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Rogues Gallery

The Strange Case of Joseph Smith

Who is Joseph Smith?

An ISM “activist” with no job but dual identities tours America

 By Lee Kaplan


I am an anarchist; I seek to tear down hierarchies in my personal interactions, organizing structures, & society at large. I am a revolutionary; this US-dominated global capitalist system is inherently flawed & I aim to help accelerate its inevitable collapse & create a truly sustainable & egalitarian society. I work for peace in my personal interactions and I oppose all wars waged by governments to ensure their dominance, but I am NOT a pacifist; I find nonviolent tactics powerful and effective, but violence & property destruction have always been an essential part of revolutionary movements & support everyone's right to self defense.”

The quote above is from a self-description posted on his website by ISM member Joseph Smith.

Who is Joseph Smith? He first came to light in March of 2003 when Olympia , Washington student and anarchist Rachel Corrie was accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer that Corrie chose to interfere with by being a human shield while it was clearing suspected weapons smuggling tunnels in Gaza . Smith, who is another anarchist and ISM member who knew Corrie at Evergreen College , professed to being an eyewitness to Corrie’s death. However, his eyewitness accounts on more than one occasion did not match up. He also alleged he took photographs of the area and Corrie just before her death that also later did not match up.

The ISM released those photos on their own website maintaining they showed Corrie with a bullhorn confronting the bulldozer that killed her, then moments later after being struck. However, a careful examination of the photos showed that scenes were staged with different tractors and at different times.  One photo with a superimposed tractor in the foreground and Corrie superimposed with another ISM activist in front of a “doctor’s house,” when enlarged, not only revealed the superimposition techniques, but that the ISM (or PLO photographers who doctored the photos) left off the feet of the two ISM activists.

Joseph Smith has always been the main “eyewitness” for the ISM describing Corrie’s death as deliberate murder and maintaining the bulldozer driver, an Israeli soldier nicknamed “Doobie, ” actually saw the Evergreen College coed before she was struck. Smith’s description of events may have changed, but American media never really caught on—until now. The Israeli army maintains cameras on tall poles in certain military zones and actually videotaped Rachel Corrie’s death.  Stop the ISM obtained the actual footage up to the last few seconds before Rachel Corrie was killed that reveals she was seated in a trench and out of the bulldozer driver’s view. In addition, Smith claimed he and other ISM activists had yelled at the driver and given him advance warning of Corrie’s presence—none of which can be seen in an exclusive video that Stop the ISM will publicly release soon.

The fact that Joseph Smith is a liar for the ISM, an organization that relies on lying (“by any means necessary”) to advance its entire agenda of supporting PLO efforts to destroy Israel while claiming (again by lying) to be a “nonviolent peace organization,” is nothing new or exciting. But there’s more to the Joseph Smith saga.

Tom Hurndall was another ISM anarchist and activist from the UK who was also killed in Gaza . Hurndall, 22, had just left Iraq where he served as a human shield for Saddam Hussein before war broke out in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hurndall also spent the last few minutes of his life with Joseph Smith before Hurndall was killed while interfering with an Israeli tank in a combat zone. The IDF found a Bedouin Scout guilty of discharging his weapon without authorization in an action that killed Hurndall, but the question remains if Smith put Hurndall up to being in a combat zone where he could be killed or injured in the first place. Smith was photographed with Hurndall just minutes before his death. Hurndall later helped erect a tent in the path of a tank in a hot military zone.


Tom Hurndall, minutes before his death with Joseph Smith (right).

George Rishmawi is one of the leaders and founders of the ISM. He once said the organization was created because if international activists were killed the world would sit up and notice the goals of the Palestinians. Was Smith just a jinx for these two young anarchists that provided the ISM and the PLO the exact sound bites they were seeking of having “internationals” killed to draw attention to the PLO cause? He was with both of them just before they placed themselves in harm’s way; Corrie stood in front of the bulldozer separate from the rest of the ISM group so even their head organizer admitted she was in a place she shouldn’t have been. Hurndall, minutes after being photographed with Smith helped erect a tent in the path of an Israeli tank in a hot military zone. Hurndall had just arrived and was new to things in Gaza . Joseph Smith was there to guide him according to his own accounts. After all, the ISM and its leadership admits it is led by the PLO and even has Palestinian “handlers” at its “demonstrations.” Could these two young people have been patsies for the Palestinian cause and was Joseph Smith involved in their being in places where they could be seriously killed or injured?

