T.B. Joshua: Big in Ecuador

From a press release:

An inspiring documentary detailing the recent visit of Nigerian Prophet T.B. Joshua to the South American nation of Ecuador has been released on YouTube, showing rare footage of the cleric’s adventurous trek through a rainforest on a mammoth humanitarian mission.

The clip shows Joshua being warmly received by Ecuadorian military officials and then meeting the nation’s Vice President Jorge Glas, before embarking on an intrepid journey through a dense tropical rainforest to the indigenous community of San Salvador de Los Chachis…

Joshua’s church sent supplies to Ecuador following last year’s earthquake, and his journey into the rainforest last month was to open a new school financed by his ministry.

The video, made by Joshua’s Emmanuel TV, can be seen here; the second half records an “Appreciation Ceremony”, during which Joshua received a Commendation of Honour from Quito government dignitaries and praise from General Carlos Medina, the military’s Director of Human Resources.

Joshua was introduced at the ceremony by a well-spoken white Englishman, apparently a member of the Emmanuel TV team. There were also statements of appreciation from a local pastor, Modesto Montero, and from Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the ultra-orthodox head of  ZAKA, a voluntary emergency response organisation in Israel. Meshi-Zahav previously gave an award to Joshua last year, and he appears to be involved with Joshua’s plan to relocate from Nigeria to Israel.

Joshua is a particularly controversial figure: some pastors shun him for allegedly unorthodox teachings, and he makes extravagant claims of prophetic and healing abilities. There is also the ongoing dispute over a collapse at one of his church buildings that resulted in multiple fatalities.

Tabloid Promotes “Paranormal Researcher” Linking Jimmy Savile to Moors Murderers

From the Daily Star:

Moors murders BOMBSHELL: Jimmy Savile part of ‘paedo ring with Ian Brady and Myra Hindley’

…Before their arrest in 1965, Savile ran the BBC studios from Manchester’s Dickenson Road – where Top of the Pops was filmed – and has been accused of meeting with Brady and Hindley to buy indecent images of children.

Erica Gregory – who has devoted years of her life investigating the Moors murders – believes they even formed a twisted “paedophile ring”.

…In 2014, Dan Davies noted that Savile chillingly replied “I am the Myra Hindley story” when asked on his opinion of it.

And Gregory believes that Savile continued to communicate with the killers after their incarceration – visiting them and using songs played on the radio to transmit coded messages.

Erica Gregory appears to be the source for a never-ending stream of tabloid fodder about the Moors Murderers: she is the author of a book, The Secret Key To The Moors Murders (2013), in which she argues that there are secret messages in Brady’s writings and that there is coded significance in the locations where his victims’ bodies were hidden. She also claims to have found objects on Saddleworth Moor that relate to the crimes.

Gregory believes that her researches will bring to light the undiscovered remains of Brady’s victim Keith Bennett; in recent weeks, the Daily Star has run articles suggesting that Gregory and investigators are “closing in” on the location, and promoting Gregory’s theory that Hindley’s late brother-in-law was also involved in the killings. But while the former story remains unresolved and the latter unsubstantiated, we now move on to yet another dramatic revelation that has somehow escaped the scrutiny of police and serious journalists: the supposed involvement of Jimmy Savile!

Savile, like the Moors Murderers, will probably be selling newspapers for years to come, and there is therefore an incentive to shoehorn him into other narratives of scandal and unsolved crime (another example: the Daily Mail ran a piece in 2015 suggesting that it was Savile who introduced Bishop Peter Ball to the Prince of Wales). It’s easy enough in this case – Savile’s cryptic “I am the Myra Hindley story” comment (given to Louis Theroux) is admittedly weird, and his association with Peter Sutcliffe at Broadmoor has already prompted lurid speculation. The idea of Savile using his position at the BBC to secretly communicate with Brady will also appeal to tabloid anti-Beeb sentiment.

However, Gregory’s new suggestion is both highly speculative and inherently unlikely, and it should be noted that her  claims to have found significant objects relating to the Moors Murders have been criticised by Keith Bennett’s brother Alan:

“Gregory must have a couple of large size wheelie bins full of all the stuff she has found on the moor and she invents some way to connect it all, whatever it may be, to Brady and Hindley. During my own ongoing search of the moor we have found many things, but the difference is that we do not invent things to go with what ever the finds may be…

“I have to try and come to terms, once again, with the fact that journalists like a ‘Sensational/exclusive’ and people like E Gregory continue with their fantasies and inventions but it does not alter the fact that it all means absolutely nothing in the end. All it does is cause grief and hamper serious investigations.

