On January 7th 2009, The Sun newspaper published a now notorious front page article, which alleged that Islamic extremists were using an online forum at Ummah.com to compile a ‘hit list’ of prominent British Jews.
By the end of the following day, an investigation conducted by Tim Ireland (of Bloggerheads fame/notoriety) had successfully identified Glen Jenvey, the self-styled ‘anti-terror expert’ who, according to the Sun, had uncovered the ‘evidence’ of an alleged Islamist plot to attack a number of prominent Jewish figures as ‘abuislam’, the author of the comment on Ummah.com forum on which the entire story was based. A little over 9 months later, following a Press Complaints Commission investigation and a full confession by Jenvey, who has converted to Islam and taken the name Omar Hamza Jenvey, The Sun finally apologised to Ummah.com, while claiming that both they and Patrick Mercer MP, a former Shadow Minister for Homeland Security and current Chairman of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on Counter-Terrorism, who commented on Jenvey’s allegations in the original (now withdrawn) story, had been duped into their respective parts in the original story.
Tim’s takedown of The Sun’s fake ‘hit list’ story gained a lot of attention at the time, and has gained Tim a lot of unwelcome attention since. As a result a second ‘celebrity terror threat’ story, which appeared in a British tabloid newspaper in the same week as went almost unnoticed – until now.
On Sunday 11 January 2009, the Mirror Group’s People newspaper published its own ‘exclusive’ celebrity terror threat story.
Like the story that appeared in the Sun, four days earlier, The People alleged that threatening messages had been posted to British-run Islamic internet forums in relation to a prominent celebrity with well documented ‘Jewish’ connections, in this case Madonna, whose involvement in the Kabbalah movement has been the subject of considerable tabloid interest from some time.
11 January 2009
Madonna targeted by Muslim fanatics over Israel’s attack on Gaza
EXCLUSIVE Superstar’s fear as Jewish links make her a target over the Gaza war Islam fanatics vow to behead Madonna Ex-Israeli agents guard her 24hrs a day She warns Guy: Beef up kids’ security
By Daniel Jones Daniel.Jones@People.Co.Uk
Madonna has urgently beefed up her family’s security after being targeted by Muslim fanatics seeking revenge for Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
One Palestinian terrorist chief has threatened to BEHEAD the superstar who is a dedicated member of the Jewish Kabbalah sect.
Madonna is also desperately worried for the safety of her children Lourdes, 12, Rocco, eight, and adopted David Banda, three.
And, like The Sun’s ‘hit list’ story, a careful examination of the evidence surrounding this ‘exclusive’ reveals that it too is an almost complete fabrication.
The People’s evidence for its story is set out, in the article, as follows:
Last week The People uncovered the hatred aimed at Madonna when we infiltrated secret fundamentalist Muslim websites. Our investigator posed as a British extremist to gain entry to the password-protected sites.
On the notorious Islambase site, a Palestinian terror leader says: “If I meet these whores I will have the honor to be the first one to cut the head off Madonna if they will keep spreading their satanic culture against Islam.”
The vile threat was made by Muhammad Abdel-Al, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees – a fringe group of Palestinian militia who have launched thousands of rocket attacks on Israel.
Another misspelt rant on Islambase says: “What can be done to stop kuffars like maddona supporting the killing in Gaza?”
On another site called Ummah a fanatic naming himself Hammed10 writes: “Madonna is a disgrace.
“She insults us with her slutty behaviour and then she insults us further with her love of the Jewish kuffar non-Muslims.
“Some brothers were talking about what to do about this the other day on another site. I don’t want to say too much on here. But you can pm me send a private message.”
As was the case in Jenvey’s faked story, all the evidence for existence of a threat to Madonna’s life is based on comment allegedly obtained by ‘investigators’ who claim to have ‘infiltrated’ British-run Islamic forums, in that case forums operated by Islambase (www.islambase.info) and, again, Ummah.com, the main difference being that, here, it’s the People, itself, that takes credit for carrying out this ‘investigation’ where The Sun was somewhat more circumspect in crediting the legwork for their story to a third party, Glen Jenvey.
THE THREAT FROM ISLAMBASE – OR WAS THAT WORLDNETDAILY?
