Easter FAIL

I first noticed this in the Guardian back in 2004; they’ve since fixed it, but the original caption still graces the website of Getty Images:

A Christian woman prays inside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem 08 April 2004. Christian believers of all denominations mark the holy week of Easter in celebration of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to tradition the church is Jesus Christ’s final resting place.

Claim: Police were Monitoring Ringleader of 2006 Synagogue Attack Plot

In November 2006, BBC Newsnight carried a report on the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, concentrating on its activities in Croydon in South London. The programme featured an anonymous source known only as “J”, who had apparently infiltrated the organisation on behalf of a private intelligence organisation called VIGIL. “J” explained that Hizb ut-Tahrir was not just religiously extreme – it acted like a street gang, indulging in petty crime:

We’ve been told that it’s alright to hurt non-believers… The loyalty to the group, I had to show it… they actually asked me to take some money from three guys… By force… I threatened them and they gave me the money because of who I was with… This is Hizb ut-Tahrir.

The accusation has been repeated since; just a few days ago, Duncan Gardham in the Telegraph reported that

In the past members of the group have been accused of encouraging street violence against non-Muslims…

However, although there are indeed serious reasons to be concerned about HuT’s influence, and its role in radicalising young Muslims, I haven’t been able to find any reports detailing specific instances of HuT-inspired street crime.

The Newsnight report ended with a remarkable coda:

Just as we thought our investigation was coming to an end, there was a major development. We were told that another source in HuT had uncovered a plot to attack a synagogue near Croydon. We can’t confirm this, as we did not have direct access to this source, but firebomb materials were found in this patch of woodland. When we tried to investigate, plain clothes police turned up within minutes and they confirmed that a police enquiry is underway.

Other media picked up on this; according to the European Jewish Press:

London’s Jewish community was on alert this week after bomb making equipment was discovered by police hidden close to a synagogue in the capital.

The items, believed to have included accelerants and rags which could be used to make petrol bombs, were uncovered on a road close to Croydon Synagogue.

The news was revealed in a BBC News television programme broadcast last week…

CST Head of Communications Mark Gardner told the Jewish News… that the CST had “no specific knowledge regarding the allegation that Hizb ut-Tahrir, or associated activists, were responsible for the threat to the synagogue”…

So what happened next? Plotting to burn down a synagogue is obviously an extremely serious matter, and in the context of an organised group has wide-ranging security ramifications. Yet the trail seems to have gone cold.

The lack of any follow-up is particularly strange given that the police were apparently closely monitoring the situation. I was recently forwarded a couple of emails that were written by Dominic Wightman, who ran VIGIL, prior to the Newsnight programme:

Today we got a “commendation” from the Jewsih Community trust and a Commander at Scotland Yard called Andre Ramsay…

…Plant in Hut highlighted upcoming attack by a group of HuT thugs on local synagogue. Molotov cocktails,sledgehammers, etc etc were discovered because of his info by the counter terrorism branch of scotland Yard working with Croydon police. The attack was planned for Sunday – bonfire night attack. Surveillance now in place and ringleader being tailed. Very exciting but scary at the same time – v.hard telling the cops no I will not give up our plant. Kemp helped. Jews very chuffed. Cops very apprehensive at first but called this pm and said “jolly good show”…

It should be noted that while HuT is anti-Jewish, no comparable HuT plot in the UK has come to light, either before or after November 2006 – “J”, it seems, just happened to have joined the right HuT cell at just the right time to have discovered a remarkably significant yet atypical HuT conspiracy.

As I have discussed in previous blog entries, I had some interaction with Wightman (who also uses the spelling “Dominic Whiteman”) during 2009; by this time VIGIL had collapsed and he was bankrupt, and he was keen for the blogger Tim Ireland and myself to “expose” another person, who he told us was responsible for contaminating VIGIL’s work with bogus information. Wightman was so keen, in fact, that he fabricated an attack document against Tim which he tried to pass off as this other person’s work. Since that scheme failed, Wightman has composed lengthy diatribes attacking Tim and me, published on his own website and under sock-puppet names on other sites. Their content and tone require little comment, but they serve to illustrate that this is not a person whose judgement or testimony should have been allowed to form the basis for decisions made by media, police, or politicians.

Of course, this background does not in itself invalidate “J”‘s testimony, and the discovery of materials close to the synagogue by the police suggests a real threat existed. But there are some basic questions:

– Why wasn’t the ringleader ever arrested or brought to trial, if the police were monitoring him?

– Why did the BBC talk of “another source in HuT” when Wightman’s email shows that it was the same source?

– Why wasn’t “J” arrested for mugging three people, or, at least, a warning given to Wightman that involvement in “undercover” antics does not give immunity to break the law and to endanger members of the public?

