More on the Cheerleaders

the-cheerleaders

 

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Tim Ireland has posted more details about our dealings with Dominic Wightman and with the Cheerleaders, a group of persons who have been sending Tim threatening messages and trying to cause trouble for his family by posting his private details to hostile websites.

I wrote a blog entry about the Cheerleaders back in February, as part of an investigation into Glen Jenvey and the “VIGIL Network“; this was after I had received the following comment (on 25 December 2008):

Richard- maybe you’d like an update from someone who works with [VIGIL]? (i.e. me)

drop us a line at the email I sent you and I’ll fill you in on the latest.

The commentator used the name “Lil’ Goat”, although the email address belonged to “Ludas Matyi” – that’s “Charlie the Goose-Boy” in a Hungarian folk-tale, and also the stage name of Charlie Flowers, the leader of a music band called “The Fighting Cocks” (interview here). “Lil’ Goat” is a reference to one of their songs, “The Little Goats’ Big Night Out.”

I did not give this much consideration, but the next month, when Tim revealed that the Sun had relied on a bogus posting by Glen Jenvey to create a front page splash about Islamic extremists, both Tim and I started to receive various comments and private messages from pseudonymous persons claiming to be “the Cheerleaders” or “the Hur al-Ayn”, containing boasts of having caused annoyance to Islamic extremists in various ways. These Cheerleaders overlap with the Fighting Cocks, as explained further below.

As well as messages, there was also some more creepy behaviour – a package for me was hand-delivered at a former workplace, and there was an attempt to join all my Facebook contacts. Tim also received some “I know where you live” type hints. However, there is no evidence that their efforts to disrupt Islamists were ever any more than trivial (such as winding up Asghar Bukhari). More recently, though, things have taken a more sinister turn. This came on 6 September, from “Charlie Wadia”:

Hello Richard, I’m authorised to tell you this- in nine days time, the Cheerleaders are going to war, and there will be bloodshed… we’re after [snip] and everyone around him, and when we find them, we’re going to kill them.

The named person is a notorious Islamist extremist who has served time in prison; even so, I was still obliged to spend time reporting this foolishness to the police. An associate of the Cheerleaders who calls himself Matthew Edwards emailed me a few days later to tell me that “Wadia is Matyi’s cousin”. And since then, we’ve seen the campaign against Tim Ireland, which includes comments such as “machete to your throat” on a now-suspended Twitter feed.

On the one hand, the Fighting Cocks claims to have some distance from the Cheerleaders. A message previously posted on a Facebook site read:

The Fighting Cocks would like to state that they have no links whatsoever with the Cheerleaders, and while they cannot condone their methods, they support their right to take direct action :)

However, “Matyi” has written to me from the Fighting Cocks email address, saying that:

I see you’ve been in correspondence with our little Valkyries; Shooter [Hadchiti], Fayruz and so on.

“And so on” includes names such as “Princess Calamity” and “Lady Terror”.

There are also some other similarities. The Fighting Cocks website features a link to the “Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare” (CTIW), which is part of the US Navy, and  a Cheerleaders Facebook site says: “This group is a live exercise by CTIW.” Also, I’ve had a Cheerleader comment on my blog supposedly from an “ncis.navy.mil” email address, and the Fighting Cocks’ website gives as part of its postal address “NCISRU Building 3” – a reference to a “Naval Criminal Investigative Service Resident Unit”. Perhaps the idea is to play on the paranoia and conspiracy-mongering of Islamic extremists; David T of Harry’s Place tells us that the group consists of “Situationists”. There are also some branding similarities, such as the use of images from manga, a similar logo sticker, and an interest in the novels of Tom Cain; like Cain’s protagonist Sam Carver, the Fighting Cocks boast that they “do bad things to bad people”, and both Cheerleaders and Fighting Cocks members follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Tim emailed one member of the Fighting Cocks directly asking for information – this was a man named Dan Wilde, who goes by the stage name of “DJ Assassin”. Wilde did not respond, although the email shortly afterwards appeared on the Cheerleaders’ Facebook site, along with the message “IRELAND IS REALLY IN THE CRAP NOW!”, and Tim received Flowers’ promise to come around to his house for a fight. However, while it would seem that Wilde is unwilling to disassociate himself from the on-line harassment of Tim Ireland, he was also quick to step-up the privacy settings on his own Facebook account.

