Confirmed: Glen Jenvey Arrested on “Suspicion of Inciting Religious Hatred against Jews”

Many of the posts on this blog over the past year have concerned self-styled “anti-Jihadi” experts and activists in the UK; the trend was set in January, when Tim Ireland uncovered evidence which showed that a front-page story in the Sun about a terrorist plot against British Jews being discussed on a Muslim discussion board had been concocted by a supposed expert named Glen Jenvey. I helped Tim with some follow-up work, which has spiralled out in several directions.

So, this is a particularly fitting end-of-year post, as we turn to a report just published on the Guardian website:

A self-styled terrorism expert who was behind a fabricated Sun front-page story about Lord Sugar and other Jewish figures being on an Islamic extremist hitlist has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred against Jews.

…Speaking to MediaGuardian.co.uk, Jenvey said that the police raid had left him out of work as he could not do any research without his computer.

He said: “I am a freelance journalist of a sort as I supply research material to other journalists. So if I am treated like this, that means other journalists can also be targeted for incitement to religious hatred if they get a story wrong like that.”

…Jenvey said planting the posts on Ummah.com were part of an undercover sting, which was prematurely reported by South West News.

He said: “With these posts I wanted to see what sort of extremists would be attracted to it, and what sort of threats they would make against Jews. My intention was to wait for a week.”

There is something in Jenvey’s explanation, but it is only a small part of the story. Of course he had hoped that his postings to Ummah.com would encourage Muslims to make extremist statements – but only one reader chose to take the bait (a certain “Saladin1970“), and that was in a way that was no more significant than someone mouthing off. It is very clear from the (now-deleted) Sun article that Jenvey was parading his own posts, made as “Abu Islam”, as the main evidence of the terrorist plot he had supposedly “exposed”. Given Jenvey’s political views, it seems that his aim was mischievous – he may have written something which allegedly incited hatred against Jews, but his intention was that the public should see this as the words of a Muslim. One bit of follow-up that I did concerned “Zaidi234”, who had written posts in Jenvey’s distinctive dyslexic style to a Pravda discussion board asking Muslims to protest against a book about Islamic extremists; “Zaidi234″‘s postings were clearly not made as a “sting”, but to whip up a controversy in order to generate publicity (although in the end the book, by an associate of Jenvey named Jeremy Reynalds and entitled War of the Web, was never actually published). And how could South West News have “prematurely reported” on the bogus terror plot when Jenvey was the only source for the information?

Further, his subsequent behaviour was bizarre. First, he sought revenge on Tim by making anonymous postings to various sites accusing him of being a paedophile. Second, he threw around other accusations, telling Jeremy Reynalds that the Guardian had written about him as part of a grand conspiracy for the benefit of terrorists, and leaving numerous comments on Paul Ray’s blog (1). Finally, he announced his conversion to militant Islam, joining the extremists around Anjem Choudhary and making crude anti-Jewish statements. During this period, he explained that his postings to Ummah had indeed been made in order to make Jews feel afraid. After three months of this, he then announced that his conversion had been a feign all along so that he could study extremist Muslims undercover. In short, he did nothing that would indicate that he was a serious journalist who had made an unfortunate mistake, and everything to indicate that he was simply lashing out after exposure.

Tim has had to endure a lot of hassle since January: as well as Jenvey’s anonymous paedo-smears, we both came into conact with a former associate of Jenvey named Dominic Wightman, who attempted to use the situation to manipulate us into writing about another person, against whom he has grudge. As part of this scheme, Wightman tried to hoist on us a fake interview between Jenvey and Reynalds that contained personal information about Tim and caused some alarm. This was followed by a campaign of harassment from other associates of Wightman who call themselves “the Cheerleaders“, although Wightman insists he has had nothing to do with this. The “Cheerleaders” posted Tim’s home address on-line in various places and made threats of violence; they overlap with a music band called “The Fighting Cocks”, run by a man named Charlie Flowers, who threatened Tim with a fist-fight. Wightman and the Cheerleaders have also accused Tim and me of working with Islamic extremists because we corresponded with the adminstrator of Ummah.com in order to get IP information about sites and posts where Jenvey may have made other bogus postings. Clearly, they are all very keen that this is a subject which should not be fully investigated. There certainly is still more to find: Unity at Ministry of Truth uncovered a second story of interest in October.

