On Tuesday 14th November the BBC aired reports on BBC File on 4 and BBC Newsnight concerning 'radicalisation' in the Muslim community in the UK. It relied heavily on the work of a previously unknown shadowy and underground organisation, "Vigil". Vigil's website has little information but does talk of the origin of the parent organisation, "Back in 1991, a young-man from a far-off country came to the Western-Sahara desert to meet with a group of people. They formed an alliance to establish a global network to form an army to fight the Evil-World to come and to serve for the glory of Jerusalem, the city of GOD!"
The two members of Vigil featured in a piece for Newsnight were Glen Jenvey and Dominic Whiteman. It is not clear whether these are their real names, but it is likely that these shadowy individuals hide their real identities.
On Newsnight, allegations of criminality were made against Hizb ut-Tahrir, based on an interview with a source called "J" who was provided to the BBC by Vigil. The BBC did not scrutinise whether Vigil was a credible organisation but merely took Vigil's word as to the veracity of J's testimony on the programme. Vigil was presented as a reliable and committed organisation of ex-military and ex-intelligence staff who are committed to fighting the 'war on terror'.
An article about Vigil in the Sunday Telegraph on 19th November 2006, said, "The organisation seeks to make Britain a safer place by disrupting and exposing terrorist activity. It is also working with media groups to highlight the threat from Muslim extremists. Last week it teamed up with BBC2's Newsnight and Radio 4's File on 4…The group says it is non-political and non-religious." In the article, Scotland Yard confirmed it was "working closely with Vigil, particularly its director and spokesman who has made officers aware of chat-room material. This material will be considered and appropriate action taken."
In the course of our brief investigation, we have found categorical evidence that places serious question marks over the BBC's reliance on Vigil and the relationship between Scotland Yard and the clandestine group. We have uncovered evidence that Vigil is a vigilante type organisation that does not operate under the constraints of the law. We have also found evidence of a clear political agenda – ultra right wing neo-conservatism, defence of Zionism and hateful views towards Islam.
Glen Jenvey and "Islamic News"
The first thing that strikes you about Vigil is the lack of information available about the organisation and its members. Glen Jenvey [left], one of the leading members, does have a website but it rather strangely redirects to http://www.abuhamza.org.uk/. Actually, this isn't that strange because Jenvey's self-proclaimed claim to fame is that he helped to frame Abu Hamza. In fact, Jenvey describes himself as the "real life hero who nailed terror chief Abu Hamza". Modest, he isn't.
In relation to Abu Hamza, Jenvey set up a false website, posing as an Islamic extremist site. Using the pseudonym Pervez Khan, he set up a site called Islamic News, collecting material from around the world that promoted violence. He alleges that he then used the site to establish credibility with Abu Hamza who allegedly sent him videos advocating violence.
However, there doesn't seem to be any independent corroboration of Jenvey's alleged role in Hamza's arrest and sentencing, and at any rate, it appears that Hamza was not found to have been involved in terrorist activity as Jenvey claims - the only conviction under the Terrorism Act was his possession of an "Encyclopaedia of Jihad".
We have investigated Jenvey's "Islamic News" website which has now strangely been removed. If you visit the website now, you will merely find a holding page.
However, using the Wayback Machine, we have been able to piece together the history of Jenvey's website. It may be that Jenvey will try to remove the evidence we have uncovered but we have archived it in any case.
The Wayback Machine has an archive of the website from May 2002. The site has a welcome message from Pervez Khan [an alias for Jenvey] and links to various websites including that of Hizbollah, Supporters of Shariah and a Boycott Israel campaign. There is also an invitation to join the Bin Laden Yahoo Group.
By July 2002, the site was now carrying a 1996 message from Bin Laden entitled "Declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places" and other material seemingly encouraging violence. There were also links to the Palestinian "Fateh" movement and news from Afghanistan and Chechnya. There was also a request to contribute to "Kashmir Relief" and a link to "Azzam.com".
Some would consider that the tactics used by Jenvey amounted to "entrapment" which could jeopardise a successful prosecution in a UK court. That is why it seems that there is no evidence that any of Jenvey's material was used in court in the Hamza case.
The whole issue of the "Islamic News" website raises major issues – there is a need to know who is working with Vigil and whether there is any scrutiny of their methods. Do they engage in lawful methods or do they entrap and obtain information illegally? What controls are there in place to vet the information provided?
Would the Metropolitan Police be happy to work with a couple of guys who set up child porn websites in order to entrap alleged paedophiles? While it can be argued that the police and security services operate under the rule of law, including rules of evidence, it is much more difficult when it comes to the shadowy vigilantism of organisations like Vigil.
"Israel belongs to the Jews…Kashmir belongs to the Indians"
The Islamic News website radically changed in September 2002. The message of the website changes from encouraging violence to "We've changed our mind about this whole terrorism thing. Jehad is crap!"
The newly transformed website goes on to say that the task of distinguishing "authentic Islam from the counterfeit image presented by the 'Islamists'" is being carried out "by a few brave non-Muslims" such as Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson. Emerson is famous for wrongly accusing Muslims of the crime of bombing the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. At the time Emerson said that "inflict[ing] as many casualties as possible...is a Middle Eastern trait."
