by Scott Creighton
UPDATE: After communicating with him briefly, Toby has posted some more Tweets about his case. They are included at the end of the article. They should make his motivation a little clearer.
If you take his Tweets at face value, Toby Lopez was a true believer. He believed every bullshit propaganda story they put before him. He believed the fake “ISIS™” beheading videos. He believed Mike Brown deserved to get shot from behind while running away. He believed in the rightness of Joe Biden’s justification to send troops back into Iraq after we had finally got them out of there. He believed it all.
And in the end, he believed he was negotiating with a big-time “ISIS™” leader whom he made contact with on Twitter (of all things) and that he, a car salesman from, was capable of playing a staring role in securing the release of an American hostage, if only the Feds would believe him.
Quite by accident, Mr. Lopez exposed a couple rather interesting truths about the propaganda campaign known as “ISIS™” and even threatened to inadvertently reveal all of it, but he was too much of a believer to understand what he had stumbled upon.
In many ways, Toby Lopez turned out to be a modern day Forrest Gump. He had it all right there in front of him but he couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
In the end, authorities considered him a loose cannon armed with a deadly truth he was unfortunately too naive to understand himself. But his threats to go public with it all made him a problem that had to be solved.
So on Feb. 11th, 2015, Toby Lopez was arrested at his mother’s home where he lived and spent the next 14 months being shuttled from one federal institution to another until he was finally released late last month.
After all that, judging from his latest Tweets since his release, Toby still doesn’t get it. Not entirely.
But his story is fascinating for those of us who do. Sure, he was an accidental tourist tinkering in the clockwork of the biggest propaganda campaign of the time but he came closer to exposing the US Special Operations irregular warfare “hearts and minds” project that is Kurd “ISIS™” than any of us independent journalists out here, even if no one else noticed other than the Feds who whisked him away and locked him up for 14 months in order to get him to shut up before he dumped a real turd in the punch-bowl.
Though this is his story, it’s also a cautionary tale for all of us about meddling in affairs way above your pay-grade.
I first wish too say that Toby Lopez may not have had the most altruistic motives behind his anti-“ISIS™” campaign. Truth be told, Toby may have suspected that his communications with the Kurdish person pretending to be Abu Omar al-Shishani were bullshit from the start. But there is nothing that I have seen that indicates that. It would seem in the end Toby thought he stood a chance at actually meeting al-Shishani and securing the release of then “prisoner” of “ISIS™” Kayla Mueller.
But which of us have never fantasied about breaking the big story? Is that really such a crime in this “Brand Me!” world we have to live in?
Allan Ripp, who still believes Toby Lopez was in contact with Abu Omar al-Shishani, wrote about his involvement in the story back in Feb. of this year. This is how he starts:
“In August 2014, the Toyota salesman from Dover, Del., called me out of the blue; he found me through a web search looking for a publicist to help pitch his “blockbuster” to the media. It was hard not to be intrigued by this affable stranger with a cloak-and-dagger tale.” Allan Ripp, Feb. 2016
Is it ironic that Lopez worked at a Toyota dealership and all those “ISIS™” guys drive around in Toyotas like those purchased by our Special Operations forces? You be the judge.
According to Ripp, Lopez was looking for help pitching his story to the media back in Aug. of 2014, around the time when he was first making contact with the Kurdish man pretending to be a military leader of “ISIS™”, “Abu Omar al-Shishani”.
Here’s a video of “al-Shishani” explaining why “ISIS™” popped up all of a sudden in Iraq and what they are all about. Notice the “ISIS™” guys driving around in Toyota trucks throughout the video.
Perhaps a little more background on that character is needed:
“Lopez was convinced his correspondent was who he said he was—Abu Omar al-Shishani, the nom de guerre of Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili, former sergeant in the Georgian army who underwent training by U.S. Special Forces and later joined the Islamic State as a commander in Syria and Iraq and “warden” of prisons holding Western hostages.” Allan Ripp, Feb. 2016
Yes, once again, US Special Forces come into play in this story.
