Claim: Quilliam Speakers Dropped Out Due English Defence League Threats

From Hugh Muir in the Guardian:

…while the [English Defence League] says it eschews violence, there are claims that some of its people may have been taking a less than constructive approach to two former members who were poised to lift the lid on the group in association with the counter-extremism thinktank, Quilliam. Harry Burns and Leighton Evans were billed as “former senior members of the EDL who have renounced the group and are willing to speak out against it publicly … to answer questions about the organisation and their time inside it”. But they didn’t. Both pulled out, apparently citing threats. Not from us, insists the man from the EDL. In good faith we accept that. A simple solution. If in doubt, blame the Muslims.

I’d like to know where these “claims” have come from. The actual reason Evans dropped out, according to Facebook postings he authored, was because he never had any intention of renouncing the EDL. He complained bitterly that Quilliam had misled him, and he directed a stream of foul-mouthed abuse at the organisation and at Ghaffar Hussain, Quilliam’s Director of Training and Consultancy (“The quilliam fuckers had us right over… I replied putting him right about me but the cunt still printed a load of bollocks”).

Burns made no mention of threats either – in a long statement he simply complained that “It wouldn’t matter what I’d said people would have bullshitted about it.” He then went on to make a number of bizarre Facebook postings attacking Muslims and Jews, which he then revealed he had posted in order to trap an anti-EDL Facebook site called Expose into quoting him saying things they must know he didn’t mean.

The evidence strongly suggests that the Quilliam event failed because Quilliam decided to give a platform to speakers who were unsuitable. How Quilliam came into contact with the two men is unknown, but both are close to Charlie Flowers, the keyboard vigilante and all-round thug who spends his nights spamming Twitter users with abusive messages about me. Flowers boasts about his association with Quilliam and similar groups, which he then uses to suggest that anyone who has problem with his conduct must be an Islamist or a far-left extremist (this is, of course, typical vigilante behaviour). The groups that Flowers has insinuated himself into don’t care that Flowers makes public threats of violence: he’s promised that I’ll get a “slap upside the cheek”, while someone else will be stabbed “in the face”.

I’m broadly supportive of what groups like Quilliam are trying to do, and it should be clear from this blog that I have no time for the EDL. However, making up a threat from the EDL to explain away a mistake simply will not do. That may not be what has happened here, but Quilliam really ought to clarify why the event was cancelled.

UPDATE: On Facebook, Leighton Evans has confirmed that the report is untrue:

I wonder who told him that me and arry pulled out of the quilliam foundation round table bunch of lies because we both cited threats to us? over to you Mr Hussain…well i wish at least mr muir would have had the decency to ask me first because i havent been threatened by anyone. but the leftist media have never let the truth get in the way have they. could i sue do you think?

Evans’ attitude is a problem for Flowers, who has attempted to mollify him by claiming that Muir must have received inaccurate information from me, rather than from Hussain. The suggestion is bizarre, and an insult to Evans’ intelligence – the above obviously shows I have attempted to correct Muir’s account myself, and my previous blog post on the subject has nothing about threats.

If Hussain is concerned about his credibility, the last thing he needs is an on-line thug spreading lies to protect him.

Poor Quality Powerpoint Presentation Used to Train FBI on Islam

FBI Confirms Book by Robert Spencer Since Dropped From Reading List

Wired magazine draws attention to an alarmingly poor Powerpoint presentation which was used to train the FBI’s Law Enforcement Communications Unit about Islam:

As recently as January 2009, the FBI thought its agents ought to know the following crucial information about Muslims:

  • They engage in a “circumcision ritual”
  • More than 9,000 of them are in the U.S. military
  • Their religion “transforms [a] country’s culture into 7th-century Arabian ways.”

Much of the presentation consists of what appears to be a random selection of assorted facts, and there’s a “recommended reading” page which lists eight titles: two are primary sources (the Koran and Sayyid Qutb’s Milestones); three are polemical anti-Islam books, including two by Robert Spencer (The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and The Truth About Muhammad, along with Mark Gabriel’s Islam and Terrorism,); two are neutral sources (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam and Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands: The Bestselling Guide to Doing Business in More Than 60 Countries); and there is also a controversial academic book, Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind.

According to Wired:

A grainy copy of the PowerPoint was obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Northern California chapter and the Asian Law Caucus, a San Francisco-based civil rights group, and provided to Danger Room. The two groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request last year inquiring about government surveillance of American Muslim communities.

“In order for FBI training to be effective it has to present useful, factual and unbiased information. This material fails on all three criteria,” said Mike German, a former FBI agent who now works for the ACLU. 

The FBI has responded by saying that the Powerpoint was a “rudimentary” version which is no longer used and that it was “a small part of a larger segment of training”. And as for Robert Spencer’s The Truth About Muhammad in the reading list:

An FBI spokesman said Spencer’s book is no longer on the reading list but was not sure about the others. “We encourage our agents to seek out a variety of viewpoints. That does not mean we endorse or adopt the view of any particular author,” the bureau’s statement continues. 