Jenvey’s arrest also has some political fall-out. It’s more embarrassment for Patrick Mercer MP, who endorsed Jenvey and whose office passed materials from Jenvey both to newspapers and to the Home Secretary.

(1) Paul Ray, of course, is the blogger known as “Lionheart”, who formed the English Defence League earlier this year but who appears to be semi-detached from the organisation now, following a dispute with other members. Just after the Sun story was published, Ray and Jenvey were due to appear on an American radio show together, but on the night Ray explained that Jenvey could not appear due to threats. Ray later defended Jenvey against the accusation that he had created bogus postings, but he did not make any further comment on the subject once it was clear it was a lost cause. Curiously, however, while Ray enthusiastically denounces all kinds of people as “traitors”, he had nothing to say about Jenvey’s supposed conversion to Islam.

Ship of Fools: The Price of Stupidity

Back at the end of January, the Lynchburg News & Advance reported on Liberty University’s Randall Price, who declared that he was preparing to go to Turkey in order to find Noah’s Ark:

This summer Price, 57, plans to continue on a journey to prove just that as he joins an expedition to Mount Ararat. His team believes that it is there, in Eastern Turkey, where Noah’s Ark remains preserved underneath layers of rubble and ice.

“There’s a whole trail of history pointing to it (Mt. Ararat),” Price said. “But in our age, people tend to think it is more of a story like ‘Jack and the Bean Stalk.’ Our aim is to show that the Bible is good history.”

Price teamed up with Richard Bright, who has “visited Turkey more than 30 times over the past 25 years in search of the vessel”; Bright in turn has previously been accompanied by the astronaut James Irwin, who is now Pastor and President of the High Flight Foundation. The article ends with a promise from Bright:

“Keep your ear to the road, so to speak, this summer,” he said. “Because there will be discovery. The only thing that’s holding us back is to finance the machinery that we need.”

Robert Cargill wrote a scathing assessment of Price’s plan and his motivations in a blog post at the time.

Nearly a year later, the News & Advance now published a follow-up. Those of us who regularly track these kinds of crackpot stories will not be totally surprised to learn that the promised “discovery” is not quite apparent yet, although we are assured that a breakthrough is just around (yet another) corner:

“We did penetrate about 18 feet down into the glacier, and we have some evidence that we’re in the right place,” Price said, adding satellite data puts them about 30 feet from their goal.

Price said he’s aware that whatever rests under the glacier might not be the jackpot he has been looking for.

“While we’d like to think it’s Noah’s Ark, we’re not sure what it is, but it’s in the right place,” he said.

Price’s newsletter has further information about Price’s 18-foot Ark-hole:

water began to ooze up from below. This may be an indication that we are in the vicinity of the anomaly as a darker mass under the ice would absorb heat and melt the ice around it. This could also be evidence of a thermal vent, as the mountain is volcanic and partially active.

So, thermal vent? Or evidence of the structure which once contained living specimens of all the animals in the world, and from which the only human family to survive a global flood emerged around 2000 BCE? There’s only one way to find out:

We are quite certain that if the authorities cooperate and funding is secure that we will make a discovery in these areas… If you wish to make a tax-deductible donation toward the work, please make your gift to World of the Bible Ministries and earmark it for Noah’s Ark Search LLC. We have a pledge for a matching gift of up to $75,000, so we encourage your end of the year donation as it will be doubled at this time!

Maybe Price should have a word with those unnamed Oklahoma government officials who have supposedly been so helpful to Jim Barfield’s hunt for the Copper Scroll treasure.

Price is a prolific author of apocalyptic Christian Zionist tomes and DVDs, with titles such as The Coming Last Days Temple and How the MidEast Conflict is Preparing the World for the End Time. However, he also has a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, and he has been involved in professional excavations with Israeli archaeologists at the Qumran site.

