Sunday, June 30, 2024

Revealed: the tech entrepreneur behind a pro-Israel hate network


Guardian: 


Revealed: the tech entrepreneur behind a pro-Israel hate network


The Guardian used public records and open source materials to identify Daniel Linden of the Shirion Collective

A prime mover behind the Shirion Collective, a conspiracy-minded, pro-Israel disinformation network seeking to shape public opinion about the Gaza conflict in the US, Australia and the UK, is a tech entrepreneur named Daniel Linden living in Florida who co-wrote a guidebook for OnlyFans users, the Guardian can reveal.

Shirion has harassed pro-Palestinian activists, including many Jews, offered bounties for the identity of pro-Palestinian protesters, spread conspiracy narratives centered on figures like George Soros, and boasted of an AI-surveillance platform but offered few concrete details of how the technology functions.

The Guardian investigation used public records and open source materials to corroborate information originally provided by the White Rose Society, an Australian anti-fascist research collective.

Linden set up Shirion’s crowdfunding efforts, appears to play a central role in operating the network’s social media accounts, and coordinates the group’s efforts on a Telegram channel. Public records and online materials indicate he lives in Gainesville, Florida, but he has also had recent stints in Durango, Colorado, and Medellin, Colombia.

The Guardian emailed Linden at several addresses associated with him and his business ventures, and attempted to contact him via phone, text, a direct message on Reddit and a post tagging an X account associated with one of his ventures seeking comment on this reporting, but received no response.

Heidi Beirich, co-founder and chief strategy officer at the Global Project Against Hate and Extremism, said of Linden’s Shirion campaigning that his apparent “grifting” is common among extremists, “but his ideology seems very confused”.

“Regardless,” she added, “he is spreading hateful messages.”

The revelations shed light on the nature of Shirion, which has been criticized in the US congress and attracted media attention around the world, and its role in pushing back against criticisms of Israel’s conduct in its invasion of Gaza.

‘Surveillance network’

The Shirion Collective is an online operation that since late 2023 has appeared on platforms including X, Telegram and GoFundMe to coordinate the spread of pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian propaganda, and the harassment of pro-Palestinian protesters in the west.

Across its two X bios, Shirion describes itself as a “surveillance collective” and a “surveillance network” that searches for “digital fingerprints” to “aggressively track what the MSM [mainstream media] won’t” and “aggressively track and expose antisemitism”.

On Telegram, Shirion hosts a private channel with 885 members at the time of reporting. The channel is further divided into rooms for discussion of events in specific territories (like Canada and Latin America), or for coordination of online activity including mass reporting of X accounts.

Shirion organized two GoFundMe fundraisers in April and May of 2024. The earlier fundraiser brought in more than $57,000, including an anonymous $10,000 donation, for an operation in which trucks with big-screen monitors showed footage of the 7 October 2023 Hamas attack on Israel near universities in various US cities.

The move attracted the attention of critics including Representative Ilhan Omar, who spoke out in Congress against Shirion’s screening of the footage to the University of California, Los Angeles protest encampment.

Cash for ‘doxers’

Starting in late 2023 on X, Shirion began offering what it described as “bounties” for the identification of people involved in pro-Palestinian protests whom they characterized as antisemites.

29 November post on X advertised an “INSIDERS AGAINST ANTISEMITISM” scheme that promised “CASH for GREAT insider information”.

An accompanying graphic promoted a variety of bounties that increased with occupational status, ranging from $500 for the identification of a student up to $10,000 for a politician. Shirion asked supporters to “BOOKMARK and SHARE to get the word out”.

By 3 December, Shirion was offering a $500 reward, later bumped up to $1,500, for the identity of protesters Shirion claimed were engaged in “genocidal chanting”.

In succeeding months, Shirion has posted dozens of bounty offers and also has claimed to have paid out to people who have allowed them to identify their perceived opponents.

As recently as 19 June, it claimed in a post to have paid out $1,000 for the identity of a protester who was the subject of a bounty on 4 June.

