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.
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