The authorship of the Powerpoint presentation remains unknown, although Wired notes the existence of the Higgins Counterterrorism Research Center, which “claims to have provided counterterrorism instruction to ‘FBI Counterterrorism Special Agents,’ various police departments countrywide and even Blackwater.”

Poor quality training on Islam and counter-terrorism is an issue which has come under increasing scrutiny of late. NPR ran a piece earlier this month, shortly after CNN investigated Walid Shoebat’s presence at a counter-terrorism training event in South Dakota.  Political Research Associates published report on the subject in November, a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins.

(H/T: Loonwatch)

London Times Highlights Paul Ray

Today’s Times leads with a (paywalled) article about Paul Ray, dramatically headlined “‘I’m Sorry If I inspired Norway’s Mass Killer’ – British Extremist Admits Breivik Approached Him”. The article is, alas, botched in several ways that I had hoped yesterday’s blog entry might have avoided.

First, there’s a suggestion of a link with Breivik:

Paul Ray… concedes that his Richard the Lionhearted blog informed Breivik’s exhaustive Islamophobic diatribe…

Mr Ray… acknowledged in an exclusive interview with The Times in Malta yesterday that he had been in direct contact with Breivik online but insisted that he had rejected his attempts to enlist him as a friend on Facebook.

…The Norwegian mass murderer, who dressed up in Knights Templar costume, described an individual similar to Mr Ray as his mentor, claiming to have met him in 2002, prompting the Briton to say last night that the “whole world is painting me as his inspiration.”

Speaking in Valletta, he said: “I am being implicated as his mentor. I definitely could have been his inspiration. It looks like that. He has given me a platform and a profile. But what he did was pure evil.”

This is misleading: Breivik talks of a mentor named “Richard (the Lionhearted)”, but Ray’s blog is entitled simply Lionheart, not Richard the Lionhearted. Further, Breivik does not describe “an individual similar to Mr Ray”. His manifesto mentions meeting Templars in the UK in 2002, and that the group included “successful entrepreneurs” (at this time Ray was running a computer business), but that is as far as the detail goes. And as I mentioned yesterday, the dates don’t fit: Ray’s activism appears to date back only to 2006, with an interest in Templars emerging in 2007 (some of Ray’s blog entries are confusingly backdated to 2001).

Further, Ray did not accept Brevik’s Facebook request because he “didn’t like the look of him” – this hardly amounts to any sort of meaningful “direct contact”. As the Times eventually concedes:

The admissions do not support Breivik’s claim that he was part of a network of latter-day crusaders.

Ray’s association with Nick Greger is also discussed:

He is also a close friend of Nick Greger, a tattooed German neo-Nazi… Mr Greger, the ex-Nazi co-founder of his crusader group, has a link to Liberia, the African country where Breivik claims he went to get guidance from a fugitive Serbian war criminal…

The Times does not mention that Greger claims to have rejected neo-Nazism after converting to Christianity, and that he now has a black wife from Tanzania. He is also friends with the exiled Northern Ireland loyalist leader Johnny Adair; the Times does not reference this, although the Telegraph has used this association to come up with the sensationalised and over-stretched headline “Oslo killer Anders Breivik ‘linked to’ Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair, Ulster terrorist”.

Last year, Greger posted an unsavoury video to YouTube which lionises loyalists, Charles Taylor of Liberia, and the Serbian assassin Milorad Ulemek (who is described as a “Christian Freedom Fighter”). He and Ray also have matching “Germany” and “England” Crusader t-shirts, and some photos show a third man with a “Ghana” t-shirt. However, this does mean that there is any sort of real “link” to Liberia or Serbia (or Ghana): a whole segment of the anti-Islam right identifies with Taylor and with the Serbs as Christians battling Muslims.

The Times also tells us that it

…has discovered a photograph of Mr Ray holding an AK47 rifle in Palestine.

This photo is reproduced inside the paper, although no further details are given. One wonders how the photo reached the Times, and whether some mischief is at work here.

The photo shows Ray (at that time using the names “Paul Andrews” and “Paul Cinato”) with some other foreigners holding guns: the context here is that Ray had gone to Jericho with some pro-Palestinian activists who had come to Israel to join the International Solidarity Movement. According to the ISM:

In September 2006, photos were posted on the internet showing five foreigners posing with members of the Palestinian police in Jericho while holding their weapons, along with the claim that four of the foreigners were volunteers with the ISM. The article accompanying the photos also claimed that the fifth, unnamed foreigner (whose name we have since learned is Paul Cinato) with the obscured face in the photos went undercover in order to try and sabotage those, such as the ISM, who support Palestinian non-violent resistance.

At the time the photographs were taken, these individuals had not yet become ISM volunteers. They went to Jericho of their own volition without coordinating or discussing their plans with the International Solidarity Movement. They had not attended ISM’s mandatory intensive non-violence training and were new to the country. The fifth foreigner encouraged them to join him in the photographs and have their pictures taken holding guns. These individuals regrettably followed his lead.