Looking closely at the information given by The People, one thing that should immediately raise suspicions about its accuracy is the use of the American spelling of the word ‘honour’ (honor) in the comments ascribed to a ‘Palestinian terror leader’ named Muhammad Abdel-Al, comments that were alleged posted to a British-run forum.
That alone suggests that there may be more to that particular quotation, which contains the actual threat to behead Madonna, than might at first be apparent, and this is, in fact the case. There is no evidence to show that this particular comment was ever posted to Islambase’s forum nor any evidence to show that Muhammad Abdel-Al, who genuinely is a senior figure in a Gaza-based group that calls itself the ‘Popular Resistance Committee’ has ever visited Islambase’s website, let alone posted messages on its forums.
In reality, the comments attributed to Abdel-Al come from a September 2007 book by WorldNetDaily.com’s Jerusalem Bureau Chief, Aaron Klein, entitled “Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land Jihadists Reveal their Global Plans – to a Jew!” in which Abdel-Al is quoted as having threatened both Madonna and Britney Spears, albeit in the context of an apparent interview with Klein in which he (Klein) specifically asks what would happen to them were Islamists to take over the United States and impose Sharia law:
“If I meet these whores I will have the honor – I repeat, I will have the honor – to be the first one to cut the heads off Madonna and Britney Spears if they will keep spreading their satanic culture against Islam,”
It is this book or, to be more specific, an article promoting the book, which first appeared on WorldNetDaily on 11 September 2007 and includes a audio recording of Klein’s interview with Abdel-Al, that is the actual source of comment that The People claims to have found on Islambase’s forum; and although the threat appears to real enough, inasmuch as there is nothing to suggest that the individual Klein spoke to was not Muhammad Abdel-Al, the threat itself is entirely unrelated to the event that took place in the Gaza strip earlier this year, which the People suggests as being the context in which this threat allegedly appeared on Islambase.
As for the second comment, also attributed to Islambase’s forum, “What can be done to stop kuffars like maddona supporting the killing in Gaza?”, we can, again, find no evidence that this was ever posted to Islambase’s forum, but even if it was the comment is, with it juxtaposition with Abdel-Al’s threat, entirely ambiguous and therefore fails to provide any concrete evidence of an actual threat of violence towards Madonna.
EVIDENCE OF INCITEMENT/ATTEMPTED ENTRAPMENT
The third and final quotation, which is attributed to an alleged ‘fanatic’ posting on Ummah.com’s forums under the name ‘Hammed10’ is taken from this forum thread at Ummah.com, which begins with an ‘Action Alert’ that was purportedly issued by the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign, which was posted to the forum under the username ‘Samyh’:
Madonna is set to announce a second leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour within the next few weeks, the tour is set to begin in May 2009 and finish in September 2009 visiting Australia, Japan, Europe again, Turkey and Israel.
Write to all orgaisations asking for members to express concern that that the Jewish star tour to Isreal must be cancelled due to sufering of the palestian people in Gaza.
Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign
Box BM PSA
Background Madonna (Italian/French American, follower of Kabbalah Jewish Sect).
This first message was posted at 3.25pm on 9 January 2009 and attracted its first reply, from ‘Umm_765’ at 4:47pm:
As Salaamu Alaikum .
I would not let any of my family go to any of her concerts at a time when Isreal is bombing Gaza she say’s she’s going there.everyone should condem her for supporting a country at war with children.
Four comments later, at 5.47pm, Hammed10 makes his first appearance on the thread, posting the comment that appears in The People’s article (given below without the corrections for spelling and grammar that appear in the People’s version):
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh
brother Madonna is a disgrace. she insults us with her slutty behaviour and then
she insults us ferther with her love of the jewish kuffar.
some brothers were talking about what to do about this the other day on anuther site. i dont want to say too much on here. but you can pm me.
As it appears in The People’s article, the reference to ‘some brothers’ talking about this on ‘anuther [sic] site’ is clearly intended to link this comment to the threat by Muhammed Abdel-Al that The People claimed to have found on Islambase’s forum.