I think at this point we need to clarify a few things that Mr. Lopez does not seem to understand.
Background of “ISIS™”
In late 2011, in accordance with an agreement signed by President Bush, President Obama was forced to adhere to a deal with the Iraqi government and pull out the vast majority of our occupational forces, much to Obama’s dismay.
Back then, a lot of neocons and fake dems alike said we should stay in Iraq regardless of the agreement but our puppet regime was insistent that we pull out our troops and as expected, a popular revolt started taking shape in the country in 2012 and by 2013, it was a full on insurgency against our neoliberal puppet dictator.
Here is a picture of the real “ISIS™”. Notice they aren’t terrorists. They aren’t hiding their faces. They aren’t beheading anyone and as far as I can see, there are no white Toyota trucks anywhere to be seen.
After an illegal war of aggression and a decade of brutal occupation in service to neoliberal economic ideology, the people of Iraq wanted their country back. It had nothing to do with creating an Islamic State. In fact, the Baathists were adamantly secular.
At first it was peaceful demonstrations against the Nouri al-Maliki government but things turned particularly brutal and what started off as a political revolution became a full-scale military one.
In April and May of 2013, bodies of the victims of Nouri al-Maliki were piling up by the hundreds and yet nothing was said by our leaders here in this country about any of it. Not a word.
Ultimately, people like Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri and other leaders of various factions came together and formed the General Military Council for Iraqi Revolutionaries and the new revolution for Iraq was on.
By mid-2014 the mostly Sunni revolutionaries were making advances deep into Iraq and were practically on the border of the Green Zone in Baghdad so something had to be done.
All the advances for US and British corporations stood to fall apart if Iraq was delivered back into the socialist hands of the Baath Party, whom most of the revolutionaries belonged.
But the problem was, President Peace Prize had already stated Iraq was the wrong war and his followers took pride in the fact that it was the only promise he actually kept, getting US troops out of the wrong war.
How could Obama justify returning US soldiers to fight legitimate Iraqi civilians who only wanted their country back after President Bush and war-monger Cheney decimated it?
This was a problem.
The group has referred to itself as the Islamic State ( [[:Media:|الدولة الإسلامية]] (help·[[:File:|info]]) ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah) or IS ever since it proclaimed a worldwide caliphate in June 2014 and named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as its caliph.
Right on time to help justify a return to Iraq, “ISIS™” pops up in the country with their fake beheading videos and a professional propaganda campaign to rival any marketing strategy Coke or Pepsi could ever come up with.
Though the public would never accept Obama sending troops back to Iraq to squash a popular uprising against Cheney’s hand-picked brutal dictator, they certainly couldn’t say no to his bombing the monsters of “ISIS™” and that was the whole point.
al-Baghdadi had been in US custody several times during the Iraq occupation and released so he was probably working for Special Ops very early on. He was later photographed having a little chat with John McCain when he went to Syria to rally his mercenary terrorists in their campaign against Assad, which “ISIS™” conveniently helps us with as well.
Wonder why they do that? Anyone know? Hmmm…
At this point, it needs to be said that running proxies armies in various countries for various reasons is the bread and butter of US Special Operations. Such campaigns are called “irregular” or “unconventional” warfare and we have been doing it for quite sometime. I wrote about them in 2015.
Here is a bit of information on these kinds of operations taken directly from a 2008 Army Special Operations Forces report:
Unconventional Warfare: “Operations conducted by, with, or through irregular forces in support of a resistance movement, an insurgency, or conventional military operations.”
JP 1-02 defines IW (Irregular Warfare) as “a violent struggle among state and nonstate actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations (nations).
irregular forces: Irregulars, or irregular forces, are individuals or groups of individuals who are not members of a regular armed force, police, or other internal security force. They are usually nonstate-sponsored and unconstrained by sovereign nation legalities and boundaries. These forces may include, but are not limited to, specific paramilitary forces, contractors, individuals, businesses , foreign political organizations, resistance or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political “undesirables.”