Ray sent the photos to Lee Kaplan’s Stop the ISM organisation, which publicised them widely. The way the Times has used the photograph is unfortunate: without any sort of explanation, and given the way that the woman in the group is dressed, one might easily draw the false inference that it shows Ray meeting with Israeli settlers.

The Times also carries a second piece, on Ray and his life in Malta. He explains that he became a Christian after “God spoke” to him, and that he currently attends a Pentecostal church on the island. He also appears to have – very slightly – moderated his views:

Mr Ray denies being a racist but admits that his blog postings have been “a bit blinkered” about Muslims. “I was putting them all in the same category.” But he is unrepentant about his view that Muslims in Luton are a “national security threat”. “They are drug dealing and using the money to fund terrorism…”

And as regards Malta:

“There have been 4,000 Somalians arriving here from Libya. MI5 say that Somalians, who are Muslim, are the biggest danger to Britain. I have been trying to infiltrate the community to alert people to the dangers”.

The notion of a white man from Luton “infiltrating” Somalians on Malta is rather difficult to envisage [UPDATE: According to an article in Dagbladet, Ray is currently working as a volunteer with Somali children].

(H/T Nemesis Republic for the YouTube video)

A Primer on Paul Ray

BBC News 24 has reportedly announced that police want to talk to blogger Paul Ray about possible links to Anders Breivik. This comes a day after the Guardian carried an item in which Ray – who vigorously denies any link – expressed his willingness to speak to the authorities in the UK about the matter.

As I’ve written previously, I don’t think there is any link: Breivik claims to have met a shadowy group of “Knights Templars” in 2002, while Ray has shown an interest in Templars since only 2007 (some of his blog entries are back-dated to 2001, which may cause some confusion here).  There is a general vicarious identification with Crusaders in segments of the “anti-Jihad” right (including the English Defence League) and it is most likely by far that Breivik and Ray have simply both drawn from the same stock of romanticised medievalist motifs. This includes Breivik’s reference to his mentor as “the Lionhearted”, and Ray’s blogger name being “Lionheart”. Breivik also mentions a Serbian who was living in Liberia; Ray thinks this may be a deliberate attempt to make a link with his own support for Charles Taylor, but support for Charles Taylor as a Christian president battling Muslims is commonplace on segments of the right.

Attention will no doubt continue to focus on Ray and his political views. Back in 2008 he became something of a free-speech martyr on the right when it was learnt that he had been arrested on suspicion of  stirring up racial hatred, based on sanguinary statements on his blog (Sadly No! has a useful round-up), and that he was seeking political asylum in South Carolina; however, support from the likes of Phyllis Chesler evaporated when it was discovered that he had made statements of qualified support for the BNP (Pam Geller claims she repudiated him in 2007). His view of the BNP was that God was moving it away from racism, although I’ve heard him on an American radio show explain that there’s nothing wrong with the word “Paki” and that “Paki Muslims” were responsible for his woes. His arrest did not in the end lead to any charges.

Ray played a part in the creation of the English Defence League, although he was quickly sidelined and created his own breakaway “St George Division”. He also moved to Malta, where his means of sustaining himself financially remain mysterious, and he became friends with Nick Greger, an ex-neo-Nazi (now reformed and with a black wife) who in turn is friends with the exiled Northern Ireland loyalist leader Johnny Adair. Ray and Greger at one point claimed that Adair would help them to reclaim leadership of the EDL; Ray has suggested that two of the EDL’s leaders are of Irish Catholic ethnic background and that there is a link with the IRA (this accusation explains why EDL leaders have been so keen in turn to claim a link between Ray and Breivik). Ray announced  the launch of the “The Ancient Order of Templar Knights” in late 2009, to the irritation of an American blogger who uses that name; it is highly unlikely that there are more than a handful of members.

One complicating factor is that someone has tried to create the impression that Ray is a neo-Nazi. In August 2009 I received an email from someone faking Ray’s identity and using a similar email address. The message directed me to a website which had reposted some of Ray’s blog posts along with a new posting praising the neo-Nazis of Stormfront; whoever did this obviously wanted me to write a bogus exposé, perhaps to cause trouble for Ray or perhaps to make me look foolish. A few weeks later, the real Ray complained on his site that someone had planted fake messages in his name on a website called RevolutionMuslim. It seems to me that a thorough police investigation exploring all avenues ought to check out who created this bogus site, and why. I have my own suspicions, based on other bogus communications I have received.

By his own account, Ray was a petty criminal and drug addict in his youth, although he changed his ways after converting to Christianity. According to a Dunstable on Sunday news report from c.2000 (not online), he worked for a time with the police as a speaker in local schools warning against drugs, while running a computer business. Ray blames the failure of this business on local Muslim gangs, and this seems to have been his catalyst for becoming involved in political activism.