Hate and disinformation

Beyond the bounty program, Shirion voices or boosts Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian hate, while celebrating death and destruction in Gaza, and violence against their supporters in the west.

Shirion has repeatedly celebrated the deaths of Palestinians in Gaza, including Palestinian journalists and children.

On 27 April, Shirion responded to a video that included images of destruction in Gaza, posting “Love that gaza looks like That now”, adding “FAFO”, an acronym for “fuck around and find out”.

Shirion has frequently celebrated police violence directed at pro-Palestinian protesters in the United States. It has also celebrated violence against journalists it characterized as “Marxist”.

On 5 May, in a post depicting a vehicular attack on protesters in Denver, Shirion wrote “LIKE & SHARE to make this more common”.

Shirion is also fond of conspiracy narratives. In a 19 December reply to another X user, it described a conspiracy theory that “the left” was “bringing illegals into the US” to bolster pro-Palestinian protests.

Despite Shirion’s claims to be an opponent of antisemitism, on Twitter it regularly promotes conspiracy theories that experts regard as being themselves implicitly antisemitic.

They include conspiracy narratives about the billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros.

On May 10, Shirion posted a warning about the “Soros-Backed Tides Foundation”.

Beirich, the extremism expert, said that Soros conspiracy theories are “always implicitly linked” with antisemitism. She added that “it’s strange that [Linden] is at once rabidly pro-Israel and also spreads antisemitic conspiracy theories”.

Shirion has also shared conspiracy theories about Muslims, including one projecting a Muslim takeover of Europe. Often, Shirion posts outright disinformation. The account captioned images and videos of pro-Palestinian protesters taking a lesson in Haitian martial arts with the claim that they were “Practicing Slaughter Techniques on Jews”.

Project Maccabee

Shirion often makes grandiose claims about its connections and an AI technology it claims to be using to identify perceived enemies.

At various times on X, Shirion has claimed to have contacts in the New York police department and FBIIsraeli intelligence and the London metropolitan police, and to be connected with Republican congressional candidates and pro-Israel academic and commentator Max Abrahms.

And since late last year, it has claimed to have developed an AI technology, Project Maccabee, whose goal it has described as “Hitting and creating AGI for the PROTECTION and survival of our people”, and “EXPOSING these putrid antisemites”.

Shirion has claimed the platform has advanced capabilities. However, Shirion has never made any public demonstration of its operations, nor produced third-party endorsement of its application to surveillance tasks. Nor has it shown that its capabilities for surveillance and identification are vastly superior to amateur open source intelligence investigators.

‘Dantheprompt’ and Shirion

One thread connecting Linden to Shirion comes from Reddit. The subreddit ShirionCollective is moderated by user “Danimde”, whose screen name is “Dantheprompt”. The subreddit apparently has no other members.

Dantheprompt user profile indicates that the account also moderates 8 other subreddits, and appears to be an enthusiast of generative AI. Most of the subreddits are either have one member or are dominated by posts from “Daninmde”.

Besides the Shirion subreddit, all of the subreddits Dantheprompt moderates are concerned with topics related to the use of generative AI tools including large language models (LLMs) and image-generating tools. The subreddits’ titles include “chiefaiofficer”, “SuperPrompters” and “OnlyFansModelAI”. The last subreddit 3 members which features sporadic posts of AI-generated imagery of scantily clad women, all from from the Daninmde account.

The profile picture on the Daninmde Reddit account is an exact match for one used on an account of the same name on Multiplex, a discussion forum dedicated to AI entrepreneurship. In a 28 May 23 post to Multiplex, in a thread called “introduce yourself”, Dantheprompt posted: “Hi guys, Dan Linden here… Been an entrepreneur for the last 12 years doing digital marketing, digital info products, etc.”

Further on, the post reads “@dantheprompt – if you ever want to message me on Twitter”.

The “dantheprompt” X account is now locked, but it identifies Dan Linden as the account holder, and the biography reads “Co-founder of Chief AI Officer (CAIO) – Building AI Powered (SaaS) – Digital Arts – Mixed Martial Arts”.