UPDATE: When I wrote the above, I was unaware that the BBC had assessed a complaint about Newsnight and an associated radio segment:

Newsnight, BBC2 & File on 4, Radio 4, 14 November 2006


The programmes carried versions of a report on the activities of the Islamic organisation  Hizb ut-Tahrir, which drew on sources and information provided by Vigil, an organisation devoted to gathering intelligence in support of counter-terrorism. A representative of Hizb ut Tahrir challenged the reliability of Vigil and its supposed sources within the organisation and complained that a misleading impression of the organisation and its activities had been given.


The programme-makers were entitled to rely on sources whose identity was known to them and whose accounts could be to some degree corroborated, and the overall picture presented was well supported by evidence. However, both programmes included a suggestion that Hizb ut-Tahrir (or a splinter group of its members) was responsible for planning a fire-bomb attack on a Croydon synagogue, based on information passed on by Vigil from a source not identified to the programme-makers. This was not a strong enough basis on which to mount such a serious allegation. In addition, File on 4 included an exchange in which the reporter seemed to be assuring a Home Office Minister that the programme had clear evidence that Hizb ut-Tahrir was in breach of the law on glorifying terrorism, whereas the programme’s evidence (though it gave legitimate grounds for concern) did not establish this point. 

Further action

The Editors of Newsnight and File on 4 discussed the issues arising from the ruling with their programme teams and the correspondent in question. They stressed the need for care in assessing and treating serious allegations from single unnamed sources and, in relation to
File on 4, the need for precision when framing questions, particularly when they relate to allegations about a third party.

Also, I have since asked for details about the incident from the police, under a Freedom of Information Request. The request was denied:

Although the incident described took place some five years ago we do not consider this matter to be resolved. We believe that the disclosure of the information relating to the suspicious items would have a negative effect on the community relationships and would subsequently compromise our law enforcement capabilities – reducing our ability to prevent and detect crime, which is the core principle of UK policing. Any disclosure that could disrupt the investigative process would not be in the public interest.

I don’t consider this to be satisfactory: how can the matter remain unresolved, when the police have supposedly been monitoring the the persons concerned? How could there be a “negative effect on… community relations”, given that Hizb-ut-Tahrir was named in the media at the time? The only “negative effect” I can envision is anger and dismay that the police had liaised with a private consultant who has since shown himself to be dishonest.

Terry Jones Makes New Militia Friend

Once again, Pastor Terry Jones forces himself into the news; the New York Times reports:

…Terry Jones… played the recording — which he said was made on Sept. 9 on his assistant’s iPhone — of a conversation between him and Imam Muhammad Musri, an Islamic leader in Florida. At the time, Mr. Musri was trying to persuade Mr. Jones not to burn the Korans as part of a demonstration on Sept. 11.After the Sept. 9 meeting, Mr. Jones announced that as part of a deal brokered by Mr. Musri to relocate a proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York, he would not burn the 200 Korans. But almost immediately after the announcement, Mr. Musri, who had attended a news conference with Mr. Jones, told reporters that he had made no such deal and no such promise. The pastor, he said, had backed down because of pressure from President Obama and the rest of the world.

“This does definitely prove he lied to the news media and has lied the whole time,” Mr. Jones said from behind his desk, on which rested a pistol, a Bible and a rental copy of the film “Se7en.”

Musri insists that the recording is a fake, although it sounds real enough.

Jones announced the existence of the recording a couple of days ago while being interviewed by Jim Stach (or Jim Stachowiak), a rather alarming gentleman who styles himself as “the Michael Savage of Internet Radio” and who runs a website called Freedom Fighter Radio. Stach is a militia enthusiast (although from a bit of googling he seems to be a controversial figure even in those circles), and he appears from time to time as an interviewee on Russia Today. Stach’s posting of his chat with Jones is illustrated with a “Nuke Mecca” logo (1), and Stach is known to wear t-shirts bearing the same message.

Let’s hope that Jones’ new friendship with Stach pans out better than was the case with Prince Shannon Carson, a self-described militia leader who briefly offered Jones protection last August (blogged here, including a must-hear audio between Prince Shannon and Gen JC Christian).

However, the usual pattern is that Jones makes a link with some group or individual for mutual publicity-seeking purposes, but shortly afterwards there is a falling out. This was the case with the English Defence League back in December, and the same has now happened with a group that recently invited Jones to join a protest at a mosque in Dearborn. The Dearborn Patch reports:

Order of the Dragon President Frank Fiorello and Vice President Jammie Bothwell met with local religious leaders Saturday morning, but said that they had already decided before that meeting to cancel the protest, which would have been held on Good Friday.

