Silence from secret services could aid extremism

31 Aug 2010 11:19 AM

New research shows conspiracy theories play important role in tipping people into extremism

Counter-terrorism work from Mi5, Mi6 and GCHQ and other agencies should become more transparent, argues a new report from the think tank Demos. The independent think tank said that silence around counter-terrorism activities increases mistrust in the government and helps fuel conspiracy theories - such as those that claim 7/7 or 9/11 were ‘inside jobs’.

The report, The Power of Unreason, is based on the first ever analysis of conspiracy theories in extremist groups. It looked at religious, far-right and left, eco, anarchic and cult-based extremism. It found that conspiracy theories are frequently adopted by extremist groups to demonise outsiders, discredit moderates and can push them in a more extreme and sometimes violent direction.
Demos warns that the widespread acceptance of conspiracy theories also harms counter-terrorism work by damaging trust between the government and communities. Extreme and violent groups could start to form new alliances based on shared conspiracies or draw on the larger popular counter-culture of conspiracy as a pool of possible recruits. 

As the Government conducts its review of counter-terrorism powers, Demos recommends it should introduce more openness and transparency in counter-terrorism work:

·      The National Security Council should publish an annual report of its proceedings, including the risks to the national security, and the current terrorist threat. 

·      Increased openness in terrorism trials through reporting court proceedings and transcripts. In major terrorist trials, it is in the public interest to disseminate everything that happened in open court, at public expense. Court transcripts are currently exempt from Freedom of Information requests. Access to court and tribunal records is subject to the permission of the courts, and can only be obtained at the personal expense of several hundred pounds.

·      Maximum disclosure policing around counter-terrorism.  Making details of counter-terrorism investigations available to security cleared community leaders and individuals. This was highly effective in Northern Ireland to increase community support for police action even where a suspect could not be convicted.

·      Open infiltration of online sites by Government to introduce alternative information.  Flagging dubious evidence and disputing theories will encourage people to question and doubt false information online.

·      Lessons on conspiracy theories and online sources like blogs, Wikipedia and newspapers for secondary school students that focus on digital literacy and ‘counter knowledge’. More needs to be done in schools to teach young people digital literacy, such as being taught to tell the difference between propaganda and honest and accurate reporting.

Moves to deny, or engage in debate around, conspiracy theories by Government often have the effect of adding greater legitimacy to the theory. Demos argues that civil society must also do more to confront and debunk conspiracy theories that are part of extremist ideology.

Jamie Bartlett, an extremism expert at Demos said:
“Less-secret services could make Britain safer.  The more open the Government is, the harder it is for extremist groups to make stories out of silence.
“Clearly, there are occasions when more transparency is not possible for reasons of national security, the safety of certain individuals, or resource constraints.  But the degree to which conspiracy theories make up part of the extremist mind-set and world-view suggests it needs to be confronted.
“They destroy the trust that exists between the government and communities, which is the basis of effective counter-terrorism work. Careful moves to greater openness can reduce the traction these ideas have.
“Ultimately though, there is a limit to what the government can do. Alongside greater openness, civil society must play a more proactive role in confronting conspiracy theories and making sure young people are better equipped to deal with the barrage of half-truths, lies, pseudo-journalism, and nonsense they confront every day on the net.”

Notes to editors

Popular conspiracy theories and the groups that subscribe to them over the last 30 years include:

Extremist Group


Religious Extremism 


Al-Qaeda inspired groups

A Christian-Zionist-apostate Muslim or Zionist-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant coalition wages a crusade against “God, his messenger, and Muslims”. National boundaries are an American conspiracy to divide and create internal divisions within an otherwise united Muslim people.

Anti-Abortion Extremists (Army of God, Lambs of Christ)

Freemasons control the world economy through manipulation of paper currency. A secular humanist conspiracy to take God out of Society. Many conspiracy theories have close affinity with American far-right militia movement: allegations of ZOG and One World Government, and reference to ‘Jewish bankers’, and an international financial elite.

Body of Christ/Attleboro Cult. Refused the use of all medicine, and two children members died as a result.



That government, religion, education, science, the arts, medicine, commerce/banking are all controlling tools of Satan.

Christian Identity. A racist religious philosophy that maintains non-Jewish whites are “God’s Chosen People” and the true descendants of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. It Spans neo-Nazi, KKK, survivalist and militia-based organizations.

A belief that Jews, Blacks, Communists homosexuals and race-traitors have seized control of the United States.  The Dual Seedline doctrine within Christian identity states that Jews are the literal descendents of Satan.


Excerpts from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are included in the Hamas Charter, as Article 22 of Hamas constitution.

