Searchlight Magazine

Oh what a tangled web

Yesterday I commented on how a journalist called Glen Jenvey, writing on the obscure Asian Tribune website, had been taken in by absurd claims made by the English Defence League that it had a huge unseen black and Asian membership. A reader has since contacted me to point out that Jenvey, who had not previously crossed my path, has a track record of fabrication – so I did some more research.

In January 2009 The Sun published a front-page story headlined “Terror target Sugar” which alleged that Islamic extremists were targeting leading British Jews, including the businessman and TV star Alan Sugar, in revenge for Israel’s invasion of Gaza. The story was based on evidence brought to the newspaper by Jenvey, 47, consisting of postings on an online forum made by a certain “Abu Islam”. Others on the list of targets were said to be Amy Winehouse, David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary, and the Labour peer Lord Levy.

The blogger Tim Ireland quickly discovered that “Abu Islam” was none other than Jenvey himself. Jenvey’s initial response was to attack Ireland through anonymous smears

In August 2009 the blogger Richard Bartholomew revealed that Glenvey had himself converted to radical Islam, appearing publicly with Islamic extremists as “Omar Hamza Jenvey”, and confessed that he had written the “Abu Islam” posts. Bartholomew reproduced a message from Jenvey in which he apologised for planting the Sugar story, saying “I saw a chance to install fear back in Jews who were killing Muslims”. Jenvey repeated his confession on BBC Radio 5 Live in September. He has since rejected Islam.

In December 2009 Jenvey, who has appeared on BBC Newsnight as an extremism expert and has helped the Sunday Times with research on terrorism, was arrested in a joint operation by Scotland Yard and Wiltshire Police in a dawn raid at his home in Salisbury. He was questioned for several hours on suspicion of “inciting racial hatred against Jews”, but the charges were eventually dropped.

After yesterday’s Asian Tribune article, Bartholomew wrote that Jenvey’s story “overlaps” with those of three other individuals of dubious pedigree (my description): Dominic Wightman, Charlie Flowers and Paul Ray. Wightman and Jenvey worked together at a group called the VIGIL Network in 2006 and Jenvey claimed he had a line to Patrick Mercer MP, at that time the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security. Following the fake Sun story Mercer repudiated Jenvey.

Wightman and Jenvey fell out in 2007 and, writes Bartholomew, in 2009 Wightman concocted a fake document in Jenvey’s name in an attempt to manipulate Ireland and Bartholomew into attacking an innocent third party. “Wightman also dispatched Flowers to Jenvey’s home in the guise of a journalist to gather further information; during Jenvey’s ‘Omar’ period, Flowers’s friends posted messages to a Muslim extremist forum with personal details likely to put Jenvey in physical danger,” adds Bartholomew.

Flowers, who runs a Facebook page called Cheerleaders Against Everything on which he libellously accused me of “embezzlement”, has his own history of manipulation and agent provocateur activities, including associating with various antifascist individuals and organisations while appearing in public with Alan Lake, one of the founders and financial backers of the Islamophobic English Defence League. With his track record there may be more to Flowers’s apparent hostility to Jenvey than meets the eye.

Ray, who is another founding member of the EDL though he has since been sidelined, spoke out in support of Jenvey after the Sun story first appeared. Ray, who blogs as “Lionheart”, notably claimed he might have been the inspiration for Anders Breivik, currently on trial in Norway for the murder of 77 people in Oslo and on Utøya Island last July.

Bartholomew’s article yesterday contains further information and extensive references to source material.

Not surprisingly the British Freedom party commended Jenvey’s article, in which he said he was “amazed at the grass roots support” of the BFP. “Finally, a journalist being bluntly honest and looking deeper into our organisations,” wrote British Freedom, recommending that readers spread the article about. The EDL’s national website posted a link to the Asian Tribune article.

Jenvey and the Asian Tribune seem to be a good match. In March the Colombo Telegraph reported that the website “is closely associated with the Sri Lankan government, its undercover agents and Sri Lankan Military Intelligence Services”. Jenvey, who claims to be “part of a Tamil family”, has also written two opinion pieces for Asian Tribune in the wake of the Rochdale underage sex grooming trial. 

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