…Fiorello explained Saturday that the Order’s decision to allow Jones to join them was made before he burned the Quran. After the act, the group took steps to distance themselves from the pastor–including publicly denouncing him.

“He’s a little off his rocker,” Fiorello said of Jones. “My honest opinion is that he’s going to hate gays, he’s going to hate Jews, he’s going to hate Muslims, he’s going to hate anybody until somebody realizes what he’s saying and they focus on it, then he’s going to do it all the more.”


Seattle and Las Vegas Police “Pull Out” of Counter-Terror Webinars

Last month, a report published by Political Research Associates highlighted some troubling trends in private “counter-terror” training being offered to law enforcement agencies in the USA; I blogged on the report here, quoting a Guardian piece about it. Articles on the same subject recently published by the Washington Monthly (see here and here) and the Washington Post  have prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins.

One group that featured in the PRA report was  Security Solutions International (SSI), which is headed by Henry Morgenstern; Morgenstern is the co-editor of Suicide Terror: Understanding and Confronting the Threat, which is published by Wiley and which comes with an endorsement from Benyamin Netanyahu. The PRA noted that one SSI expert used for training purposes is Dave Gaubatz, a controversial figure who has featured on this blog before: he is the co-author of Muslim Mafia, the main organiser of the “Mapping Shariah” project (alongside David Yerushalmi), and he plays a role in Pamela Geller’s Stop Islamization of America. He has also described Barack Obama as being a “crack-head”.

Morgenstern has dismissed PRA as “left-wing loony… composed mainly of former writers of High Times“, and he claims that CAIR is secretly behind any criticisms of SSI. However, it doesn’t look as though this is having much persuasive effect, and Morgenstern is now complaining about lost business in Seattle and Las Vegas:

You take a city like Seattle, which has a mayor, or had a mayor, I’m not sure if he’s still there, Mike McGinn… We had a programme for fusion centers, this is intelligence agencies, and the programme was about tools for fusion centers. Microsoft is one of the sponsors. We had these webinars scheduled… and CAIR picked up the phone, called the mayor, and said we’re a prejudiced group that [unclear] hatred against Arabs… He called the chief of police and… the pussy just pulled all his people out of the training… We just had another incidence in Las Vegas of the same thing.

Mortgenstern was speaking as a guest on Will and Mike Live [at 27:16], an internet radio programme co-hosted by Mike Riker of the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association; the ICTOA has also come under critical scrutiny from the PRA, to large extent because of its use of Walid Shoebat as an expert.

As I’ve blogged previously, Shoebat’s utterances are so extravagant as to be absurd: he claims that he knows that Obama is a Muslim (“Islam could not defeat us by destroying the twin towers. But they are able to defeat us by sneaking in their man”), and he wishes that “nukes” would “take care” of the Muslim world. According the PRA report, as cited by the Guardian:

…In his presentation, called The Jihad Mindset and How to Defeat It: Why We Want to Kill You, he accused Muslim men of raping women, children and young boys. “They are paedophiles!” he shouted.

According to the report, Shoebat went on: “The Muslim beheads with a smile. You can see it on YouTube, on TV; the Afghan child trained to execute Christians. You say that Islam is a peaceful religion? Why? It hates the west.”

He also said: “Islam is a revolution and is intent to destroy all other systems. They want to expand, like Nazism.”

Shoebat also has second job visiting churches to warn of the coming Islamic Anti-Christ, based on a bizarre pseudo-analysis of the Book of Revelation.

It was the Shoebat’s association with the ICTOA which first brought the ICTOA to my attention; back in November, the ICTOA sponsored an “alternative” Fort Hood commemoration in Texas featuring Shoebat and Robert Spencer.

Riker continues to stand by Shoebat, although he has not felt the need to address any concerns about Shoebat’s rhetoric: instead, like Morgenstern, he concentrates on attacking the character of anyone who has made criticisms: this includes me for writing about the subject on this blog. As ever, the accusation is that because SSI and ICTOA are opposed to Islamic extremism, anyone raising concerns must be motivated by a wish to undermine attempts to oppose Islamic extremism. Even more bizarrely, Riker’s co-host on the programme, a man named Will Griffith, suggests that I’m receiving funding from George Soros.

Without citing the obvious at length: I’m not being paid to blog by Soros or by anyone else, and I would certainly welcome any competent training which would assist law-enforcement with tracking down Islamic extremists. But even if I really did have some secret malign intent, everything I write is based on materials that are in the public domain, and which other people can check for themselves. My interpretation is sceptical, but it is based on argument and evidence, not testimony – what kind of a person I might be is neither here nor there.