If you follow the rest of the thread, you’ll see that Hammed10’s comments were quickly challenged by Sajid, Ummah.com forum administrator, who clearly suspected him of being a troll, and that this let to a short but somewhat heated exchange in which Sajid, at one point, notes an apparent technical anomaly in Hammed10’s posts:
Reason i jumped out was cos your locations are showing 2 different countries…..and you mentioned your English is not good but you posting from a “country” where english is first language?
To which Hammed10 responded by claiming that they were from West Africa.
I am from West Africa and my language is not English.
I am trying to write to you in a open manner, and have my friend translate for me as my first post seemed to invite nothing but trouble from most of the people on this site
In all, Hammed10 made only five posts on Ummah’s forum, all on this one thread and all from an account that had been registered on the same day that this thread appeared (9th January).
In fact, on close examination of the full thread, it transpires that, but for a single comment at the very end of the thread by ‘Ibn Sina’, all the comments on this thread that were critical of Madonna, including Hammed10’s comment, came from new accounts that had been registered on same day that the thread appeared, these being:
– Samyh – who posted the ‘Action Alert’ that initiated the thread, the only post they ever made to the forum.
– Umm_765 – who followed up their comment about Madonna with this ‘advert’ for a protest march organised by the Stop The War Coalition for the following day.
*****PROTEST!! ISRAEL IS A NAZI STATE******
Saturday 10 January
Assemble at Hyde Park (Speakers Corner) 12.30 PM – March to Israeli Embassy
Before going on to badger Ummah’s forum users further over whether they would attending this demonstration:
Are you not coming to demo? or are you just a computer geek who supports jews and supports people who trade with jews. you should not condem new members in the way you are doing.
i’m not a supporter of anyone who supports israel and your comments are insulting other muslims who march in london in the cold. you should be ashamed.
The actual protest march, reported here by the Guardian, was officially billed simply as a ‘Gaza Protest’
– Makar – who’s only post on the forum reads:
She IS a disgrace and her vile (what is claimed to be) music should be banned,the way she dresses and presents herself, flaunting like the dog she really is.
Email and IP address information (provided by Sajid) indicates that all four of these accounts, which were all registered on 9 January, all supplied false email addresses and made use of anonymity services/software to conceal their real IP address and, therefore, their location and the internet service provider they were using.
Samyh, who’s post kicked off the discussion, registered their account via T-Mobile (i.e. using a mobile phone) but posted their comment via a web-based anonymity service, anonymous.org, while the registration IP address for Hammed10’s account has been traced to a proxy server used by a piece of commercial anonymity software called ‘Hide My IP‘, after which a fake IP address was used to post his comments. The IP address information recorded for both Umm_765 and Makar also show anomalies which indicate the use of anonymity software.
It’s perfect clearly, from this evidence, that this entire thread was deliberate engineered in an effort to draw members of Ummah.com’s forums into making comments about Madonna that could then be incorporated into The People’s article in support of the threat that the paper alleged to have found on Islambase’s forum. However, as happened in the case of Glen Jenvey’s fake ‘hit list’ story, the attempt at incitement/entrapment failed, forcing the paper to use Hammed10’s comment which was, itself, a fake.
Further investigations have also shown that the Ummah.com was not the only forum targeted with a failed ‘sting operation’ in the day’s prior to the publication of The People’s articles.
On 10 January 2009, the day after the Ummah.com thread (and the day before The People’s article appeared’ forums at MPAC-UK and ‘The Asian Place’, a general South Asian forum with no direct connection to any Muslim organisation/community, both received the following ‘Action Alert’ which, again, claimed to have originated with the Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign:
Madonna to adopt Palestinian child action alert!
Boycott Israeli Goods Campaign
Box BM PSA
Madonna (Italian/French American, follower of Kabbalah Jewish Sect)
Pop diva Madonna said that she is planning to adopt a second child either from Cambodia or Palestine. It is to be noted that Madonna has already adopted a Malawian child, David Banda. Even though the adoption has not worked out according to the plans, Madonna has not lost hope. She said that she wants to increase her family ”Madonna is to convert the child into a Jew”
Is this stupid kuffar for real?
Having failed to incite the kind of reaction they were looking for at Ummah.com, the individual behind this fresh entrapment attempt decided to try up the stakes by reviving a speculative story that had appeared on a number of celebrity ‘news’ websites in April 2008 and which suggested that, at the time, she was considering adopting a second child who would be either Cambodian or Palestinian.
