English Defence League Faction Meets with Charlie Flowers and “Cheerleader” Friends

CORRECTIONS: The original version of this blog post included a picture featuring a person whom I misidentified as being Matthew Kaplan. I have amended the post as a result of this error having been brought to my attention. Also, Darren Marsh is a member of UKIP , not the English Democrat Party. I had assumed an EDP connection due to his association with Bill Baker and from photographs of him alongside EDP paraphernalia. Apologies for both errors.

A few days ago a post on Talk Islam suggested a link between Charlie Flowers, the “Cheerleader” gang of cyber-bullies and the English Defence League. I was sceptical of the evidence provided, but for reasons of his own Flowers has now decided to resolve the issue – see picture here.

That’s Flowers to the left, with the EDL’s Joel Titus the middle and Darren Marsh to the right. It’s not much of a scoop; Flowers knows that I keep an eye on the “Cheerleadered” Facebook page, where this picture appeared, and that publicity from me would be inevitable. A few days ago I was sent an email from an anonymous source claiming that “the Cheerleaders are now organising regular meets in town between journalists, EDL, and the Muslim Debate Initiative”.

Titus was featured in a recent article about the EDL that appeared in Searchlight, posted here:

Joel Titus, the violent teenage leader of the EDL’s youth wing, has voiced loud concern, along with several other members of “the inner circle”, over the glib acceptance of known nazis… Following a recent demonstration in London, EDL supporters led by Titus clashed with Nazi-saluting Chelsea hooligans, leaving one of the Chelsea fans hospitalised. It is reported that Titus now wears a stab vest in fear of reprisals following threats made on the Stormfront nazi web forum…

Titus was cautioned by the police last month after hitting a photographer; he was also featured in a recent Daily Mail article:

He sticks to the ‘peaceful movement’ mantra but a text I later receive from him ahead of an EDL demo in London reveals his involvement with the hooligans. It reads: ‘Right lads, the “unofficial” meet for the 31st (London) is going to be 12 o’clock at The Hole In The Wall pub just outside Waterloo Station. I will be there just before that. Remember lads were (sic) going as Casuals Utd and if you could obtain a poppy to wear it would make us look good even if we are kicking off. lol. Cheers lads. Joel “Arsenal” Titus.’

Flowers and his friends, meanwhile, claim to be pro-Muslim but anti-Islamic extremist; this is at odds with much of the rhetoric of the EDL, which has played lip service to the same distinction between ordinary Muslims and extremists but which in practice has  been simply anti-Muslim, with banners such as “No More Mosques“, caps bearing the word “Infidel”, and the use of Crusader imagery (1). Perhaps Titus sees a link with Flowers and the “Cheerleaders” as a way to move forward his vision of a more moderate EDL; Flowers runs a music band called the Fighting Cocks, which purports to oppose Islamic extremism. The band’s website contains the following statement:

The West’s cultural weapons of mass destruction – rock music, videos, blue jeans, iPods, internet including pornography, etc.- are quite enough to bring down military jihad Islam over time. So is the picture of Western decadent luxury. Contain them so they cannot expand; defend the borders; and allow the market place to work on the rest. If they choose to keep out Western influences they will end up like Burma and North Korea; if they don’t, the Cultural Weapons of Mass Destruction and the promise of earthly delights will have their way on their youth… Radical Islam and the culture death shouldn’t be more attractive to young people than what we can offer.

Above this statement is a link to the Center on Terrorism and Irregular Warfare in the USA and to the login page of a secure US governmental site; the other side of Flowers and his friends is that they like to play pranks on Islamic extremists, and they have contructed an elaborate network of references to intelligence terms and agencies in other to create the impression of being “cyber-warriors” of some sort. On Facebook, they have created a number of pseudonymous identities, which form the basis for groups such as “the Cheerleaders” and the “Hur al-Ayn”.

However, while much of this is trivial, they engage in other, less savoury activities. In September I received an email from one “Cheerleader” containing a direct death threat against a named Muslim extremist, and, as I have outlined in a number of posts, they have conducted a campaign of harassment against the blogger Tim Ireland. This is a long story, but it begins at the end of 2008 when Flowers contacted me (using an alias) to say that he used to work with the now-defunct  Vigil Network – this was a supposed “terror-tracker” intelligence group run by Dominic Wightman (see here for background). The Vigil Network had also used Glen Jenvey, whom Tim exposed a year ago as the author of bogus postings to Muslim websites that he then used to create tabloid scare stories. After Tim publicised this and I wrote some follow-up posts, the “Cheerleaders” left annoying goading comments on our sites, and engaged in various forms of creepy behaviour (contacting my Facebook friends, hand-delivering a letter for me at a former workplace – Flowers seems to get enjoyment from the sense of power this kind of thing gives him). Wightman also contacted us, and provided us with an audio interview with Jenvey which Flowers had made in the guise of a journalist. However, Wightman also lied to us in an attempt to get us to write about someone against whom he had a grudge, and when the truth was discovered things turned nasty. The “Cheerleaders” published Tim’s home address on-line widely, in the stated hope that he would be forced to leave the country, and there were threats such as “machete to your throat”. There were also attempts to sow confusion; a blog was created in Wightman’s name and made to look as though the “Cheerleaders” had hacked it, thus creating an impression of distance from Wightman (and Wightman insists he has no link to the “Cheerleaders”). Flowers also threatened to come to Tim’s house for a fight, and more recently he distastefully made a “gypsy curse” threat against Tim’s family.

It seems likely that the “Cheerleaders” have been involved with all kinds of pranks with fake IDs on Muslim websites for some time, as this early comment to Tim’s site suggests:

As for commenting on bait being used as a catch, you mean what Glen did? Yep he let his OPSEC drills get slack and forgot, in his haste to set up a story that would sell, to mask his IP. Glen is a clever and able guy but it seems in this case he’s let greed and ego get in the way, maybe. Also he probably didn’t have to write the leading questions that he did, with people like Saladin1970 around they could have bitten anyway. So, yes Glen got sloppy. BTW he’s not a former colleague and we don’t bait people on the same side. He used to do a good job until this goatfuck.

I was also sent a private message some time ago:

When stressed [Jenvey] doesn’t take time to vary his “chop” (our term for writing style).

Perhaps if the Glen Jenvey arrest leads to a trial we may find out some more.

UPDATE: Johnpi adds more at Talk Islam:

Flowers and his Internet vigilante friends the ‘Cheerleaders’ claim to be opposed to Islamic extremism, but they are actually against Islam and target Muslims indiscriminately, just as their fellow travelers in the EDL do, and there is no better evidence of that than the intimidation tactics they engaged in here at Talk Islam, publishing several front page contributors’ home addresses and sending mail to one blogger’s home. They have also repeatedly threatened me.

None of those targeted – Hussein Rashid, Aziz Poonawalla or myself – could be described as anything other than moderate or progressive Muslims who have wrtten against extremism and religious violence.

(1) One prominent EDL logo carries the slogan “In Hoc Signo Vinces”, which was used by the Knights Templar and refers to a vision given to the Roman Emperor Constantine that he would conquer through the sign of the Cross; and that’s the main EDL, not Paul Ray’s weird spin-off.