Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 13, 2011

Who Financed Tom MacMaster?

The Gay Girl In Damaskus blog, which made the Syrian government look bad, was a hoax.

[On] Sunday, the truth spilled out: The gay girl in Damascus confessed to being a 40-year-old American man from Georgia.

The Electronic Intifada was the first to find the man and the Washington Post story builds on that report. But while the reporter at the Washington Post seem to have interviewed Tom MacMaster, the man who confessed of being the sockpuppeteer, they left out an important question. Here is how they describe him:

MacMaster, a Middle East peace activist who is working on his master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, ...
...
... he said Friday, reached in Istanbul, where he is vacationing with his wife, a graduate student working on a PhD in international relations.
...
... Stone Mountain, Ga. Local real estate records show that MacMaster has owned the house since 2000 and that he and his wife lived there until they left for Scotland in September 2010.
Sam MacMaster said his brother was offered a full scholarship from Emory University, which he chose for the school’s expertise on the Austro-Goths. Once there, however, MacMaster quickly switched his specialization to Arabic studies. Later, he traveled to Syria and Jordan to perfect his language skills.
...
Tom MacMaster’s interest in Syria also seems to have been deepened by his 2007 marriage to Britta Froelicher, a woman he met in Georgia through an online dating site. MacMaster said in the interview from Turkey that he and Froelicher traveled to Syria in 2008. In the same interview, Froelicher said she is working on a PhD at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, focusing on Syrian economic development.

A forty year old man who is still working on his master degree, married to a wife who is also yet to finish her academic degree. They both travel multiple times to Turkey, Syria and Jordan. He owns a house.

The question the WaPo reporter, and other media accounts on the story, do not answer is: Who is financing the MacMasters?

It is not normal for someone being forty to still work on a master degree. It is not normal for a pair who still are going to school to travel multiple times to Jordan, Syria and Turkey. It is not normal to become rich enough tio buy a house by being a Middle East peace activist. Unless of course one gets paid to be exactly that.

Someone must have financed the time it took MacMaster to write all the "exchanges" he had with that fictitious gay girl. Who was it?

Posted by b on June 13, 2011 at 03:11 AM | Permalink

Comments

Very good questions. He was initially described as a middle east activist, but I haven't seen any political comments or studies anywhere, or anything that indicate a leaning to women's or gay rights. This is in my opinion part of the propaganda war going on, like the Viagra accusations against Ghadaffi by the White House, things that would create instant outrage. Both sides ar engaging to capture public sentiment.
On many occasions, the propaganda backfires. If this indeed was that, and not merely a middle aged man having disingenuous fun, or on a lark, Then consequences are horrendous, as it indeed exposes others asking questions in Syria, and looking for the non-existent girl to serious danger. There is enough bad stuff happening that such programs, and I hope I am wrong, are necessary to promote ones side with fabricated lies. Shame on him. For a student of history, he has shown enormous ignorance, and inadvertently bolstered Syrias assertions of intel manipulation in Syria. The Gay movement globally does not need him to promote human rights.
May he step on a good size pile of camel dung while he trounces about the Middle East

Posted by: Manny | Jun 13, 2011 3:58:05 AM | 1

Actually, B, in the USA it is quite common for folks at any age to seek a masters or a Ph.D . . . so age 40 or so is not a real key indicator as you see it.

Money comes n goes, people spend it in interesting ways in their lives, if they have it.

Now, to the REST of yer posit, yeah, something stinks here.

Who knows who these purported two are, if THEY are real or not.

Psyops, it's deep, like intel ops . . . no matter who is doing it.

Posted by: Larue | Jun 13, 2011 4:13:54 AM | 2

Various US administration members boasted after the Egyptian revolution of the role US had played in "educating" Egyptian cyberactivists, almost claiming credit for helping trigger events in Egypt. They seemed to greatly overstate the influence they had had.
Maybe l'affaire #Amina is indeed another facet of this US "soft power" effort.

One might investigate how it was that Macmaster's wife came to be at the Centre for Syrian studies at St Andrew's Uni in Scotland - which has itself received claims of links to Assad regime. How does she come to be there - and who finances her. Fees for a foreign student are surely quite high.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/apr/27/st-andrews-university

Posted by: woman in UK | Jun 13, 2011 4:49:44 AM | 3

I hope that the site AngryArab reads this blog and this in particular. As usual the middle class American actually believed this hype and was so sure of his "reliable" Syrian contacts. As they say rub salt on ghis face!

