12 Apr 2013

US drone maker targeted by anti-war web hoax

Anti-war protesters have targeted drone manufacturers General Atomics in a hoax involving a fake website and a phoney spokesman, Channel 4 News can reveal.

The false site, claiming to be the UK homepage of General Atomics, mimics a real web page, but features the slogan “leading the targeted killing revolution” instead of “leading the situational awareness revolution”.

Elsewhere, the phoney homepage describes how Predator and Reaper drones, used by the US military in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are “being used to kill thousands of innocent people and terrorize hundreds of thousands more”.

America’s covert drone war, largely fought using General Atomics-produced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Middle East and Africa, has sparked protests in the past, with a demonstration outside the US home of General Atomics Chief Executive Neal Blue just a week ago.

Real and fake General Atomics web address.

Real (top) and fake (bottom) General Atomics web addresses.

Fake drone boss

Following the publishing of a story about the psychological impact of drones on children, Channel 4 News was invited to meet a man claiming to be General Atomics UK director, Dr Jonny King. “Dr King” said he wanted to counter negative publicity about drone warfare.

The fake drone boss used an office space at a high-profile City of London location.

He claimed that a new arms race was unfolding and his company was involved in developing high-spec lasers to target terrorists.

A source at General Atomics in the US has confirmed “Dr King” (see video) is an imposter and that the real Dr Jonny King is “six foot three with black curly hair”.

The company also said it is aware of the fake website and will be referring it to its security division.

The fake site also links to details of a Stop the War Coalition demonstration being held at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire later this month. However the campaign group told Channel 4 News this “is not the kind of thing we do”.

The group’s Ian Chamberlain said: “It is nothing to do with us and we haven’t been aware of it.

“Stop the War has never been involved in anything like that since we were established 11 years ago.

“This sounds more like a project that a small group of individuals would do rather than one of the more established peace organisations.”

The real British branch of General Atomics opened in 2011.

Do you know who the man in the video is? Contact us: news@channel4.com