One quote by Smith about Corrie’s death is very telling:

"The spirit that she died for is worth a life. This idea of resistance, this spirit of resisting this brutal occupying force, is worth anything. And many, many, many Palestinians give their lives for it all the time. So the life of one international, I feel, is more than worth the spirit of resisting oppression."

A Seattle reporter wrote about Smith back in 2003:“And then there was Joe Smith, 21--yet another Evergreen student who, with his thick beard and red-checked kaffiyeh, [the red checked kaffiyah is worn also by the Iraqi resistance] looks like a better-fed, Palestinian-territory version of John Walker Lindh. Joe is from Kansas City , Missouri , and says he (like other Evergreen students) is getting independent study credit for his time in Rafah. He plans to gather the stories of local Palestinians and use them to write a play. "I saw ISM as a way that I could directly use my white, Western, American male privilege to directly serve underprivileged people of color," he says. Joe arrived in Rafah in January planning to stay only one month. Like a number of other ISM activists, he found he couldn't bring himself to leave. He now plans to stay through the summer. "This place is really addictive," he says.

In the article the pictures at left were  pulled from, he is listed as Joe Smith (far left) with other ISMers in Rafah.

Smith has no job to speak of. Yet how does he support himself and travel internationally and all over the United States for the ISM? He describes himself as an “activist,” a “performance artist” and a “poet,” and emphasizes he is gay. He claimed earlier to be an activist for the Christian Peacemakers Team, a Quaker-based organization that maintains it is nonviolent and seeks to ameliorate world trouble spots. Yet on Smith’s own website in his “statement of identity,” we see he rejects pacifism and calls for revolution through violence, something that would certainly doesn’t sound very Quaker-like.

Aside from the suspicious nature of a “nonviolent Christian group” endorsing an activist who finds “violence and property destruction…an essential part of revolutionary movements,” there is also the question of Smith’s real identity. By now readers who followed the earlier hyperlinked footnotes to this article may have noticed that Joseph Smith now uses the name Joseph Carr. Criminals frequently use aliases in order to not be identified while breaking the law and Smith/Carr is no exception.  Smith/Carr just returned from the Palestinian Authority on November 7th after being there for three months on a visa he obtained from the Israeli government under his new false identity while he worked there with the ISM. In fact, he openly boasts in his own emails that he entered Israel illegally four times at four different entry points to interfere with anti-terrorist operations of the IDF and has his own special ways to deceive border police.

It’s entirely possible he changed his identity because the Israelis deported him earlier as Joseph Smith, but obtaining a new passport for such purposes is a felony in the Untied States.  Of greater interest though is the fact that under the name of Carr, Joseph Smith visited Iraq and areas of Fallujah where US forces were fighting Ba’ath Party insurgents and other allies of the PLO who also oppose the United States . To quote Smith/Carr himself again on his website:

“Meeting a Sunni cleric was the highlight of the trip. He was a young, passionate man and a quite eloquent speaker. He told us about some of the horrors he’d witnessed. During the first invasion, several families near his Mosque took cover in a home. US troops used megaphones to order them all out into the street while carrying a white flag. They complied, but when they all got out, the soldiers opened fire into the group and killed five. He said one boy had run to his mother who’d been shot, and Americans shot the child in the head. He said he saw a US commander cry as this happened, ‘but what good were his tears?’ he asked, ‘He didn’t do anything to stop it.’”

Smith/Carr then writes, “While meeting with the cleric, a man told us some of his horror stories. ‘The Americans shot and killed my 15-year-old daughter’ he said, ‘was she a terrorist?’ He said the US military denied killing her and refused to give him even minimal compensation. The US gave him only half the compensation for his house that they destroyed. ‘With all respect to you,’ he said, ‘I hate Americans, they killed my family. My children cannot play in the street, they shot and killed my sister-in-law while she was washing clothes, and my other brother’s hands and feet were blown off.’ He apologized for interrupting, but said that he had to tell us because he’s in so much pain.”

Smith/Carr continues his account: “I felt incredibly safe in Fallujah; the people I spoke with were kind and gentle. They are rightfully angry and indignant at what the US has done to them, but they seemed to understand that it wasn’t me or all American’s (sic) that did it. The cleric said, ‘We are grateful that you come here and share in our suffering and agony, it shows that there are good and human Americans.’”