Similarly, I’m sure that Riker has served honourably and bravely as a police officer over the years, and that he means well – but his support for Shoebat shows bafflingly bad judgment.

The Adninistrator [sic]

In May 2009 a document was posted on-line purporting to be an interview with Glen Jenvey conducted by Jeremy Reynalds, a right-wing journalist based in the USA. The document was for the most part an attack on Tim Ireland for unravelling the “Terror Target Sugar” fiasco, and it included “I know where you live”-type details. It was brought to the attention of Tim and me by the self-styled “terror-tracker” Dominic Wightman, who was a former associate of Jenvey; I give some background to the saga here. It should be recalled that in 2006 Wightman had been endorsed by Patrick Mercer MP, and Mercer had introduced Wightman to senior police at New Scotland Yard to discuss terrorism.

Reynalds confirmed to Tim that the document was a fake, and Wightman exhorted us to believe that a university lecturer named Michael Starkey had created it. However, rather than sounding off against Starkey, Tim instead went to the police, who traced it back to Wightman’s home via a broadband connection in his wife’s name. Wightman had a explanation, though; as Tim recalls:

Paul Wheeler (Farnham CID) told me that Wightman claimed not to be the author of this fake Jenvey/Reynalds interview that led police to his door; that he claimed to have merely uploaded it and genuinely thought it to be the work of… Reynalds. Wightman said this knowing that Reynalds denied it vehemently at the time, and that he (Wightman) had instead repeatedly tried to blame Starkey for it (while pretending to have ‘found’ the article on a site when he himself had uploaded it). Wightman knew I was deeply concerned about the fake interview, who was behind it, and what they might be capable of, and he chose not to confess or even alleviate my concerns in any way. Instead, he not only alerted me to it and repeatedly enhanced any concerns I may have had about it, but repeatedly tried to suggest that Starkey was behind it.

We also discovered that Wightman’s attempt to smear Starkey as the author had been driven by a desire for revenge: Starkey and Wightman had formerly been in contact, but Starkey had discovered that Wightman was dishonest.

In an email to me, Wightman refused to divulge where he had supposedly found the fake interview:

I did not write that article, no. It was offered from somewhere else but I’d rather not give that away at this stage. I will. There were far worse on offer, put it that way.

In the weeks that followed, Wightman began to write long abusive tirades on his website, explaining that his purpose all along had been to entrap Tim and me as collaborators with Islamic extremists.

Wightman’s denials were always ludicrous: he had admitted to lying to us, and he was unable to say where the document “was offered from”. In the time that has followed, Wightman’s attacks on Tim have tended to have obvious resonances with the “voice” of the interview’s pseudo-Jenvey. But what about evidence? As Tim notes:

the creator of the original [falsified interview] Word .DOC document was ‘Adninistrator‘ (note spelling), and… it was created on 12 May 2009 23:09:00, the fourth and final writing task involving 66 Minutes of editing time…

A few days ago, Adrian Morgan (a former associate of Wightman who became disgusted when he discovered Wightman’s methods) sent Tim and me some Word documents that he had received from Wightman some time previously: and once again, the author is “Adninistrator”. Wightman wasn’t just given the fake interview: he had created the document in which it was uploaded, and the fact he had spent more than an hour editing it is strongly suggestive that he didn’t just cut-and-paste it from somewhere else.

Also of interest: in early 2010 I received a series of emails from a sockpuppet account controlled by Charlie Flowers or an associate; as I’ve blogged previously, Flowers had formerly worked with Wightman, although they fell out when Flowers eventually realised he’d been manipulated (to save face Flowers has continued with an independent campaign of abuse against Tim and me). The first of the emails included a Word document called “Hitlist for 2010”, as well as some other materials (including the name of someone to whom Wightman purportedly owed money). The “hitlist” consisted of a list of Islamists, along with a few other names, such as Tim Ireland, Justice Eady, and Sir John Starkey; Sir John is Michael’s brother and a former member of  Patrick Mercer’s constituency committee (Wightman sees both Starkeys as responsible for creating a rift between himself and Mercer). I forwarded the email to Wightman. His reply:

Love the hitlist! Never had a creditor called Hughes. And last reminder – cease and desist communication with me. Ta.

The list may have been concocted by someone else, but Wightman is given as the author in the properties, and it was again last modified (in February 2009) by “Adninistrator”.