The website continues: "Israel belongs to the Jews - because Allah gave that land to them - why, because the Philistines won't act like decent human beings - and only decent humans deserve their own country. If the Philistines don't like it, they should just find somewhere else to live. Except no other country on earth wants to have them because they are not acting like decent human beings. And Kashmir belongs to the Indians - for the same reasons."
The website links to Pervez Khan's "message from hell" which has a cartoon with the caption "We made it to Paradise! Now we will meet Allah and be fed grapes, and be serviced by 70 virgin women, and…" Jenvey [writing as Pervez Khan] writes, "It seems here in paradise... there are only big fat grey haired toothless women. and rent boys! Its very hot down here in paradise and run by a man called the devil! Better known as cheekey devil! Im off to pub later to get a skin full of beer.... its hot but the beers good!"
This is all from the "non-religious" and "non-political" Vigil.
The website continues to change and in October 2003 more of the political agenda behind Vigil is exposed. There is now a link to the Israeli Defence Force and the Jewish Defense Organisation. Many will feel this is somewhat strange given the continued claims by "Vigil" that they have no links to the Zionist movement. There are also links to Internet Haganah.
There is also some evidence of contact between Jenvey and the Israeli military attaché in London. Jenvey also admits contact with the Russian naval attaché in London. Given these links to foreign governments there must be a huge question mark over their relationship with Scotland Yard.
Another figure who is part of the Vigil project is Jeremy Reynalds [left]. His website states that he was born in England and emigrated to the USA in 1978. He describes himself as an "online terrorist hunter"; no doubt out of the same mould as Jenvey.
Jenvey's website links to a forthcoming book by Reynalds entitled "War of the Web: Fighting the Online Jihad". The book, which was originally due to be published in early 2006, now appears to be scheduled for publication in late 2007. The publishers are World Ahead Publishing [WAP]. WAP describes itself as "The West Coast's Leading Conservative Publisher".
On the front page of WAP's website there is some blurb for a book entitled "Religion of Peace?"; "Islam is a violent, expansionary ideology more akin to a system of government than a personal faith. The Koran – believed by Muslims to contain the words of God himself verbatim – constitutes a vivid message to kill unbelievers and conquer the territories they inhabit."
Reynalds parades himself as a journalist on PipelineNews.org and Assist News. However, Assist News is no Reuters and Reynalds is no impartial journalist; "ASSIST Ministries is an international ministry started in 1988 by journalist and author, Dan Wooding, and his wife Norma, as a way to help Christians living under difficult circumstances, and to share the Gospel with those who do not know Christ." The website also says that it brings news "about the world and Christianity from an evangelical perspective".
PipelineNews.org is well known for its ultra right-wing neocon credentials. An article by Reynalds for PipelineNews.org in September 2006 featured a less than objective interview with Dominic Whiteman, the "Vigil" 'spokesman', and many inaccuracies.
In an interview, Reynalds says, "I am a conservative, evangelical, bible-believing, fundamentalist, right-wing, Bush-loving Christian and I also love Israel and the Jewish race. And I believe in free speech - but I want to see radical Islam defeated."
Johnathan Galt is another "antiterror researcher" closely associated with Jenvey and Vigil. By his own admission, he worked closely with Jenvey on the "Islamic News" website.
Galt's old website links to the pro-Zionist Internet Haganah. Galt also links to the innocuous sounding Anti-Terrorism Coalition which links to other sites including Facts about Islam. The Facts about Islam website alleges that Islam promotes terrorism, violence, megalomania, stupidity, war, torture and murder.
Johnathan Galt posted Islamic New's "Jehad is crap" article on the Free Republic website. Reynalds describes Galt as a "conservative Jewish activist".
We accessed Internet Haganah through the Wayback Machine and found that its founder, Aaron Weisburd, had this to say about Galt and Reynalds: "That Johnathan R. Galt participated in this take down is fitting, since his own efforts to track down and shut down the web sites of terrorists began shortly after 9-11 and were the primary inspiration for my own efforts. Also worthy of honorable mention are Jeremy Reynalds and bushcountry.org, who together with John Galt encouraged me to develop the Haganah database."
So Jonathan Galt and Jeremy Reynalds were the inspiration behind the formation of Weisburd's pro-Zionist Internet Haganah. Enough said about their "non-political" and "non-religious" agenda.
Whiteman [left, with Patrick Mercer MP] appears to be a relatively new addition to the Vigil team and there is little information about him available in the public domain. However, our investigation has uncovered evidence that he shares the same ideology of hate as Jenvey, Galt and Reynalds.
Global Politician carries an interview with him in October 2006. He is introduced as "the spokesperson and a British director of the international anti terror network VIGIL, which is fast becoming the home of retired spies and military personnel, keen to help win the war on terror."