He first came to wider public notice in 2006, after claiming to have infiltrated the International Solidarity Movement while on a visit to Israel. Ray joined several foreigners who had come to Israel to be part of the ISM on a trip to Jericho in the West Bank, where they allowed themselves to be photographed posing with guns; Ray then forwarded these photos to Lee Kaplan’s Stop the ISM, which publicised them and described him as a “Stop the ISM operative” (The ISM responded here, stating that the individuals in the photos had acted on their own initiative, and “had not attended ISM’s mandatory intensive non-violence training and were new to the country” ). Ray later claimed that his actions also amounted to an exposé of Antifa, as Paul Stott explains (and debunks) here.

As well as “Ray”, Paul Ray uses the names “Paul Cinato” and “Paul Sonato”, and while undercover in Israel and the West Bank was “Paul Andrews”; “Ray” is reportedly his mother’s maiden name.

Meet William Gawthrop: ICTOA Promotes Another Counter-Terror “Expert”

October will see the Ninth Conference of the International Counter-Terrorism Officers Association take place at the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Among the speakers will be  a certain William Gawthrop, billed as “FBI Senior Intelligence Analyst” and speaking on ” Strategic Themes & Drivers in Islamic Law ” and “Influence of the Shariah on Law Enforcement Investigations”. As with some other speakers that the ICTOA has promoted , there is reason to be concerned about the quality of advice that Gawthrop will bring to the event.

Gawthrop is a faculty member at American Military University, and he worked as an assistant intelligence analyst in Northern Iraq in 1991. It seems that his role in Iraq was to make assessments about military capabilities, but these days he presents himself as a specialist in the ideology of Islamic terrorism. However, judging from a look at some of his writings and public statements, his approach is at very a low level. His method appears to be to look through Islamic texts (in English translation) or secondary sources to pick out passages relating to warfare, which are then presented as representing the essence of Islam.

Here he is quoted by WorldNetDaily in 2006:

Gawthrop says jihadists in Iraq and Afghanistan are simply following the example of Muhammad, who some 1,400 years ago personally led 27 attacks and sent his armies out 47 additional times against non-Islamic communities averaging about seven operations a year.

He says the Muslim prophet’s military doctrine is contained in the Quran and its supplements, and the insurgents and terrorists are using them as their manual of warfare. They are Muhammad’s soldiers in the 21st century. Homegrown and freelance terrorists are also following his example, he notes.

“There is evidence to support the contention that sources of terrorism in Islam may reside within the strategic themes of Islam,” Gawthrop said. They include “the example of Muhammad, the Quran, the hadiths, Islamic law, the pillars of faith and jihad.”

…Gawthrop says the Pentagon needs to develop a broad new strategy to deal with the threat from Islamic terrorists. But to do so, officials must first overcome the political taboo of linking Islamic violence to the religion of Islam, its sacred scripture and the personal example of its revered prophet.

“Muhammad’s mindset is a source for terrorism,” Gawthrop flatly says.

But of what use is this? Of course Jihadists refer to Islamic texts for inspiration in a general sense, but they fight using twenty-first century technology and twenty-first century strategies. “Muhammad’s mindset” offers no guidance, and given that many Muslims revere “the example of Muhammad” without turning to terrorism Gawthrop is ignoring significant factors that any serious researcher ought to take into account. What are the personal narratives of terrorists? How do they interpret texts, and how to their interpretations relate to wider contexts or alternatives? A general theory of radicalisation based on the claim that militants are “simply following the example of Muhammad” is inadequate for any real understanding, and is obviously polemical rather than analytical.

Another example is a paper, entitled “Zakat-A Warfare Funding Mechanism”, which was published in The Vanguard – The Journal of the Military Intelligence Corps Association, 15 (2). It was reposted (without his name) on the website of Act for America:

ZAKAT: A Warfare Funding Mechanism
This paper examines zakat, commonly thought to be charitable alms giving, as an asymmetrical warfare funding mechanism.

…There are eight obligatory categories of disbursement for Zakat: the poor; those short of money; zakat workers; those whose heart are to be reconciled; those purchasing their freedom;  those in debt, those fighting for Allah; and travelers needing money.

…Recommended Unclassified Intelligence Collection Priorities include the following:  
“What is the annual zakat potential for a geographical area?”
“How is zakat collected in an area of responsibility?”
“Who are the collectors?”
“Where and how are the funds banked until distributed?” 
“Who has the distribution authority?”
“To whom is the distribution being made?”

Gawthrop’s questions are reasonable when applied to specific circumstances, but he doesn’t appear to have any answers – yet he has no hesitation in implying that when ordinary Muslims pay zakat they are supporting terrorism. This is inflammatory and irresponsible. The whole thing is vague, speculative, and not based on anything approaching a case study or placed in any sort of context.