“Brady has been given his platform once again. Gregory has been given the publicity she craves in her wicked, hurtful, spiteful fantasy world.” 

That was after Gregory appeared on Channel 5 claiming to have found the remains of a shotgun used by Brady.

Some important context here is that Gregory also spends time hunting for ghosts, as part of the Worsley Paranormal Group. The website for her book about Brady no longer exists, but some of its content has been preserved on a blog run by Hayley Stevens, who takes a sceptical approach to the paranormal. Stevens noted that “the group rely largely upon Electronic Voice Phenomena” (a pseudo-scientific term for “spirit voices”), and that  EVP had been used to guide researches on the moors.

Stevens’s post dates to 2013, and it was published in response to angry messages from Gregory in the wake of a post Stevens had published the year before, entitled “Unethical Ghost Hunters Play Detective“. Stevens was here responding to a Daily Mail report that the group had found an old spade on the moor; the discovery was headlined as a “potential breakthrough in hunt for body of Moors Murder victim Keith Bennett”.

The group had the spade tested by a lecturer in forensics, but it was not apparently passed to the police. Stevens made some obvious points:

If they genuinely believed it to be linked to the murder case they should have handed it straight to the police, and Kershaw had no business testing it himself. If their aim truly was to help with the discovery of Keith Bennett they shouldn’t have even removed the spade from the scene and should have left it exactly where it was while calling the police and they had no business contacting the Bennett family directly or through their lawyer.

In a further helpful post, entitled “Debunking Ghost Hunter Erica Gregory and her Ian Brady Conspiracies“, Stevens expresses the view that the Group has “simply been manipulated by the rantings of a paranoid schizophrenic with a narcissistic personality disorder”, and that Gregory is “a time-wasting conspiracy theorist with a hero complex.” Stevens further notes that Alan Bennett had

shared on Social Media how Gregory had sent somebody messages claiming that her work revealed that his late mother, Winnie, who died never knowing where her son was buried, was a prostitute and that his murdered brother, Keith, was purposefully visiting Ian Brady and Myra Hindley.

Are the newspapers that have so eagerly promoted Gregory aware of this context, or are they just turning a blind eye to it while Gregory provides them with more usable sensationalising material?

New Book on Mark Taylor’s “Trump Prophecies”

Mark Taylor is a former firefighter from Florida who received a direct communication from God in 2011 (1) promising that Donald Trump would be the next President of the USA and that Trump would “bring honor, respect and restoration to America”. Taylor revealed this message to the world in 2015, with the result that he has become a celebrity on the Christian Right media circuit, promoted by the likes of Jim Bakker and Joseph Farah.

Taylor has now co-authored a bookThe Trump Prophecies, in which he describes “what led to the miracle of the 2016 election”, and in which we can read of “astounding, world-altering changes in our US government Mark sees on the horizon”. Taylor is not apparently claiming to have received further personal revelations about Trump from God, but he does purport to have special insight into US politics, and he continues to discern hidden meanings in the 2011 prophecy – for instance, that fact he received it 2021 days before Trump’s election is an indication that Trump will have a second term.

Recently, Taylor has told the Christian conspiricist radio host Rick Wiles that Trump will mete out “God’s justice” against members of the Obama administration, in special tribunals that he likened to the Nuremberg Trials; he has also told pastor Carl Gallups (previously discussed here) that Trump will appoint five new Supreme Court judges.

Taylor’s co-author, Mary Colbert, can be seen here explaining to Jim Bakker that Trump is “the chosen one of God”, and that God will curse his critics, as well as his critics’ children and grandchildren. Colbert is also the wife of Don Colbert, a best-selling medical doctor who runs the Divine Health Wellness Center in Florida – according to a blurb, Don Colbert has featured on or in “Dr. Oz Show, Fox News, ABC World News, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, BBC, Readers Digest, News Week, Prevention Magazine, and many others”. Further, “he is is a frequent guest with John Hagee, Joyce Meyer, Kenneth Copeland and other leaders in the body of Christ.”

