Light Upon Light

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Light Upon Light (aka LuL) is a self-described "countering-violent-extremism" organization[1] under a parent company called "Parallel Networks", which was astroturfing and disrupting incel communities with the help of an Elliot Rodger fan and a "true crime" podcaster from 2019-2021. Parallel Networks began informal organization in 2017,[2] launched their website in 2019, and was initially focused on anti-Semitism and Jihadist extremism. LuL received significant funding from the Department of Homeland Security in recent years.[3]

As far as public activity, Light Upon Light exists mostly as a website,[4] and until 2022, was mostly led by an ex-Islamic-radical birthnamed Younus Abdullah Muhammad (and renamed Jesse Morton). Jesse Morton was arrested in 2011 for allegedly conspiring against the lives of the South Park creators, fled to Morocco, and then was extradited to the US to serve a jail sentence which he completed.[5][6] After Jesse left prison, Jesse was 100% reformed, even partaking in a kind monetary donation to a hooker.[7]

The organization was also co-founded by Mitch Silber,[8] the former head of the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Analysis.[9] A man who formerly monitored Morton.[10]

Philosophy[edit]

The late Jesse Morton (1978-2021)

LuL describes itself as a, 'movement', dedicated to, 'shifting consciousness' towards non-violence.[11][12]

LuL's tactics included media astroturfing, attempted Youtube astroturfing, it's own Youtube videos, ego-boosts to people who sign onto their organization, and direct intervention in communities it deems "at risk" for extremism.

Light upon Light also offers salaries to people with connections to communities stigmatized as extremist. More specifically, Light Upon Light primarily recruits people they claim are "former extremists".

Wanting to portray his organization as a lenient and liberal force in the countering-extremism space, Jesse often presented himself as a representative for free speech and anti-deplatforming. Prior to February 2021, he would privately and publicly defend incels.co from being deplatformed.

Shapeshifters & Controversy[edit]

The organization devotes a section of its site to Shapeshifters, which appear to be a wide variety of people that have signed onto working with Light Upon Light. Previous shapeshifters included, for example, Matthew Heimbach,[13] who Wikipedia currently characterizes as a white nationalist and neo-nazi,[14] however they currently only use citations that are older than Matthew's joining of LuL. The SPLC also still currently characterizes Heimbach as an extremist.[15]

Research analyst Ben Lorper characterized Heimbach's joining of Light Upon Light as a sophisticated attempt to repackage his white-nationalist ideology to progressives.[16]

There is also an entire blog and Twitter account devoted to criticising LuL, called Light Upon Light Upon Light, which characterizes LuL as platforming and whitewashing extremists who haven't left their ideologies.[17] The blog also tells their interpretations of events involving people who were at some point paid by Morton or Lul, including Erik Von Brunn and Samantha Kutner.[18]

"Alexander Ash"[edit]

Alexander Ash, (real name Diego J. Galante) the founder and then-co-administrator of incels.co (formerly incels.me) was listed prominently as a 'shapeshifter' (i.e. LuL-endorsed influencer) on the organization's website, from January–July 2021.[19]

During December 2021, and the day of follow up reports announcing an open criminal investigation into the topic of Diego and his suicide encouragement sites,[20][21] Jesse Morton died randomly at a young age in Florida. A few weeks before Morton died, and before the follow-up report, Morton had been featured in a piece where the only other interviewee was Diego, portraying Diego in a mostly positive light. This also seemed to be Morton's last text-only journalism piece he was featured in before his death.[22] The cause of Morton's death is unknown.

Naama Katz[edit]

Naama Katz on the American television show "NCIS"

Naama Katz is a true crime podcaster who has been listed as a 'shapeshifter' on LuL's website for a few years now. She was primarily active in helping Diego J. Galante present his violence-promoting incel forum in a neutral or positive light.