(Hat tip: Pharyngula)

The Fag End of Hassan Butt

Belatedly, via Paul Stott’s blog I see that the latest issue of Lobster is available as a free pdf download. Among the goodies is a piece by Solomon Hughes that casts a sceptical eye over Prospect magazine – in particular, Prospect‘s use of material derived from Hassan Butt, the supposed “reformed jihadi” who turned out to be a fantasist. The piece includes quotes given to Hughes by Prospect editor David Goodhart:

Journalist Shiv Malik interviewed Hassan Butt for a long Prospect piece on the 7/7 bombing and editor Goodhart said that, ‘I did once hear that the services regard the Shiv Malik piece on 7/7 as essential reading inside the “security state”‘ and added: ‘a Pentagon official once said the same.’

Goodhart went on to say: ‘if Hassan Butt has now been “exposed” as a liar and fantasist we were certainly not the only ones taken in – there was a big Newsnight interview – and big pieces in several nationals.’

British journalists and security professionals taken in by a dodgy source on Islamic extremism? Surely not

Of course, Butt is not the only person to have made a career out of being a supposed former extremist – across the water there is Walid Shoebat, who regularly thrills church groups with tales of Muslim terrorist bloodlust mixed in with his bizarre re-interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

Religion Explains Unfortunate Events: Elephant Attack Edition

Back in September, the BBC reported on destruction caused by wild elephants in the Kandhamal district of Orissa, India:

Hundreds of villagers have been forced to take shelter in camps in the Indian state of Orissa after repeated attacks by a herd of elephants.

…Conservationists say this is because the natural habitats of the elephants are shrinking. They blame this on human encroachment, which means animals have to travel further for food.  It is, however, unclear why this herd of elephants migrated from the Lakheri sanctuary in a neighbouring district.

One man has an answer, though: step forward Rev Lal Rodinga Colney of Restoration India Mission, who declared the devastation to be a vengeful “miracle” against Hindus for anti-Christian rioting and killing that took place last year:

It is surprising that these will elephants are leaving the Christian houses and untouched. They are targeting mostly the houses belonging the persecutors. So people name them Christian elephants.

Also as the anti-Christians were suddenly appearing within 7-8 P.M. and destroying the Christian houses last year August 2008. Exactly like that these elephants are suddenly appearing within the same time and destroying the houses.

…Now 4 people have been killed by elephants and they are still in the district of Kandhamal.

Colney’s miracle tale was posted online by a former missionary named Luke Kuepfer, who adds further details:

Were these elephants summoned by God? One would wonder, as it was in the month of August a year ago around 7-8PM that Christians in this same area began to run for their lives while their homes were being destroyed by anti-Christian rioters. Exactly one year later, at the same time of the day, the persecutors are now running for their lives, from nothing less than a herd of wild elephants! These elephants first attacked a rock crusher machine owned by a key leader of the persecution movement. They then went on to destroy his house and farms. Gaining momentum, they rampaged through other non-Christian homes demolishing gardens and singling out the homes of persecutors, leaving Christian homes untouched. People ran to the police station to report the disastrous news. In one case, a police jeep that attempted to drive away the herd was attacked and the occupants barely escaped. Truly, God is the avenger of the helpless.

Colney wrote in a recent email to Luke, “God’s miracle is going on in Kandhamal now. People’s hearts are changing towards our God. Please pray… now is the time to harvest.”

The story has spread across various Christian websites, including that of the Catholic Diocese of Colombo in Sri Lanka; some sites express a sanguinary glee at the “retribution“, while others suggest that would be unwise. No-one, however, apparently feels the need to ask how exactly Colney came by his very specific information.

A few days ago, the Press Trust of India  provided an update to the main story:

With the death of a pregnant woman, Sanira Digal (28) and her 5-year-old daughter Ashalata in elephant attack yesterday at Pasoripada village in Brudukia GP under Balliguda Forest Division, the death toll due to elephant menace has gone up to 13, [official sources] said.

Presumably Colney and Kuepfer will praise the Lord for this continuance of “God’s miracle”.

The Kalinga Times reported in 2006 that

As the forest cover continues to dwindle in Orissa, the Naveen Patnaik Government has failed to contain the human-elephant conflict in the State.