Gawthrop also gives Amazon users the benefit of his expertise by posting book reviews. He favours older books and polemical anti-Islam works, denouncing “the current era of political correctness and academic appeasement.” However, his reviews also raise questions about his abilities. Here’s one unhappy example: Patrick Hughes’s Dictonary of Islam (published in 1885) supposedly included

a definition of “imam” and an interesting observation that when three or more Muslims come together, one must be appointed imam and the others are obliged to obey him (p. 202-204);

What are we meant to infer from this, other than the idea that Islam has a doctrine of unthinking obedience which any reasonable person would consider absurd and dangerous? But here is what Hughes actually writes:

The position of  Imam in this sense is not unlike the sheliach, or legatus, of the Jewish synagogue, who acted as the delegate of the congregation, and was the chief reader of prayers in their name. But quite independent of the duly appointed minister of a mosque, who is responsible for its services, and receives its revenues, no congregation of Muslim worshippers can assemble without one of the party taking the lead in the prayers by standing in front, and who is said “to act as Imam” for the assembly.

The rules laid down on this subject, as given in the Traditions, are as follows (Mishkat, book iv. ch. xxvii., xxviii):-

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri says the Prophet said: ‘When there are three persons, one of them must act as Imam and the other two follow him, and the most worthy of them to act as such is he who repeats the Qur’an best.”

Abu Ma’sud al-Ansari says the Prophet said” “Let him act as Imam to a congregation who knows the Qur’an thoroughly; and if all present should be equal in that respect, then let him perform who is best informed in the rules of prayer; and if they are equal in this respect also, let him act as Imam who has fled for the sake of Islam; and if equal in this likewise, let that person act who is oldest; but the governed must not act as Imam to the governor.”

In other words, when Muslim men come together for worship, a worthy member of the group ought to be chosen lead the prayers. There is no general principle of obedience here, and Gawthrop’s misinterpretation, while perhaps a small point in itself, casts a shadow over his general competence.

The ICTOA has come under critical scrutiny previously, particularly through its association with Walid Shoebat (back in November, it sponsored a “competing” Foot Hood memorial event featuring Shoebat, William “Jerry” Boykin, and Robert Spencer). I’ve written a number of posts about this, and ICTOA also featured in Political Research Associates’ report into counter-terror training. In response, PRA was accused of “defending Al Qaeda” and of smearing “patriotic” organisations, while I was supposedly being funded by George Soros. Such responses speak for themselves.

Improper counter-terrorism training is a subject that has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months: as well as the PRA report, a critical article appeared in the Washington Post in December, and there was a lengthy article in the Washington Monthly in March which prompted an expression of concern from Joe Lieberman, in his capacity as Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman, and from Ranking Member Susan Collins. In the last few weeks CNN has investigated Walid Shoebat’s presence at a counter-terrorism training event in South Dakota, while a few days later NPR looked at a training event in Chicago.

(H/T: Political Research Associates)

Media Looks For Breivik’s Purported “Mentor”

The Daily Telegraph ponders “Richard”, the man described by Anders Breivik as his “mentor” in his purported “Knights Templar” group:

A blog was discovered by The Daily Telegraph written by an individual called the Lionheart, who has written about “Moslem’s soldiers … seeking to conquer our lands and take our civilized world back into the ‘Dark Ages'”. He writes that “God will revive the ancient order of the Knights Templar and count me worthy to die amongst them in service of my God in protection of the Christian and Jewish world”.

The blogger’s real name is Paul Ray, from Bedfordshire, who described himself as one of the “founding fathers” of the right-wing English Defence League. Mr Ray was arrested three years ago on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred with material on his blog.

The Lionheart closed his blog on Thursday, but reopened it on Sunday to post: “A crackpot killing innocent Norwegian children in the name of anti-government politics. The extreme far-right of the political spectrum that has no place in modern civilised society.”

Good of the Telegraph to “discover” a blog of which plenty of us have been well aware for years. Ray, it should be recalled, became something of a “free speech martyr” in 2008 over his arrest (which did not lead to any charges), although support quickly evaporated after it was noticed that he had made statements offering qualified support for the BNP (he believed that God was moving the BNP away from racism).

In 2009, Ray became involved with organising football hooligans for an anti-Islamic protest; this led to the creation of the English Defence League, although Ray was quickly sidelined. He then established an “English Defence League: St George Division” and denounced the EDL leadership for tolerating neo-Nazis. He also found an ally in Nick Greger, a ex-neo Nazi from Germany who had found God and who is close friends with the Northern Ireland loyalist Johnny Adair. At one point, Greger boasted that Adair would help him and Ray regain control of the EDL.

At the same time, Ray styled himself as the EDL’s “spiritual leader” and “Grandmaster“. In late 2009, he announced the launch of the “The Ancient Order of Templar Knights” (to the annoyance of an American blogger who uses that name). However, this sort of romantic and vicarious identification with Crusaders is fairly commonplace among “anti-jihad” types, and by no means suggests a link with Breivik. Breivik claims that he met his Knights Templars in 2002; Ray has a long-standing interest in Templars, but it doesn’t appear to go back that far, and there’s no evidence that Ray was part of any larger group before the EDL.

