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Nairobi conspiracism from a popular Kenyan tweeter

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — “certain people were warned to stay away” as a recurring theme in terror attacks ]
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Conspiracism was, I’m afraid, inevitable: it’s in the air, worldwide. What’s interesting here is the evident local popularity of the guy who posted this tweet:

This was posted early this morning.

Back in August 2012, the Nairobi Wire site ran a piece headlined Twitter Goes Silent As Robert Alai Is Arrested which referred to Robert Alai as the “tweep in chief” — so we can deduce that Alai already had quite a following at least a year prior to the Westgate tragedy. As of this time of writing, he has 88,046 followers: some may be following him for the lulz, but surely not all of them.

Let’s just call this an early indicator of an undertow in the currents rippling around Nairobi and the Westgate Mall event. It is significant (I wouldn’t go nearly so far as to say important) as one small piece of a much larger cultural puzzle. And pattern-wise, it’s a local match for the Jews were warned to stay away meme that circulated after 9/11.

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H/t Laura Seay for pointing us to this “Kenyan Truther” tweet.

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It’s been a while since anyone last used a nuclear bomb, right?

Monday, September 9th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — keeping you in the “loopy” loop ]
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There’s more ridiculous sloshing around on the web than I can hope to monitor, but my personal collection hit a couple of high points recently that I thought I should share with you. Did you know, for instance, that Israel recently exploded a nuclear bomb in Syria? How could you consider yourself informed, and be unaware of such a thing? It was on YouTube…

But pshaw, that’s secular nonsense, and as you know, my tastes run to the religious. So did you know the emeritus Pope Benedict had a demonic advisor by his side while he was making a major speech?

That sure as hell beats out the namby-pamby 10 Weirdest Fundamentalist Christian Conspiracy Theories an Alternet writer came up with, eh?

In any case, please watch both the above videos: I trust you will then realize that the world is in far worse shape than you thought it was before reading this post.

After all, it’s on YouTube.

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How about this?

Hang on a moment, Sayyida Zaynab is the shrine dear to Shiites that Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada is defending, as this graphic suggests:

And last but not least, consider this, from a US Senator:

Coincidence!?!? — or just a clumsy creative leap?

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NB: Updated to replace “Hezbollah” with “Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada” above — h/t Phillip Smyth.

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Dajjal and Antichrist: the family resemblance

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — on the assignment of archetypal roles to members of the British Royal Family ]
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For those having trouble distinguishing the Dajjal from the Antichrist, I thought I’d post two screen-caps from a video of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, one of whom is identified as the Dajjal:

together with the cover of a book identifying the Antichrist — by his coat of arms — as Prince Charles:

In true conspiracist connect-the-dots fashion, then, the Antichrist is the Dajjal’s father.

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Dajjals, Antichrists, Messiahs and Mahdis all function as Rorschach blots on which people project their hopes and fears, associating celebrities and leaders they despise and admire with archetypal instances of the final evil and the final savior.

By now, we should surely have figured out that this tells us more about those making the attributions than it does about the supposed, dreaded or hoped for end of days…

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Tamerlan Tsarnaev end times videos II: a Vinnie Paz video

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

[ by Charles Cameron — others will know more about the context here than I do, but this video deserves to be seen alongside the “Black banners” Mahdist example ]
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Here’s the other “end times” video that Tamerlan Tsarnaev liked on FaceBook, and I think if you put the two of them together, you get the sense that he found quasi-prophetic doomish videos appealing… without necessarily subscribing in detail to either the Madhism of the first or the Icke-ness of this one… there’s even an Aleister Crowley ref!

Vinnie Paz – End Of Days Ft. Block Mccloud MUSIC VIDEO ORIGINAL! (fan made)

I’ve posted the lyrics to End of Days below.

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Hey, I’m mostly Bach, Handel, Purcell, Byrd, Gregorian, I’m also Dylan, Joni, I’m almost seventy old, and I claim no knowledge of rap, so…

… knowing that the Wikipedia is not the most academically credible source, and being an utter layperson in these matters, here are a couple of paragraphs from their coverage of Vinnie Paz. with all appropriate caveats:

Religion

Vinnie was raised a Roman Catholic just like the majority of the people in southern Philadelphia. Although his family practiced Catholicism, Vinnie always felt disconnected from the religion. In high school, a good friend of his was Muslim, and he frequented this friend’s household. This particular friend’s father began teaching Paz about the Qu’ran. As an adult he gradually converted to Islam and currently still is a Muslim. In an interview with Jason Goss, Paz stated; “Growing up yeah, I’m Italian and from Philly, so obviously my family is Roman Catholic. Religion and spirituality are a strange thing, ya know? Most people just grow up and accept the propaganda that their parents pushed on them. Christian families produce Christian kids, Jewish families produce Jewish kids, and so on. Not many people break that mold. I just never felt any connection with Catholicism, or Christianity in general. I spent a lot of time in high school at my homeboy Arif’s crib, and he came from a Muslim family. I learned a lot there from his family and I got interested in Islam through them.”