The constituent activities of IW are:
- FID (Foreign Internal Defense)
- Stability, security, transition, and reconstruction (SSTR) operations
- Strategic communication (SC)
- Civil-military operations (CMO)
- Information operations (IO)
- Intelligence and counterintelligence (CI) activities
- Transnational criminal activities, including narc o-trafficking, illicit arms dealing, and illegal financial transactions that support or sustain IW
- Law enforcement activities focused on countering irregular adversaries.
As you can see, Special Operations conduct a wide variety of rather nasty business ventures in pursuit of their goals. In the case of Iraq, it wasn’t the typical destabilization campaign they typically run like the ones they ran in Libya and currently run in Syria.
In the case of Iraq, what they were doing was running a Foreign Internal Defense campaign in support of the flailing al-Maliki government. And they did this through Strategic Communications, or all those fake beheading videos and the PR campaign run by “ISIS™” itself.
We were the target of that campaign. The goal was to help secure Iraq’s puppet government by helping President Obama (and congress members who had to face reelection in late 2014) justify a return to military action in the country against the revolution that had sprung up as a response to our leaving militarily and the brutal crackdown by al-Maliki.
It’s quite simple and understandable when you look at it. Then when you look at all the Special Operations fingerprints all over the “ISIS™” project, it’s hard too miss:
- Abu Omar al-Shishani, the Special Operations trained “ISIS™” military leader. Toyota (Helix) trucks used by both Special Forces and “ISIS™”
- “During Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom, multiple Toyota Tacomas have been observed in use by special forces units of the U.S. Army. Typically, they have been Double Cab models, with SR5 and TRD packages.”
And ultimately, we have this latest Tweet from Toby Lopez himself trying to explain how and why he still thinks the fake Abu Omar al-Shishani is the real deal because this group of experts tells him he was:
That’s right. The US Army Special Forces group of experts called the ISIS Study Group is tasked with “educating” the American public about the dangers they pose and therefore the need for Obama and members of congress to get behind the re-invasion of Iraq. This comes straight from their website:
“It is also important to ensure that out government takes appropriate action to reduce this threat before it morphs to our shores”
They may be retired, but they are still on the job: selling the hearts and minds campaign that is “ISIS™” on behalf of military intervention in Iraq and elsewhere all over the world.
That is what “ISIS™” is and that is why Special Operations command is so closely associated with them. They do not behead journalists. They do not capture and rape hundreds of Iraqi women and girls. It’s a campaign of Strategic Communications as part of a Foreign Internal Defense project. Argue the legality or the morality of their work all you want, they are simply doing the job they were hired to do: create an atmosphere here in the states that is conducive to supporting military goals in Iraq and Syria. And that’s it.
Does that answer your question Mr. Lopez?
Now, Back to the Story
If you recall, Toby Lopez thought he was in communication with Abu Omar al-Shishani since Aug. of 2014. That was around the time when “ISIS™” was getting a lot of attention internationally. There were a string of fake beheading (and let’s not argue about them being fake. Even the MSM had to admit they were clearly staged. The Japanese community made a joke out of the fake video supposedly showing a Japanese citizen beheaded because that one was so bad. The videos were produced for propaganda purposes and they were clearly fake as a three dollar bill.) and Obama was getting the needed public backing for a return of our troops to Iraq.
According to the story, Mr. Lopez found himself infuriated by the “beheading” videos and he apparently heard “ISIS™” had a presence on Twitter (Strategic Communications perhaps?) so he took to the social media outlet to vent his frustrations directly at the terrorists.
It was then that he ran across the Twitter account that supposedly belonged to the most wanted man on the planet at the time, al-Shishani. I guess he never wondered why he had so few followers or why Twitter allowed him to keep the account.
Also turns out, Mr. Lopez was maintaining a lot of communications with various Kurds at the same time, which might factor in a little in a few moments.
As it turns out, these weren’t the only Kurds Mr. Lopez was communicating with at the time.