The Trump Prophecies is published by Thomas Horn’s Defender Publishing – Horn is an odd figure on the Christian Right, linking Biblical fundamentalism with fantastical David Icke-style conspiracies about aliens and supernatural forces.


(1) A video advert for the book uploaded by Thomas Horn’s SkyWatchTV and embedded on Mary Colbert’s website states that Taylor received the prophecy in 2006, and that he revealed it in 2011. However, Taylor himself has been very specific that God spoke to him while he was watching Trump on television on 28 April 2011, and there is no public record of it until some time later.

It looks like someone has decided to backdate the prophecy to make it seem more impressive – in April 2011 Trump was considering seeking the Republican nomination to run against Obama, and the impious and those of weak faith may be tempted to think that Taylor’s 2011 prophecy was simply wishful thinking about the next election.

Some Notes on the Independent Review into Bishop Peter Ball

From the website of the Church of England, and widely reported:

An Abuse of Faith, the independent report by Dame Moira Gibb into the Church’s handling of the Bishop Peter Ball case, has been published today. Peter Ball was convicted in 2015 of misconduct in public office and indecent assaults against teenagers and young men. The report was commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, following the conviction. 

In her foreword Dame Moira states:

“This report considers the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball, a bishop of the Church of England who abused many boys and men over a period of twenty years or more. That is shocking in itself but is compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. Ball’s priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others.

I’ve written about the Peter Ball case a couple of times before (here and here) – he addressed an assembly at my school while I was teenager, and there was a summer during which a friend and I joined some others for a week at his residence on the outskirts of Berwick near Lewes. Ball, unusually for an Anglican bishop, was also a monk, and he affected a Saint Francis-like manner that appeared to embody spirituality, good humour, gentleness, and discipline. Before his police caution in 1993 (which allowed Ball to evade true justice for more than 20 years), many people regarded him as a saintly figure, although in retrospect his whole disarming monastic pose seems theatrical and even campy.

One passage in the review has the measure of the man:

Ball achieved the high regard in which he was held by convincing many to recognise him as a deeply spiritual man – a monk committed to an austere and authentic practice of his Christian faith. But any strong personal convictions were combined with a capacity for self-delusion, denial and manipulation. He vindictively continued to try to traduce the reputations of Neil Todd [the 1992/3 complainant] and Mr A for many years. He exploited the respect and the faith attaching to his position in order to abuse boys and young men, in the face of a professed celibacy. His household expenditure was reported to be extravagant but he continued to wear monastic robes long after he had resigned from his religious community. There was an essential dishonesty in his resigning as a bishop on grounds of ill health, which enabled him to receive a disability pension. There is no evidence at that time of any enduring disability and his campaign to resume clerical duties commenced only weeks after his resignation.

The review also notes that Ball declined to cooperative with the review, which “does not sit well” with his expressions of regret. There’s also the remarkable detail that Ball received a further suspended sentence while in prison, for harassing a witness by letter.

George Carey

The review is particularly critical of George Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury at the time of Ball’s police caution, and much of the media commentary has focused on this aspect. Carey’s plodding through the “Decade of Evangelism” was never very inspiring, and this scandal will now completely overshadow how he is remembered. In 1993, he described Ball privately as “basically innocent”, and the fact that Ball was able to discretely resume some clerical duties after his police caution sent out a message (amplified by media collusion) that the allegation had been trivial or even false.

I don’t believe that Carey acted with the deliberate intention of denying justice to a victim of abuse, but although “collusion” may seem harsh, the report notes that “cover-up and collusion fall on a spectrum that includes carelessness and partiality.” Carey appears to have resisted some early lobbying on Ball’s behalf by his twin brother, Michael Ball, but it’s clear that overall he was taken in by Ball’s “saint” routine, and that this amounted to gross negligence. The review notes the way Carey has tried to downplay his personal culpability:

Lord Carey admits that some mistakes were made but the extent to which he accepts any personal responsibility is limited. Almost every expression of regret is in the plural – “we undoubtedly let down the victims of Peter Ball” – and is tempered by a reference to the failures of the wider Church. It was “the Church of England (which) enabled Peter Ball to continue in ministry”. The absence of attention to Ball’s victims was a “widespread failure of the church“.