Adrian has also forwarded to me a bizarre email from December 2009, in which Wightman suggested creating blog in the guise of an “African High Priest” and making contact with various Africans I have written about. The idea was that this blog would be used to make “outlandish religious comments”, leading me to write about the priest. After this, “Damian Thompson picks up on it and mainstream press”, at which point the denouement would occur: a posting purporting to show that either I had created the “African High Priest” myself or been manipulated into it in some way. The scheme was of course a feverish fantasy, inspired by a pathological need to feel empowerment through manipulation: Wightman claims to know Thompson, but this it’s doubtful that Thompson has ever heard of me or would have any interest in an “African High Priest” making “outlandish religious comments”. However, as I blogged a few weeks ago, someone echoing Flowers’ abusive lies about me has recently tried to pose as someone associated with some Nigerian Pentecostals I’ve written about.

BBC Documentary on Libel Case Against Policy Exchange

Policy Exchange wanted £453,577 plus VAT for costs; settled for £20,000

The most recent episode of the BBC documentary series See You in Court has an interesting segment on the North London Central Mosque’s libel case against Policy Exchange. This is a subject I’ve blogged on a number of times: in 2007 Policy Exchange produced a report alleging that a number of mosques,  including the NLCM, were selling extremist literature. Policy Exchange provided BBC Newsnight with receipts to back up its claim, but Newsnight was able to show that some of these receipts were forgeries. A follow-up in Private Eye pointed out that in some cases the presence of extremist literature could be verified independently, although it didn’t mention the NLCM in its report (it should be noted that no-one is accusing Policy Exchange of creating the forgeries: rather, it seems that Policy Exchange was ripped off by unnamed research assistants who then left the country).

The NLCM sued for libel in 2009, but the case was thrown out. Policy Exchange crowed:

The Trustees of Policy Exchange are delighted to report that Mr Justice Eady yesterday struck out the claim brought against us by the North London Central Mosque.

…The High Court made a further Order that £75,000 of those costs be paid by North London Central Mosque within 28 days.

I must confess that I assumed the case had been thrown out because Policy Exchange had produced some new valid evidence. However, See You in Court explains that this was not the case, and that Policy Exchange had simply relied on a technicality: because the mosque was an unincorporated association, it did not have sufficient legal personality to be defamed. Further, there is no bookshop at the mosque: there is only a private library, and according to mosque’s lawyers the extremist materials mentioned by Policy Exchange “were not the sort of books our client would want on their premises at all.”

Appeals rumbled on until late last year, and Policy Exchange eventually published a short clarification on its website (somewhat gracelessly in the form of a gif file). Andrew Gilligan reported in November:

Policy Exchange emphasises that it has not apologised to the North London Central Mosque and that the mosque has been forced to pay them substantial costs, believed to be in the region of £100,000. It says:

“Policy Exchange is pleased to report that the libel action brought by the North London Central Mosque (NLCM) against it over its report The Hijacking of British Islam has now ended, following the dismissal of NLCM’s appeal against the order of Mr Justice Eady. NLCM has paid a substantial contribution towards Policy Exchange’s costs… Policy Exchange has not apologised to NLCM for the publication of its report.”

However, according to a discussion shown in See You in Court (including a shot of the agreement document), the amount the mosque agreed to pay was just £20,000 – far short of the £75,000 costs from the 2009 case, let alone what may have been ratcheted up from the appeals that followed. Policy Exchange’s lawyers had presented a cost schedule of £453,577 plus VAT. Where did Gilligan get his “£100,000” figure from?

As I noted in previous blog entries, the Policy Exchange report was temperately written, with a valid point to make: it gave a number of other mosques a clean bill of health, and it identified the problem as being a Saudi imposition rather than as some sort of exposure of the “real” Islam. It’s a shame that the receipts fiasco (which also resulted in an apology to the Al-Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre) undermined its credibility.

One libel action that won’t be featuring on See You in Court is Policy Exchange’s case against Newsnight. Dean Godson, a research director at Policy Exchange, had defended the receipts’ genuineness, and he had promised to pursue the matter “relentlessly, to trial or capitulation”. Alas, there was no trial, and no capitulation.

Jim Bakker Predicts

Last month, Jim Bakker wrote on his blog:

On New Year’s Eve 2010, God showed me that the coming month of March would be a “Major March”.  A time of major upheaval but also a time of extreme answers to prayers and blessing for Gods people. In addition to the New Year’s Eve warning, God again brought a warning  while taping  our television broadcast, that a 9.0 magnitude earthquake was coming, this was a week before the earthquake hit Japan. We are now witnessing the apocalyptic events in Japan that were undoubtedly a part of both of those warnings.  More earthquakes and major events are coming to Japan very soon. California and the area from Illinois and Missouri to Arkansas will have major events in the future.  Keep you eyes on the Ring of Fire.

On July 12, 2005, God showed me New Orleans under water.  Forty-one days later, on August 29, 2005, hurricane Katrina hit.