“But after checking with experts, the reporters concluded that Mr. Lopez was talking not to the real, red-bearded Mr. Shishani, but to an impostor. The actual commander did not speak fluent English, and the language overheard in the background of Skype calls was not Chechen, as the impostor claimed, but Kurdish. His multiple Twitter accounts had an antic tone; he once posted a “Simpsons” cartoon about the Islamic State.
“It’s definitely a fake,” Joanna Paraszczuk, a British journalist and researcher who tracks the Chechens fighting in Syria, said by email. She said the same man had duped an Australian radio station into interviewing him but later admitted that he was not the ISIS commander, but a Kurdish immigrant to Scandinavia.” New York Times, Apr. 24,2016
Mr. Lopez’ “al-Shishani” was actually a Kurdish man supposedly living in Scandinavia at the time. This fact is supported by a photo I found in one of the articles I read about the Mr. Lopez. Notice in the communication from the fake “al-Shishani”, he has instructed Lopez to send something to “the Kurds”
Was the fake “al-Shishani”, a Kurd, planning on using the Kurds as middle-men in some kind of exchange?
You have to remember, Toby thought he was negotiating for the release of a hostage, Kayla Mueller, and so a third party exchange would be understandable. Whatever it was, “al-Shishani” wanted to know when the Kurds were expecting to receive it. And since the man was a Kurd himself…
This fake “al-Shishani” had been exposed before. He gave an interview in Aug of 2014, around the same time he was communicating with Toby. The interview was exposed as a fake and somehow a news publication got a hold of the faker and it turns out, he was indeed Kurdish, which goes along with the Kurdish language recorded in the background of Toby’s Skype communication with him.
“Fake Omar wouldn’t give us him real name but says he’s a Kurd living in Scandinavia, who is bitterly opposed to Islamic State” Media Watch, Aug. 2014
Here is a transcript of the Media Watch interview with the Kurdish “ISIS™” faker.
- PAUL BARRY: Was it you who gave the interview to radio 3AW in Melbourne?
- FAKE OMAR Al-SHISHANI: Yes my little brother it was me.
- PAUL BARRY: And are you the real Omar Al-Shishani?
- FAKE OMAR Al-SHISHANI: No, of course not.
- PAUL BARRY: Are you in Iraq?
- FAKE OMAR Al-SHISHANI: No.
- PAUL BARRY: So was the interview, or are you a fake?
- FAKE OMAR AL-SHISHANI: I am not fake but interview was fake.
- — Media Watch interview with fake Omar Al-Shishani, 15th August, 2014
At the risk of repeating myself:
“Irregulars, or irregular forces, are individuals or groups of individuals who are not members of a regular armed force, police, or other internal security force. They are usually nonstate-sponsored and unconstrained by sovereign nation legalities and boundaries.” 2008 Army Special Operations Forces report:
“I am not fake. But interview was fake”
What does that mean? Does it mean he is indeed a nonstate-sponsored irregular force posing as “ISIS™” in a Strategic Communications campaign at a crucial time in the development of the Foreign Internal Defense project?
The Kurds would certainly fit the bill wouldn’t they?
They wanted and received their own state in Iraq when they supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and it’s done nothing but expand since “ISIS™” came on the scene.
In Syria, they now have something called Syrian Kurdistan and plans are in place for Turkish Kurdistan as well.
And all those “ISIS™” trucks filled with the stolen Syrian oil end up going into Iraqi Kurdistan, getting put on Kurdistan Regional Government trucks and shipped off to Turkey where they end up mainly in Israeli hands.
It’s fascinating how close “ISIS™” and the Kurds really are when you look at it. And here we have a famous convergence of yet another Kurd and “ISIS™”
It’s pretty obvious that Toby Lopez wasn’t talking to the Special Ops trained Chechen fighter Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili. He doesn’t speak English that well and rarely gives interviews.
And who know exactly what this Kurdish imposter was saying to Lopez throughout the communications.