The profile photo, while different from the Reddit and Multiplex photos, appears to depict the same person. That photograph connects Linden to a now-deleted X post from Shirion.

On 11 April, Shirion posted a screenshot of a Google search, apparently on an iPhone. At the top right, a profile picture from the signed-in Google account was visible. The profile picture was identical to the one Linden uses on Twitter.

Another, apparently dormant X account also uses the username daninmde, and its profile photo appears to depict the same person as in Linden’s other social media accounts.

That account’s screen name is Dani L, which is one of the ties between Linden and Shirion’s fundraising efforts. Currently, the organizer of each GoFundMe is identified as Dani M. In an early archive of the first fundraiser, however, the organizer is identified as Dani L. As that fundraiser was being set up, though, the name of the organizer was revealed as Daniel Linden.

As the names on that fundraiser shifted, the organizer’s location was given as Gainesville, Florida. On the more recent fundraiser, the location is given as Durango, Colorado. Daniel Linden has lived in both cities.

Meet Daniel Linden

In his introductory post on Multiplex, one of Linden’s lines was that he “Built some companies. Wrote some books.”

Public records and open source materials indicate that Linden has certainly started many companies, but it’s far less clear that any of his previous companies survived.

Colorado company records indicate that Linden incorporated two companies in that state: Linden Services in 2006, and Focus Interactions Ltd in 2013. Each apparently lasted less than a year.

In Gainesville, Florida, Linden incorporated a series of companies starting in 2017, including Clickstein LLC, LD Networks LLC and DG Media LLC. Again, all of these companies appear to be defunct.

The companies left few traces on the public record. However, a 2020 English-language media report from Medellin, Colombia, indicates that Clickstein was a digital marketing firm “based on the idea of ‘Einstein-inspired marketing formulas’”, and that Linden lived in the city for a period.

The last captures of Clickstein’s website are from mid-2022. An archived “our team” page does not provide the last names of staff or management, but Dan L is listed as president of the company.

A business intelligence site has Linden as “Co-Founder at clickstein.com, bringing experience from previous roles at notyouraverage.marketing, Marketing Bench, Focus Interactions and Cre8tive Ninjas.”

In recent years, Linden has displayed a preoccupation with OnlyFans, the platform that allows producers of adult content to monetize their content, that goes beyond his sporadic attempts to synthesize AI models.

A 6 December 2022 screenshot of one of his personal Facebook accounts shows an OnlyFans payment notification indicating a net quarterly take of more than $155,000.

On Amazon, Linden is credited as co-author of a Spanish-language ebook whose title translates as Master OnlyFans in just 7 days!, and whose blurb promises to show readers techniques to build “an account that will give you an average of 2,000 dollars a month”.

In 2022, El PaĆ­s reported that Colombia is second only to Romania in the size of its adult webcam industry. In 2019, Colombian news magazine Semana estimated that there may be 40,000 women working as webcam models in the country.

Linden is currently featured on the website chiefaiofficer.com as one of three instructors of a “Chief AI Officer Certification Course” priced at $4,995. He is billed as being in the “top 0.1% Prompt Engineers in the world”.

Beirich, the extremism expert, said that “any time there is a protest movement or a mass mobilization, extremist actors will try to use it to their advantage, whether that’s to hijack the message or to make the situation more volatile”.


A new minister is needed for education



Murray Hunter


A new minister is needed for education


No vision, no reform, no improvement in education and now a mass exodus of teachers

JUN 30, 2024





Teachers are leaving public schools in droves, and Fadhlina blames them.

Fadhlina Sidek is a first time MP and was appointed straight into the cabinet, in a similar manner once of her predecessors Maszlee Malik was. With little experience in both the fields of education and government, Fadhlina now heads up one of the nation’s largest government ministries.

