• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Cheerleaders Return: Giving “Internet Security Advice” to Terrorism Researcher

A few weeks ago I blogged on the dispute between Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens and David Miller of Spinwatch. Meleagrou-Hitchens’ complaints about the site included reference to an Israeli terrorism researcher named Sagit Yehoshua:

I have recently spoken to the other individual mentioned in [David] Miller’s piece, Sagit Yehoshua, who earlier this year requested that her profile be removed from SpinProfiles. She informed me that as well as being riddled with inaccuracies about her associations, the original profile also made a very clear, and totally unfounded, suggestion that she is a member of Israeli intelligence. (The existing profile has been revised, but still makes an insinuating allusion.)

Miller has now responded to both elements of this objection, and he tells us that Yehoshua has been in contact with Spinwatch‘s ISP in an attempt to have the site about her removed. He also clarifies that the supposed “inaccuracies about her associations” concern her alleged links to a group called “the Cheerleaders”:

As we noted above, the correspondence with our ISP has involved both Sagit Yehoshua and her adviser, who introduced himself as representing Yehoshua as a ‘client’. This was someone signing himself ‘Matt’ from an organization called ‘P-Group’. We asked our ISP to ascertain whther P-Group were lawyers and to confirm with Sagit Yehoshua whether they, in fact, acted for her. She confirmed that P-Group are not lawyers, but do ‘internet security advice’. The email from the advisers had come from a hotmail account: p-group AT hotmail.co.uk and not from any business related domain name and ‘Matt’ did not give a surname.

So what are Sagit Yehoshua’s connections with the Cheerleaders? Although she had her name removed as an officer of the Facebook group in February 2010, Sagit Yehoshua remains (last checked 6 August) a member of the Cheerleadered group on Facebook. But the more compelling clue that she is connected to them is that she has confirmed that ‘P-Group’ are acting for her in her current complaint. ‘P-Group’, appears not to be a real entity either. However it does seem to have featured in the communications of the Cheerleaders in the past.

I’ve written about the “Cheerleaders” a number of times over the past 18 months or so: they are a group of cyber-vigilantes who purport to research and oppose Islamic extremists, although they are actually more interested in using fake on-line identities and sock-puppets to harass people. Most notably, last year they used Twitter to publicise thr blogger Tim Ireland’s home address and to send him a series of threatening messages – such as “machete to your throat” – in the stated hope that he would be forced to “go back to Australia”. This was prompted by Tim’s blog posts on how a man named Dominic Wightman had tried to manipulate him (and me) into writing blog posts attacking another man against whom Wightman has a grudge. However, Charlie Flowers, who heads the “Cheerleaders”, claims that this was simply coincidental, and that the attacks on Tim were undertaken because of Tim’s opposition to Nadine Dorries MP (see here). Wightman in turn has also disavowed any association, although Flowers did work with Wightman’s defunct “VIGIL Network”, along with Glen Jenvey.

A Facebook page for the “Cheerleaders” has around 500 members, but most of those are either casual invitees or people with whom Flowers has insinuated himself over the past few months. Those actively involved in the harassment created a plethora of on-line pseudonyms on Facebook and other sites, although most of these have been deleted or deactivated in the past few months. We know that Charlie Flowers is the prime mover, and that also involved is a man named Matthew Edwards and an unidentified woman, who made a taunting video. The core may be just those three; Flowers has actively attempted to give the impression that some his female friends are involved when they are not really.

The messages to Spinwatch from “Matt” appear to have come from Matthew Edwards: “P-Group” appears on the “Fighting Cocks” Myspace page as a supposed car hire firm called “P-Group Car Services”, with a mobile phone number but no address. The “p-group AT hotmail.co.uk” email address is also given as the contact address for the “Fighting Cocks” band. I’ve had several emails from “P-Group” myself, such as this:

From: matthew edwards XXXXXXXX@XXXXXXX.XX.XX

Date: 15 September 2009 22:38

Subject:

Dear Richard;
Seeing as I know all parties on our side, may I offer to mediate in a sit-down between yourself, Dominic and Matyi?…

Yours Sincerely
Mr Rivers
P-Group

“Matyi” is one of Flowers’ stage names, and Edwards has used the “Mr Rivers” name elsewhere. There was also a goading comment to my blog, received on 27 September 2009:

Barty.
Look here…

http://www.youtube.com/user/Pikeymassiv

Mr Rivers

This YouTube channel – since deleted – was created specifically to publicise Tim Ireland’s home address. Some of the messages received from Edwards came from an IP which matched the IP for messages from Charlie Flowers. In early October, I received a further message, mentioning “Charlie and Matt from P-Group”.