Conspiracy theories

Jedi Mind Tricks and specifically Vinnie Paz are known for rapping about many different conspiracy theories. Most are chronicled in Paz’s song “End of Days” from his first solo album. The song features speech clips from famous conspiracy theorist David Icke. In this particular song, Paz raps about mostly conspiracy theories within the United States government. For instance he mentions that the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers was an inside job. He also introduces listeners to a place in California called Bohemian Grove, where world leaders and other influential men meet to discuss things that for the most part remain a mystery. Most of these conspiracy theories stem from the beliefs of a New World Order and the Illuminati.

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I suppose it bears saying that end times and conspiracist theories alike can become established explanations of current reality in some minds, but that there are very likely a whole lot of others who find them titillating, tasty, amusing, or just crazy enough to irritate the neighbors.

They merit study, because they can show us some of the undercurrents of the times we live in that we might otherwise miss. They are instances of a style of thinking that clearly has its own motivations with little regard for the particulars invoked, and are often self-contradictory amalgams in terms of those details. And yet specific instances can also be significant indicators of passionately held individual beliefs.

Cavete a canibus.

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Lyrics: End of Days:

The greatest form of control is when you think you’re free when you’re being fundamentally manipulated and dictated to. One form of dictatorship is being in a prison cell and you can see the bars and touch them. The other one is sitting in a prison cell but you can’t see the bars but you think you’re free.

What the human race is suffering from is mass hypnosis. We are being hypnotized by people like this: newsreaders, politicians, teachers, lecturers. We are in a country and in a world that is being run by unbelievably sick people. The chasm between what we’re told is going on and what is really going on is absolutely enormous.

[Chorus: Block McCloud]

It’s like we all know what’s going down
But no one’s saying shit, what happened to the home of the brave?
These motherfuckers they’re controlling us now
But no one’s talking about it, made us proud to be slaves

And everybody’s just walking around
Head in the clouds, we won’t awake until we’re dead in the grave
By then it’s too late, we need to be ready to raise up
Welcome to the end of days

[Verse 1: Vinnie Paz]

Everybody is slave, only some are aware
That the government releasing poison in the air
That’s the reason I collect so many guns in my lair
I ain’t never caught slipping, never underprepared
Yeah, The Shaytan army, they just break it proudly
George Bush the grandson of Aleister Crowley
They want you to believe the lie that the enemy Saudi
The enemy ain’t Saudi, the enemy around me
There’s fluoride in the water but nobody know that
It’s also a prominent ingredient in Prozac (for real?)
How could any government bestow that?
A proud people who believe in political throwback
That’s not all that I’m here to present you
I know about the black pope in Solomon’s Temple
Yeah, about the Vatican assassins and how they will get you
And how they cloned Barack Hussein Obama in a test tube

[Chorus]

[Verse 2: Vinnie Paz]

Whoever built the pyramids had knowledge of electrical power
And you know that that’s the information that they suppress and devour
Who you think the motherfuckers that crashed in the tower?
Who you think that made it turn into ash in an hour?
The same ones that invaded Jerome
The ones that never told you about the skeletons on the moon
Yeah, the ones that poison all the food you consume
The ones that never told you about Mount Vesuvius Tomb
The Bird Flu is a lie, the Swine Flu is a lie
Why would that even come as a surprise?
Yeah, the Polio vaccine made you die
It caused cancer and it cost a lot of people their lives
Do y’all know about Bohemian Grove?
How the world leader sacrificing children in robes?
Lucifer is God in the public school system
I suggest you open up your ears and you listen

[Chorus]

[Outro]

The greatest hypnotist on the planet Earth is an oblong box in the corner in the room. It is constantly telling us what to believe is real. If you can persuade people that what they see with their eyes is what there is to see you’ve got them. Because they’ll laugh in your face of an explanation then which portrays the big picture of what’s happening… and they have

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The Controversial CTC Report