Michael Ball

One figure who has received little attention until now is Ball’s twin brother and fellow bishop, Michael Ball. The report reveals that Michael Ball advocated aggressively for his brother’s rehabilitation, admitting only that Peter Ball had been “silly”. When Archbishop Rowan Williams re-opened the file on Peter Ball in 2010, Michael Ball sent him an extraordinary letter accusing him of having “set out carefully and cunningly to destroy Peter physically, personally and in his ministry”.

The review also considers testimony that Michael Ball allowed his brother to impersonate him at certain events following his public disgrace in 1993, noting that “it appears to us extraordinary that a bishop should, at best, be so careless as to allow himself to be impersonated, and particularly to be impersonated by a former bishop who had resigned in the circumstances detailed above.”

Prince Charles

Peter Ball is known to have been held in high regard by the Prince of Wales, who has inherited his paternal grandmother’s enthusiasm for exotic spirituality. I remember that Ball had an autographed photo of the prince on display at his home, and the review notes that

Ball clearly intimates on many occasions, to Lord Carey and others, that he enjoys the status of confidant of the Prince of Wales. He ensured that Lord Carey was aware that he corresponded with the Prince… and that he visited Highgrove House. There are frequent references in Ball’s letters to Lord Carey and others to his attending royal functions and to meeting members of the Royal Family. Following the retirement of Bishop Michael Ball, the brothers lived together in a house which they rented from the Duchy of Cornwall after the Duchy had acquired the house specifically for that purpose…

There have been media reports that Prince Charles attempted to intervene on Ball’s behalf in 1993, although according to the review “we have reviewed all the relevant material including the correspondence passing between the Prince of Wales and Ball held by the Church and found no evidence that the Prince of Wales or any other member of the Royal Family sought to intervene at any point in order to protect or promote Ball”. It further notes that the Crown Prosecution Service “has publicly stated that it had neither received nor seen any correspondence from a member of the Royal Family when Ball was under investigation in 1992/93”.

In 2015, the Daily Mail‘s diarist Richard Kay wrote an article in which it was claimed that “the bishop’s principal entree into the Waleses’ household” had been none other than Jimmy Savile, and that Ball had “got to know Savile well” while at Lewes. No sources are given, and the story strikes me as highly unlikely: Savile had no particular association with East Sussex in 1980s, and Ball is much more likely to have to come to know Charles through church-related activities. Savile’s name does not appear in the review.

A network?

The review notes that Ball had associations with other priests who have committed sex abuse, and states that an “account of Ball abusing a 13 year old boy in the presence of [Colin] Pritchard and [Roy] Cotton led to one of the charges which he did not admit when imprisoned.” The review’s assessment is that

Most of those we spoke with would not go so far as to say that there had been an organised “ring” of abusive priests. However some felt that there had been particular issues relating to the Chichester diocese, where the conditions were right for “like minded” people to come together…

…There will be different degrees of organisation and association within a category of “organised abuse”. We have not found evidence of organised abuse in the sense that there were clear mutual arrangements between perpetrators to identify, groom and abuse victims. Sussex Police told us that they were reluctant to reach such a conclusion after their extensive enquiries into Ball’s conduct.

Time to return to another scandal?

Two years after Ball’s 1993 disgrace, the Church of England experienced another sex scandal: it was revealed that a charismatic young vicar in Sheffield had been a sexual predator of women. The vicar, Chris Brain, had achieved fame through his Nine O’Clock Service, which had been appreciated by the Church of England as a way to engage the youth. Carey said at the time that he felt “crushed and let down” by the revelations about Brain.

Because Brain’s predations were manipulative rather than coercive, his behaviour did not lead to any criminal sanction. However, this was also a problem in bringing Ball to justice, and it was resolved by determining that an Anglican bishop is a public officer. Ball was thus convicted of misconduct in a public office. If this applies to Anglican bishops, why not Anglican vicars, too?

Grenfell Tower: Rumours, Rhetoric, and Conspiracy Theories

Below, I note various examples of rumour-mongering and opportunistic rhetoric in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster in London.

“Children sent home from school for not having uniforms”

The Daily Mail published – and then deleted – the claim that children who had survived the inferno had the next day been “turned away from school” for not having their school uniforms. The story, by a young journalist and a trainee, did not identify the school, and it was based on a Facebook post by someone who said she had heard the detail from a friend (unnamed) who had heard it from a childminder (unnamed).

