"They sometimes say if you give a fool a piece of rope he'll hang himself, and it seems that in this case this person has done exactly that." So said "terror expert" Glen Jenvey to CBS news in 2004, referring to his "sting" of cleric Abu Hamza, which he claims was pivotal in Hamza's arrest. Perhaps Jenvey should have chosen his words more carefully.
On 7 January the Sun ran a front page story with the headline, "Islamic fanatics name Alan Sugar, Mark Ronson and Lord Levy in a hit list of Britain's leading Jews." The story was based on claims by Jenvey that fanatics were using the online Ummah forum to orchestrate revenge attacks for the siege of Gaza. "Expect a hate campaign and intimidation by 20 or 30 thugs," said Jenvey.
There was indeed such a message posted on the Ummah website, from someone calling themselves "Abuislam": "Have we got a list of top Jews we can target? Can someone post names and addresses?" Other users of the forum argued against this.
In itself this looks as though Jenvey has made a mountain out of a molehill. But it turns out that he may have made the molehill as well. Moderators at the website released a statement soon after these events, noting that "Abuislam" was a user created from the same computer as another user called "Richard Tims". "Tims" had only posted one item, a plug for sellyourstory.org, a now defunct website dedicated to buying stories on Muslim extremists. The website was plugged across the Net, using a host of user names, although the sloppy punctuation and grammar are consistent (eg "Any hot news on Islamic British based terrorist's earn cash from http://www.sellyourstory.org").
Interesting, then, that the internet domain name register shows that sellyourstory.org was created by a certain "Glen Jenvey".
So, "terror expert" Jenvey (or someone using his computer and style of writing) posted the comments on Ummah and then reported them to the Sun as being written by fanatics. The Press Complaints Commission is now investigating, and the story has been removed from the Sun's website (but has been reprinted and posted online countless times since).
But this is just the tip of the iceberg, because "terror experts" are often in demand in this uncertain world. Another story from 1 January 2009 (still on the Sun website) is under the headline "Terror attack on America 'soon'". "Ex-spy Glen Jenvey said threats had been posted on an extremist Islamic website," it continues. There are no sources or quotes backing up the claim, so readers just had to trust Jenvey's word. He also claimed on the globalpolitician.com website that his "terror watchers" had uncovered plans for huge attacks in the run-up to Xmas. "They plan to bomb us and they will destroy and enslave us," he reported - again with no evidence.
We also know that Jenvey likes editing his own Wikipedia entry. When someone added a link for a website exposing malpractice by Vigil (an "anti-terrorist" organisation with a close relationship to Jenvey) the user "Glenjenvey" removed the link. He left a comment in justification: "Vigil expose site is placed by a terrorist supporter attacking glen jenvey good name work" (sic).
Vigil made the news in November 2006 when it accused Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir of links to the drugs trade and terror recruitment. Vigil not only "teamed up with" Newsnight to report its findings, but also featured on BBC File on Four and in a feature in the Telegraph. According to the Telegraph, "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'." The Vigil website later included links to the Israeli Defence Force. Vigil, incidentally, claims it is "non-political".
As mentioned previously, Jenvey's claim to fame was his exposé of Abu Hamza. He set up a website called "Islamic News", which he used to allegedly con Hamza into sending him terrorist recruitment videos. (It should be noted that there is little evidence that Jenvey's research resulted in any prosecution of Hamza, who was charged eventually with possession of "The Encyclopedia of Jihad".) Islamic News linked to the Bin Laden Yahoo! Group and Hezbollah, among other things. But by September 2002 the website changed dramatically, retitled "Jehad is crap" and featuring a long diatribe against Muslims and Palestinians (which doesn't merit quotation).
There is far, far more to be said about Jenvey's work and connections, and a brief search for his name online uncovers this. With all this in mind, perhaps it's time that the media, and apparently the security services, stops taking the word of the likes of Jenvey as truth.