VIGIL Network Launches Website

A few months ago I wrote a blog entry on VIGIL, an anti-Islamist organisation which was used as a source for a BBC Newsnight report on Islamic extremism in the UK. As much as I applaud serious journalistic efforts to explore this subject, Newsnight’s reliance on this shadowy organisation was troubling, and a bit of googling led one to conclude that the group was rather weird. Now VIGIL has launched a website, with some silly James Bond-type graphics and a section called “corrections”. Alas, this gives further cause to be sceptical of group’s judgement and credibility:

Following the humiliation of infiltration and exposure by VIGIL in the autumn of 2006, Hizb ut Tahrir Britain issued a shabby blog document entitled “VIGIL Exposed”…They claimed that VIGIL was a Zionist conspiracy to paint them in a bad light.

The blog itself – which was short-lived – can be seen here. Clearly the blog’s author dislikes VIGIL, but there is no reason to believe that she is a member of HuT, or even a Muslim. Without evidence, we can only conclude that the VIGIL author – most likely Dominic Whiteman – either (a) throws around accusations of membership of HuT indiscriminately or (b) realises that an organisation which wishes to present itself as a global anti-terrorist spy agency tends to look silly by getting so exercised over “a shabby blog”. Further, the blog makes no mention of “a Zionist conspiracy”, although it does note that Glen Jenvey, who has been closely linked with VIGIL, is a “defender of Zionism”. In fact, that’s putting it mildly – Jenvey set up a fake Islamist website, which he then replaced with the following message:

There is just one way to achieve a lasting peace and have an end to terror in the middle east. The entire Muslim Ummah must realize:

There is no such thing as a ‘Palestinian.’ There never was. It is a PR fiction, a Madison Avenue fantasy. There is no ‘intifada,’ El Aksa or otherwise. There is a Philistine Authority Pogrom, both against Jews and Arabs, by Arafat and his thugs. The main victims are the resident Arabs themselves. There is actually one reference in the Qur’an to the Palestinian People – and that is the Philistines,” – Shaykh Abdul Hadi Palazzi

Israel belongs to the Jews – because Allah gave that land to them – why, because the Philistines won’t act like decent human beings – and only decent humans deserve their own country. If the Philistines don’t like it, they should just find somewhere else to live. Except no other country on earth wants to have them because they are not acting like decent human beings.

And Kashmir belongs to the Indians – for the same reasons.

However, VIGIL is now stressing that Jenvey is not part of the organisation:

…Glen Jenvey is not a member of VIGIL, although VIGIL has worked with him in the past with an online investigation into Al Muhajiroun in the UK.

Moving on:

…VIGIL has been linked with the group IC HUMINT. “IC HUMINT is the parent organization of VIGIL” has been said. This is incorrect. IC HUMINT is a stand-alone anti terrorist entity based out of the United States and the Netherlands and VIGIL is not owned by IC HUMINT, nor shares any members with IC HUMINT. The two groups have never worked together in the past.

VIGIL would like to point out that IC HUMINT does a great job and looks like a very impressive operation.

This is most curious, given the announcement which was posted on the IC HUMINT website until shortly after the Newsnight programme:

The VIGIL network is a large non-profit, non-political network of former intelligence officers, anti-terrorist operatives and proven private terror trackers united in one (mostly online) offensive strategy against the Islamic extremists threatening the planet right now. VIGIL was formed consequent to the 7/7 attacks on London.

…Now the VIGIL Group has found its place within the IC-HUMINT network to strenghten and extend both our service!

Dominic Whiteman, Director of VIGIL

So did IC HUMINT make this up, or what?

Elsewhere on the VIGIL website, there is an illustration of the “VIGIL structure”:

4 DIRECTORS
J Lewis (Americas)
D Whiteman (Europe)
A Zahra (Middle East)
M Chen (Asia)

DEMARCATED UNITS
(Up to 12 individuals per unit)

TRANSLATION TEAM
(Bangkok)

Meanwhile, the IC HUMINT website appears to have cleaned itself up a bit, removing a remarkable account of its origins as a group of people who

formed an alliance to establish a global network to form an army to fight the Evil-World to come and to serve for the glory of Jerusalem, the city of GOD

This was followed with

Shalom Jerusalem, holy city of GOD! We are in service of the Mighty one. For there is but one God and only him we shall serve.