In 1999, God showed me 31 things that will come to pass shortly and most already have.

Then, weirdly:

…I do not claim to be a prophet…

Bakker, of course, is to most people simply a figure of fun: an archetypal Elmer Gantry, forever discredited by his sexual indiscretion, lavish lifestyle, and conviction and imprisonment for fraud (not to mention his kitschy religious aesthetic). However, he has been making something of a comeback with help from Rick Joyner. In a blog entry from last week, Bakker discussed his TV show:

…Rick Joyner is with us this week, and he emphasized that even in God’s judgment, He always desires to show His mercy.

…Rick went on to say there will be a shaking first.  The economic unraveling is the grace from God to give us a reset where we can start again.  There will be a period of time when our dollar won’t be worth anything, but we have another source.  We have a kingdom that is above all of our natural circumstances and every Christian is going to  have to come to the kingdom.

Rick said he talked to Bob Jones (another Prophet) the Sunday after the big quake hit in Japan, and Bob said  “it’s coming to California.”  This confirms what the Lord showed me in the “31 Things” he gave me in 1999.  When the Lord speaks something like that, He will usually confirm it with two or three witnesses.

Joyner, in turn, has been promoting Bakker in a series of fear-mongering and apocalyptic videos, as noted by Right Wing Watch.

Their alliance is actually long-standing; Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries also runs Heritage International Ministries, which controls the Heritage Grand Hotel at the site of Bakker’s ruined Heritage USA project. The hotel was recently the location for an investiture ceremony of a strange “chivalric order” of which Joyner is a member, along with William “Jerry” Boykin.

Of course, if you’re constantly firing off general prophecies of doom, you’re bound to score the occasional hit. The misses can be filed away: in 1998 Bakker published Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse, in which he warned that the millennium bug (Y2K) may well “be a highly plausible explanation for what the Bible refers to as the black horse of famine and economic chaos”.

And speaking of dodgy prophecies, it’s now more than two years since David Wilkerson last promised us “fires raging through New York City” that “will engulf the whole megaplex, including areas of New Jersey and Connecticut” as God destroys “the secular foundations”.

Dominic Wightman and the MPs

Patrick Mercer MP on Wightman: “Dominic and Vigil have been extremely helpful to me”

Wightman on Anne Milton MP: “My local supporters (including the MP) want [Tim] Ireland downed”

Nadine Dorries MP on Wightman: “Very interesting”

Note: several sources quoted and cited in this post have been taken from material published on this new blog post by Tim Ireland; I have marked these with an asterisk

As I have previously blogged, in 2009 I had an encounter with a man named Dominic Wightman, a self-styled private expert on counter-terrorism who had previously run an organisation called the “VIGIL Network” (or “Vigil”). Wightman was particularly close to Patrick Mercer MP; early in 2007 Mercer wrote in a letter that

… Dominic and Vigil have been extremely helpful to me from my task as Shadow Minister for Security. They have provided me with a number of very useful leads and between us we have managed to put pressure upon the nation’s enemies and secured a number of arrests. I shall certainly continue to use any guidance that Vigil gives me.*

Mercer had introduced Wightman to police at New Scotland Yard (see pic below), and he was probably responsible for an appearance that Wightman made on Newsnight late in 2006. Wightman lives in Surrey, and by his own account he is also involved with local political activism there and is friendly with his local MP, Anne Milton.

Mercer’s letter was a brush-off to an ex-employee of VIGIL who wanted Mercer’s help in recovering unpaid wages; she had written to him explaining the situation:

In December 2005 after completing my MBA I was put in contact with Dominic Wightman… [He] was starting a new charity organisation called VIGIL, which would help anybody involved with tracking terrorist organisation by providing a free translation service to them. The charity was to be funded by a Tory Grandee – Lord Michael Ashcroft and two other establishment figures, who were I was told friends of Dominic’s late father.

…During my 5 months of employment I never got paid and I finally resigned in June 2006 as I could no longer trust Dominic Wightman’s reassurances and him blaming others for the lack of payment. I had kept going for so long as new organisations often have a shaky start but mainly because I strongly believed in the cause…. Dominic even sent a fake email (copy attached) from a sub-contractor claiming to have been paid.

…I have all the email correspondence to support the above history, which made it very easy for me to present my case to the Employment Tribunal. As detailed in the enclosed judgement, I was eventually awarded a total of £14,174.45…

…Everybody was led to believe that Lord Ashcroft was the principal financial backer and probably the main reason why questions were not raised much sooner.

I hope your influence may help put pressure on Dominic Wightman to finally pay me what I am owed…*

It should be emphasised that the author was not just some disgruntled ex-employee sounding off with wild accusations; she had already won an employment tribunal. And she does not just complain about financial mismanagement: there’s a direct accusation of duplicity.

