Oh! What a Tangled Web ...

In war, it has been said, truth is the first casualty. Unfortunately not the last. The internet and social media have lessened our dependence on official channels and corporate media, but new methods of communication also ennable new trickery and disinformation. Let the reader beware. Identities and messages are not always what they seem.


Oh! What a Tangled Web....

Writing in the Independent on July 8, 2014, Richard Ferrer said:
"This week I became the story. I was called a “slimy Jew”, a “rabid zionist” and “filthy racist scum”.  It started on Saturday night when sinister tweets began appearing on my timeline, claiming I’d been “tripped up”, had “got my comeuppance” and been a “naughty boy”.
Next came a barrage of links to a message board on Muslim website Ummah.com. The top post was headed: “i am pledging allegiance to the caliphate”.
It read: “salam my sisters and brothers we should get out of this evil country and pledge our allegiance to the Muslim sharia law and get out of evil west. who wants to join me so we can wage war and jihad against the corrupt west.”

A computer boffin identified the message had originated from the IP address Richard.Ferrer@dailymail.co.uk...."

The post had come from a new forum member, using the name “abuaisha 10". You can call yourself what you like posting messages to websites and online discussion lists, but an IP address is supposed to identify the computer from which you are posting.

  In a week when British Muslims were feeling the heat over young men recruited to become militant jihadis, and the barbaric behaviour of the ISIS so-called caliphate, what could be more calculated to whip up hostility than that posting on the ummah site?

Once it was picked up by the papers, that is. But had they posted it in the first place?

A poster asked why abuaisha10′s registration IP resolved to “Evening Standard Newspaper”. A third poster then added: “It says dailymail for me ". Was someone in Northcliffe House really inciting jihad on a Muslim website?
A Morning Star report on July 7  quoted Hope Not Hate researcher Simon Cressy who described the revelations as “very disturbing.” He said: “If it has originated from the Daily Mail, it smacks of a honeypot, it smacks of entrapment.”

It was certainly disturbing for Richard Ferrer, who found himself singled out for blame even though he had ceased working for the 'Mail' six years ago, but is editor of 'Jewish News'.

"Next morning I awoke to a deluge of abuse. “I’ll put you in a f***** ash tray”, volunteered @1_itk. “You look like any Jew you ****”, ventured @MuxAFC. “Pathetic little creature”, noted @Murphy88. “An absolutely immense twat of a human being” remarked @Yung_Mu."

Ferrer's wife, a lawyer, thought he should sue.

"Later, at the hairdressers, she got a text from a Muslim friend seeking reassurance that her husband isn’t an Islamophobic stooge. She phoned me in a rage, demanding we seek “six-figure settlements"” and “recover legal costs in full”.
She also told me to unload the dishwasher."

Though judging from his hostile blog comments about the London Gaza demonstrators Richard Ferrer is no mere bystander in the Middle East propaganda war, it seems unlikely that he would have stooped to such a harebrained stunt as described, or had access to  the  IP address  of a former employer to do so.  I'm inclined to accept his innocence.

As for motivation, anyone following events in the Middle East would know that, far from being an ally of Hamas, which Israeli spokespersons routinely, if inaccurately, describe as "Iranian-backed", the ISIS so-called caliphate in Iraq is waging a sectarian war against Iran and Shi'ites, as well as others. Indeed, Iranian media have accused it not only of being Saudi-backed, which seems likely, but of being US-trained and supported by the Israelis!

That might not concern the Daily Mail, whose readers are used to stories targeting Muslims, mainly those in Britain, without going into the intricacies of Middle Eastern conflict. But the right-wing paper - which brought back memories of its earlier history when it attcked Ed  Miliband through his refugee father - denies knowing anything about the "abuisha" story or how its former IP address (now registered to associated news) or a former journalist should have been drawn in.

Deja Vu

The odd thing about this episode is the feeling of deja vu.

During the Israeli 'Operation Cast Lead', when bombs and white phosphorus were raining on Gaza, and as news came that 40 children were killed,   the Sun ran a front page exclusive on January 7, 2009, claiming that  Muslim extremists had drawn up a "hate hit list" of prominent British Jews to be targeted in "revenge" attacks for what Israel was doing.

Headlined "Terror Target Sugar", the Sun story was Illustrated with a picture of Sir Alan but  also mentioned Amy Winehouse, David Miliband and Lord Levy as possible victims.  


The 'evidence' for this alarming report was a message posted on the Ummah site by one "Abuislam", asking  “Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?”

This had actually been posted on the end of a thread someone had started suggesting  "polite letters" to "wealthy Zionists" urging them to call on Israel to stop the war on Gaza.  Whatever one thinks of that it would hardly make a Sun front page. But taken out of context "Abuislam"'s remark sounded much more threatening.  Indeed he had insisted "Polite will not do"

 What's more the story quoted an  'anti-terror expert', called Glen Jenvey, stating, "Those listed [on the forum] should treat it very seriously. Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs."

Investigation of the IP address of this "Abu Islam" found something strange, however.  It had previously been used by someone called Richard Tims, posting to a now defunct website,  offering cash for stories about Islam. And the name of the contact given was Glen Jenvey. Could it be that "Abuislam", Richard Tims, and Glen Jenvey were close,. or even one and the same?

The Sun was reported to the Press Complaints Commission, though it argued the story had come via an agency, South West News, and it assumed Jenvey was a genuine expert. (he had previously been interviewed as such by the BBC and worked with Tory MP Patrick Mercer).  But it did remove the story from its website, though by then it had gone international.