…According to a written reply given by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the State Assembly… 39 persons were killed by elephants across the State during 2000-01, 59 in 2001-02, 43 in 2002-03, 37 in 2003-04, 64 in 2004-05, 42 in 2005-06 and 44 in 2006-07.

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)

Mark Taha at Springbok Club

Interesting news from Alan Harvey’s Springbok Club:

 The Springbok Club celebrated the Day of the Vow in December 2009 with a special commemoration gathering. Events commenced with devotions and musical entertainment by Mr. Robin Willow, following which the meeting was addressed by Mr. Mark Taha. Mr. Taha is an expert in post-WWII South African literature, and analysed the predictions made in several works of fiction which prophesised the end of civilised rule in southern Africa. In a lively debate which followed it was emphasised how although none of these predictions became true exactly, they established an atmosphere of pessimism and defeatism which led eventually to the appeasement and surrender of 1992/1994.

One imagines there were some subjects Harvey and Taha chose not to discuss: for instance, Taha sued Searchlight (and various distributors) for libel in the 1996, while Harvey takes a surprisingly positive view of the magazine; indeed, Hugh Muir reported in August last year that 

Harvey is accused by his detractors, we see, of being a mole for the anti-fascist group Searchlight. (“No comment” is Searchlight’s reaction. So we’ll have to watch him closely).

These “detractors” are members of “the Swinton Circle”, which split into two factions following a dispute between Harvey and Gregory Lauder-Frost. There now exists two Swinton Circles, each of which has anathematized the other; I have blogged on the subject a number of times (e.g. here).  According to Lobster magazine, back in the 1980s Taha was employed as a researcher by Andrew VR Smith, who is close to Lauder-Frost.

Taha’s name has been linked with a number of political groups over the years; one association which can be confirmed independently is with the Libertarian Alliance, albeit as a self-described “sympathiser” rather than a member. The LA, and “right libertarian” groups such as the Greater London Young Conservatives, took the view that apartheid was a form of “racial socialism”, and should therefore be opposed; however, measures such as sanctions should be rejected, and support instead given to organisations such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (1). That does not appear to have been Harvey’s own perspective, although various “right libertarians” have spoken at Springbok events, such as the sociologist David Marsland.

(1) One LA activist of the era, Paul Staines, has since said that he thinks he and others “were taken in” by South Africa’s claim to be an anti-communist bulwark; I have a fuller discussion of the general context here.

Tarako Christmas

Don’t worry – the baby is not meant to be Jesus; it is, of course, a Kewpie doll’s face grafted onto cod roe.

Official website here (loud music alert); further details here.

Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches Repudiates BNP’s Rev Robert West

A comment arrives:

Dear Sir,

As a member of the [Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches] Council, I must respectfully disagree with both Rev West’s view of FIEC policy and with your interpretation of the FIEC’s reluctance to speak against the BNP. The FIEC has declined your invitation to castigate the BNP not because it wishes to endorse the policies of the BNP but because it is unwilling to become a political lobby group for or against any political party. We profoundly disagree with a range of political views, across a range of political parties.

In fact, the FIEC strongly believes that the churches that make up the Fellowship would repudiate any idea that the Scriptures support the published policies of the BNP. There are elements within the policies of all political parties which are contrary to the Scriptures. In the case of the BNP, it appears to us that its policies seek to create an attitude of racial hierarchy which values people of some ethnic origins more than others. The Scriptures do not support any such policies, and we greatly regret that Mr West has asserted that they do, and in so doing, that he has linked the name of The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches with his own erroneous views. Mr West is not in any way accredited by or associated with the FIEC.

Our restraint in answering your concerns does not condone either Rev. West’s views or your own.

Respectfully,
Pastor Michael Teutsch (Chair of the Care and Recognition Team)

This comes just nine months after the BNP’s Rev Robert West gave a sermon at an FIEC-affiliated Baptist chapel in  Leicestershire; the chapel’s administrators share the same surname as a local BNP activist. The FIEC issued a private assurance to a Messianic Jew that they did not approve of Rev West taking an FIEC pulpit (which is more than I got), but only now has any public statement been made, after Rev West left a comment on my blog opining that

I doubt very much that the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches oppose my views or the views of any genuine Christian and patriot, backed-up as they are by the holy Scriptures…

More background on Rev West here.