Mercer – who is today Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism – should have been alarmed; instead, though, he merely re-affirmed his confidence in VIGIL and his willingness to be guided by Wightman in matters of public interest. Given Mercer’s habit of briefing the media with stories about terrorism that sometimes crumble under scrutiny (“HIV bombs“, for example), this raises further serious concerns about his judgement.

Mercer was still having friendly communication with Wightman in 2008*, and although they have since (apparently) severed contact, Mercer sees no need to explain why or to put the record straight. Lord Ashcroft is not interested in explaining his association, either.

By coincidence, Wightman lives close to the blogger Tim Ireland; Tim and I both met him early in 2009, after Tim uncovered that a Sun front-page splash about a terror plot against Alan Sugar had been based on  evidence concocted by Glen Jenvey. Jenvey had also been associated with VIGIL, and Wightman met us to explain that VIGIL had collapsed because of Jenvey and because of the machinations of a university lecturer. He urged us to expose this lecturer, who he claimed had a hold over Mercer because of connections at Mercer’s constituency office. After a few months, though, it transpired that Wightman was manipulating us: the lecturer had found out about Wightman’s dishonesty, and this was the actual reason why VIGIL had collapsed. Wightman gave himself away by creating a pseudonymous document with details about Tim’s home and such, and claiming that the lecturer was behind it; the police traced it back to Wightman.

At this point, Wightman decided to spin the whole thing as a political dispute, and he wrote to Adrian Morgan (a former associate who has since repudiated the man and his methods):

Tim Ireland lives 3 villages from me and my local supporters (including the MP) want Ireland downed. He has already admitted to me I am the sole reason he’s not written on hs blog for 2 months. He is a vicious bully and I will not sit back and get slaughtered by him without telling the world how to silence a big bully, how I did it, that I am not particularly proud of how I did it but that yes I did it. There MUST BE a mix here of eating humble pie and sabre-rattling or I will be walked over. I must also bring the right wing blog alliance on my side and to do this I need to show that I have been capable of bringing down the most famous left wing blogger, albeit temporarily, that ever existed in the UK.

The MP whom Wightman claims as his supporter is Anne Milton (she was also Tim’s MP at the time Wightman wrote this, although there has been a boundary change since); Tim writes today that

It is a day after she was presented with evidence that Dominic Wightman claimed to be acting on her behalf, and she has not yet deemed it necessary to contradict the man.

Wightman’s actions since we discovered he was a liar have consisted of long tirades on his blog, and the creation of goading and abusive attack websites containing disinformation. In particular, he has attempted to spread the idea that Tim is a stalker (building on a claim made by some right-wingers who dislike being called to account, as I dealt with here). Another person associated with VIGIL was the cyber-thug Charlie Flowers, who publicised Tim’s home address and expressed malicious intent towards his family in an attempt to intimidate; Flowers later realised he’d been manipulated, but he has pressed on independently to save face rather than do the decent thing (Flowers has since turned on me for daring to object).

Back in 2005, Tim discovered that two activists working for Milton had been using the internet to smear a political opponent prior to an election; these activists were themselves standing as councillors, and so Jonathan Lord, now MP for Woking and at that time Chairman of the Guildford Conservative Association, decided to deal with it with a discrete word to them in private rather than by dismissing them for bringing the party into disrepute.

However, Wightman’s efforts to “bring the right wing blog alliance on my side” has for the most part failed – probably because his idea of making an alliance means manipulation and duplicity rather than honest discussion. There has been one exception, though, and it’s a third MP: Nadine Dorries, who used her “70 per cent fiction” blog to publicise Wightman’s site as “very interesting”.

FOOTNOTE: Soon after Wightman was made bankrupt – which I did not know about at the time – he told me that he intended to move his assets into someone else’s name and file for bankruptcy in the autumn of 2009. This was so that he would be able to attack various targets without fear of libel proceedings – although those attacks never in fact materialised. A year ago, Wightman dismissed the tribunal on a blog, in which he posed as a black woman from Luton interviewing him; he declared it was “a highly dubious judgement by a highly dubious tribunal” and attacked the character of his former employee, claiming that she hadn’t deserved to be paid (he also wrote that in an email to me). This is obviously nonsense: the tribunal awarded her more than £14,000, which represents more than six months of salary. Why did he continue to employ her for so long if her work was non-existent? Why did he go to ground rather than attend the tribunal and offer evidence in his own defence?

Wightman has since thought better of publicising his contempt for the tribunal in this way, and he has now deleted the posting.

