Ahmed Merabet, one of two police officers brutally murdered while patrolling the street outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Jan. 7, was buried Tuesday in Bobigny. That is, if you are to believe the totality of evidence, including his family’s heartbroken statements, the official government response to his death, and actual video of his murder. However, some conspiracy theorists, believe it or not, are finding all that rather unconvincing.
In fact, it’s the video documentation of the event that leads them to deny its legitimacy—something too nuts for even radio host and Infowars founder Alex Jones, himself the sort of person who speaks about the Illuminati with a straight face.
“It’s become a whole faux, fake controversy. It becomes one of these conspiracy theories,” Jones told me by phone Tuesday evening. “They love whodunnit ‘Clue’ games, so everyone can now debate it. It’s not an issue—and the police officer is dead.”
Nudging conspiracy theorists into a paranoid tizzy is the grainy footage of a gunman approaching Merabet, already wounded on the ground, and shooting him. The bullet, they say, doesn’t appear to actually hit him.
Storm Clouds Gathering—slogan: “The truth is extreme. To make it moderate is to lie”—posted a clip on YouTube scrutinizing the video frame by frame, which the narrator claims “punch[es] a major hole in the official story.”
“If we zoom in and slow it down, you’ll see that the officer isn’t actually hit by a bullet,” the narrator says. “He is clearly not hit in the head as the corporate media is claiming. ... Notice that the head isn’t rocked by the blast as it would be if it was actually hit.”
The video then shows a watermelon being shot by an AK-47, which is supposed to prove that the Merabet was not actually murdered because his head looked different than the watermelon. “This officer was not killed by a gunshot to the head,” the narrator says.
The video, which has at this count 1,986,894 views, has received comments like “Why did they lie to us???” and “Just ask yourself, who controls the media? Jews Mainstream media is controlled by 6 Jewish companies.”
Mike Piccione, a gun expert who writes for The Daily Caller, told The Daily Beast that “the video assumes a square hit to the head which would be devastating and obvious. Absent of a square hit a grazing hit scan still be fatal without the dramatic evidence of blood and lurching body. There does appear to be a very slight discoloration in the video at the time of the shot indicating some blood followed the bullet.”
A Marine Corps combat veteran agreed with his assessment, Piccione said.
A YouTube search for “Paris shooting hoax” turns up about 43,600 results, with videos titled like “BUSTED!! Paris Shooting HOAX broken down!!” and “Paris Shooting Hoax: I would love to Say More but I’ll Get SCREWLGED!!”
All of this is a bit too much for Jones. “I have shot wild hogs with AK-47s in Texas,” he told me. “Sometimes you shoot one in the head and the bullet goes right through and there’s no blood. Sometimes you shoot one in the head and it blows up like a pumpkin.”
The video of the officer, Jones said, raised eyebrows because, “you don’t see his head exploding like a pumpkin.” But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t really shot, Jones added.
“Most of the time, somebody gets shot in the head with a high-caliber rifle and there is a lot of blood. But sometimes there’s not.”
When tragedies of colossal proportions occur, the public struggles to make sense of why it happened. But the gravity of violence is apparently too much for some to deal with to the extent that they shun reality altogether in favor of easier-to-swallow complicated conspiracies involving government play actors and staged terror plots wherein no one really dies.
Unsurprisingly, searches for “Columbine shooting hoax” and “Sandy Hook shooting hoax” return similar results to that of Charlie Hebdo.
These types of conspiracies seem to irk Jones and company, who believe it hurts their brand (which they see as being all about healthy skepticism.)
“That discredits really questioning stuff,” Jones told me. “There are some people who believe everything the government says on one hand. On the other hand, [there are some] who don’t believe anything. I try to be in the middle. Of course, I get criticized a lot. ... We get called conspiracy theorists just because we engage in a thought process and don’t just trust the narrative.”
For what it’s worth, this publication has called Jones a conspiracy theorist because he denied the moon landing. But on this issue, he seems to be taking a moderate position.
Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at Infowars, told me via email that the shooting-deniers have been going after him.
“I have been bombarded with messages from people calling me a ‘shill’ for not agreeing that the entire sequence of events was staged by crisis actors. ... I was also attacked by these same people for asserting that the NYPD murders last month did in fact really happen.”
“I’m happy to draw the ire of these people because I firmly believe that legitimate cover-ups are being obscured by the ‘everything is a hoax’ crowd. Genuine skepticism about government malfeasance is being discredited by these people.”
Watson himself posted a video to YouTube which discussed the shooting denialism. His video, he says, was inexplicably and repeatedly removed from the video-sharing platform.
Of course, the ‘it’s a hoax’ crowd isn’t the only group of conspiracy theorists coming out of the woodwork to annoy the public with their ideas regarding the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The International Business Times India ran a story suggesting the Israeli spy agency Mossad might have had something to do with it (they have since retracted it).
Lifenews.ru, a Russian publication, claimed that “American ‘curators’ are behind the events in Paris.”
Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?