The description of Madonna as an ‘Italian/French American, follower of Kabbalah Jewish Sect’ is identical to that used in the first Action Alert posted to Ummah.com but, when compared to the stories that appeared the previous April, the individual who posted these alerts has omitted the reference to Cambodia and added the claim that the child would, if adopted, be brought up as a Jew, in a clear effort to raise the stakes in their attempt to secure threatening comments for The People’s article.
Inquiries have found no evidence to indicate that any of the ‘Action Alert’ message actually originated with the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign.
However, the alert posted to MPAC-UK’s forums is clearly linked back to the thread which appeared on Ummah.com’s forum on the previous day by the username chosen by the individual who posted the alert – Umm_765 – the same username that was used at Ummah.com to ‘promote’ the Stop The War Coalition’s Gaza Protest under the banner ‘PROTEST! ISRAELI IS A NAZI STATE’. Although the alert posted to The Asian Place used a different username – bpak01 – the wording of the two fake alerts is identical and both were posted from newly registered accounts that have not been used since these were posted.
Taken together, the evidence from Ummah.com and the fake action alerts posted to MPAC-UK and The Asian Place clearly indicate that, between the 9th and 10th of January 2009, these forums were deliberately targeted with potentially inflammatory messages in an attempt to generate threatening and/or abusive comments for use in the article that appeared in The People on Sunday 11 January.
This clearly contravenes clause 10 of Press Complaints Commission’s Code of Practice which states:
10. *Clandestine devices and subterfuge
i) The press must not seek to obtain or publish material acquired by using hidden cameras or clandestine listening devices; or by intercepting private or mobile telephone calls, messages or emails; or by the unauthorised removal of documents or photographs; or by accessing digitally-held private information without consent.
ii) Engaging in misrepresentation or subterfuge, including by agents or intermediaries, can generally be justified only in the public interest and then only when the material cannot be obtained by other means.
In theory, The People might be in a position to argue a public interest defence had it ‘investigation’ legitimately turned up any of the material that appeared in its article. However, given the evidence that Hammed10’s comment was actually posted by one of its ‘investigators’ its highly unlikely that such a defence would be successful.
THERE ARE QUESTIONS HERE THAT NEED ANSWERS
Having claimed the investigation behind its article as its own, rather than attributing it to a third party, its evident that there are a number of questions that The People need to address, not least of which being that of whether this ‘investigation’ was genuinely conducted ‘in-house’ by its own employees or by other individuals who were working specifically for the newspaper at the time.
If, as is certainly possible, this is not the case and the story was sourced from a third party then questions need to be asked as to exactly how and why The People came to treat this third party as a credible source, particularly in view of additional information which has emerged only in the last few days and which appears to link at least some of the fake messages and alerts posted to Ummah,com to a notorious former spokesman for the self-styled English Defence League.
The Individual in question is Paul Ray, aka ‘Lionheart’, about whom Richard Barthol0mew has, perhaps, the most comprehensive and readily accessible store of background information.
Ray emerged as one of main spokesmen for the EDL around the time of its first protest march in Luton, but has since fallen out with the group and disassociated himself from it and has a well documented history of racism and alleged links to the British National Party and to self-confessed football hooligans. He was also a close associate of Glen Jenvey up until the latter’s conversion to Islam, although its safe to say that association has now been broken.
On the same day (9th January 2009) that the fake ‘Madonna alert’ was posted on Ummah.com’s forums, Ray posted a lengthy article on his blog in which he claims that his then friend, Glen Jenvey and other unnamed British reporters had been threatened with beheading as a result of the publication, two days earlier, of Jenvey’s fake Jewish ‘hit list’ story. The article, which Ray has since backdated to make it appear that it was posted in November 2008 (even though it refers specifically to events which only took place in January 2009) includes the following ‘quotation’ which he claims was posted to Ummah.com’s forum following the publication of The Sun’s story:
I am 110% behind Ummah.com may the the **** spook mason who has infiltrated this forum answer to the Rub, the Exalted, Wise, Knower, Magificent, Most High, Most Merciful on the Day of Judgement – where will his *fkng* article be then?