Fadhlina has a strong Islamic pedigree. Her father, the late Siddiq Fadzil was a former president of ABIM, the youth Islamic association of Malaysia. Fadhlina herself attended the Sekolah Agama Menengah Hulu, in Kajang, Selangor, and later the International Islamic University of Malaysia (UIA).

Fadhlina was most probably appointed a minister out of her loyalty to prime minister Anwar Ibrahim. This must have carried much weight, due to her lack of experience, and competence in the field her ministry is responsible for,

There has been little focus on the issues of raising the standard of STEM education, overhauling curriculum to make it more relevant to current times, and addressing issues such as teacher absenteeism.

The use of government resources to defend teachers in court accused of long-term absenteeism in class, and subject to civil actions, indicates Fadhlina wants to cover up and suppress institutional problems, rather than find solution for the causes of these problems.





Politicizing schools through the directive to hold a Palestine Solidarity Week, has received international criticism, and widened a rift between some of the coalition partners in the government. Fadhlina’s decision on holding the Palestinian Solidarity Week, shows an inept lack of wisdom over the potential collateral damage from the exercise. The promotion of violence and bizarre celebration of death has no place in Malaysian schools.




One would have thought a highly experienced person could have been put in charge of one of the most important ministries in the government. Education is full of issues and problems that need urgent attention. The continuing decline of education standards continues under Fadhlina. With the introduction of Al-Nawawi’s 40 Hadith module indicates Fadhlina’s attempts to further Islamize school curriculum.

Instead of a heavy weight, a light weight puppet, only there to serve her superior was chosen as education minister. Fadhlina has shown herself to be a cheap politician looking for publicity, rather than someone passionate about the responsibilities she was given.

Issues and concerns: Further Islamization of schools, stirring up hate and aggression among young children, using to public funds to defend staff abusing the system.

This portfolio needs an urgent change of minister.

Sungai Bakap Polls – PKR Set To Lose Again As Chinese Voters Find Little Inspiration To Vote For Anwar’s Party





Sungai Bakap Polls – PKR Set To Lose Again As Chinese Voters Find Little Inspiration To Vote For Anwar’s Party


June 29th, 2024 by financetwitter



After chickening out from Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election last month, Anwar Ibrahim has again decided to skip campaigning for the coming Sungai Bakap polls on July 6. This alone suggests that the prime minister’s political party – PKR (People’s Justice Party) – is set to be crushed by PAS Islamist party, who is defending the seat after the death of incumbent Nor Zamri Latiff due to stomach inflammation.



Used to be a traditional PKR stronghold, having snatched the state constituency seat in Penang from then-Barisan Nasional ruling government in 2008 and defended it for three consecutive national polls till 2023, the ethnic breakdown of Sungai Bakap’s electorate comprises 59.36% Malays, 22.54% Chinese and 17.39% Indian. In the 2023 Penang state election, PKR lost by 1,553-vote majority.



In comparison, the ethnic breakdown of Kuala Kubu Baharu consisted of 46% Malay, 30% Chinese and 18% Indian. Opposition Perikatan Nasional obviously can’t win this seat even if 100% Malays vote for it. But in Sungai Bakap, it had snatched the seat from Pakatan Harapan coalition member PKR with just 65% of Malay votes (as seen in the August 2023 state election).


As Commander-in-Chief of Pakatan Harapan, Anwar dared not stepped his foot in Kuala Kubu Baharu last month, despite the fact that incumbent Democratic Action Party (DAP) had won with 4,119-vote majority in the Selangor state election (August 2023). If he was not even confident with ally DAP in defending Kuala Kubu, what more with his own party PKR in reclaiming Sungai Bakap?



In the Kuala Kubu Baharu, the premier was terrified of Chinese voters boycotting Pakatan Harapan under his leadership, the same way the community delivered a stunning defeat to the same coalition under the leadership of then-PM Mahathir Mohamad in the 2019 Tanjung Piai by-election. However, DAP won convincingly last month with a 3,869-vote majority in a lower turnout of 61.5%.



