As if veterans didn’t have enough to worry about already, there is a new breed of military poser out there. We’ve all heard of fake war heroes, but have you heard of fake war criminals?
No, seriously—“fake war criminals” is a real thing. I know it’s hard to believe; after all, how messed up does your life have to be for you to claim that you committed crimes against humanity in a war you never fought in to begin with? But it happens.
Perhaps the most (in) famous of modern-day wannabe war criminals is Jesse MacBeth, AKA Jesse Adam Al-Zaid, AKA… whatever he’s calling himself these days. This clown claimed, among other things, to be a Ranger with something like 200 kills “by my own hand.” A great story, right? A Special Operations warrior wracked by the guilt of what the big, mean Army made him do to all those poor, innocent Iraqi citizens.
Too bad for MacBeth and those who wanted to use his story for their own political agendas that he not only never served in the Rangers, not only never served in Iraq, he also never even made it out of Basic Training. I knew as soon as I heard his story it wasn’t true. Too many things didn’t add up. Then I saw the picture—and laughed. Take a look at the photo to the right, how many things can you spot wrong with this fake “Ranger?”
The story of this utterly worthless faker was duly propagated by utterly worthless organizations like Iraq Veterans Against the War, who, if they would have had an ounce of integrity, would have laughed this obvious fraud (and all the others it attracted) right out of their organization. Instead, they promoted his story until they got their mileage out of it, then they dropped him. By then, however, the damage had been done and MacBeth’s story was being presented as the Gospel truth on jihadist propaganda sites everywhere. MacBeth ultimately admitted he was a complete and utter fraud and spent some time in jail for it but by then it didn’t really matter.
There are plenty others out there, and unfortunately Jesse MacBeth and his ilk just represent the fake war criminals we can PROVE are fakes. Then there are ones we know are fake, but can’t prove it. Take for example the one the Humans of New York (HONY) posted on its Facebook page back in March. This is an exchange between HONY’s founder Brandon Stanton and a “veteran.”
“It took me getting into a lot of fights before I was diagnosed with PTSD. I have something called ‘hyper vigilance.’ I get really nervous around people. Especially people from the Middle East.”
“What were some traumatic things that happened to you?”
“I was in a vehicle when a mortar round exploded in front of us, and we fell into the crater and got trapped. There was a burning oil rig near us, so it was like being in a microwave. And we couldn’t get out. And I also saw a lot of hanky shit. Mostly from our side. Everyone was really revved up from 9/11. We did a lot of bad things. I saw decapitations, and that was our guys doing it.”
“We were supposed to bring POW’s back to the base. But instead we gave them a cigarette to calm them down, and told them to get on their knees. One of our guys was 240 lbs, and he’d taken this shovel we’d been issued, and he’d sharpened one of the sides until it was like an axe, and he could take off somebody’s head with two hits.”
“How many times did you see that happen?”
This story was great! It had it all… latent military racism, mortar explosions, burning oil fields, PTSD, and plenty of “hanky shit” carried out by veterans. All of the stuff that America expects to hear about veterans these days; and of course there were the war crimes, in this case beheadings.
The story, which of course cannot possibly be verified in any way, was accompanied by a shot of the lower half of the “veteran’s” face, which was duly outfitted with an ironic hipster goatee.
I have two words for this veteran’s confession: Bull. Shit.
Let’s apply some critical thinking to this situation, shall we? First, there’s the issue of how all of this came to light. We only find out about this horrible war crime because some intrepid reporter stopped a random guy on the streets of New York, and he spontaneously confessed to be an accessory to crimes that carry the death penalty? Not bloody likely, folks.
Furthermore, I don’t know of any veterans whose PTSD reaction to crowds is race-sensitive. If you and your buddies are going around cutting the heads off of innocent Middle Easterners like this supposed veteran, shouldn’t they be the ones who are nervous around you?
I also don’t know of any single mortar round that leaves a crater in a paved road large enough for a HMMWV to fall into and trap people inside. Furthermore, if there was a burning oil rig near where you were driving, why the hell would you be close enough to it in the first place to get “microwaved” by it? And wouldn’t that enormous crater you just fell into, you know the one you’re trapped in, be shielding you from the heat in the first place? It makes for great mental imagery but it’s the stuff of fiction, not fact.
Then we get to the beheadings, the ones that the friend of this “veteran” says he carried out with a “shovel,” which any real veteran would call an entrenching tool or “e-tool.” It takes even the biggest guys I know more than two whacks to cut through a root the size of my wrist with an e-tool, and we’re supposed to believe that someone can take off someone’s HEAD with one of these things in two blows… three different times?
Look everyone, I know Conan makes it look easy, but there is no way Joe Average Soldier is going to be able to take off someone’s head in two blows with a three-pound tool that can fold up and fit in your cargo pocket. If you put an edge on an e-tool you can probably whack someone’s head off with it eventually, but it’s going to take more than three hits. I say again: Bull. Shit.
Some people might hear about all of these fake war criminals and wonder what the fuss is about. After all, what’s a little harmless war criminal fraud between friends, right?
Wrong. Fake war criminals are the worst kinds of poser, because they reinforce the negative things that people are already pre-disposed to believe about veterans, and consequently the masses accept it without question. Take a look at the comments under the “beheading veteran” post in the HONY page. Tens of thousands of people believe that could actually have happened. Hundreds expressed how sorry they felt for that “veteran.” Screw that fake veteran, how about some sympathy for the people who supposedly got murdered!? The only people throwing the BS flags in that HONY piece are the readers who are actual veterans, and their voices get lost amidst the mob.
The stories from frauds like MacBeth and the anonymous “veteran” on the HONY site are used by people who want to incite hatred against America both domestically and overseas. These stories feed misperceptions about warfare and warriors, and do a huge disservice to our nation and our veteran community. I hope anyone reading this article critically considers the stories that ANY veteran tells him or her. If the person is volunteering the “fact” that he or she committed war crimes on a massive scale, it’s probably a massive lie. Don’t let that kind of thing go unchallenged.