Oh Allaah where is the Ameer of the Ummah, his head would have been removed in the Islamic State, and they call us terrorists – liars like this, they portray liars in TV and Newspapers 24/7
The Holy Quran says “Those who reject the signs of Allaah are liars”
There is no evidence to show that that comment was ever posted on Ummah.com’s forums prior to its appearance on Ray’s blog. However, within a few hours of Ray posting that article, a link to it was posted to the forum at Ummah,com, along with its full text, using the username ‘aljih’. Once again, this was a newly registered account and the post relating to Ray’s article was this users first and only post on the forum. However, what makes this user of particular interest is the fact that their one and only post was made from the same IP address that had been used, earlier, by Umm_765, one of the would-be agent provocateurs on the Madonna thread.
It’s apparent, therefore, that ‘aljih’ and ‘Umm_765’ are the same person and both are clearly linked to Paul Ray – in fact its quite possible that both of them were Paul Ray, given that this particular article failed to attract any comments on Ray’s blog until the afternoon of 10 January, the day after it was posted.
On 10 January, Ray published another open attack on Ummah.com, on his blog, this time making the claim that Ummah.com is a front for Al Qaeda, a claim he bases on archive information from Wayback Machine which shows that, in 2002, the site hosted information relating to an organisation called ‘Supporters of Sharia’ which, at the time, operated out the Central Mosque at Finsbury Park under the control of the tabloid’s all-time favourite pantomime villain, Abu Hamza. It is perfectly true that Ummah,con did host this information but, according to the same archives, only during the period in which Hamza was officially in control of the mosque. All information relating to Hamza’s ‘Supporters of Sharia’ organisation was removed from Ummah.com’s website in 2003, at around the same time that Hamza was removed from the management committee of the mosque by the Charity Commission.
In short, Ray’s claim is one of guilt by association based on a relationship that was terminated six years ago in circumstances which clearly stripped him of any legitimacy within the Islamic mainstream.
What makes these two posts particular interesting, apart from the fact that both have been timeshifted in an effort conceal their close temporal proximity to both The Sun’s fake hit list story and The People’s fake Madonna story, is that while neither article directly references Islambase, the other website featured in The People’s article, the terms ‘Islam base’ and ‘Islambase’ are both included on these articles as tags, suggesting that Ray may well have had prior knowledge of the story that was due to appear in the newspaper on the following Sunday.
Based on the evidence, there is very good reason to suspect that Paul Ray played a direct part in the posting of the fake messages that appeared on Ummah.com and the other two forums and was, therefore, personally involved in fabricating the story that appeared in The People.
THE UNANSWERED QUESTION
This leaves us with one very important but as yet unanswered question.
Given Ray’s background and reputation it seems highly unlikely that The People would consider him a reputable or reliable source for a story on alleged Islamic extremism – not to mention that any involvement with Ray on the part of a newspaper own by Mirror Group Newspapers would be extremely inappropriate, not to mention embarrassing, given their support for anti-fascist organisations such a Hope Not Hate.
So why did The People give this story any credence?
If it wasn’t an in-house ‘investigation’ then the answer can only be that it came from source that the paper did consider trustworthy… but who?
Glen Jenvey is obviously one possibility, given that The Sun thought him credible at the time and that he was once a friend of Ray’s, but Jenvey has been contacted about this particular story and denies having had any part in it. Its also the case that while we know that Jenvey was behind the fake messages posted to Ummah.com that turned up in the hit list story and that his ‘abuislam’ alias had been around for at least a couple of months prior to those message being posted, putting up occasional messages in the hope of getting some sort of reaction, there is no evidence that Jenvey ever showed a similar degree of interest in Islambase, the other website featured in the Madonna story.
That same cannot be said for Jenvey’s former ‘colleague’ in the so-called ‘Vigil’ anti-terror group, Dominic Wightman (aka Whiteman).