Posted by: hans | Jun 13, 2011 5:21:29 AM | 4

I've been saying since the beginning that this reeks of US intelligence. Now for someone to do some real investigative journalism and do a proper background check on this guy and his wife. There are various snippets of evidence to suggest that academics are increasingly favoured as fronts by the intelligence services. As someone once said, "People will let you do anything if you tell them you're doing a school project".

Posted by: Eagle | Jun 13, 2011 5:43:04 AM | 5

This link to a recent NYTimes story is somewhat off-topic, but perhaps not completely so, since it is in a somewhat similar vein. It is interesting to conjecture what will happen when such tools begin to be deployed in "the homeland" by activists tired of pervasive NSA surveillance. Presumably, back doors are being built in to guard against such inconveniences, but it would not be the first time that the U.S. Defense Department has assisted in the creation of what turns out to be a technological boomerang. Is it possible for the U.S. government to be "subverted" by citizens who take the rhetoric of democracy seriously rather than merely as tool to be wielded in cynical operations of great power politics?

One need not have a blind faith in technology to observe that there is a fundamental change in paradigm in passing top-down "broadcast" media like radio, TV, and even mass circulation newspapers, and "horizontal" exchange of news and opinion via interactive internet instruments. This change in technological substructure will very probably induce widely diffused changes in the "intellectual superstructure" of users. It will, however, very likely take at least another decade before the full consequences of these changes become visible at the political level, and, alas, one can by no means be sure that the result will be a more enlightedened governance. One positive development might be the creation of a large number of jobs for internet shills and demagogues, paid, of course, from the ample funds of those desiring to defend the status quo. Indeed, it would seem that the latter effect is already aborning.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 13, 2011 6:11:46 AM | 6

@ comment 3

One might investigate how it was that Macmaster's wife came to be at the Centre for Syrian studies at St Andrew's Uni in Scotland - which has itself received claims of links to Assad regime. How does she come to be there - and who finances her. Fees for a foreign student are surely quite high.

There are truckloads of cultural / study / research exchange programs between US and EU universities, sponsored directly or indirectly (via 'foundations') by the USGov. Some are 'cleaner' than others, some are eventually 'sleeper' ops. It is all very murky. And it could be the lady involved is innocent but being used as a cover.

---

I was kinda surprised after reading about this how quickly this one unraveled. First thought was along the lines of 'the spooks aren't as good as they used to be'. Second thought - more frightening, 'was it the purpose for this to blow up so quickly?' (and what are the implications of that?)

Posted by: philippe | Jun 13, 2011 6:15:04 AM | 7

The first two lines of the second paragraph of comment 6 should be
"... in passing from top-down "broadcast" media ... to 'horizontal' exchanges ...".

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jun 13, 2011 6:16:07 AM | 8

And just by chance the couple was enjoying vacations in Turkey while a 'peaceful protest' was going on south of the Turkish border. No way, for example, they were coordinating the 'protests' or controlling the 'information' and syrian testimonies that reaches the international media there.

Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 13, 2011 6:51:08 AM | 9

Wouldn't be at all surprised if they were somehow related to Montgomery McFate.

Posted by: jaundist | Jun 13, 2011 8:00:20 AM | 10

here is a very complete summary of the case

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/06/12/amina-arraf-britta-froelicher-the-university-of-st-andrews/

I would suggest that Froelicher and McMurray just speak for themselves. People tend to to that, you know. There are even people who have the money and freedom to do what they are interested in. Britta Froelicher is a Quaker. Google what it means.

To suspect a conspiracy is like saying Mormon missionaries or Jehova's witnesses are funded by the CIA.

Posted by: somebody | Jun 13, 2011 8:51:03 AM | 11

@somebody - harry's place is hardly a good source ...

As for Britta Froelicher being a quaker, a commentator at EI says:

Britta is no longer with the American Friends Service Committee, she was let go several years ago. I'm a program director for AFSC and this news is extremely disturbing.

Posted by: b | Jun 13, 2011 10:14:48 AM | 12

Speaking for himself would have got Mr McMaster no attention whatsoever. Indeed speaking in the guise of a Syrian worker or housewife would have garnered him very little in the way of an audience. But to pose as a Lesbian with a Jewish lover is to ensure a wide audience for political banalities simply designed to enlist the sympathy of narcissistic dilettantes or at least to neutralise public rerevulsion against more wars.

Last week the IDF shot dozens of peaceful protestors at the Golan Heights and the deaths of twenty of them were almost forgotten as the world agonised over the love of a Syrian girl for an Israeli soldier-girl.