Strangely, however, Ray didn’t use his opportunity to explain all this to the Telegraph:

In Bedfordshire, a man answering to the name Paul Ray said “I haven’t got anything to hide”.

Shown a picture that appeared to be him with the caption Lionheart, Mr Ray said: “That’s not me.”

He denied knowning Breivik or writing a blog.

[UPDATE: It turns out that the Telegraph hack contacted the wrong person named Paul Ray. See below]

However, Ray has chosen to respond on his blog:

It has been implied several places that due to the fact I use the name Lionheart on this blog and my anti-Islamic fundamentalism ideology is similar, not the same, as Anders Breivik that Richard could mean Richard the Lionheart, thus Lionheart could mean me.

I might be a Christian fundamentalist who has a deep dislike for Islamic fundamentalism who looks to Templarism as an example, but anyone who knows me knows that I personally would play no part in such inhumane savagery that has no place in the civilised world.

Ive been perplexed about this all day due to how serious the nature of being linked to a political mass murderer is (it’s no small thing), and now the penny has finally dropped on who the most likely person is, who ‘Richard’ the English mentor of Anders Breivik is.

Ray goes on to name Alan Lake, a businessman who has links with Scandinavia and who has financially supported the EDL. Lake has also been discussed by Channel 4 News, which highlights a purported quote:

As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy to execute people who try to spread Sharia law.

This is a bit sloppy – the main text of the article is slightly different:

…In April, Mr Lake was interviewed on Norwegian TV, saying he would execute people who believed in Sharia law.

“I call them seditious. They are seeking the overthrow of the state. They’re not respecting that which protects the state. As far as I’m concerned I’d be happy to execute people like that,” he told TV2.

In fact, though, if you watch the video, Lake’s quote comes in response to footage of Islamic extremists marching through London to demand sharia. It is not clear whether by “people like that” Lake means “people who believe in Sharia law” in general or whether he means specific extremist groups which have become notorious for provocative protests. I don’t care for Lake (and Lake doesn’t care for me), but quotes ought to be handled properly.

Responding to the massacre in Norway, Lake has written that:

Apparently, in a long screed Anders Behring Breivik posted on line, he did this attack to protest against the way that Islam is taking over large parts of Europe. By attacking the leftist politicians that are enabling this, the chickens have actually come home to roost – altho I’m sure it won’t be depicted that way.

That doesn’t sound like someone who either knows Breivik or who is pretending he doesn’t. Further, Lake doesn’t appear to have any interest in Crusader fetishism.

There is no evidence that either Lake or Ray are “Richard”, if such a person even exists. Further, there is evidence against the idea.

UPDATE: Viceland has more:

We met Paul Ray, “Lionheart of England”, a few months ago when we were making the VBS.TV film Royal Wedding… We began to get worried that maybe the other terror cells Breivik has claimed to be working alongside had something to do with Paul Ray, so we decided to seek him out. So did The Daily Telegraph, though they didn’t seem to get as much out of him as we did. This is probably because the Paul Ray we called was in Malta, while they found their (presumably bewildered) Paul Ray in Bedfordshire.

According to Ray:

…I think he was a lone wolf, and he’s just creating this mythology around him to make it look likes he’s part of something much bigger. He claims he arranged a meeting in London in 2002 with people from the Catholic Church and the Greek and Serbian Orthodox Churches. Do you really think people from these different denominations would come together to meet someone like him, and then approve of killing 90 innocent people? It’s pretty far-fetched.

…It apparently says in his manifesto that he has an English mentor called Richard. People are thinking that might be a code word for Richard Lionheart. Who else is there called “Lionheart” who’s writing about anti-jihad, Muslims and Templar iconography? It blatantly looks like it’s me! He also talks about diamonds in Liberia and whatever. Meanwhile, Nick [Mad Nick, another Templar Knight, pictured above with Paul Ray] is supporting Charles Taylor… It looks like he’s pointing the finger at us! 

(Royal Wedding, incidentally, was a documentary which purported to tell “the story of the peripheral figures of the British landscape who, for one reason or another, are obsessed with Prince William and Kate Middleton’s upcoming marriage.” This included Ray and some other characters, but it focused to a large extent on the making of royal-wedding themed pornographic film.)

UPDATE 2: According to the AP, EDL leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (“Tommy Robinson”) has accused Ray of being “Richard”. The AP also gives a spelling variant of Ray’s legal surname, Cinato*:

Lennon also claimed that a man Breivik describes in his manifesto as his mentor – “Richard (the Lionhearted)” – is a former EDL member called Paul Sonato, who was kicked out of the group a few years ago.

Mr Sonato, an English right-wing blogger who now goes by the name Paul Ray, said by telephone from his home in Malta that he never had any dealings with Breivik and condemned the massacre.

“Being implicated in this, I just want the truth to come out and it proven that I’m nothing whatever to do with this,” he said.

Assuming this is an accurate account, this can be seen as Yaxley-Lennon taking revenge on Ray – Ray’s blog contains numerous attacks on Yaxley-Lennon and on Kevin Carroll, including references to their Irish heritage. There is no reason to suppose that Yaxley-Lennon knows any more about the identity or real existence of Breivik’s supposed mentor than the rest of us.