In the interview, Whiteman, says, "I'm a Brit in my early thirties who – like my grandfathers at my age – is proud to be part of an effort to prevent the attempted spread of totalitarian fascist ideology and terror. To prevent the spread of hatred, anti Semitism and violence (in this case primarily Islamofascism) in Britain and around the free world. I am the spokesperson and one of the British directors of VIGIL. I’d prefer to say nothing more about myself and focus on VIGIL."
While on BBC's Newsnight, Whiteman was portrayed as an objective commentator on the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, his interview with Global Politician shows that he is far from impartial. In one section of the interview he says, "I see more and more Muslims leaving Hizb ut-Tahrir as they realize that the group stands for a wacky James Bondesque world takeover, which they are realistic enough to know will certainly not be happening any time soon, especially not in the hands of the likes of Jamal Harwood (the Canadian Head of the Executive Committee of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain) or Doctor Imran Waheed, who are about as charismatic as parking attendants and the sort of individuals who, during the storming of Mecca, Mohammed would have asked to stay well clear of the battlefield (the sort of individuals you choose last to join your sports team as you know you'll trip over them on the field)."
No doubt aware of the anti-Muslim rants of Reynalds, Jenvey and Galt, Whiteman attempts to portray Vigil as some sort of apolitical organisation. He says, "As an organisation we don’t “do” religion. That doesn’t mean that our experts and intelligence gatherers are not religious individuals privately – I know of Muslims, Christians, a Buddhist and a couple of Hindus on our team."
As someone who claims to be an expert in monitoring Islamic groups, our investigation uncovered evidence that he has little knowledge in this field.
An example of this is his analysis of MPACUK. In a piece for Global Politician, Whiteman, says, "In Britain there is only one Islamist, caliphate-seeking political party and it is MPACUK - a group whose open and private forums are full of kufr (disbeliever)–hating comments and Islamist rants…A colleague just pointed out to me that if today you type MPACUK into a Google Image search, worryingly several privately-taken photographs of planes at British airports appear, taxying [sic] within RPG distance of hangars and terminals."
This statement by Whiteman is interesting. Firstly, anyone with any knowledge of Islamic groups in Britain know that MPACUK has little time for the Caliphate and is more focused on encouraging Muslims to participate in UK politics. Other groups, like Hizb ut-Tahrir, are much more closely associated with the quest for the return of the Caliphate.
Secondly, Whiteman who claims to be at the cutting edge of the anti-terror effort and says that his organisation "helps the relevant authorities thwart terrorist entities", is relying on a Google Image search to fine tune his intelligence gathering! The authorities must be very interested in this cutting edge investigation technique?
We tried Whiteman's technique and found some interesting results. A Google Image search for Glen Jenvey reveals photos of Bin Laden, Abu Hamza and Omar Bakri Mohammed. A similar search for Jeremy Reynalds uncovered images of Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
In another article, putting Sun columnists to shame, Whiteman writes of the Muslim Council of Britain, "However, the Muslim Council of Britain has increasingly been seen as the Al Mujahiroun [sic] in suits - working with the British system rather than violently and in its face - to establish the British Islamist Supremacist Caliphate, where non-believers are inferiors."
Other inaccuracies in Whiteman's interview are his allegation that Hizb ut-Tahrir seeks to establish a Caliphate in Britain. He says, "These people are so deluded as to think that they actually stand a chance of establishing their totalitarian Islamic Caliphate in Britain! What they fail to comprehend is that we know far too much about them – through infiltration and those many recruits who've seen through them and left - for them to stand a chance."
If Whiteman had any academic or research credentials at all, he would have known that he was the one who was deluded. In another article he describes Omar Bakri as Hizb ut-Tahrir's founder, even though it is well documented that the organisation was founded by the Palestinian Taqiuddin an-Nabhani in Jerusalem in 1953. Again, another evidence of his lack of knowledge about basic aspects of history.
Not surprisingly, Whiteman heaps praise on the neocon linked Sufi Muslim Council. He says, "Islamist, Caliphate-seeking groups who the British government used to turn to out of ignorance, like the Muslim Council of Britain, are at last being ignored and the peaceful Sufis (ninety percent of British Muslims) are at last being recognised as the real leaders of Islam in the UK (bright enough to keep politics out of Islam and vice-versa)."
Whiteman has also said, "Islamonazism, nor Islamonazis, have any future in Britain. We are watching you. We are all over you. We can smell your rotten plans a mile down-wind and they are not bright. Great Britain is a very clever country and you are bound to fail."
After reading this you may wonder whether Vigil is an abbreviation for Vigilante because it is clearly a shadowy, vigilante type organisation that does not operate under the constraints of the law. It has a clear political agenda – ultra right wing neo-conservatism and defence of Zionism. Its hateful views towards Islam are also clearly documented in the rants of Galt, Jenvey and Reynalds. Whiteman and his colleagues are fantasists with delusions of grandeur that a Google Image search and hanging around Paltalk forums amounts to serious espionage.
If an organisation of deluded right-wing Islamophobic goons has credibility in the eyes of the BBC and Scotland Yard, then serious questions need to be asked of journalists and the authorities.
Glen Jenvey once said, "They sometimes say if you give a fool a piece of rope he'll hang himself". We agree.