Who knows if his contact with the car salesman was sanctioned. Perhaps he was moonlighting a little bit, looking to make a payday off this guy if he could get him to come to Sweden or where-ever it was they were supposed to meet.
Almost sounds like a variation of those Nigerian scams they always send you emails about.
Whatever the case may be, Toby Lopez seems to have thought he was on the verge of a dramatic breakthrough with “ISIS™” and the Kayla Mueller abduction case so he made contact with his local FBI agents and shit went downhill fast from there.
At the same time, Lopez used Allan Ripp as his PR guy and contacted the New York Times. This was clearly a self-serving move. If anyone thought he was really in the middle of a hostage negotiation, the last thing they would want is a Times story about it pissing off the terrorists holding the hostage. So you have to wonder about his judgement there.
“Mr. Lopez contacted the F.B.I., and two agents visited his home and interviewed him, he said. Through Allan Ripp, a New York public relations specialist he found online, Mr. Lopez also contacted The New York Times. Two reporters visited him in January 2015 and spent several hours reviewing his emails, texts and audio recordings.
But after checking with experts, the reporters concluded that Mr. Lopez was talking not to the real, red-bearded Mr. Shishani, but to an impostor. The actual commander did not speak fluent English, and the language overheard in the background of Skype calls was not Chechen, as the impostor claimed, but Kurdish.” New York Times, Apr. 24,2016
Going to the Times like he did, Mr. Lopez seems to have exposed his altruistic motives as anything but.
But as I said before… let ye who is without sin…
In spite of the fact that the Times decided it wasn’t al-Shishani that Lopez was talking to, he was determined he was on the right path and pressed the Feds to help his cause (her cause? his cause? different? same?)
On Feb. 6th 2015, Lopez was telling Federal Agent Reising (his contact at the FBI) that he wasn’t doing enough to secure the release of Kayla Mueller and apparently threatening to expose his mistakes to the rest of the country.
Then this happened:
“A media account affiliated with ISIL released a statement on February 6, 2015 claiming that a female American hostage held by the group was killed by one of around a dozen Jordanian airstrikes in Al-Raqqah (Raqqa, Syria). The statement came just days after the release of a video showing the burning alive of a Jordanian fighter pilot, Muath al-Kasasbeh, by ISIS and the subsequent execution of Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi and other prisoners of Jordan. The statement was later translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, identifying the hostage as Mueller. Other reports claimed Mueller was killed in an American airstrike. ” Kayla Mueller Wiki page
Keep in mind what “ISIS™” really is.
Lopez presented a problem and suddenly that problem was solved. “ISIS™” conveniently reported that Kayla Mueller was no longer alive 24 hours after the blow-up between Lopez and the Feds. Of course, that information was “translated” by the Islamaphobic hate-site SITE Intelligence Group (who just HAPPENED to release several of the fake beheading videos on behalf of “ISIS™”)
This story comes out on Feb. the 7th and Lopez is beside himself.
It never occurs to him that it’s mighty convenient how the timing of all of this worked out, but there you have it. He just jumped right onto another cause. Another captive he thought he could make himself famous by rescuing… this time, it was Austin Tice.
For those of you who don’t remember, Austin Tice was a “journalist” who was covering the Syrian “civil war” back in 2012 when he was supposedly abducted by someone. “ISIS™” didn’t exist back then and how they supposedly came to have him in their control is anyone’s guess.
Here’s a little background on Tice:
Austin Tice : “Tice is from Houston, Texas, the eldest of seven siblings. He was an Eagle Scout and grew up dreaming of becoming an international correspondent for NPR. Tice attended the University of Houston for one year, and graduated from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in 2002. He attended Georgetown University Law Center for a period of time, but dropped out to pursue journalism”
Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service “Alumni include current (Jordan, Lithuania, Spain, and Bosnia), and recent (United States, Philippines) heads of state. The current dean of the school is Joel Hellman. Notable faculty members at the Walsh School of Foreign Service include former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former Undersecretary of Defense (neocon) Douglas Feith, former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski, former National Security Advisor Anthony Lake, former U.S. Senator and Obama Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Ambassador Donald McHenry, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and current Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, former World Bank VP Callisto Madavo, former Dean Peter F. Krogh, former USAID head, former Special Envoy for Sudan Andrew Natsios, Ambassador of Israel to the United States Michael Oren, former Prime Minister of Spain José María Aznar, and former President of Colombia Alvaro Uribe Velez.”