Posted by: bevin | Jun 13, 2011 10:20:48 AM | 13

From another angle.

Not a nice hoax...does anyone remember “She’s a flight risk?” - Isabella, which I read with pleasure a few times.

That was a personal story, possibly true, maybe a fantasy, or more likely a dramatization, exaggeration of a personal history. It was presented as such, made no claims beyond a personal ‘truth’, construction - the reader could take it as is, or not.

In any case it had no political or other general thrust. I think ppl were interested in her because she was very rich, and very miserable!

She had a genuine ‘voice’ - US post-teen writing style, judgments, twitches. It hit the mainstream. See Esquire.

http://shes.aflightrisk.org/


http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ1003-OCT_ISABELLA


Riverbend.

River followed the girl-diarist-in-war-time script to the letter: No sex, no finance, no politics, no identity politics: only daily life, real local event, and reflexions on these.

The Anne Frank model ...Anne Frank was very young and isolated and River was maybe about late twenties or 30 when she closed her blog. The Iraq invasion, 2003, made her unemployed (my reading), as relatively ‘rich’ and educated she turned to blogging...Nothing has been heard from her since. Her blog was a literary exercise built on ‘true’ life, well constructed, wonderfully written in a simple style, truly appealing, and heavily self-censored, not that I am being picky.

http://riverbendblog.blogspot.com/

Damascus G mixed up what was, is, emblematic about those 2 contrasted girl bloggers.

Melding between Isabella - who was hated and pursued, plucky, on the run, dealing with goons, spooks, random hit men, in expensive hotels with fantastic lap tops and posting with bravado - and River - who was the poor girl in a war situation, deprived and constrained.

It was addressed to a uniquely US audience and politically oriented.

The ‘girl’ blogger took on gay issues - food for Democrats. She also had a strange father fixation (in the few entries I read), which indy girl bloggers avoid like the plague.

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 13, 2011 11:15:06 AM | 14

sorry, better link for flight risk:

http://www.aflightrisk.blogspot.com/

Posted by: Noirette | Jun 13, 2011 11:42:38 AM | 15

"I did it out of vanity"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/jun/13/syrian-lesbian-blogger-hoaxer-video?INTCMP=SRCH


Sick pervert

Posted by: VBr2 | Jun 13, 2011 11:58:08 AM | 16

Thanks, Noirette...

How is it OK for a Heterosexual judge to rule on issues affecting straight people, but when the judge is a homosexual it is problem if he rules on issues affect gay people?

Hotly debated wedge issues work trans-nationally...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 13, 2011 12:01:29 PM | 17

b, harry's place in this case is not a source it is a collection of sources, and it looks very complete to me.

and Britta Froelicher was the Director of the American Friends Service Committee’s Middle East Peace Education Program - quaker values in action - in 2008


http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=1831

Posted by: somebody | Jun 13, 2011 12:36:59 PM | 18

and here the ultimate internet source

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amina_Abdallah_Araf_al_Omari

Posted by: somebody | Jun 13, 2011 12:52:26 PM | 19

“In the guise of Paula Brooks, Graber corresponded online with Tom MacMaster, thinking he was writing to Amina Arraf. Amina often flirted with Brooks, neither of the men realizing the other was pretending to be a lesbian.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/paula-brooks-editor-of-lez-get-real-also-a-man/2011/06/13/AGld2ZTH_blog.html

Posted by: VBr2 | Jun 13, 2011 6:26:36 PM | 20

I think MacMaster is covering for his wife. She, and not him, is the specialist of Syria. Why is he covering for her is obvious, to limit the damage that might spill on the other people involved in the Center for Syrian Studies at St Andrews wgere Britta is a member along some famous blogger on Syria, Joshua Landis. Since 2001, the intelligence community oin the US have recruited academics to cover for the lack of real terrain people. Landis's coverage of Syria has been chaotic as some were labeling him proregime and some anti-regime but one thing is sure, he was only publishing only lately links to press accounts covering mainly sectarian tensions in Syria and personal accounts from 'friends' in Syria also highlighting sectarian tensions. Some news outlets like Al_Jazeera have been stirring the sectarian pot because it is the only way to make the regime crack from the inside.

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 13, 2011 8:38:45 PM | 21

The dude works for the CIA. What do you think. Now he's retracting everything and taking one for the team. Didn't really work out for all involved, I think.