Curiously, three months after Wightman declared bankruptcy, a short-lived outfit appeared called Wightman Parker Smith Gold (or WPS Gold), operating from the same London address as at least one of Wightman’s previous businesses and looking to trade in gold and diamonds.

“Commanding Good” and the “Feds”

Back in November, I received a typically self-debasing comment from cyber-bully Charlie Flowers, this time hiding his shame behind the pseudonym “Righteous Death Angel”:

So your boss spent years stalking people and then one day he got turned over by people who didn’t give a damn? Deal with it, bizzotch. What you gonna do about it Commie Boy? Feds are after all your friends and soon they after you too…
you should be worried.

By “my boss”, Flowers is making a goading Tim Ireland, a blogger whom Flowers had attempted to intimidate into silence. When Flowers realised he’d been manipulated into doing this by someone else (and – worse – had got his friends to join in under a false premise), Flowers retroactively turned to the stalker smear to explain himself. I’ve been critical of Flowers ever since, and he’d rather believe that it’s because I’m either working for someone or because I’m a secret communist, rather than because I’m not prepared to look the other way. Flowers has been generally abusive my direction ever since, both in his own name and while cowering behind fake identities (most recently here).

But what about this very strange Americanised affectation of referring to “Feds”? The word recently turned up again in a comment left in March on the Facebook page of the “Save Masjid Tawhid Campaign“. This is an nasty Islamist Facebook page dedicated to attacking Usama Hasan, a British Muslim who has received threats and abuse for having argued at the mosque that Islam is compatible with evolution. The comment was posted by someone using the name “Commanding Good”:

ehhhmmm…. guys, be careful, this bunch are a Met Police unit, and they dont play. Cheerleaders, Blackeyes, NiceOnes, all feds, with a license to mess us up and no comeback :/ avoid them and block them!!

“Commanding Good”‘s Facebook profile url has the name “MindfulSalafi”. “Cheerleaders, Blackeyes, NiceOnes” are all groups that Flowers is involved with.

On 7 April, “Commanding Good” made a new post to the site:

?:0 “THE EAST LONDON THREE FAITHS’ FORUM – A Discussion on Science & Religion 8pm – Thursday, 14 April at the Al-Tawhid Mosque, 80 High Road Leyton E15 2BP. All welcome. No charge. Light refreshments.”

He expounded further in the comments (which are only visible if you sign in) :

They’re at it again!


OK daft question though… who’s going and will it be interesting? I wouldnt want to see fitna in the house of Allaah, obv.

It goes without saying that the people behind the Islamist website are deeply unpleasant – as well as the attacks on Hasan, the site’s controller has posted a crudely abusive and sexualised insult aimed at one of the members of British Muslims for Secular Democracy.

However, it is also the case that Flowers is posing as “Commanding Good” to manipulate the extremists who run the site in the hope that they will show up at the mosque and create a scene (“They’re at it again” discounts the possibility that he just wants to advertise the event in the hope some extremists will come and learn the error of their ways). The use of the word “feds”, the close attention to “Cheerleaders, Blackeyes, NiceOnes” (no-one is that interested), and the name “Mindful Salafi” all point in his direction; Flowers (or an associate) has a YouTube channel called “SalafiTV”. The last sentence primarily suggests backside-covering should things get out of hand.

Of course, Flowers will claim that since his aim is to entrap and expose extremists, anyone who objects to what he’s doing must therefore be in favour of the extremists – even though it’s obvious that these foolish antics are about thrill-seeking rather than anything that can be called political activism. The “Terror Target Sugar” fiasco should have taught him that these things tend to go horribly wrong, and are utterly counter-productive. He’s not just playing with the extremists, either: his silly games risk making life more difficult for Hasan, and may even undermine real police work.

Alan Lake: “I have given some money to help some EDL things happen”

Norwegian television news show TV 2 Nyhetene has a report on Alan Lake, the British businessman connected with the English Defence League. For the first time, Lake admits to financing the organisation:

I mean, I have given some money to help some EDL things happen.

Lake describes Islamists who make provocative and inflammatory protests in the UK as “seditious” and tells us that he would be “happy to execute people like that”. He adds that “I suspect its going to take the loss of a few countries” in Europe “to actually wake other people up”.

There’s also input from Nachum Shifren, the Californian “Surfing Rabbi”:

Alan has had a very decisive role in working with me and people in the United States.

I blogged on Shrifen’s association with the EDL here and here, noting his anti-gay views; my posts drew critical comment from Lake himself.

Lake is of interest to Norwegian television because of his links to Kent Ekeroth, the Swedish nationalist politician; Lake describes him as a “good friend”. Lake also says that he wishes to return to Sweden to give another talk “now that I’ve moved on to the next level.”