In itself, the story is not very significant, but it may have provoked some misplaced anger, and it shows how in the scramble for a unique angle on a big story quality control can be compromised.

“Death toll suppressed by D-Notice”

The left-wing website The SKWAWKBOX justly received opprobrium and mockery when it claimed that the true death toll was being suppressed by a “D-Notice”, an outdated term for a DSMA-Notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice).

There is a common misconception that such notices allow the government to censor the media, and this has been exploited by conspiracy theorists over the years (in particular, it has claimed that D-Notices are used to protect VIP paedophiles from exposure). However, as the full name implies, a DSMA notice is purely advisory, and such a notice would not be deployed in relation to a event such as the Grenfell fire.

“Muslims should be blamed”

Perhaps inevitably, there was early speculation that the fire had been a terror attack, and readers at right-wing conspiracy websites such as WND have posted numerous comments blaming Muslims and suggesting a cover-up. On 17 June, the Daily Express noted a fire at tower-block in Shadwell, and drew attention to a Tweet from someone with 173 followers (account now deleted) which suggested that fires were occurring “in muslim populated areas”. This was then picked up by Infowars as “Londoners suspicious after 3 consecutive fires in heavily Muslim neighborhoods”.

Meanwhile, Alex Jones’s man in the UK, Paul Joseph Watson, selected a few random Tweets as proof that Muslims as a whole were “celebrating” the disaster. He also drew attention to a video of the fire in which “a man is even heard… say ‘Allah Akbar’ [sic] – the refrain commonly shouted by Muslims during terror attacks – as victims are still trapped inside the building.” In fact, of course, the phrase “Allahu Akbar” is used in many situations, and the context here was certainly alarm and distress.

“Zionists should be blamed”

The Jewish Chronicle notes that the tragedy was referred to during the pro-Hezbollah Al-Quds day march in London last weekend. A speaker said that “Some of the biggest supporters of the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell.” Thus the negligence that caused the blaze is expressed through inflammatory language (“murder”), and “Zionism” is brought into it in a way that is gratuitous, opportunistic, and barely coherent.

“Authorities stopped people from helping, in order to ‘kill more people'”*

The most unpleasant and irresponsible comment has come from Haitham al-Haddad, a notorious Islamist. In a video, he has claimed that “a brother” has “confirmed” to him that

Most of the people who were in that building, they were Muslims. He said “…Police and the authorities were stopping the people!” He said “Shall we expect that it was intended to stop people from helping in order to kill more people in there? Was this intended or not?” Many questions have to be answered.

This is not just a vile slur against those who attempted to rescue the residents of the tower block – given the recent Islamist terror attacks in London, it verges on incitement.

UPDATE: One I missed on the right claims that the man whose fridge started the fire, acted either suspiciously or irresponsibly, apparently packing his things before alerting a neighbour to the blaze. But if he were up to no good why would he have alerted anyone? The narrative here is uncertain: we now know that firefighters believed that they had successfully extinguished the fridge fire (perhaps caused by a power surge) before it was realised that the external cladding was also ablaze – he probably did his packing based on a false belief that the matter was under control.

David Vance demands to know whether the fire was “started by an illegal immigrant who has subsequently fled”, and he suggests that possibility this is being “casually ignored”. However, although media reports describe the man as a minicab driver from Ethiopia, there is no evidence that he was working illegally, and there is no reason to suppose that he “started” the fire.

UPDATE 2: The conspiracy theorist Michael Shrimpton has claimed that the fire occurred because the fridge was being used to store explosives as part of an “ISIS bomb-making factory”. Shrimpton was given airtime by Richie Allen to expound his views, but not even Allen – who uses his radio show to promote conspiracy theories – was quite convinced.


Charlie Daniels: “Blood will Flow as High as a Horse’s Bridle”

From the website of country music star Charlie Daniels:

I am a big fan of Bible prophecy and now is a fascinating time to be alive because some of the major Old Testament Prophecies have been fulfilled in my lifetime.

…There is still much Bible prophecy left to be fulfilled, most of it dealing with Israel and the Jewish people and most especially Jerusalem, which will be a point of contention in the very last battle of the age…

According the infallible word of the Living God, He, in His awesome anger will fight for His chosen people leaving 85% or so of the enemy troops dead in the Jezreel Valley, the plains of Armageddon.