Jewish extremism (Gush Emunim, or Bloc of the Faithful). An Israeli messianic and political movement committed to establishing Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Examples of one leader, Noam Federman, stating that Leftist conspirators (the Attorney General, the secret services, the media) in control of the secular Israeli state want to take control of Israel and create a new state religion - ‘Israelism’ - rather than Judaism, and will take all steps necessary to do this.

Islam4UK. A proscribed radical Islamist group, offshoot of al-Muhajiroon


Specific cases of the British Government consciously seeking to destroy Islam.

Nation of Islam. God will bring about a universal  government of peace, the original race of black men is superior to white, who were  manAllah returned in as W Fard Mohammed the founder, Intermarriage between races should be prohibited.

Various conspiracies of Jewish control by current leader Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam claims "they the Jews control Black intellectuals, they control Black politicians, Black preachers, Black artists – they control Black life. I’m not against Jews, I’m against control by any group, of us…"  Farrakhan is also on record 

World Church of the Creator, or Creativity Movement. Avowedly non-violent white supremacist group although seventeen of its members have been involved in acts of racial violence. 

ZOG, medical profession is a cartel and government controlled hoax, all forms of medicine are poisonous to the body, impending Racial Holy War.



Aum Shinrikyo. A Japanese new religious cult founded in 1984 and notorious for the 1995 sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway. The group’s ideology is the product of an idiosyncratic interpretation of Christianity, Buddhism and Yoga by its founder and charismatic leader, Shoko Asahara.


Conspiracy between the Japanese government, the United States, and the Jews existed to gain world domination.

Nuwaubians, classified by Southern Poverty Law Centre as a Black supremacist hate group.

The leader’s literature includes conspiracy theories, ufology, the extra-terrestrial origins of the humanity, extra-terrestrials control Hollywood, Illuminati, anti-group conspiracies


Peoples Temple. A religious group founded by Jim Jones in 1955. It became notorious for the ‘Jonestown incident’, where, on November 17-18, 1978, 918 people, including 270 children, people died at the group’s headquarters after drinking cyanide-laced flavor aid. They also shot and killed Leo Ryan (a serving US Congressmen) and 3 journalists.

A US government wide conspiracy against the group, which involved the CIA and defectors from the Peoples Temple.

Far Right


Afrikaaner Nationalism

The Illuminati, composed of international financiers created a surrogate passive black government that could be easily controlled. This could only be brought about by the destruction of Afrikaaner nationalism.

Aryan Nations. White Nationalist neo-Nazi group from the United States.

ZOG, New World Order, a "liberal-Marxist-homosexual-Zionist coalition” covertly censors and disrupts the activities of the Aryan peoples.

British People’s Party. The party is committed to British fascism, British nationalism, white separatism, distributism, and the implementation of the "Fourteen Words". Martyn Gilleard, convicted in 2008 of making a bomb was a member.



Combat 18  - a violent neo-Nazi organization originating in the UK.

ZOG, Protocols of the Elders of Zion; elections are rigged.

Imperial Klans of America (Ku Klux Klan) and allied organizations (Southern White Knights, Alabama White Knights, Texas Knights, etc). Imperial Klans of America remains a force on the radical racist American right. Estimated to have 110 Chapters – or ‘Klaverns’ – and 4000- 5000 members.


America is threatened by non-white minorities ZOG and New World Order. “Unholy coalition of anti-White, anti-Christian liberals, socialists, feminists, homosexuals, and militant minorities have managed to seize control of our government and mass media . . . “

Racial Volunteer Force. A splinter group of Combat 18.

ZOG, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Holocaust Myth.

Timothy McVeigh & Far Right US Militia Groups. Militia groups is an umbrella term for the many US paramilitary groups that claim right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. It includes the Michigan Militia, the Montana Militia, the Missouri 51st Militia, the North American Volunteer Militia, the Minnesota Minutemen Militia, and the South Carolina Militia Corps. The groups are united in the belief that the Federal Government is hostile to their freedoms.


Big government, affirmative action, gun control, driven by ZOG, Turner Diaries, One World Government, imminent UN forces about to invade America, the creation of FEMA concentration camps, the confiscation of guns from all American citizens, imminent imposition of marital law.

Far Left


Angry Brigade. A militant left-wing anarchist group, they were, before al-Qaeda, the last ‘home-grown’ terrorist group on the British Mainland. They conducted a series of small-scale bombing between 1970 and 1972.

Angry Brigade communiqués present the action of the ‘bosses’ as a coherent and conscious attempt to emasculate the working classes.

Anti-Globalization extremism. The movement’s adherence to the principle of ‘leaderless resistance’ makes it difficult to identify statements attributable to the movement as a whole.  

Many of the most extreme post-2000 anti-globalization narratives personalise and intentionalise the process of globalization, and describe it as the result of the conscious machinations of the powerful few. Some portray these powerful few to be international financiers, some ‘Money Jews’. In America, there are allegations that an anti-globalization website - Anti-Globalization Action Network- is a front for the neo-Nazi National Alliance.