Posted by: george keys | Jun 13, 2011 10:17:18 PM | 22

Everything about that MacMaster guy points to CIA. At the very least he's a stooge for the CIA. Definitely supported by CIA. It's their Modus Operandi. Soon as I heard about this guy couple days ago, I guessed Emory in Atlanta. And then when I read he lived in Stone Mtn, GA, I said to myself: Uhuh, how much can I bet that it's near Atlanta? Then when I found out Stone Mtn is right by Atlanta, all doubt was gone. Then looked his bio up. Sure, 'nuff, he's an Emory grad. Haha! I told you. Yeah, I'm good. My instinct still works. I've had experiences before with that school. Emory is a CIA hotbed. CIA loves multilinguals. Not satisfied, and my interest piqued, I then went on and read that MacMaster's parents were in the Peace Corp. Another CIA hotbed. Whoa. Does it never stop? There's more, but not enough time to list. The wife, this Froelich, I watched a YouTube clip of her - she struck me as a liar. I don't know, just the way she held her head during the interview, the way she didn't use filler words much, the way she studiously refrained from touching her face while talking except for a couple telling moments. She's too controlled. She's completely overacademized. Perfect CIA material. Probably a bornagain, who often gravitate to CIA when given the chance. I suspect she never held a job either, except for something thru the gov't. She's probably aspiring towards the gov't bureacracy to parasite off the public. Everything about this pair screams out loud as cannonfire: CIA!!!!
Also, there’s some kind of motive that I’m guessing at as to why he was pursuing Lesbians in Syria. I suspect it was to blackmail. Objective? Sleeper operatives. Another CIA, and Mossad, tactic. The KGB also specialized in the time tested technique.

Posted by: Paul Notcia | Jun 14, 2011 12:38:52 AM | 23

didn't know about Emory; a fast search:

Ilan Grapel: Israeli Spy or Summer Intern?

Atlanta Emory Has Close Ties with Tibet and the Dalai Lama

Posted by: claudio | Jun 14, 2011 2:41:54 AM | 24

It was definitively written for a Western audience exclusively, only, and for a puritanical Western audience, if you ask me, from an exclusive Western puritanical viewpoint.

this from Wikipedia:

She described an experience finding other gay women in Syria: "I went into a hair salon one day and, not long after I arrived, I picked up on something between the women working there; I spoke around in circles and so did they and finally learned that the women there were all gay. We relaxed, we talked...I realized I'd found an underground outpost of our kind. I found a cafe where women held hands."[8]

"spoke and talked" this person here obviously has no idea how it is done :-))

Do you realize what a Hammam is, have you ever heard of it?

I agree with Liz Henry's take

http://bookmaniac.org/

"I have compassion for the mental and emotional state of the Amina hoaxer. But the pattern that the person shows in their engagement with others is very disturbing."


Posted by: somebody | Jun 14, 2011 10:05:59 AM | 25

Why need he, the hoaxer and/or his wife, be paid?

When Gov.- Security-CIA types, making it broad, get interested in certain types of non-military/weapons research or propaganda, or techniques for getting stuff done without violence, they regularly turn to academe, which is sort of naive and trusting on their part, though they of course always view it as simply getting ideas and information or actions done that they can then use for their own ends.

About 25 years ago, they were very interested in telepathy, thought transmission, extra sensory perception, manipulating world views in invisible ways. Paranormal phenomena of various kinds. (Mind altering drugs, before that..)

The CIA attended conferences and meets on such topics and made friends with ppl. Two ppl I know (not US citizens) who were super convincing and keen and were offered contracts / money. Ha ha. Most of this set ended up at Duke, but that is all old history now. (Nothing panned out.) One link:

http://today.duke.edu/2009/03/rhine.html

Point is that when the PTB have money to slosh around, and a certain atmosphere of what is fascinating, innovative, clever, with promise, etc. on the control - propaganda line there will be ppl who latch onto it in an unconscious way, it just seems a smart thing to do, in the air. Potentially lucrative, as well.

And failing - or in this case being outed - need not mean rejection, one has experience, and can try again!


Posted by: Noirette | Jun 14, 2011 10:41:19 AM | 26

I still think MacMaster is covering for his wife who is covering for names in Academia who are big on Syria.

She was granted a leave of absence from the Center for Syrian studies so her name doesn't appear on their page anymore and this is very recent because I saw her name there early yesterday or late befre yesterday. I sould have taken a snapshot of the page:
"His wife, Britta Froelicher, was until recently an associate fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at the University of St Andrews.