Naama Katz also ran a short lived podcast for Light Upon Light called Esc-Hate.[23]

Relationship to ICSVE[edit]

The group at one point worked with International Center for the Study of Online Extremism, an organization publicly directed by Anne Speckhard.[24] ICSVE released a statement in 2020 that they were officially merging with Light Upon Light, and later updated to say that they is no current relationship between the ICSVE and Light Upon Light.[25]

Light Upon Light lists Mitch Silber as a Chief Executive Officer in 990 non-profit forms, and ICSVE lists Mitch as serving on their board of directors.[26]

In January 2021, Anne Speckhard, Jesse Morton, Molly Ellenberg, Naama Kates, Alexander Ash, (Ash being a founder of a "sanctioned suicide" site which for years included young, healthy people[27][28][29] which has also led to the deaths of various publicized young, healthy people including a teenager and a young woman,[30][31][32] and ran a Suicide Wiki detailing methods of suicide for its members[33][34][35][36][37][38]), and Ken Reidy were publicly listed as co-authors of a piece for Homeland Security Today called, What Incels Can Tell Us About Isolation, Resentment, and Terror Designations.[39]

On January 27th, Morton joined a public-invite informational webinar with Anne Speckhard, Michael King, and Naama Kates, which featured Alexander Ash aka Sergeantincel, called, Asking Incels: An Insiders Account of the Involuntary Celibate Community.[40]

Size of organization and expenditure on employees[edit]

Light Upon Light appears to have begun it's website in 2019, the first known year 990 non-profit forms for the organization seem publicly available.

The 990 forms show that in 2019, LuL spent over 160k on employees salaries or other compensation.[41] Year 2020 990 forms are for some reason not available, but a co-founder of LuL stated that LuL received "significant funding" from the US Department of Homeland Security, possibly sometime in 2020. In his statement about LuL receiving DHS money, the Lul cofounder linked to a late 2020 news source about a Trump-era, DHS driven financial giveaway to CVE organizations.[42]

References

  1. https://archive.is/aIj0o
  2. https://newrepublic.com/article/145433/only-human-american-ex-jihadi-rebuild-life-country-once-vowed-destroy
  3. https://archive.md/XwnZa
  4. https://www.lightuponlight.online/about/
  5. http://news.intelwire.com/2011/05/revolution-muslimyounus-abdullah.html
  6. https://www.hstoday.us/subject-matter-areas/counterterrorism/jesse-morton-a-story-of-trauma-and-radicalization/
  7. https://www.gwhatchet.com/2017/01/26/former-extremist-gw-researcher-arrested-on-drugs-and-prostitution-charges/
  8. https://www.resilienceinunity.com/personal-blog/interview-with-ahul-taqwa-and-becoming-a-light-upon-light-shapeshifter
  9. https://www.sipa.columbia.edu/faculty-research/faculty-directory/mitchell-silber
  10. https://www.resilienceinunity.com/personal-blog/interview-with-ahul-taqwa-and-becoming-a-light-upon-light-shapeshifter
  11. https://www.lightuponlight.online/about/
  12. https://archive.is/YjHSp
  13. https://archive.is/wip/YomR4
  14. https://archive.is/wip/M8wpv
  15. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/matthew-heimbach
  16. https://archive.is/wip/lkU7k
  17. https://twitter.com/lightuponlul/status/1245481587170373632
  18. https://archive.is/i5lPd
  19. https://archive.is/OyzdX
  20. https://www.montevideo.com.uy/Noticias/Fiscalia-investigara-a-uruguayo-presuntamente-vinculado-a-web-que-promociona-el-suicidio-uc807881
  21. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/21/technology/suicide-website-google.html
  22. https://www.documentjournal.com/2021/12/inside-the-incelosphere-where-the-lonely-get-lonelier/
  23. https://archive.is/wip/bJxl1
  24. https://www.icsve.org/about/icsve-staff/
  25. https://www.icsve.org/icsve-and-parallel-networks-team-up-to-fight-violent-extremism/
  26. https://archive.ph/GPoX0
  27. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/incels-suicide-forum-woman-killed-herself
  28. https://archive.is/wip/Ouf2p
  29. https://www.vice.com/en/article/z3vn9a/people-are-dying-after-joining-a-pro-choice-suicide-forum-how-much-is-the-site-to-blame
  30. https://archive.is/wip/OCJP2
  31. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1sv73YRBCY
  32. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/tasneemnashrulla/incels-suicide-forum-woman-killed-herself
  33. https://archive.is/Ras43
  34. https://archive.is/fP75W
  35. https://archive.is/OEEYl
  36. https://archive.is/o06OU
  37. https://archive.is/wbStR
  38. https://archive.is/OYgrK
  39. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/348857241_What_Incels_Can_Tell_Us_About_Isolation_Resentment_and_Terror_Designations
  40. https://archive.is/HziTl#
  41. https://docs.candid.org/990/824/824730981/824730981_2019_18242402_990EZ.pdf
  42. https://archive.md/XwnZa

See also[edit]