Blood will flow as high as a horse’s bridle as an army of two hundred million are divinely caused to fight among themselves leaving but one sixth of them alive to go home and tell the story of what the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wrought.

In broad outline, this sanguinary vision is standard apocalyptic Christian Zionism, although he glosses over the details that the End-Times scenario also involves most Jews being killed. “Divinely caused to fight among themselves” is a novel element, though – in the Left Behind novels, for instance, God simply “superheats” the soldiers at the Battle of Armageddon and causes them all to explode and/or melt (and for good measure God also smites their horses in the same way).

Daniels’s end-times ruminations have been brought to wider attention by the website WND, and they provide a hook to promote a new DVD documentary featuring the singer:

REVELATION, Dawn of Global Government, is a unique film starring country music legend Charlie Daniels, Special Ops General William Boykin and Mark Collins as “George Washington”. This film reflects a Biblical world view so well illustrated in Revelation by the four horsemen of the apocalypse. The American Republic, Christian faith and liberty are rapidly being destroyed by the Trojan Horse of globalism. As we have slept, “change has come to America”. Awakened late, we will find ourselves suffocated in a global prison planet, controlled by a New World Order. The Republic weeps…listen to her cry!

Once again, conspiracy thinking and eschatology are entangled.

I previously wrote about Boykin here. The documentary also features Alex Jones, and it is the sequel to Behold a Pale Horse: America’s Last Chance, made in 2012. The director of both is a photographer named Chuck Untersee – he and Alex Jones discussed the earlier work on Infowars at the time of its release.


“Arthur Arkman” and Finsbury Park Mosque: An Example of Fake News

Yesterday, the UK awoke to the news that a man had used a van to attack worshippers at Finsbury Park Mosque. However, it was not until late in the afternoon that the suspect was formally identified as one Darren Osborne, a resident of Cardiff.

Perhaps inevitably, the information lacuna for most of the day provided the perfect condition for the spread of false rumour and fake news, both on social media and on wannabe news websites. Thus it was that the name “Arthur Arkman” was bandied about, in some cases alongside photographs of various individuals (including an American radio host).

Where did the name come from? One early appearance was on Eurovizyon, a London-based Turkish-language website that gives the appearance of being a mainstream media outlet. Less obscure was an American site called Coed, which has a blue tick on Twitter and which describes itself as “The secret weapon for Lifestyle Brands seeking to engage College-Educated 18-34 Year-Olds”. The site ran a piece luridly headlined “Arthur Arkman: Full Story & Must-See Details Of Finsbury Park Terrorist”, which was also carried by Hungary Today.

Eurovizyon has since referred to Osborne in other articles, but the site’s original false identification remains online without explanation. Hungary Today, meanwhile, has deleted its page on the subject. Coed, though, simply amended its original story to make it about Osborne instead; but as is often the case when an internet headline is corrected, the original error remains preserved in the url:

The surname “Arkman” also fuelled speculation that the attacker was either a Turkish national or an American of Turkish heritage. One site even claimed that police had confirmed that the attacker was inspired by “Muslim extremist ideology”; this was the Leicester Post, which, despite sounding like a long-established and staid UK regional newspaper, is actually an American website. Google News Search has been gamed by such sites:

Meanwhile, far-right websites best left under their rock have been revelling in the idea that “Arkman” may have been Jewish.

The Rebel Again Asks for Donations to a “Legal Defence Fund”

From The Rebel:

Tonight, Rebel reporter Laura Loomer was arrested in New York after interrupting the Broadway production of Julius Caesar, a play by William Shakespeare that had been politically altered to feature the assassination of U.S. President Donald Trump.

…The Rebel has hired a lawyer to work for Laura’s immediate release on free speech grounds — precisely the same argument the theatre uses to justify their play.

To contribute to Laura’s legal defence fund, please click below.

An update adds:

…UPDATE: Laura has been freed from jail. She is facing two charges: trespassing and disorderly conduct. We will fight those charges vigorously in court.

The stunt was obviously pre-arranged – indeed, it appears that Ezra Levant registered a “freelaura.com” url that redirects to The Rebel a few hours ahead of the interruption. The outcome was inevitable; why, then, is the site now asking for donations as a matter of urgency?