So why are they attacking Tim in this vicious way? Flowers will not explain, but the timing makes it obvious that the intention is to provide cover for Dominic Wightman, who formerly ran VIGIL (under the name “Dominic Whiteman”; VIGIL has now disbanded amidst recriminations over money). As I’ve blogged previously, Tim and I met Wightman in February in relation to the Jenvey investigation; Wightman told us that Jenvey was in cahoots with a third person, a university lecturer, and urged us to expose this connection. In order to chivvy us along, Wightman later claimed to have a discovered a document which he encouraged us to believe had been written by the lecturer and posted on-line by him. In fact, however, the document had been posted on-line by Wightman and, despite his denials, in all likelihood he had concocted it. Certainly, the lecturer did not write it and Wightman has not provided any other explanation. This is, of course, disastrous for someone who wishes to be taken seriously as a researcher who uncovers information about anything; Wightman’s counter-attack has been to claim political persecution, with Tim and I supposedly “lefties” who wish to “smear” him for being a “Tory”. Tim has has some high-profile bitter spats with a number of public figures on the UK Right, such as Iain Dale, Paul Staines, and Nadine Dorries MP, and so Wightman has calculated that if he positions himself as being just another name on Tim’s list of political opponents, Tim will not be taken seriously and, perhaps, he (Wightman) will win the support of these people. The Cheerleaders have gone along with this, suggesting that their threats against Tim are revenge for these public spats, which they seek to frame as “bulllying”.

In another example of providing cover for Wightman, Tim recently received a list of questions the day before Wightman published an attack piece against him; it was obvious that the questions came from the same source. Wightman originally said that Tim had written the questions himself, but when I showed that this was impossible, I received a message from a Cheerleader telling me that she had done it by hacking into Wightman’s computer and reading the attack piece prior to publication. Wightman declined my offer to provide a statement for the police about this and shrugged it off as unimportant. Draw your own conclusions from that. Wightman, however, continues to insist he has had little contact with the Cheerleaders.

But why do the Cheerleaders think their threats and harassment are justified? Wightman has attempted to rationalise his deception by claiming that his attempt to mislead us was actually a ploy to uncover links with radical Islamists; obviously, in order to investigate how far Jenvey’s bogus postings had gone we had to communicate with the forum moderator at Ummah.com. Wightman, while expressing his personal dislike of the site, accepted this, but has since declared that this amounted to some kind of secret conspiracy that he has exposed. This is even though Tim openly posted on Ummah asking for information and I mentioned in a blog entry having received information about IPs Jenvey had used. Perhaps Wightman’s rationalisation for his behaviour also gives the Cheerleaders a spurious sense of righteousness in a course of action that is in reality completely unworthy of adults – and does nothing to oppose Islamic extremism.

And, finally, why do they think they can make threats and harass with impunity? I don’t know the answer to that, although in 2006 Wightman was photographed posing outside New Scotland Yard with Patrick Mercer MP, then the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, so perhaps they think that attacks on Tim will be indulged due to some secret influence. That would, of course, be very foolish, but it would be helpful if Mercer could do more than simply offer some prevarications followed by ineffectual regrets whenever it turns out that someone he has endorsed should not have been. Alternatively, it may just be the arrogance of fame – the band is apparently well-known in certain circles, and has been reviewed in the media over the years.

Mercer and Wightman

UPDATE: The Fighting Cocks Twitter feed warns Tim of violence if he comes to any of their gigs:

 Fighting Cocks Threat

This, it seems to me, closes down the possibility that individual members of the group might not know about the campaign against Tim.