It’s fair too say Austin Tice was educated by the CIA at their finishing school in Georgetown University. It’s also fair too say he was an embedded journalist working the early stages of the Syrian destabilization campaign when they were trying to tell us that it was a ‘civil war’ and Assad was committing atrocities like those al-Maliki ACTUALLY committed but no one took notice of.
“He was hearing reports from Syria saying this is happening and that is happening but it can’t be confirmed because there really are no reporters on the ground. And he said, ‘You know, this is a story that the world needs to know about.’” behind a paywall at the Daily Star
Tice seems to have been a typical Mockingbird. Part of a Strategic Communications campaign in the regime change operation taking place in Syria.
His abduction would serve to win over the hearts and minds of US citizens who empathize more with journalists when abducted than they do with soldiers.
Toby Lopez, in his desperation, locked in on the Tice story and started making direct contact with his mother, Debra Tice, on Feb. 9th, 2015. It would end up being the final straw.
With one hostage story shot to hell and another one teetering on the brink, it seems Toby Lopez had finally pushed too many buttons in the world of deep state politics. It was time to reel him in.
“By Feb. 11, the F.B.I. had had enough. Mrs. Lopez arrived home to find her house surrounded…
The authorities had interpreted Mr. Lopez’s heated emails as a “threat to injure” Mr. Reising, a crime with a sentence of up to five years. Mr. Lopez said later that he had threatened only to expose what he considered government bungling to the news media. He was locked up, and federal prosecutors soon sought a court order for a mental health assessment.” New York Times, Apr. 24,2016
Thirty hours or so after making contact with Austin Tice’s mother, Toby found himself at the beginning of a 14 month odyssey of federal incarceration. They said he was crazy. They kept him drugged. They moved him around so people who cared about him wouldn’t know where he was.
They practically Gitmoed the poor bastard and I bet still to this day he really doesn’t understand why.
But I bet he’s not a true believer anymore.
Maybe Toby has started to feel that nagging little pain in the back of his head that we all did at one time. The one that whispers that things may not be as they seem.
Why didn’t they just use Toby to set up whomever was pretending to be al-Shishani, even if it wasn’t him? Why not get someone off the playing field who was running scams like that? Do you think you could call into a radio station and pretend to be “ISIS™” without seeing a hundred black SUVs in your driveway in an hour or so? I would seriously doubt it. After all, they have arrested a number of fake “ISIS™” members here in the states over the past two years. So why not this guy?
And what if Toby did have some useful info? Why shut him down? At worst he would go to the media and tell his BS story and people would see through it in time… wouldn’t they?
So what part of Toby’s story did they not want public?
What part indeed.
I sincerely believe at least part of Toby’s motivation was a genuine need to help people abducted by “ISIS™”. I know it wasn’t all of it. His publicist will attest to that. But at least part of his heart was in the right place.
Kinda like Forrest Gump.
Toby Lopez just didn’t understand the undercurrents of what he was swimming in and for that he got pulled under… for 14 long, dark months.
There’s probably an object lesson in there for all of us, but it’s above my pay-grade I guess.
But it is funny isn’t it, how much this bungling guy was able to expose about the hearts and minds campaign that is “ISIS™” without ever having set out to do so or ever really understanding just what he happened upon.
It’s also funny just how scared they can get of Forrest Gump.
Does that answer your question, Toby?
UPDATE: Apparently not. Toby’s new Tweets:
Ah. I see.
“a place where those who hate ignorance may strive to know, where those who perceive truth may strive to make others see.” John Masefield
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