Robert Spencer Scrubs Another Blog Post

Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch, this morning:

Gunman with “possible terrorist links” murders 4 outside Jewish school in France

Islamic antisemitism boiling over? Maybe…

Same post, this evening:

Not Found

The requested URL /2012/03/gunman-with-possible-terrorist-links-murders-4-outside-jewish-school-in-france.html was not found on this server.

Apparently, the answer to Spencer’s question is “maybe not”, and so he scrubbed the article without bothering to update his followers with the latest developments: there is reason believe that the killer may be part of a gang of ex-paratroopers who were dismissed in 2008 for neo-Nazi behaviour (details in Le Point, cited in English in other news-sites).

This is Spencer’s usual method when he’s made an accusation that turns out not to be true or to be doubtful: in 2009 he deleted a bogus story about a mass paedophile wedding in Gaza, and at the end of 2010 he removed an account about a man acting strangely on a plane to Malta – a report used by Spencer said the man was a Muslim, but he turned out to be a Caribbean Christian. There are probably other instances; Spencer apparently sees no ethical need to correct any false impression or inaccurate information he may have left his readers with.

As I wrote previously, any blogger dealing in current affairs is likely to make a mistake from time to time; but what separates a serious person from a charlatan or demagogue is how one attempts to put a mistake right.

As for the tragedy in Toulouse, it is of course reasonable to suspect a jihadist motive. However, Spencer was obviously writing in bad faith: that’s why he framed the suggestion as a Muslim “boiling over”, and that’s why he removed the article without explanation when he realised the killer might not be a Muslim.

Alas, Google cache doesn’t have a copy of the post, although a few lines currently remain visible on the Google search results page. Some of the content has also been reposted on JBlog Central.

UPDATE: The BBC reports:

Police hunting a gunman suspected of killing seven people in southern France have surrounded a house in Toulouse.

According to the French interior minister:

…the suspect had made several visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“He claims to be a mujahideen and to belong to al-Qaeda,” Mr Gueant said.

“He wanted revenge for the Palestinian children and he also wanted to take revenge on the French army because of its foreign interventions.”

Spencer probably now regrets blinking, although the fact that the gunman also killed two Muslim soldiers might make the obvious polemical line slightly tricky.

UPDATE 2: Spencer now has several new posts on the subject, including one in which he has fun with foreign media for suspecting Neo-Nazis: “I do not blame them for thinking that it could have been Nazis, since they have so much in common with the followers of the Quran”. Of course, Spencer glosses over the fact that reports such as these also gave him a serious case of cold feet – which prompted him to delete rather than to inform.