That’s all gone – instead, the site now emphasises the work of an American private military researcher named Gerard (Jerry) Keenan, who is apparently available for hire. There is also a list of associate members, although “only those that have requested to be included” are provided. The list includes the SAS, the Israeli Defence Forces, and British Intelligence. The site also still states that it is “Crown Copyright”.

Very peculiar.

UPDATE: The above story presaged an extensive saga, beginning in 2009; see here for further details.

Also, here’s a screenshot of the website (which is now long-gone):

Two of the photos incorporated into this screenshot also appear on other sites. The photo used for “J Lewis” is a stock image, and can be seen here as a sample on a website for Kodak Professional Digital Enhancement; according to Wayback, it has been there since at least October 2005.  The picture of the supposed “M Chen” appeared on a dating site during 2006.

14 Responses

  1. It seems strange that you – clearly a man of intelligence – would use the Internet to guess at what these groups represent. Rather than short cut, why don’t you use the contact page on VIGIL’s site and ask them some questions, as might a journalist. Or does this not serve your agenda?

  2. I don’t see what’s “strange” about using an organisation’s public statements as a basis to judge where they are coming from. I expect that if they wanted to say more they would have placed more explanatory materials online. I think all I’ve done is to point out the concerns that any fair-minded person would have. Also, you’ll see that I have written supportively of the Channel 4 documenary Undercover Mosque, so I can hardly be said to have some sort of pro-Islamist “agenda”, which I think you are hinting at.

  3. Thank you to the person who left a message noting the information about Vigil on Whois. However, I don’t see what is to gained by posting someone’s personal details, and so I have removed them from here.

  4. Wow. Those VIGIL guys claim to be ex-spies and they go and register a residential address for their website. Talk about amateur!

  5. […] heavily on material derived from VIGIL, a private and shadowy investigative group. Alas, it was later shown that VIGIL and those associated with it have a rather weird agenda of their […]

  6. […] and questionable organisation known as the “VIGIL Network”, as I blogged here and here. Perhaps it was that experience which has led Newsnight to being rather more cautious and critical […]

  7. […] There follows a cozy interview between Chesler and “Lionheart”, in which he talks about his religious faith, but avoids repeating his belief that “the Living God is on the side of the BNP”. Interestingly, he also claims that he is being supported by Glen Jenvey, who has featured on this blog in the past, and who has links with the weird VIGIL Network. […]

  8. […] blogged on VIGIL here and here. As regular readers will know, I’m no fan of Islamism, but that doesn’t mean any weird […]

  9. […] Walker rebuked me thus: It seems strange that you – clearly a man of intelligence – would use the Internet to guess at […]

  10. […] over the “granny bomber” story, and I recalled his rather unsatisfactory reaction in 2007 to the first critical scrutiny into VIGIL. It also occured to me that, by giving us information, it […]

  11. […] VIGIL Network: Questions for Lord Ashcroft Posted on November 26, 2009 by Richard Bartholomew Just under a year ago I noted the disappearance of the website of the VIGIL Network, a self-styled freelance intelligence gathering outfit which supposedly existed to expose Islamic extremism and terror threats. In late 2006 VIGIL had provided material for a BBC Newsnight article, featuring both its director, Dominic Wightman (using his “Dominic Whiteman” spelling) and Glen Jenvey. At the time I thought VIGIL was rather strange, and I wrote a posting expressing some concerns here. The VIGIL website was launched in mid-2007, as I blogged here. […]

  12. […] to fight the Evil-World to come and to serve for the glory of Jerusalem, the city of GOD!” In 2007, this was replaced with a profile of Keenan (also known as Jerry Keenan) and a list of associate […]

  13. […] website as a honey trap. He claims that evidence he uncovered played a role in prosecutions, and, as part of a group called the “VIGIL Network” in 2006, he had a line to Patrick Mercer MP, at that time […]

  14. […] on Christmas Day 2008, when he introduced himself as someone involved with Dominic Wightman’s VIGIL Network, which purported to track on-line extremists and which had the endorsement of Patrick Mercer MP. In […]

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