Meanwhile, Ray is promising that his lawyers will be in touch with the Telegraph.

*(H/T to a reader for reminding me of this)

UPDATE 3: Alan Lake has now made a statement on Breivik, including the following:

  • I do not know this man, I have never met him, and I am not his mentor
  • I did not even get involved with any political issues until the end of 2007
  • He is not a member of 4Freedoms, as far as I can see, and does not appear to be a member of the Norwegian Room either
  • I have no interest in the Knights Templar movement, and in fact, strongly resisted any attempts to get me involved in the promotion of such a movement, as I see it as a waste of time
  • I categorically condemn his actions, which have also killed friends of a friend of mine – one in Oslo and two on Utoya island.

This has been reported in the Evening Standard as:

A millionaire computer engineer who has admitted funding the EDL today appeared to confirm the existence of the Knights Templar group described by Breivik in the manifesto he emailed to contacts shortly before the killings.

However, it’s clear that Lake is referring either to generic Crusader imagery as used by the EDL and related groups, or perhaps to Paul Ray’s use of Templar “branding”. There’s nothing in his statement which “confirms” the existence of the group of which Breivik claims to have been a member.

Breivik’s Crusader Fetishism

Claims links with Serbian “cultural conservatives”

A number of reports have described Anders Behring Breivik as a “Christian fundamentalist”. However, there are no reports claiming that he belonged to any particular church, and he hasn’t claimed to have been inspired by God or the Bible. He does appear obsessed with “Crusader” themed fetishism, but this is more likely to denote a shallow militaristic romanticism rather than any serious religious thinking. His “manifesto” (which is currently being widely discussed and analysed) sees religion as useful:

I’m not going to pretend I’m a very religious person as that would be a lie. I’ve always been very pragmatic and influenced by my secular surroundings and environment…. I have not yet felt the need to ask God for strength, yet… But I’m pretty sure I will pray to God as I’m rushing through my city, guns blazing, with 100 armed system protectors pursuing me with the intention to stop and/or kill.

…If praying will act as an additional mental boost/soothing it is the pragmatical thing to do. I guess I will find out… If there is a God I will be allowed to enter heaven as all other martyrs for the Church in the past.

…Sure, many deny God now. But when they’re looking death in the face, when they’re sick or in an accident or staring down the barrel of a gun, they’ll change their mind. They’ll beg for God then. There are no atheists in foxholes.

More urgent, though is whether Breivik’s Crusader fetishism was a lonely inadequate’s fantasy of empowerment (his video includes a an attack on “matriarchy”, and according to at least one report his first target on Utoya was the “most beautiful girl”), or whether his claim to have allies has any basis in reality. Here is a key passage of his “manifesto”:

I came in contact with Serbian cultural conservatives through the internet. This initial contact would eventually result in my contact with several key individuals all over Europe and the forming of the group who would later establish the military order and tribunal, PCCTS, Knights Templar… According to one of them, they were considering several hundred individuals throughout Europe for a training course. I met with them for the first time in London and later on two occasions in Balticum. I had the privilege of meeting one of the greatest living war heroes of Europe at the time, a Serbian crusader and war hero who had killed many Muslims in battle. Due to EU persecution for alleged crimes against Muslims he was living at one point in Liberia. I visited him in Monrovia once, just before the founding session in London, 2002.

I was the youngest one there, 23 years old at the time... There were only 5 people in London re-founding the order and tribunal (1 by proxy) but there were around 25-30 attending in Balticum during the two sessions, individuals from all over Europe; Germany, France, Sweden, the UK, Denmark, Balticum, Benelux, Spain, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Austria, Armenia, Lebanon and Russia. Electronic or telephonic communication was completely prohibited, before, during and after the meetings. On our last meeting it was emphasised clearly that we cut off contact indefinitely.

…This was not a stereotypical “right wing” meeting full of underprivileged racist skinheads with a short temper, but quite the opposite. Most of them were successful entrepreneurs, business or political leaders, some with families, most of them Christian conservatives but also some agnostics and even atheists… I was asked, not only once but twice, by my mentor; let’s call him Richard, to write a second edition of his compendium about the new European Knighthood….

Earlier, he writes that:

Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Solomonici – PCCTS (the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon), the Knights Templar was re-founded in London in 2002 by representatives from eight European countries… The founding session (two meetings consisting of 4 founding members and host as a security precaution) was held in London, United Kingdom – Apr, 2002.