Not only does Wightman/Whiteman get an acknowledgement in the Centre for Social Cohesion’s 2008 report ‘Virtual Caliphate’ (pdf), which was based entirely on material taken from Islambase’s forums, but he, and his associated band of wannabe internet vigilantes ‘The Cheerleaders’ both seem to have a very particular obsession with this particular site, and with of one of its regular members, who uses the online alias ‘Hamza’ as this post/blog by ‘Princess Calamity’ (aka ‘Priya Patel’) tends to demonstrate. This last blog/post references an article which appeared in Wightman’s ‘Westminster Journal’ in January 2008 which purports to be the work of ‘Guy Baldwin’, a Bahamas-based techie/terror track who appears to exist nowhere else other than on Wightman’s site – and maybe in his imagination. The article itself is an extended series of smears which are allegedly based on material obtained in the course of the investigation that led to the Virtual Caliphate report but which, according to Wightman, the CSC were unwilling/unable to use; material that, its claimed, was obtained for Wightman by Russian hackers:
The site was part of a December 2007 investigation by a team of Russian hackers, who entered several extremist Islamist sites around the world. Using their manipulated version of eBlaster they recorded the key strokes of certain users of these extremist sites for up to several days. Those users who clicked on the Russians’ links and entered the websites at certain times fell into their clever traps.
The suggestion that a Russian hacking team would use a commercial, closed source, American keylogger, even in an allegedly modified form, is nothing short of bullshit but be that as it may, the article does connect Wightman to Islambase in a manner that is not evident in what is known about Jenvey’s past covert activities, and where Paul Ray would not have been considered a credible source for the material that appeared in The People, Wightman – by virtue of his past association with Patrick Mercer – would be,
All of which brings us to one final piece of information that may, or may not, be relevant but which is certainly intriguing. In the course of his own investigations into Glen Jenvey’s fake hit list story, Tim Ireland turned up this rather interesting email:
From: BARKER, Edward
Sent: 02 March 2009 17:06
To: [Daniel Jones of The People newspaper (via Gmail)]
Subject: Abu Barra & Co
Dear Mr Jones,
I have been in touch with Mr Jenvey about a number of things but most of all the following, which in my view would combine well to make a very good Sunday story:
(a) Abu Barra audio;
(b) Rahman audio;
(c) Failure of Home Secretary, despite tough rhetoric, to close down any extremist websites.
On (a) and (b) do you have a budget to be able to send the audio files to a voice expert for comparison with video files so we have some basis for relying on them?
On (c), we received last week a Parliamentary Answer which said that no websites have been shut down by police using powers given to them under section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006:
Written Parliamentary Question (WPQ)
Date of Answer: 24.02.2009
Column References: 488 c695-6W
Member Tabling Question: Mercer, Patrick
Topic: Terrorism: Internet
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many UK-based websites have been closed down because they contained extremist material inciting terrorism in the last five years.
Answering Department: Home Office
Member Answering Question: Coaker, Vernon
Answer: The legislation that allows a request to be made that unlawfully terrorism related material is modified or removed from the internet is section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Section 3 allows for the service of a notice by a constable where he or she is of the opinion that unlawfully terrorism-related material is available on an electronic service such as a website, on the person(s) responsible for that material. The notice requires that the unlawfully terrorism-related material is removed or modified within two working days.However, the preferred route of the police is to use informal contact with the communication service providers to request that the material is removed. To date no Section 3 notices have been issued as this informal route has proved effective but statistics covering the number of sites removed through such informal contact are not collected.
Question Number: 254791
Date Tabled: 03.02.2009
Date for Answer: 05.02.2009
Legislature: House of Commons (HoC)
Chamber/Committee: Commons Chamber
What do you think?
Let me know how I can be of further assistance…
Parliamentary Researcher to Patrick Mercer OBE MP
What we have here, from two months after Tim exposed Jenvey as having faked then hit list story (of which Mercer’s office was informed) is one of Mercer’s researchers attempting to place a story with Daniel Jones, the same journalist who’s byline appeared on The People’s faked Madonna story, a story that, had it run, would have been based on information supplied by GLEN JENVEY.
The role of Mercer’s office in, seemingly, placing dubiously sourced terrorism-related stories into the British press, at a time when Mercer was (and still) serving as Chairman of a Commons sub-committee on counter-terrorism, is a matter that Tim is still working on and although, at present, there’s no evidence to link Mercer or his staff directly to the faked Madonna story, it nevertheless seems clear that there is altogether more that needs to scrutinised in all this than just the [lack of] ethics of Britain’s tabloid press.