Red Army Faction (RAF). Founded in 1970, a Communist ‘urban guerrilla’ group engaged in what they claimed to be an anti-imperialist struggle against the ‘fascist state’. Responsible for 34 deaths before their disbandment in 1998.

Malevolent authorities use economic means to oppress the people. Horst Mahler, founding member of the RAF, at his 1970 trial in Berlin: “You charge me with conspiracy ... But you yourself, the gang of General Motors, Ford, Armco, General Electric, ITT, Siemens, AEG, Flick, Quandt, BASF, Springer, Unilever, United Fruit, and certain others - the transnational consortia of capital, all together the imperialistic Monopoly Capital — are the most monstrous criminal association in history...Exploitation and repression are globally organised”

Revolutionary Sect group. Responsible for the shooting of the investigative journalist Socratis Guiolias.


They claim not to be in politics, because of the bias of the status quo: “We are not in politics, we are in armed struggle. In all these decades, political parties, judicial and executive powers have exposed the interests of the status quo they work for. The time for analysing is over…”



Anti-technology extremism (Neo-Luddites, Anarcho-primitivists). Advocate a return to non "civilized" ways of life, based on an anarchistic critique of civilization and development.

Some wings/members claim that there is or may be an explicit (conspiracy) or implicit (bloc) organisation of intellectuals, technologists, technocrats, intelligentsia, technophiles, and other such intellectual elites who push a radically pro-technology, pro-scientific, anti-natural, anti-environment, dehumanising, anti-freedom agenda.

Committee for Liquidation of Computers (CLODO). They committed their most major terrorist attack in 1983 when they firebombed the Sperry-Univac Company in Toulouse.

 The computer is the favorite tool of the dominant. It is used to exploit, to put on file, to control, and to repress.


Pamyat. A Russian ultra-nationalist organization founded in the 1970s, the group has been dormant throughout most of the 1990s, but reactivated in 2005. Its aim is to lead the Russian people in national spiritual revival.


ZOG, Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Jews blamed for triggering the Russian revolutions.

National Revolutionary Faction. Promotes a radical anti-capitalist and anti-Marxist ‘anarchist’ agenda of autonomous rural communities within a decentralized, pan-European framework.

New World Order.

Woden’s Folk. They believe in the restoration of Anglo-Saxon heathenism and opposition to multi-cultural society

Mythology of Ragnarok, last Avatar, final battle.


Popular conspiracy theories

The Bilderberg Group: An annual invitation-only conference involving influential individuals in politics, finance, business and the military. Due to the secretive nature of the conference – the sessions are closed to the public, and no minutes are released – it has become a key target of conspiracy theories alleging the creation of a New World Order.   

‘False Flag’ Operations: Those that are deliberately and deceptively made to appear as if they were carried out by an entity other the genuine one. The phrase originates from the idea of military units flying the wrong colours –a false flag – during combat.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): An agency of the US Department of Homeland Security, FEMA is the target of conspiracy theories held by US militia and survivalist groups. The allegations allege, amongst others, that the US Federal Government will declare martial law as a precursor to the establishment of the New World Order. FEMA will house in detainment camps all those who are resistant to this takeover. 

Freemasons: A fraternal society, founded in the sixteenth century, with around six million members around the world. It is, due to its secretive nature, the target of many theories alleging secret control of governments with the desire to install structures allowing global control.    

Illuminati: An Enlightenment secret society, founded in 1776 that originally promoted free thought and democratic political theories. However, the term now exists within many conspiracy theories as a popular ‘catch-all’ descriptor of an anti-democratic, elitist, conspiracy for one-world-government. The term is often closely linked with the idea of a ‘New World Order’. New World Order: First used by world statesmen after both World Wars to describe a new, values-based approach to global governance, the term has become a very common byword in conspiracy theories to describe a totalitarian world government. This New World Order is, these theories allege, the vehicle whereby a super-powerful and secret cabal will achieve global domination.   Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion (often shorted to the Protocols): An anti-Semitic tract purporting to be the proceedings of a meeting of Jewish leaders with the intent of achieving global control by the Jewish people. First published in 1903, and itself a plagiarism of earlier political satire, the Protocols have a complex history of both direct use, and indirect plagiarism by a large and diverse number of different groups. It is widely considered to be, in its various guises, the most widespread conspiracy theory in the world. Zionist Occupation Government (ZOG): A description of a state, used by many groups, to describe a Jewish cabal in secret control of a given state, or indeed the world.  

The Power of Unreason by Jamie Bartlett, and Carl Miller is available to download at www.demos.co.uk

Media Enquiries

Beatrice Karol Burks
07929 474938
Claire Coulier
07914 963224