Meanwhile, as he tells in his book 'The Way I See It" (2011) Alan Sugar had been contacted by police on 7 January, the day the Sun ran its story. They told him that the “special terror division of the police” had looked into it:
   "They were pleased to tell me, from the intelligence they had, that there seemed to be no truth in it whatsoever… I put my lawyers on the case, and I also took the step of not just suing the newspaper, but suing Rebekah Wade [now Rebekah Brooks] personally."

The Sun ended up paying £25,000 damages and £125,623 in legal costs.

The ongoing adventures of Mr.Jenvey

By the Autumn, when the paper admitted the story had been  a hoax, Glen Jenvey himself had confessed, but he was to give more than one version of his motivation.   We might note that Jenvey first made the newspapers after a road rage incident in 1997, when the report described him as an out of work actor. In  June 2009  he announced that he  was converting to Islam, and duly featured on a You Tube video being converted.  In a message seen and quoted by blogger Richard Bartholomew (Notes on Religion) he said:

Brother i’m sorry for the Allan Sugar story plant. I’m retired now from spying on Muslims. I saw a chance to install fear back in Jews who were killing Muslims.I was wrong to use you and your site.If you need any thing to help you in any way in the name of Allah just ask.
But yes the Sun did not know who posted it.I say sorry to you from my heart. if you want show the police and get me arrested. but with the first ramadaam coming i want to clear my past sin’s before i start my fasting and pray.
I would write this on your forum but im blocked out. may Allah reward you for your good work you do.Ameen
Omar Hamza Jenvey
Glen Jenvey

Interestingly, Jenvey's conversion did not take place through any ordinary mosque. The video showing him being guided through the process was posted by Anjem Choudary’s “School of Shariah” – a successor outfit to the banned extremist Al-Muhajiroun group.  Choudary's group is best known for its publicity stunts, like its street patrols in Walthamstow, which always seem to have Daily Mail reporters briefed and ready to report them.  He made front-page news in March 2009 by leading a bunch of supporters to Luton to stage a protest against troops of the Royal Anglian regiment just back from Afghanistan. returning from Iraq. Though Choudary failed to arouse support from Luton's large Muslim population he succeeded in getting into a scuffle with angry locals.  A few months after this the English Defence League was formed in Luton.

Towards the end of December 2009, police raided Jenvey's home near Salisbury, taking him in for questioning, and confiscating his computer and discs. He was accused of inciting race hatred against Jews, and bailed until the following month. But in the end they did not pursue charges.

It did not take long for Jenvey to announce that his conversion to Islam had been another fake, a ruse, ennabling him to get closer to Moslems and gather information from mosques. He began writing pieces attacking "Muslim gangs" for a Sri Lankan-based online journal, 'Asian Tribune'  (He also claims to have spied on the Tamil Tigers in Britain for the Sri Lankan authorities. Then in 2012 he wrote a piece enthusing about the growth of the English Defence League and the British Freedom Party linked with it,

"I was amazed at the grass root support of EDL and the British Freedom Party which is a new political party which has been now merged with the EDL leadership."

Claiming to have hosted a whole group of Asians who were joining the EDL, he went on:

"Other members are serving members of the British armed services who I also met in an English pub for a drink in Salisbury, a British army town in Wiltshire. 18 local members turned up 15 were serving members of the armed forces who told me how they cannot attend demonstrations because of fears of being thrown out of the military."

On July 11, 2012 a blogger going by the name of Lionheart published an interview with Jenvey in which he claimed his Sun story had been true, but that the news agency South West News had suggested he post in the islamic ummah.com list to add authenticity. Claiming to have helped MI5 officers with information about Abu Hamza.  Jenvey also said he had worked with Jewish people and given talks in Jewish centres.

Lionheart has been identified as Paul Ray, one of the founders of the EDL in Luton, who was.enlisted by the notorious US anti-Muslim campaigner Pamela Geller to try and infiltrate and discredit the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) working in occupied Palestine. Ray's name was also linked mistakenly with the Norwegian mass murderer Breivik through their membership of groups with similar names, but he denied meeting Breivik or being his "mentor". He moved to Malta.


Lifting the stone to see some of the creatures who feed the media with their expertise on "extremism", or their own extremism, and to whom intelligence services sometimes contract their work, is not a pleasant task, but it is a salutary one.

What Again?  Or tricks with mirrors

Having seen how the Sun got its fingers burnt  back in 2009, it would be surprising if experienced journalists at another newspaper resorted to the same trick of posting fake messages as was used then by a freelance, posting to the same forum that had seen it before , and using an IP address that pointed straight back to them.
So was someone pretending to be a Daily Mail journalist pretending to be a Jihadi, and if so, who did it, how did they do it, and why was a man who has not worked for the Mail for six years dragged into the picture?
Life is too short for me to guess.  Suffice it to say that whatever the doctor may say about diet, I recommend the Litvak tradition of always taking more than a pinch of salt with one's reading, or viewing.

Charlie Pottins

(I have found Richard Bartholomew's 'Notes on Religion' blog a most useful way into this subject, and source of information, though of course he is not responsible for any views I put forward) 


PS    As if things were not bad enough here, today (21/8/14) we received this story from over the pond,

(hat-tip Brenda Lewis)


Posted: 31 July 2014