The above in effect promises that Loomer will plead not guilty and offer a justification, even though she has not yet taken legal advice. The case, then, is not just about benefiting Loomer, but establishing a point of principle.

Those of us who can remember back several weeks, though, will recall similar rhetoric when Tommy Robinson, the former EDL leader who now works for The Rebelwas arrested while filming for the website in the UK. The Rebel asked for donations, which it promised would be used to “put together a powerful legal argument in defence of Tommy’s free speech and freedom of the press.” And after Robinson’s court appearance, The Rebel declared “victory” and a “court win”, and Robinson made a short statement thanking donors.

However, it emerged a few days later that Robinson’s defence team had not in fact “put together a powerful legal argument in defence of Tommy’s free speech and freedom of the press”. Instead, Robinson had pleaded guilty to contempt of court and thrown himself on the court’s mercy. He was apologetic; he said that he had not been trained in media law; and he asked the court to take account of the fact that his personal safety would be at risk in prison. The judge gave him a suspended sentence.


Also present at the interruption in New York was The Rebel‘s Jack Posobiec. Posobiec came to attention in December, when he suggested that the Comet Pizza gunman was a “false flag”designed to censor independent news sources.

A Note on Mustafa al-Mansur, Friday’s Grenfell Tower Demonstration Organiser

From the Daily Telegraph:

The organiser of Friday’s Grenfell Tower demonstration, in which protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall, is a Jeremy Corbyn-supporting political activist who was once arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

Businessman Mustafa al-Mansur, 39, launched a Facebook campaign urging people affected by the tragedy to gather at council offices on Friday afternoon, after discovering that a family friend had died in the tragedy.

It emerged last night that Mr Mansur, who used to be spokesman for the Finsbury Park Mosque, had been arrested 10 years ago by the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of terrorism offences. He was released without charge and later claimed he had been detained because his fingerprints had been found on a book about improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which belonged to a Bosnian associate.

The article makes it clear that al-Mansur (var. Mustafa Almansur) “appealed for calm” when he addressed the crowd at Kensington Town Hall, and he was quoted as complaining about “fringe elements”.

On Twitter, the Telegraph quote about Finsbury Park Mosque was annotated by Jack Montgomery, a Breitbart writer, to say that al-Mansur was “spokesman for [Abu Hamza’s] Finsbury Park Mosque”. From this, it was further claimed by Colonel Richard Kemp that al-Mansur was an “associate” of Abu Hamza.

Abu Hamza was forced out of the mosque in January 2003, and it was closed down a few months later. It reopened under new management early in 2005, and it is only from this period that  al-Mansur is described in the media as the mosque’s spokesman. The source is an AFP report helpfully preserved online by Free Republic:

Some 500 attend the mosque on average, mostly Muslims of Somalian, north African, Bangladeshi and Pakistani background, said Mustafa al-Mansur, the mosque’s spokesman, who is himself from Bangladesh.

“There are two types of people. There are people who stopped coming because of the previous management because they didn’t feel safe or comfortable, and there are people who didn’t care,” he told AFP.

“We don’t see any recognizable faces any more,” he added. “Since Abu Hamza left, the mosque was closed for several months. When Abu Hamza left there was a sigh of relief… Even some Abu Hamza supporters thanked us.”

A new Daily Mail article also makes explicit that al-Mansur was mosque spokesman “after the time of notorious hate preacher Abu Hamza”. There is thus no reason to suppose that the two were associates or that al-Mansur supported Abu Hamza. Al-Mansur is not mentioned in the literature about Abu Hamza.

Al-Mansur was apparently arrested in December 2006, and he gave an account of it six weeks later to Madeleine Bunting at the Guardian. Only his first name is used in the article as it currently appears online, although a re-posting on a forum shows that it used to carry his full name. He told Bunting:

After several days of questioning, it became clear why he had been arrested. He was shown a book entitled IED (improvised explosive devices). It was an American manual and he dimly remembered seeing it before. “It was about 1995,” he says. “I was 17 or 18. I met a man at a mosque in Clapton, east London; he was involved in a Bosnian humanitarian organisation, and over about six months I saw him a few times. On one occasion, he took me to the flat of a friend of his and that’s where I saw the book. I picked it up, skimmed through it and put it down. That was all. The police said they had found the book in a box in an attic and they found six fingerprints of mine on the book.”