Founding (re-founding) members:
Anonymous 1 – Nationality: English Protestant (Host)
Anonymous 2 – Nationality: English Christian atheist
Anonymous 3 – Nationality: French Catholic
Anonymous 4 – Nationality: German Christian atheist
Anonymous 5 – Nationality: Dutch Christian agnostic
Anonymous 6 – Nationality: Greek Orthodox
Anonymous 7 – Nationality: Russian Christian atheist
Anonymous 8 – Nationality: Norwegian Protestant (member and proxy for 9)
Anonymous 9 – Nationality: Serbian Orthodox (by proxy, location: Monrovia, Liberia)

Unable to attend:

Anonymous 10 – Nationality: Swedish
Anonymous 11 – Nationality: Belgian
Anonymous 12 – Nationality: European-American

Presumably a Serbian war criminal wandering around Liberia would have drawn some attention.

A Few Obvious Points on Norway Massacre

I don’t usually use this blog for general ruminations and observations, but here goes:

1. Given the continuing threat from Islamic extremists, it was reasonable to suspect (although not to conclude) that the terrorist attacks on Oslo-Utoya were the work of Jihadi terrorists.

2. However, if you’re right-wing nationalist or “anti-Jihadist” who confidently asserted that this was Islamic terrorism and that it revealed the true face of Islam, the discovery that the attacks were in fact the work of a right-wing nationalist and “anti-Jihadist” ought to be a cue for a long period of silence.

3. If you’re an anonymous Norwegian right-wing nationalist who writes about the impossibility of co-existing with the left and the inevitability of civil war, you have little ground to complain if people suspect you’re the same person as a Norwegian right-wing nationalist who has just massacred a large number of people who identify with the left.

4. If you’ve endorsed or promoted the writings of an anonymous Norwegian right-wing nationalist who writes about the impossibility of co-existing with the left and the inevitability of civil war, you have little ground to complain if people suspect you have links with a a Norwegian right-wing nationalist who has just massacred a large number of people who identify with the left.

5. Just because someone who is unsavoury may appreciate something that you have written or said, it does not therefore follow that your views are tarnished by the association.

6. However, if you use conspiracy theories and inflammatory rhetoric to whip up hatred, you ought to feel some shame if someone who admires your writings is then inspired to do something terrible.

There. Apologies for stating the obvious.

Sunday Express Promotes Mind Control Conspiracy Theorist on Breivik

From the Sunday Express:

Finnish psychologist, Dr Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde, who has lived in Norway for 20 years, believes Breivik is unlikely to have been a lone wolf. She said: “An attack of this magnitude would have taken such a degree of planning it would have been virtually impossible for one person to pull off.

“He seems to have been almost brainwashed by either a person or by an ideal.

“That is the only way, I believe, he was able to massacre so many people, including children, in cold blood.”

The Skeptic’s Dictionary has some more on Luukanen-Kilde’s mind control ideas:

Kilde claims there are secret military and intelligence agencies who have been using mind control technology on people around the world for almost half a century. Some have had microchips implanted in their bodies. The goal is control of our bodies and minds, including our dreams and subconscious minds.

…Until recently, she called these mind-control plots the “biggest crime in the history of mankind.” She seems to have changed her mind (or was it changed for her?). Now, she says, the biggest crime of all time is Big Pharma’s attempt to kill most of the Earth’s population with the swine flu vaccine.

UFOs and Henry Kissinger also loom large in her fantasies.

Blame “Abu Sulayman al-Nasir”, Not Will McCants

Electronic Intifada carries an attack on Will McCants, describing him as a “clueless ‘terror expert'”. The author, Benjamin Doherty, complains that McCants had drawn attention to a statement posted by a certain “Abu Sulayman al-Nasir” to an Arabic-language Jihadi forum, Shmukh, in which a group called Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami took responsibility for the Oslo/Utoya tragedy. Doherty opines that:

The threshold for a terrorism expert must be very low. This whole rush to disseminate a false, unverifiable and flimsily sourced claim strikes me as a case of an elite fanboy wanting to be the first to pass on leaked gadget specs.

This strikes me as misplaced. “Abu Sulayman al-Nasir” had made a posting of interest on a relevant forum. If McCants hadn’t noted it, someone else would have. And McCants treated the material responsibly, cautioning readers on Twitter and on his blog about the provenance of the posting (“Could just be forum user blowing hot air. forum members also confused abt who this guy is”).

I’ve written a lot about bogus terror experts on this blog (as a result I’ve been accused of being financed by George Soros or Islamic extremists). However, McCants isn’t someone who should be categorised in with the charlatans. His blog is scholarly and measured, and he first came to my attention on Twitter in June when he wrote of the need to improve counter-terrorism training (including drawing attention to the Lieberman-Collins letter).

Insofar as there has been inaccurate speculation of Islamic involvement in Oslo/Utoya, we can be rightfully scathing of those who would use the bombing and shooting to whip up anti-Muslim feeling, or who have jumped the gun irresponsibly – but it was manifestly reasonable to suspect that this was Jihadi operation. McCants was doing his job by flagging up the kind of material he regularly monitors. Electronic Intifada would be better off blaming (1) “Abu Sulayman al-Nasir”; (2) whoever controls Shmukh, for running a Jihadi forum (although the post was eventually removed); (3) Islamic extremists in general, for threatening to make such attacks and for past acts of terrorism.