UPDATE: As well as Pastor Teutsch’s comment, there’s this more general announcement:

To all FIEC churches

We would wish you to be aware of a statement being made on a website in the public domain by the Rev Robert West, a parliamentary candidate representing the British National Party (BNP).

Mr West states the following: “I doubt very much that the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches oppose my views or the views of any genuine Christian and patriot, backed-up as they are by the holy Scriptures”.

Mr West has not contacted the FIEC office to find out what the views of the FIEC might be about this issue, and the FIEC regrets that Mr West has seen fit to make public reference to the supposed views of the FIEC without getting in touch with the office.

In fact, the FIEC strongly believes that the churches that make up the Fellowship would repudiate any idea that the Scriptures support the published policies of the BNP. There are elements within the policies of all political parties which are contrary to the Scriptures. In the case of the BNP, it appears to us that its policies seek to create an attitude of racial hierarchy which values people of some ethnic origins more than others. The Scriptures do not support any such policies, and we greatly regret that Mr West has asserted that they do, and in so doing, that he has linked the name of The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches with his own erroneous views. Mr West is not in any way accredited by or associated with the FIEC.

Richard Underwood
General Secretary
The Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches

Meanwhile, it’s worth repeating the repudiation of West made by the Apostolic Church in 2006; this Pentecostal denomination ordained West in the 1970s, and West displayed his diploma on television in April (in a piece for the Politics Show which also featured me). In 2006 the church responded to a query from a blogger thus (the original blog has been deleted, but luckily I quoted it at the time):

…First of all may I confirm that The Apostolic Church does not support the views or the activities of the British National Party. The Church has no political association whatsoever.

On the second matter I am uncertain about who is the Mr Robert West mentioned in the article. One thing is certain: he does not speak on behalf of The Apostolic Church. If this person lives in Lincolnshire he does not attend The Apostolic Church. In fact as a denomination we have no churches in Lincolnshire.

I note that he is quoted as being ‘ordained as an elder’ within the Church. If this person has had any association with The Apostolic Church in the past the only means by which he can maintain either his membership or office is by attending one of our churches. If he were an active member of the Church his views would not be accepted by the Church and disciplinary action would be undertaken by the Church which strongly distances itself from views such as these.

Display Problem

For some reason parts of posts are appearing as blank spaces; please double-click on blank areas to see the missing bits. Any advice as to why this is happening and how to fix it gratefully received…

Private Eye: David Cameron Seeks to Retain PM’s Veto on Bishops

Private Eye magazine carries an interesting report (1252, p. 8) on Desmond Swayne MP’s recent intervention at a meeting of the Parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee against a plan to amend the system by which suffragan bishops in the Church of England are appointed. Traditionally (i.e. since the 1970s), the church (in the form of the Crown Appointments Commission), would choose a potential bishop but also submit a second name to the prime minister, giving the PM the right of veto over the first name. Brown, though, announced two years ago that he considered the prime minister should no longer have this power, and he has accepted the first names for appointments as a matter of course.

The committee was meeting to discuss formalising this arrangement in the case of suffragan bishops, who assist diocesan bishops in ministering to larger dioceses, when Swayne raised his unexpected objection – apparently at the behest of David Cameron:

“As the leader of the opposition’s PPS, I did ask him about this today and he is not content that this should be done.” Although the prime minister has always chosen the first of two names submitted to him, “that does not mean that the choice was automatic.”

Swayne was a voice crying in the wilderness; all others present voted in favour.

Cameron’s apparent desire to return to the days of political interference in episcopal appointments will dismay many. There were calls for reform back in 2000:

Canon Christina Baxter…said: “I would be much in favour of removing any political influence from the appointment of bishops.” David McClean, a professor of law at Sheffield University and Ms Baxter’s predecessor as Laity chairman, said: “The intervention of the head of a political party in the appointment of bishops is no longer acceptable.”