Mustafa’s fingerprints were already on the police database from an earlier, unrelated incident and the police were swiftly able to establish a match.

The Telegraph also notes that al-Mansur had “praised Mr Corbyn recently on his Facebook page”. Clearly, then, there are no obvious signs of support for Islamic extremism in his social media profile, otherwise the Telegraph would have mentioned it.

False “News Blackout” Claim in Fawnbrook Sexual Assault Case

From WND:

News blackout on refugee boys who sexually assaulted Idaho girl

It’s as if it never happened.

A judge sentenced three Muslim refugee boys in the sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl in Idaho, but nobody knows the length or terms of the sentence because the judge has barred everyone in the courtroom, including the victim’s own parents, from speaking about the case.

The three boys — two from Iraq ages 7 and 10, and one from Sudan aged 14 — pleaded guilty in juvenile court in April to multiple counts of sex crimes in an incident that occurred last June in Twin Falls. The assault occurred at Fawnbrook Apartments, when 5-year-old Jayla, who is developmentally disabled, was lured into a laundry room, stripped of her clothing and sexually assaulted while the oldest boy filmed the entire incident.

This is an odd kind of “news blackout”, considering that the case has been widely reported in US media. There are of course reporting restrictions, but these are standard and because juveniles are involved in a criminal matter.

The WND author, Leo Hohmann (fresh from his botched reporting about Somalis in Minnesota), suggests that the “gag order” exists because the judge for some reason wishes to suppress criticism of how the prosecution handled the case. He quotes Pamela Geller, who claims to have received “leaked” information from inside the court, and the victim’s lawyer, Mark Guerry, who says that the family “were especially upset with the prosecutor’s repeated statements in the media defending the juvenile defendants, rather than focusing on the victim”. There’s also a bit of punditry from Matt Staver, who says that the judge has “forgotten about the First Amendment.”

The Twin Falls County Prosecutor, Grant Loebs, has responded to Guerry’s criticisms, although you wouldn’t know it from WND. As reported in the Idaho Statesman, Loebs explains:

“It’s not the job of a prosecutor to zealously represent the victim. My job is to zealously advocate for the state of Idaho and for whatever process results in the just settlement of the case and the truth coming out. That’s what we did from day 1,”

The article also notes that Guerry has previously accused Loebs of using improper influence to escape drink-driving charges, when in fact Loebs has never been suspected of such an offence.

There is also an important long-read about the background to the case by Daniel Vock in Governing magazine (“the nation’s leading media platform covering politics, policy and management for state and local government leaders”). Vock notes how early reports about the incident were highly inaccurate:

…The first reports falsely claimed that two of the assailants were Syrian and that they used a knife to carry out the attack. These reports described the assault in graphic detail, although Loebs says many of the details were wrong. The accounts were quickly picked up by websites such as InfoWars and World Net Daily. The Drudge Report ran an account under the headline: “REPORT: Syrian ‘Refugees’ Rape Little Girl at Knifepoint in Idaho.”

Notoriously, Alex Jones suggested that Chobani Yogurt was responsible, because it employed refugees in its local plant – the company sued, and Jones retracted (his second recent climb-down from a story he has been unable to substantiate).

Vock also describes the activist role played by a Breitbart reporter:

Breitbart sent its lead investigative reporter at the time, Lee Stranahan, to the city for a month to report on the Fawnbrook case and dig for dirt on the refugee program. Stranahan went beyond writing stories. He berated a city council member during the public comment portion of a meeting. Then he helped launch a group to promote populism and “localism” rather than “globalism” in Twin Falls. The group, called “Make Your Hometown Great Again,” also pushed for more aggressive policing, curbs on immigration and developing alternative media to replace local newspapers and TV stations as sources of information.

The creation of the supposed “group” appears to have been a stunt a few weeks ahead of the Presidential election – there has been no sign of it since, and Vock notes that Stranahan has now moved on and works for “a Russian news outlet” (a generous description of Sputnik, a propaganda operation owned by the Russian state).

Hostility towards the local media turned vicious: Vock explains that employees at the local Times-News received threats of violence, while the editor, Matt Christensen, received a rape threat against his daughters. Hardliners even a targeted a local Fox News contributor, Bill Colley.

None of this is of interest to WND of course, who would rather whip up spurious fear and resentment with a false claim about a “news blackout”.