police, which continues to refer to Baker as “the victim”. It seems that Hemming has extrapolated his conclusion from the fact that he was never arrested, writing on Twitter that “by not arresting me it is clear that [police] believe [the allegations] to be false”. According to Staffordshire Police, there were “over 100 hours of interviews”.

The document partially released by Baker indicates that Staffordshire Police investigated three people: a relative of Baker; a former employer, who admits to having had sexual relations with her; and a politician (i.e. Hemming). According to Mark Watts, who formerly publicised Baker’s claims at the now-defunct Exaro News website, other police forces are still considering further allegations. Baker complains that her former employer has in effect admitted to child sex abuse, because she was underage at the time, but it is difficult to see what relevance this has to nationally significant allegations of “VIP abuse”.

Before identifying herself in May 2015, Baker had previously appeared in the media in January 2015 under the name “Becky”. She told Channel 4 News that she had been sexually abused “in a church setting”, and that some of the abusers had been police officers who attended the church. This was broadcast on 5 January, and the context for the story was her opposition to plans to disband the Home Office’s child abuse inquiry panel, before which she had given evidence in December 2014.

On 10 January she gave a quote to Exaro News expressing opposition to the inquiry becoming “judge-led” statutory inquiry; she also condemned “character assassination” against Graham Wilmer, who was a member of the panel (3). Three days after that, she published a commentary piece on Exaro, in which she complained about “the power plays of a small faction”, and explained that she had engaged with the inquiry as “an excerise in empowerment” suggested by her counsellor.

Hemming was among the MPs who had called for the setting up of a national inquiry during 2014; he has a long-standing interest in child protection (although his interventions have not always been well-judged), and it appears that it was within this context that Baker became aware of him and thought she recognised him as someone who had abused her over several years some time in the past. In October 2014, Hemming had called for Fiona Woolf to stand down from heading the inquiry due to social links with members of “the establishment” who would come under investigation; this was opposed by Wilmer, who disassociated from the inquiry in February 2015.

[UPDATE: Baker has now published a screenshot which indicates that she had accused Hemming privately to a third party at the end of January 2015]

The day before the Sky News item was broadcast, Wilmer wrote on Twitter “They attacked Fiona Wolf because she’d dined with Leon [Brittan]. But they feted [Keith] Vaz, who publicly supported Lord Janner. They will be exposed” (3). In June 2015, one of Baker’s supporters on Twitter suggested that “two survivors” may have “been paid by a paedo ex-Lib Dem MP to cause chaos”. Thus one faction in the conflict within the nascent inquiry found itself being associated with paedophilia due to a complaint made by a member of another faction. Small world.

After Baker had waived her right to anonymity, the “church setting” was tweaked into accounts of orgies in the woodland area of Cannock Chase; the cops were not just members of her church, but actually stood guard during the proceedings. VIPs were also involved, with a judge who was addressed as “M’Laud” participating. Although Baker did not refer to any explicit “Satanic” element, the similarity with Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations is striking. Baker was also allegedly taken by night to Dolphin Square in London, and returned in the morning; another Dolphin Square accuser, named only as “Darren”, says that he saw her there, and she in turn has endorsed his claims about a “medical room” at the location.

Somewhat oddly, Baker at first maintained that she was distinct from Becky, referring “Becky and I” in some Tweets; this distinction was dropped as Baker became a commentator on the subject of child sex abuse. In August 2016 she appeared on Newsnight to discuss the IICSA (an appearance praised by Sarah Champion MP), and in February this year she appeared on the conspiracy podcast The Richie Allen Show to express how “The Police Talking About Ted Heath’s Crimes Gives Me Hope For Justice”. She also continues to assert that Operation Midland’s “Nick” was telling the truth (e.g. here).

The CPS decision is a second set-back for Baker and her supporters in recent months – back in May the case against two people she had accused of stalking was dropped. Watts is now keen to stress that a CPS decision not to proceed is not evidence that an allegation is false, but that’s a point that would be easier to take had the existence of police investigations not formerly been reported so triumphantly and boastfully, with Watts and Baker making jokes about “green bottles” falling.

It is also a set-back for John Mann MP, a grandstander who endorsed the allegations against Hemming as “credible” and promised more to come; Mann gave a similar assurance when Harvey Proctor’s house was raided by police.

Hemming also has harsh words for his Labour Party election rival, Jess Phillips:

Some members of the Labour Party, including my opponent in the last two General Elections, have invested considerable time in promoting these allegations. The promotion of the complainant as an expert in this subject area as a consequence of these allegations has caused addtional difficulties for my family.

I am not myself aware of another situation where members and supporters of a political party have promoted such allegations in such a public manner – essentially arming the villagers with torches and pitchforks and setting off on a lynching. There were public attempts to prevent me from standing as a candidate because of allegations made maliciously by a Labour Party member backed by other members of the Labour Party. Many Labour members will find this unacceptable and it is an issue that needs consideration by the Labour leadership.

Baker and Phillips have communicated on Twitter from time to time: on eve of the 2015 election Phillips told her that “I will think of you every time I feel like giving up!” Shortly afterwards, Baker said that she had joined the Labour Party (winning praise from Stephen Twigg and Sarah Champion), and she and Phillips met in June 2015. During the same period, Phillips Tweeted to Baker and others that she had blocked Hemming on Twitter after having received “creepy” comments from him. The Mail on Sunday Diary column noted:

Lib Dem John Hemming, dumped by voters at the Election, sent a shiver through Labour’s Jess Phillips – his successor as the MP for Birmingham Yardley – by telling her on Twitter: ‘I hope you are having a nice drink in the Prince of Wales.’

After Phillips’ protests that it was ‘creepy tweeting my location’, Hemming tells Dog: ‘It is bad enough her pushing me out of my parliamentary seat, but pushing me out of my local pub is a rum do.’