The chicken out strategy was hatched so that the PM can evade from getting blamed if Pakatan Harapan were to lose the polls, but can claim credit if victorious. But the overly cautious tactic to shield Anwar from humiliation also means he would be seen as a coward who constantly hides when the going gets tough. In Kuala Kubu Baharu, he missed the chance to project himself as a tough leader.


Mr Anwar offers a hilarious excuse not to campaign for his own party – he is busy focusing on solving economic problems in addition to improving the people’s living standards. But if that’s true, he has more reason to go to the ground and listen to the hardship faced by the people there. After all, Sungai Bakap is also the “birthplace” of the 10th Prime Minister of Malaysia.



It would be more humiliating if the prime minister fails to reclaim his “birthplace seat” after losing it during his premiership. He has reminded the voters to give his unity government an opportunity, and like the disgraced and corrupted Barisan Nasional government, voters were told – even threatened – that more infrastructure programmes and development could be implemented only if Pakatan Harapan wins.



However, bread-and-butter issues like diesel, eggs and the soaring cost of living are the three hot potatoes among the voters in Sungai Bakap, a semi-rural constituency on mainland Penang. The recent diesel subsidy cuts and increased utility rates are being used by Perikatan Nasional to hammer the Anwar administration. The 3-sen reduction in egg prices were being mocked as doing too little.


The opposition did not need to try very hard to convince voters who to vote – PM Anwar has been bragging that the reforms to diesel subsidies could save the government RM4 billion every year. Yet, the government could only reduce three sen in egg prices – costing the government only RM100 million – as part of its promise to return to the people the RM4 billion savings from the diesel subsidy cuts.




The diesel subsidies cut saw the floated retail prices shot to RM3.35 per litre, an increase of about 55% from RM2.15. Even though the government said it will dish out monthly cash of RM200 to eligible owners of diesel vehicles, the handouts are insufficient for Sungai Bakap residents like fishmonger Sharifah Sofiah, who still needs to pay an extra RM120 a month for her Toyota Hilux to get fish from suppliers.



Sharifah said that although she supports Pakatan Harapan, she will not be going to vote this round. Likewise, vegetable trader Lau Mong Lang, who is also a long-time supporter of Pakatan, said it was hard to make ends meet after the government raised rates for electricity and water. After PM Anwar raised SST (sales and service tax) on electricity from 6% to 8%, the Penang state government also raised the water tariff by up to 204%.


Frustrated, 44-year-old grocery store owner Halim Mat Yasin said he would swing his vote for the opposition candidate this time round. He wanted to teach Anwar government a lesson largely because he has lost about 90% of his income. Meanwhile, Mohammad Syafiq Soleehin, said that profit margins of his motorcycle repair shop have plunged after the cut in diesel subsidies has led to a 20% to 30% jump in the price of some auto spare parts.



Voters like Syafiq, whose income has been slashed by around one-third after escalating cost of motorcycle parts forced customers to delay maintenance, is one of the reasons why PM Anwar dares not go to the ground to meet the people of Sungai Bakap. Worse, hardcore Chinese supporters like vegetable trader Lau would most likely boycott the government by staying at home instead.



Pakatan Harapan is depending on enemy-turned-ally Barisan Nasional to deliver the crucial Malay votes. Unfortunately, if the previous Penang state election is any indication, the result showed most of UMNO-Barisan Nasional supporters had fled to the opposition camp. While fuel subsidies must be cut, the timing to do so isn’t now, especially when cost of living is rising due to inflation and weak local currency.


Fed up with skyrocketing prices, a survey shows that 7 out of 20 residents of Sungai Bakap who had voted for Pakatan Harapan have decided not to vote at all in July. Even though they were extremely disappointed with Anwar leadership, who spends more time in the internal affairs of Palestinian and Hamas than his own backyard, they were also disgusted with racist and extremist Perikatan Nasional.