She was recently granted a leave of absence."

The above is from The Scotsman today:
http://news.scotsman.com/edinburgh/Edinburgh-student-39sorry39-for-masquerading.6784603.jp

And also today, Joshua Landis dismissed the requests of his blog readers for clarification about his connections to Froelicher and MacMaster by stating that the Gay Girl in Damascus story is a 'juicy distraction'
http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/?p=10202

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 14, 2011 11:19:00 AM | 27

@ Sophia

She is still listed there: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/associatefellows/

Posted by: VBr2 | Jun 14, 2011 11:57:01 AM | 28

VBr2,

Thanks for the info. The page I was talking about was a different page with both Froelicher and Landis names on the same page.

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 14, 2011 12:05:42 PM | 29

VBr2

It is this page. If you go to associate fellows you see all the names that are listed on the page you posted except Froelicher.
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 14, 2011 12:08:03 PM | 30

Interesting to say the least. Good material to build conspiracy theories.

Posted by: ThePaper | Jun 14, 2011 1:32:46 PM | 31

"Those who have been subpoenaed, most of them non-Muslim, include clerical workers, educators and in one case a stay-at-home dad. Some are lesbian couples with young children — a point apparently noted by investigators, who infiltrated the activists’ circle with an undercover officer presenting herself as a lesbian mother."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/activists-cry-foul-over-fbi-probe/2011/06/09/AGPRskTH_story.html

Posted by: nihil sub sole novum | Jun 14, 2011 5:30:22 PM | 32

Emory university ? That is something shared by Tom and the israeli spy arrested last week in Egypt, Ilan Grapel.

The US and UK universities are full of these ex-soldiers who badly need a job. It makes life difficult for real students.

Posted by: June | Jun 15, 2011 4:15:33 AM | 33

VBr2,

The page I was talking about did have Froelicher's name and someone commeting on my blog found the cache:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:UTUe0cGmkaEJ:www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/+http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com">http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com">http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:UTUe0cGmkaEJ:www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/+http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&client=firefox-a&source=www.google.com

After the story broke in the press, Froelicher's name disappeared from the main page:

http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/intrel/css/people/

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 15, 2011 8:51:34 AM | 34

Thank you Sophia. She has also very, very recently deleted her UK-Linkedin profile..

http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/britta-froelicher-ms-pmp/4/150/906

Tom MacMaster has let the mask drop: he's actually the messiah for Syria's lesbians:

http://veja.abril.com.br/noticia/internacional/%E2%80%9Ceu-sou-o-messias-das-lesbicas-da-siria%E2%80%9D

Posted by: VBr2 | Jun 15, 2011 9:46:56 AM | 35

An insight into lesbian life in Tripoli :

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2011/0615/1224298936277.html

Posted by: VBr2 | Jun 15, 2011 10:38:18 AM | 36

The assumption that because MacMaster bought a house, he must be getting paid by an intelligence organization is completely without basis. MacMaster paid $115,000 for the house on 7/16/1999. If he got an 80% mortgage, with closing costs, he would have needed $25,000 to buy the house. There could be so many ways that he could have come up with $25K besides for working for the CIA.

Posted by: Corona | Jun 15, 2011 10:38:50 AM | 37

The wider web of deceit behind gay girl in Damascus.

http://lespolitiques.blogspot.com/2011/06/tom-macmaster-britta-froelicher.html

Posted by: Sophia | Jun 16, 2011 2:41:16 PM | 38

Most USA media is 100% makebelieve. Wikileaks Bradley Manning, Tucson shooter - actors!
wellaware1 dot com

Now, a blogger showcased by WaPo, famous CIA toilet sheet, is maybe just another 'contract'. Key is not just finances but media. WaPo fits mold, and if you find NYT or Newsweek too, then intel op.

Remember the New Jersey racist shock jock, Hal Turner? Another paid mouth, articles at infowars dot com -
hal-turner-is-a-national-security-intelligence-asset
hal-turner-paid-by-fbi-to-make-racist-threatening-comments

WaPo famous 'journalists' are many times intel like Bob Woodward.

Here is CNN making fake,
citizenfitz09 dot blogspot dot com/2011/03/classic-clips-cnn-caught-faking-news.html

If it's real intel secret war, the USA media 'journalists' make it cartoon, like Weinergate, a Bush/Clinton/Saudi intelligence honey trap spinned as a base pervert.

Posted by: Pavlov | Jun 18, 2011 8:09:05 PM | 39

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