Footnotes

(1) It’s not clear what the point of this theatrical flourish was – it gave the impression of being some sort of “test”, but it was not a test that it was possible for the subject to fail. The documentary also focused on Richard Kerr, as I noted here.

(2) [UPDATE] This obviously implies that there was nothing to implicate Hemming other than Baker’s own testimony. However, Exaro‘s Mark Watts presents this detail as if means that Hemming has got off on a technicality, writing: “CPS says that it decided not to charge ex-MP John Hemming with child sexual abuse b/c Esther Baker had identified him from an image online.” In fact, however, the “Turnbull guidelines”, which require a judge to warn a jury about the possibility of mistaken identity, are a general instruction and do not specifically pertain to online images.

(3) I noted Vaz and Janner here.

A Note on an Austrian Study on Islamist Radicalization

Here’s one I missed, from early August. From Die Tagespost, via Google translate:

What role does religion play in islamist radicalization processes? The Islamic theologian Ednan Aslan, who works at the University of Vienna, investigated this question in 29 biographical interviews with delinquent Muslims (26 of them in prisons, three in juvenile institutions) in Austria. Two-thirds of the men surveyed have Russian citizenship and are ethnic Chechens. The most important result of the study is that the active debate “with content, norms and values ​​of the Islamic doctrine” plays a decisive role in the radicalization. “This intensive examination of theological issues is a turning-point in many of the interviewees in their lives, and the majority of them are positively evaluated.”

It is clear that the majority of the respondents came from a Muslim religious home and knew the foundations of Islam before radicalization. The widespread view that radical Muslims have mostly little knowledge of their religion, has not been confirmed in this study, says the 310-page book. The author admits, however, that those studies, which see religion as the main cause of Islamic radicalization, are in the minority. His conclusion: “Regardless of their religious knowledge, a radicalized person sees in theology an offer that lends meaning and structure to their lives.” (1)

The story was picked up across the border by Welt, tagged as “Deutschland” despite pertaining to Austria. That article contrasted the findings with a recent study conducted in Germany, which found that juvenile radicalisation was due to a “Lego-Islam” disconnected from the tradition. The German study was based on an analysis of messages on WhatsApp. (2)

References to the Welt article then made their way into English, where the piece was deployed polemically on conservative websites. Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch provided a translation, although he also incorporated a link to a different article called “Why Islam is so immune to reform”, which he misleadingly presented as a sub-heading within the translation. A few days later the British Barnabas Fund also referred to Welt; their post then got picked by CBN, from where it has spread to other Christian websites.

These derivative English articles present Aslan’s research not as a new contribution that needs to be placed alongside other studies as part of a wider picture, but as a definitive rebuttal of all commentary that has come before it, significant as proof that Islam itself is the inspiration and explanation for extremism. In these articles, the specific Russia/Chechen context of many of Aslan’s interview subjects disappears from view, and there is no direct reference to the source itself: Islamistische Radikalisierung Biografische Verläufe im Kontext der religiösen Sozialisation und des radikalen Milieus. The work can be accessed from the University of Vienna website here.

Aslan is a “liberal” Muslim of Turkish heritage, and he is also known for a study into Islamic Kindergartens that proved to be a source of controversy over alleged changes that were made to it (it was removed from the university website, but can be seen here and here). Aslan has published a number of academic book on Islam, in German and in English.

Footnote

(1) The original article was paywalled by the newspaper after a week, although the text remains available on a web-capture page. Here’s the text translated above:

Welche Rolle spielt die Religion in islamistischen Radikalisierungsprozessen? Dieser Frage hat der an der Universität Wien wirkende islamische Theologe Ednan Aslan in 29 biografischen Interviews mit straffälligen Muslimen (26 von ihnen in Gefängnissen, drei in Jugendeinrichtungen) in Österreich nachgespürt. Zwei Drittel der befragten Männer haben die russische Staatsbürgerschaft und sind ethnische Tschetschenen. Das wichtigste Ergebnis der Studie ist wohl, dass die aktive Auseinandersetzung „mit Inhalten, Normen und Wertvorstellungen der islamischen Lehre“ bei der Radikalisierung eine maßgebliche Rolle spielt. „Diese intensive Auseinandersetzung mit theologischen Themen stellt bei vielen Befragten einen Wendepunkt in ihrem Leben dar, der mehrheitlich positiv bewertet wird.“

Aufschlussreich ist, dass der Großteil der Befragten aus einem gläubigen muslimischen Elternhaus stammt und die Grundlagen des Islam bereits vor der Radikalisierung kannte. Die weit verbreitete Ansicht, radikale Muslime hätten meist nur eine geringe Kenntnis ihrer Religion, habe sich in dieser Untersuchung nicht bestätigt, heißt es in dem 310 Seiten starken Werk. Der Autor räumt allerdings ein, dass international jene Studien, die Religion als hauptursächlich für islamistische Radikalisierung sehen, in der Minderheit sind. Sein Fazit: „Unabhängig von ihrem religiösen Wissensstand sieht eine radikalisierte Person in der Theologie ein Angebot, das ihrem Leben Sinn und Struktur verleiht.“

This was published on 2 August; there was also a piece published the day before in Kosmo, an Austrian magazine aimed at residents with connections to the Balkans.

(2) The German study is published by Springer as “Lasset uns in sha’a Allah ein Plan machen”: Fallgestutzte Analyse der Radikalisierung einer WhatsApp-Gruppe; the authors are Michael Kiefer, Jörg Hüttermann, Bacem Dziri, Rauf Ceylan, Viktoria Roth, Fabian Srowig and Andreas Zick. Springer also publishes some of Aslan’s works.