Tim also received the following email in January, in which Flowers, using his “Matyi” identity, uses “P-Group” to try to intimidate Tim into not writing about his associations:

I TOLD you not to contact these people. But your mental condition meant you had to, didn’t it? OK you are now officially in the crap, P-Group has found your web host, and they have been notified.
You have a choice:
1. Walk away and look away, and NEVER contact anyone involved with us again.
2. Keep it up, and reap the whirlwind.
3. This means and includes: anyone at Kooba or Redwire.

Matyi
TFC Cheerleaders

I received a similarly thuggish threat a couple of weeks later, that the Cheerleaders “laugh at legal and police business” and that they would “mess” me “up” if I continued to write about them.

Of course, I’m sure that Yehoshua knows nothing about any of this, or has been fobbed off with a bogus explanation: when it suits him, Flowers can come across as good humoured, and he is knowledgeable about various aspects of Islam and South Asian pop culture. Although he associates with elements of the English Defence League, he is not anti-Muslim. I have been given to understand that several people have disassociated themselves from him after discovering his on-line activities and his attempts to implicate them in his behaviour (this may explain why gigs involving his band have been cancelled).  He has also sought to play down his on-line harassment of Tim as he has built up new associations with groups such as British Muslims for Secular Democracy, and when challenged on the subject he’s not above an outright lie: when I last brought up the subject of one of the worst harassing pseudonyms (“Shooter Hadchiti”), he simply declared that I had made it all up.

If Spinwatch has misrepresented Yehoshua’s associations by mentioning the Cheerleaders, the fault lies with two men who have made a concerted effort to give the impression of a meaningful link: Charlie Flowers and Matthew Edwards.

UPDATE: I should add that several months ago I received a series of emails from someone calling himself “Kelvin”, who claimed to know all sorts of information about “P-Group”, including the supposed detail that it was founded by “ex-military and forensic-background people in 2006 to provide specialist intelligence for media”, and that “Matt Edwards” is a pseudonym for Ed Rivers rather than the other way around (a suggestion I know for certain is not true). “Kelvin”, of course, was an elusive character without a resolvable IP, and it was obvious that this was Edwards and Flowers trying to suck me into their Walter Mitty world for whatever reason. So, Yehoshua wants to insist on her independence from intelligence agencies, yet her “advisors” contact me with stupid messages under a fake name trying to convince me that “P-Group” is an intelligence outfit. If I were Yehoshua, I’d be asking Edwards and Flowers for an explanation.

UPDATE: Flowers has since boasted – in a characteristic bit of vicarious bravado – that Edwards is “ex-forces”. It seems to me likely that the name “P-Group” is probably meant to allude to the “15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group”, also known as the “15 PSYOPS Group“, based at the Defence Intelligence and Security Centre in Chicksands. Perhaps Edwards really has had some association with this military organisation, but his antics are a poor thrill-seeking parody of what the 15 PSYOPS Group actually stands for. If I were a member of PSYOPS I’d be less than impressed with this foolish appropriation of the organisation’s name; and if I were Yehoshua, I’d be noting this as further evidence of manipulation and betrayal.

7 Responses

  1. It seemed to me these bully-idiots had fallen quiet, hope they remain so.

  2. “This YouTube channel – since deleted”

    It appears rather than being deleted by the user, in which case we would get the message, “This account is closed.”

    We instead get this message, “This account is suspended.”
    Which suggests that the user was ‘banned’ by YouTube for copyright infringement or abusive behaviour. ?

  3. LOL yet more inaccuracies. So we’ve gone from “they’re not real!” to “OK they’re real but there’s only three of them” to “there’s 500 of them but they don’t know why they’re joining”.
    Bartholomew, get a grip. You KNOW what this movement is about. It scares you. I think your background in the Socialist Workers Party might be an indicator, no?
    PS you’re in our forthcoming book ;)

    • I know you’d like people to think that this about politics, rather than the fact you’re a cyber-bully who tried to silence someone by publishing their home address and sending threats.

      Why do you keep giving the “Progressive Islam” site as your website when they don’t want anything to do with you?

  4. […] and some associates who call themselves “the Cheerleaders”. Flowers, as I’ve written previously, is a bully and cyber-stalker who hides behind a pretence of political activism, and he tries to […]

  5. I think we have to build an understanding about they whom you called “terrorist”. “The terrorist” could call you so as they feel that they are colonized softly.

  6. […] This was not the first time the MWL building has been targeted: in 2010 the building was plastered with stickers advertising “Cheerleaders Against Islamic Extremism” – a group which I have had to write about a number of times, and which boasts of working with groups such as the Quilliam Foundation. An official video was posted to the “Cheerleaders” Facebook page, captioned “Mr Rivers’ sticker raid on the league”; I outlined my dealings with this person (real name Matthew Edwards) here. […]

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