Islamists and anti-government conspiracy theorists do exploit my work, but they’re not very good at it

Previously, I’ve warned Islamists, ‘do not try to use my research for your propaganda: the Islamic State’s bigotry and violence is all too real’. Appropriately enough, left-wing and right-wing, anti-Anglo-American or anti-government conspiracy theorists ignore that too. I can’t do much to stop them exploiting my work, but I can point out that they’re not very good at it. After all, I’ve found out that they’re doing it because their target audiences have actually followed their links and read my work for themselves.


On a thread on Middle Eastern and North African affairs in Skyscraper City, half-an-hour after sharing something from Facebook that alleged that American journalist James Foley’s execution was the ‘USA’s fake propaganda’, hakz2007 posted: ‘According to this, the photo of the 1,800 year-old church reportedly burned in Mosul as shown here wasn’t really burned and other reportedly burned churches were actually photos of Egyptian and Syrian churches?’

I’m not entirely sure where to begin. That is on the forty-eighth page of the thread, and hakz2007 has posted more than nine thousand times in Skyscraper City in total; so perhaps, elsewhere in the thread or amongst the posts, there is contrary evidence, but nothing in that post or after it suggests anything else. It seems that they are using my debunking of false evidence to support their conspiracy theory that James Foley’s death was faked to defame the Islamic State and excuse military intervention.

The video of Foley’s death does appear to have been stage-managed for maximum effect (for example, a native English-speaker was used to front the video in order to frighten its target audience with the thought of jihad at home), but that does not mean that Foley has not been killed. Even if he had not been killed, that would not mean that the United States had faked the video.

Furthermore, if the stage-managed video of Foley and the fake photos of churches are connected, they are connected because the Islamic State has faked the photos to drive the ethnic-religious cleansing of its victims, not because the United States has faked all of the evidence to excuse military intervention. At least some of the false news is being spread by local powers and by members of the vulnerable communities, out of fear and concern, in a misguided effort to secure the safety of their communities.

Tellingly, these conspiracy theories do not discuss my debunking and confirmation of claims of destruction of non-Christian shrines, temples and mosques, because that propaganda is not aimed at Western audiences, and that violence is evidence that the Islamic State does pose a genocidal threat.


LarryKing responded to hakz2007 in a way that managed to be both lazy and disingenuous. He listed the titles of some of my blog posts and judged that,

According to your site [i.e. their source, this site] there is no evidence that ISIS even exist.

Literally, that is nonsense. Figuratively, have I denied or downplayed the reality of Islamic State activity?

There is no evidence (yet) that the Islamic State has destroyed the Yezidi Shrine of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir (Şêx Adî) in Lalish

In that post, I highlighted the destruction of the Shrine of Mashhad al-Imam ‘Awn al-Din and pleaded, ‘make no mistake, the Yezidis are at risk of genocide‘.

There is no evidence (yet) of the destruction of the Shrine of Sayeda Zeinab

In that post, I said that the Islamic State had an advertised record of sacrilege.

Is the Iraqi News report of the destruction of Imam Yahya Abu al-Qasim Mosque accurate? No.

In that post, I said that the Islamic State had ‘aggressively advertised its urbicidal agenda‘ to destroy the built environment that embodies and supports mixed community life.

mistake after mistake in Sunday Times report on Islamic State looting of antiquities

In that post, I simply pointed out that there was an error in a report of Islamic State antiquities looting (which, obviously, recognised the existence of the Islamic State). Debunking propaganda is essential to understanding reality, combating crime and resisting violence. Pretending that propaganda is fact, in order to pressure vulnerable communities and provoke outside reaction, seriously endangers civilian lives.

video of “destruction of Tomb of Prophet Jonah” is from at least ten months ago [accurate but out-of-date]

In that post, as was visible from the front page of my blog, I had sourced evidence that ‘the Islamic State’ had ‘destroyed the Tomb of the Prophet Jonah – indeed, the entire Mosque of the Prophet Yunus’.


The Islamic State has also been known as the Caliphate, Da’ash, Da’esh, Da’ish, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

5 Comments to “Islamists and anti-government conspiracy theorists do exploit my work, but they’re not very good at it”

  1. Ah man, Sam you have a thankless job putting up with this crap. Just so you know there are many of us who love your work and get what you are trying to say. I really appreciate all you do.



  2. Hear, hear! Keep it coming



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: