‘Engaged’ in late November 2014, with a press release uploaded to anoninsiders.net and followed by a later release from the US division, Anonymous announced #OpDeathEaters in order to level hard questions at members of the global elite involved in what they describe as the ‘paedosadist industry’.
Recent years have seen increasing coverage of the alleged elite paedophile ring at the top of the UK establishment, with claims of complicity by figures in politics, the media and top security officials, with a mountain of emerging evidence that suggests many powerful figures may have intentionally obstructed the truth for decades.
“The first goal is to counter the horrific propaganda coming out of the UK media which is trying to depict this as ‘child sex’ or ‘child love,’ and an individual [psychological] problem which requires societal tolerance and understanding. People must understand first that the Child Sex Abuse inquiry is actually about rape, torture and murder, not just of children, and it is across an entire social strata. The second goal is to bring in all of the other countries and connect the networks we are aware of to show the international nature and scope of the problem… [Then] we need to create an international, independent, victim-led inquiry. The research and education are first, then there will have to be international action.”
The need for an independent inquiry is asserted in light of rising allegations concerning the failure or wilful inaction of organisations tasked with protection and legal investigations to adequately expose the extent of such activity.
A vital precursor to the creation of independent inquiries, however, is the gathering of as much information as possible on international networks and connections between individuals, which can then be used in legal proceedings. Programmers within #OperationDB (Database) are working to develop “software tools for graph database management, and network analysis and visualization.” Although the concept predates #OpDeathEaters by more than a year and is in development for use beyond it, once up and running it will allow activists, journalists and others researching the issue to more easily visualize the “relationships between people, organizations, documents and dossiers…” The hope is that this will enable a broader and clearer picture to emerge of the links between seemingly isolated cases.
In a similar vein to Anonymous itself, Heather Marsh envisages #OpDeathEaters as idea-driven action, building a ‘stigmergic’, mass-collaboration approach connecting activists, lawyers and journalists that focuses on the data and the goal, rather than developing a personality-driven movement susceptible to the fate of Wikileaks and its entanglement with the personal life and legal battles of Julian Assange.
While the Operation exists within the realm of Anonymous and calls to action have been in the now familiar style, it has called upon those who do not consider themselves members to collaborate towards the shared goal of justice.
Although Marsh, in her own words, “set the objective [for #OpDeathEaters] and brought the initial research and story to the Internet… it has been taken up by Anonymous and others”, growing to include numerous country- and region-specific Twitter accounts, creating a web of retweets and posted articles which widens the coverage. The separate accounts are enacting one of the main goals of the Op – the collection of as much factual evidence pointing to the existence of an international paedosadist industry, acting as hubs of information on the busy hashtag. At present this is largely news based, bringing older stories together with more recent allegations to build up a clearer picture of what has transpired.
The Operation has also had to tackle some misconceptions in the media coverage so far. An FAQ published online sought to address the claim that #OpDeathEaters is concerned with the fight against paedophilia and the transfer of illegal imagery in the deep web. Whilst other ops have been fighting for these causes over the past few years, Marsh emphasized that the focus of #OpDeathEaters is beyond “lonely men in their basements… [and on] officials with drivers, security, an army of staff, secret services, courts and police covering for them…” There are certainly powerful interests in shifting the scope of the discussion to concern paedophilia online, away from the more politically toxic allegations of high-level organised child trafficking, rape and murder.
Criticism levelled at the Op from a piece featured on Sky News, which quotes Jim Gamble, head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre, concerned the potential reckless disclosure of evidence through Anonymous’ actions. This emerges from two points, the first being the image that Anonymous are solely hackers and thus act only through those means (as well as wrongly seeing it as a unified organisation) and second, that the goal of the Op is the ‘dumping’ of information in the public domain. Although members of Anonymous may engage in this activity in the future (#OpDeathEaters has no control over this), an examination of the Op’s specific goals and vision point to a much more complex and legally-minded process of information gathering. Of particular concern to members of the Op in the establishment of subsequent inquiries is the need to avoid evidence collected through nefarious means, which would likely be inadmissible in court proceedings and risk damaging future cases.
The relationship between this Operation and the #WeProtect Children Online global summit has also been at issue. Whilst the latter is concerned particularly with online activity, seeking to “deter, disrupt and detect paedophiles using the internet to commit their horrific crimes…” #OpDeathEaters instead focuses on what the government has been less willing to tackle. A particular case in point – prior to the summit, UK Prime Minister David Cameron had been called out on his stance regarding those who allege a Home Office cover-up after using the phrase ‘conspiracy theorists’. This came after the publishing of the Wanless-Whittam review, which examined two previous Home Office commissioned independent reviews.
This flip-flopping between in one moment jumping on an opportunity to undermine growing allegations, testimonies and investigations and in the next committing to tackle “a major international crime” has left both Cameron’s commitment and his competence in question.
#OpDeathEaters matters because it owes much less allegiance to the institutions and figures embroiled in current investigations and is openly critical of the exercise of power to hinder open debate and curtail public inquiry. With numerous pathways already being utilized to expose the level of UK establishment abuse, the shift in scope within #OpDeathEaters, pointing to potentially international networks, is significant and a welcome challenge to those who seek to keep the light shining on as small a point as possible.
The ability to amass transnational cooperation by committed activists and researchers has certainly resulted in significant political achievements under the name Anonymous in the past. How this Operation relates to ongoing struggles for justice in this area and whether the goals will be achieved will have to be figured out in practice and over time. Despite the many challenges ahead, any increase in the coverage and availability of information for the public is significant progress, undermining decades of deception orchestrated by those causing suffering and death for recreation.
This deception has contributed to one of the biggest challenges to those fighting for justice, summarised succinctly by James Marsh (no relation to Heather Marsh), internationally recognised lawyer and victim’s rights advocate: “Our biggest challenge is often convincing a court and the world that the white middle class businessmen, with no prior record, was indeed a paedophile – a child rapist and a child molester. That’s something that we don’t want to accept.”