Then Smith/Carr concludes, “Fallujah is the face of US occupation. It shows how ruthless the US will be toward anyone who dares resist its agenda. But Fallujah has not stopped resisting. It is said that ‘you can’t bomb a resistance out of existence, but you can bomb one into it.’ The unnatural disaster the US has unleashed on the Middle East is horrifying, and we all must resist it.”

During this trip to Iraq Joseph Smith boasted how his US Passport provided by a country he detests, got him easy access to certain areas. However, his passport used the name Joseph Carr, another identity, the same identity he no doubt used to trick the Israeli border authorities into admitting him into the Palestinian Authority. The tales of atrocities by American soldiers as Smith/Carr provided above, never citing names of witnesses or victims, dates or places where such “atrocities” occurred, are normal anti-US propaganda; a fabrication of an Islamic mullah (if he even spoke to one) who is innocent and lost most of his family to murderous Americans for no reason at all. Such atrocities, were they genuine, would not escape the embedded media within the military. But, then again, Smith/Carr maintains the US media always lies to the American public.  Anyone who has seen the reports on Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo would easily dispute that.

And Smith/Carr felt “incredibly safe in Fallujah” during combat operations with armed insurgents running around in an area that would terrify an armed US marine? Just who is Joseph Smith/Carr really working for?

A call to the Christian Peacemakers Teams and a conversation with an office manager named Zoe revealed he is no longer employed by them although not by their choice. Carr himself stated on the phone he is employed by “the ISM-USA and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.” ISM-USA is not an organization that is listed as a non-profit or for profit entity. In other words, if someone were to pay him and give him a pay stub or a 1099 form as an independent contractor, the ISM-USA would need to be a legitimate business that handles normal taxable payroll contributions—they aren’t. The ISM is a smokescreen for various PLO anti-Israel and pro-Ba’ath Party groups in Iraq that relies on a few non-profits in the US (like the Middle East Children’s Alliance in California and Brecht Forum in New York) to launder and disperse funds to its subgroups. Is Joseph Smith/Carr being paid in cash?

Again we have to ask how does he survive and travel around the US as a “performance artist and poet” in support not only of the PLO but the “Iraqi resistance” as well? While the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation does say on its website it is a 501 (c ) 3 nonprofit, calls to the IRS failed to get any confirmation that it indeed is one. The Washington D.C. attorney general in charge of consumer and charitable fraud may be interested to know it isn’t. Calls to the office number listed also went unanswered during business hours. And the website is registered to a principal who resides in the United Arab Emirates named Nadir Ghaith. If the “US Campaign” is being run by a foreign entity or leadership then Smith/Carr, if paid by them, needs to register as a foreign agent by US law.

Smith/Carr gave a presentation continually on an earlier US tour from December 2004-March 2005 around the US both against Israel and US troops and is commencing a similar tour this year again.  Here’s a description of part of one of his presentations titled Iraq to Palestine : Stories of Occupation and Resistance:

“Hear about his [Smith/Carr’s] work in Iraq , documenting ongoing human rights violations and organizing with Iraqi anti-occupation activists in Bagdhad, Karballa and Fallujah. Learn more about what you can do to oppose US foreign policy and resist the oppression done in our name.” [brackets and italics are the author’s].

And here he is again at a speaking venue in the US under the name Joseph Carr.

The Seattle journalist who interviewed him in 2003 also noted about the ISM that, “The group claims to operate completely independent of the Palestinian Authority and its various internal factions, but it also claims to be ‘Palestinian led.’ The group is dedicated to nonviolent direct action in the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., but it is using that nonviolent direct action in the service of a liberation movement whose favored direct-action tactic in recent years has been suicide bombings. And here is the most glaring contradiction: Virtually all of the foreign activists currently in Rafah characterize themselves as anarchists. They reject notions of hierarchy and even the very idea of a political state.”

That pretty much sums up Joseph Smith. Or is it Joseph Carr? Or is it Smith? What name will he use next time to get another passport from our state department to foment worldwide revolution? What other kids in the ISM may die after hanging around with him? Is he headed back to Iraq to aid the resistance that kills American soldiers or is he here just as he says to “train others” to do what he does?

Is anyone at Homeland Security watching this guy?                              



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