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The Center for Combating Terrorism at West Point released a report on domestic terrorism that raised hackles for a number of reasons. Despite the dismissals of liberal political pundits, the reasons for objections to the CTC report are legitimate but they did not need to arise in the first place and might have been avoided with a slightly different editorial approach or appropriate caveats (I just finished reading the report, which is primarily focused on the usual suspects). Here’s why I think the normally well-regarded CTC stumbled into a hornet’s nest:

First, in this foray into domestic terrorism analysis, the center chose to concentrate only on the threat of violence of the Far Right while ignoring other threats coming from the Far Left, infiltration by criminal insurgent networks from Mexico, notably the ultraviolent Zetas whose reach has stirred gang violence in Chicago and Islamist terrorism, either homegrown “lone wolves” or from foreign infiltration or subversion. In itself, this is understandable if the CTC plans a series of reports with a separate focus on different domestic threats; but without that context, it is a myopic analytic perspective, particularly given the demonstrated capabilities of various AQ affiliates or just south of the border, the criminal-insurgency of  the narco-cartels. Had all of these been addressed in one omnibus report, any complaints from conservatives were likely to have been muted or nonexistent. This is not to say that the radical American Far Right does not have a violent threat potential of it’s own worth studying; it does and it is real. But available evidence indicates it to be the least organized, least operationally active and least professionally competent in terms of terrorist “tradecraft” of the three.

The second and most problematic aspect of the report is an intellectually sloppy definition of a dangerous “antifederalist movement”  where noxious concepts like “white supremacy” and wacko conspiracy theories are casually associated with very mainstream conservative (or even traditionally bipartisan !) political ideas – coincidentally, some of the same ideas that contemporary “big government” liberal elites tend to find irritating, objectionable or critical of their preferred policies. Part of the equation here is that American politics are evolvng into a very bitterly partisan, “low trust” environment, but even on the merits of critical analysis,  these two passages are ill-considered and are largely responsible for most of the recent public criticism of the CTC:

….The antifederalist rationale is multifaceted, and includes the beliefs that the American political system and its proxies were hijacked by external forces interested in promoting a “New World Order” (NWO) in which the United States will be absorbed into the United Nations or another version of global government.  They also espouse strong convictions regarding the federal government, believing it to be corrupt and tyrannical, with a natural tendency to intrude on individuals’ civil and constitutional rights.  Finally, they support civil activism, individual freedoms, and self government

….In contrast to the relatively long tradition of the white supremacy racist movement, the anti-federalist movement appeared in full force only in the early to mid-1990s, with the emergence of groups such as the  Militia of Montana and the Michigan Militia. Antifederalism is normally identified in the literature as the “Militia” or “Patriot” movement. Anti-federalist and anti-government sentiments were present in American society before the 1990s in diverse movements and ideological associations promoting anti-taxation, gun rights, survivalist  practices,and libertarian ideas 

This is taxonomic incoherence, or at least could have used some bright-line specifics ( like “Posse Commitatus” qualifying what was meant by “anti-taxation” activists) though in some cases, such as “libertarian ideas” and “civil activism”, I’m at a loss to know who or what violent actors they were implying, despite being fairly well informed on such matters.

By the standard used in the first paragraph, Glenn Greenwald, Ralph Nader and the ACLU would also be considered “far right antifederalists”. By the standards of the second, we might be in physical danger from Grover Norquist,  Congressman John Dingell and Penn Jillette. No one who opposed the recent increases in income tax rates, dislikes gun-control or thought the DOJ may have abused it’s power in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz or in their stubborn refusal to prosecute Bankster racketeering is likely to welcome a report under the auspices of West Point that juxtaposes such normal and perfectly valid American political beliefs with neo-Nazism. A move that is simply going to – and quite frankly, did – gratuitously irritate a large number of people, including many in the defense and national security communities who are a natural “customer base” for CTC reports.

As I said previously, this could easily have been completely avoided with more careful use of language, given that 99% the report has nothing to do with mainstream politics and is concerned with actors and orgs with often extensive track records of violence. As the CTC, despite it’s independence, is associated so strongly with an official U.S. Army institution, it needs to go the extra mile in explaining it’s analysis when examining domestic terrorism subjects that are or, appear to be, connected to perfectly legitimate participation in the political process. This is the case whether the subject is on the Left or Right – few activists on the Left, for example, have forgotten the days of COINTELPRO and are currently aggrieved by the activities of Project Vigilant.

I might make a few other criticisms of the report, such as the need for a better informed historical perspective, but that is hardly what the recent uproar was about.

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