The Rev Stephen Trott, a Church Commissioner and member of the Synod, said: “The way the appointment of bishops is organised should be transparent rather than masonic, as it is now. There should be a Church appointments commission free of political interference…”

Tony Blair reportedly used his veto several times, and the Eye recalls Thatcher’s use of the veto to install George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1990. Carey had been chosen as the second name for a strategic reason that backfired; as the Independent recalled in 2002:

One of those names is traditionally a complete outsider, included by the Church’s publicity-shy Crown Appointments Commission to ensure the Prime Minister picks the right candidate.

It does not always work. In 1990 Dr Carey is thought to have been selected as a candidate to push Margaret Thatcher into picking the Most Rev Dr John Habgood, Archbishop of York at the time, whose social views she disliked. But in one of her last acts as Prime Minister she chose Dr Carey, surprising the Church and putting at the heart of the establishment an East End hospital porter’s son who left school at 15.

Not everyone welcomed him and there were plenty of critics who agreed with his description of feeling “dazed and unworthy” when he learnt of the move from his Bath and Wells see to Lambeth Palace.

 (NB: I’m giving the Eye a hat-tip despite the fact that the magazine takes stuff from blogs without giving credit)

Stephen Green Calls for Gays and Adulterers to be Executed

The Pink News reports that Stephen Green has been discussing Uganda, as he enthuses over the proposed Anti-Homosexuality Bill:

Stephen Green, leader of the Christian extremist group ‘Christian Voice’, remarked:

“The Bible calls for the ultimate penalty for sodomy (Lev 20:13) and for rape (Deut 22:25), and our Lord upheld the death penalty when He called for the accusers of the woman caught in adultery to cast the first stone (John 8:7) – if, that is, they were not implicated in adultery themselves.

“The contrast between our politicians and those of Uganda could not be more stark…”

This is the first time I’ve seen John 8:7 used as an argument in favour of capital punishment – usually the text is taken to mean exactly the opposite, as Jesus suggests that only someone “without sin” in a general sense (i.e. not just “not implicated in adultery themselves”) should throw the first stone; in other words, that no mere human is worthy to do so. However, Green’s strange interpretation might be useful in America, where plans are underway to create a Conservative Bible, in which the entire story would be excised as a liberal interpolation.

On the other hand, perhaps Green had this joke in mind:

Jesus came upon a small crowd who had surrounded a young woman they believed to be an adulteress. They were preparing to stone her to death.

To calm the situation, Jesus said: “Whoever is without sin among you, let them cast the first stone.”

Suddenly, an old lady at the back of the crowd picked up a huge rock and lobbed it at the young woman, scoring a direct hit on her head. The unfortunate young lady collapsed dead on the spot.

Jesus looked over towards the old lady and said: “Do you know, Mother, sometimes you really piss me off.”

I’ve blogged on Stephen Green before, although MediaWatchWatch has the most extensive chronicle of the Acta Crudi. Green is something of an ineffectual character, and he featured in the 2008 Dispatches documentary on the UK Christian Right. As I noted then:

Throughout the programme, comic relief was provided by Stephen Green, who first gained media attention protesting against performances of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Green and his small group of followers hand out leaflets at gay pride events, and sing hymns and pray at a site in east London which has been earmarked as the location for the controversial “mega-mosque” Green believes that Allah is Satan, and that Islam will lead to civil war in the UK. He comes across as rather unbalanced: one minute he is chatting and joking with the documentary-maker, the next moment he becomes aggressive, forcing away the camera and complaining about “persecution” In one particularly bathetic moment in Brighton, just as he offers up a prayer a seagull leaves a prominent dropping on the front of his shirt; Green is not amused, and he demands that the documentary-maker not make fun of him – perhaps the fact that certain internet scoffers insist on nicknaming him “Stephen ‘Dog Shit’ Green” after he compared Jerry Springer to treading in dog excrement meant that this touched a raw nerve.

Soon afterwards he was threatened with bankruptcy after attempting to sue BBC executives for daring to broadcast Jerry Springer. Green ran up legal costs of tens of thousands of pounds, but shamelessly declared that it would be “vindictive” of the men to seek to recover money they had spent defending themselves.

(Hat tip: Bulldada Newsblog)