As far as Chinese electorate is concerned, the predominantly pro-Perikatan Nasional Malay voter base in Sungai Bakap is already a lost cause. Even if 100% of the Chinese voters turns up in full force to vote for PKR, they can’t re-capture the seat. It would be a waste of time, not to mention the Chinese voters find very little inspiration to vote for Anwar’s party, resulting in lower turnout.



Crucially, unlike Kuala Kubu Baharu, the Chinese can afford to punish Anwar in Sungai Bakap because there is nothing to lose even if Pakatan Harapan candidate fails to win. The seat was already lost. You can’t something which does not belong to you in the first place. But it would certainly send a warning to Anwar if PKR were to lose by a bigger majority.


So, why bother to vote at all? The rule of thumb suggests that it’s a futile attempt to win in a constituency with 60% Malays or more. If Anwar can’t attract young Malay voters despite his pro-Malay policy and Islamic credential, it’s even harder to win with higher taxes and subsidies cut. Besides, there was fear that the prime minister could be emboldened to cut more subsidies, or even hike more taxes, if PKR somehow reclaims the seat.

Israeli army torched the al-Awda Mosque in the centre of Rafah

 

al Jazeera:


Israel war on Gaza live: Simultaneous ground assaults on Rafah, Shujayea



  • Israeli air strike hits home in Nur Shams camp, wounding 4

    Israeli forces bombed a home in the Nur Shams camp, near Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank, reports Wafa.

    At least four people injured in the attack were taken to Tulkarem Governmental Hospital, said the Palestinian Health Ministry. Two sustained severe injuries.

    We’ll bring you more updates on the attack and its aftermath as soon as possible.

  • 31m ago
     (12:15 GMT)

    Israeli attacks on southern Rafah ramp up

    Six bodies from the Zurub family have been transferred to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis after an Israeli air attack hit their home in southern Rafah.

    Dozens of relatives paid their respects before the bodies, wrapped in white shrouds, were carried to prepared graves.

    Residents said the Israeli army torched the al-Awda Mosque in the centre of Rafah, one of the city’s best-known.

    The Israeli military said its forces continued “targeted, intelligence-based” operations in Rafah, killing several gunmen in different encounters and dismantling tunnels.

    A woman and a girl react following an Israeli strike that hit a tent camp, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Al-Mawasi area in western Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip
    Palestinians react after an Israeli attack on a tent camp in western Rafah [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]
  • 46m ago
     (12:00 GMT)

    If you’re just joining us

    Let’s get you up to speed:

    • Israeli forces bombed a family home in western Rafah, killing six people including children.
    • Many families are still trapped in Gaza City’s Shujayea neighbourhood as Israel’s military, four days into its ground invasion, keeps hammering the area with air strikes and artillery attacks.
    • Israeli strikes in southern Lebanon kill three Hezbollah members, adding to boiling border tensions that have stoked fears of all-out war.
    • Prime Minister Netanyahu says Israel’s position on the US-backed ceasefire deal is unchanged and repeats his pledge to defeat Hamas.
    • Gaza’s Health Ministry warns hospitals could run out of fuel within 48 hours.
    • Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz, responding to Iran’s threat of an “obliterating war”, says Iran “deserves to be destroyed”.
  • 57m ago
     (11:50 GMT)

    Shujayea ground assault likely to last weeks: Report

    Israel’s ground invasion of Shujayea, a neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, is expected to last weeks as the army seeks to destroy Hamas tunnels it “missed during the first time through”, The Jerusalem Post reports.

    Israeli forces withdrew from northern Gaza in January saying Hamas had been “dismantled” there, however, ground operations were recently re-launched after Palestinian armed groups returned to the region.

    “[Israeli army] sources were somewhat defensive about needing to return to so many parts of Gaza where they had declared having achieved operational control,” the Post reports.

    “The sources note, however, the speed with which the [military] was able to penetrate the [northern] area – that is 40 minutes as opposed to the weeks it took in December – showed whatever version of Hamas was trying to return was exponentially weaker.”

    An estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Palestinians have fled the Israeli onslaught in Gaza City [Omar al-Qattaa/AFP]