The Phony Source

I found out there was a former Soldier in Afghanistan that was passing information to journalists as tips. The source was supposedly a former Soldier by the name of PFC Mustafa Kazemi. The name itself is pretty familiar, but with some help I found his Facebook and Google +1 account. Mustafa claimed to be a PFC, work for the United States Army, and was EOD and 11C trained. 11C is the MOS for Indirect Fire Infantryman. Here is his Google profile:

As you can clearly see, Mustafa claims to have been trained at the United States Army Infantry School. He was trained in close quarters combat, explosive ordinance disposal, and as an indirect fire infantryman. You can see by his employment that he works for the United States Army in Afghanistan as a combat civilian journalist. He claims to have been deployed to OEF in the Helmand Province in 2005. It’s quite the impressive resume. And it’s false!

No one by the name of Mustafa Kazemi has ever graduated from the EOD course, which was taught at least partially at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama – my former stomping grounds. However, my sources tell me that it’s possible he was just a washout from the course. Many washouts still claim that they were EOD even though they never earned the title or completed the training.

I then put in some RFIs for any information that PFC Mustafa Kazemi was even in the Army or went to the Army Infantry School based at Ft. Benning. After all, a very prominent photo journalist in Afghanistan has been writing some seemingly good stories based off the information this former Soldier was providing. No one could find any records of him even serving in the Army at all.

Having exhausted my leads based on his service, I decided to confront Kazemi directly and ask him to confirm or deny my findings. I asked him a very basic question: “When did you graduate EOD and where?” Even an idiot could have made something up. In response to my questions on Twitter, Mr. Kazemi sent a message on Facebook:

Greetings Mr Grisham

Just explaining you about my employment with military here because it wasn’t possible on Twitter as it was open to everyone.

I was hired locally from Kabul and then deployed to Helmand. In Helmand I recieved some small training and I was said that this training package comes from US Army Infantry School. I recieved absolutely no document on the training inspite of insisting neither on employment. It was in 2005.

Because of this I have stopped putting my experiece on Internet because if anyone would ask for document or proof, I have nothing and I will be trapped.

Any other questions, I’m here.

I asked some follow up questions about the PFC rank and 11C MOS, which have gone unanswered. I switched back to Twitter and asked those same questions.

I never got another response, even after I warned him that I was going public with his misrepresentation if he didn’t clarify it for me. Shortly after that, Michael Yon posted the following on his Facebook fan page:

This particular post has since been deleted, but not before more than 30 comments were left, including a few more by Yon that I’m keeping to myself in case I need them in future litigation.

If a “journalist” would lie and misrepresent himself on his own bio, how can any responsible journalist use such a person as a source of information? Wouldn’t it call into question both the source and the journalist freely passing everything along without any sort of vetting?

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