Why the News Gets It Wrong

Why the News Gets It Wrong

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

And how to find a news source you can really rely on.
From the September 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

After his obituary was mistakenly published, Mark Twain sent a cable from London stating, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Since mass media became just that—mass media—courtesy of the plethora of electronic junk that we assemble about ourselves, the tendency for journalists to get a story wrong has certainly increased.

Google has contributed to lazy research practices in seeking background for a story. To add to that journalistic weakness, the propensity for every man and his dog to jump on a “breaking story” has increased exponentially with the tidal wave of communications gadgetry that the average Joe and Jill Public now have at their tendonitis-prone thumb tips.

The occasional trickery of deliberately faked journalism like that of Jayson Blair of the New York Times and Stephen Glass of the New Republic is one thing. There is also the tendency for a journalist, though he may be quite sincere, to simply be incapable of ridding his reporting of natural bias. Then there’s the false equivalency of a journalist or editor seeking to give “balance” to a piece by allowing equal weight to both sides of a story, irrespective of which side has the truth.

Add to this the reality that, to keep his job, the journalist must subscribe to the overarching bias of the editorial policy of his employer, and you have a formula for confusion.

Recently we had an example of yet another contributor to the tendency for journalists to get it wrong—the mass impact of social media. This contributed to a recent infamous example of misreporting in the wake of the tragic Boston bombing.

Lightning-Fast Falsehood

Writing for Quill, the journal of the American Society of Professional Journalists, Monica Guzman of the Seattle Times described how easy it is in this age of social media for a journalist to get it wrong. How was it, she asked, that a poor missing kid, whose body was later found on April 23 in Providence, Rhode Island, was misreported by so many as the Boston bomber who created the havoc of April 15?

Tuned in via Twitter to the rash of messages transiting the ether over what was happening in Boston one week following the bombing tragedy, Guzman said she saw a tweet from “an influential user” who maintained that the bomber suspect had been found. When she asked two basic questions of the tweeter—where and how—the response came back that a lot of people had posted it.

Sharp woman that she is, Guzman mused, “What I call repetition he called confirmation” (Quill, May/June; emphasis added).

What was it that moved so many to share erroneous communication so widely and rapidly that it was accepted as fact and reported to the public via the mass media?

Guzman says two things drove this act of mass misreporting. The first was “a hunger for the most current information.” That desire is an offshoot of our late 20th- and early 21st-century lust for instant gratification—we want it and we want it now! The catchcry of the baby boomers has since become an inbred mantra of the generations they produced.

The second thing that fed the April 23 rumor mill, Guzman observed, was a need to talk—to be first to spread the news, to be the one who “broke” the story to others. This stems from today’s social media frenzy of messaging about what I’m doing now, what I just did, what I just saw, or “have you heard?”

Particularly in times of budgetary constraint, free messages twittered on “breaking” new stories become fodder for the journalist. The tweeter becomes a primary source to the journalist, conveying firsthand observations, reactions and opinions from the vicinity of a “breaking” story.

The use of reports from social media sources, combined with the lust to be first with the information, drove a great part of America’s media industry into mass acceptance of a falsehood in April. As Guzman observed, “Public voices who took Boston scanner chatter as fact, passed on dangerous rumors or made gross assumptions”  all driven by “emotion, drama, pride and the deep, wild rush to be first.”

There’s a powerful lesson here. It speaks to the very foundation of all that the Trumpet magazine stands for as compared to the mass media.

How We Are Different

Let’s do a brief comparison.

The mass media is a profit-making enterprise. As we have witnessed over the past decade, many organs of the press went broke as electronic media increasingly took over from newspaper and magazine news publishing. The survivors are those that still turn—or continue to struggle to turn—a profit, too often maintaining sales by dumbing their editorial approach downward so as to cater to a rapidly descending public taste.

On the other hand, the Trumpet is not for sale. We are not a profit-making enterprise.

Our publications have no price on them. They are given away on request, gratis (Matthew 10:8). The Trumpet will never change its editorial policy of seeking and publishing the truth—no matter how unpopular the message, no matter how politically incorrect, no matter how much opposition it provokes. We will not dumb down our message to popularize it so as to cater to the public’s taste. In fact, we probably have the world’s most unpopular message to deliver.

Come to think of it, so did Jesus Christ.

Regarding journalistic efforts to predict the future outcome of an event, the best that the news media can do is guess. The facts might suggest that a certain outcome is inevitable—yet so many variables can lead to that guess proving wrong. Analytical journalistic pieces cannot predict with certainty the outcome of a major world event.

The Trumpet is different.

We are not averse to forecasting an outcome of any major world event, even though the facts would seem to point to an opposite result. The difference between the mass media guess and the guaranteed outcome to any current event on which we report is our understanding of the revelation of Bible prophecy for our times.

We possess and publish the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19)—the God-guaranteed outcome as declared by the One who states, “I am the Lord. I change not” (Malachi 3:6). The very One of whom Jesus Christ declared, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

The understanding of the final outcome of major world events that are unfolding today was all prophesied millennia ago, then documented and published in a book we call the Bible—specifically for our day today. Those prophecies contain an overarching message that, almost lost by the end of the 19th century, was restored in the early 20th century through one man that Book refers to as a latter-day Elijah (Matthew 17:10-11). His name was Herbert W. Armstrong.

It is that restored message from God to humankind that the Trumpet publishes today and that is broadcast by the Key of David television program. It’s that restored, divinely revealed knowledge that gives the Trumpet more than just an edge over the mass media in reporting the news. We can tell you, with full confidence, the outcome of major world events. No organ of the press or mass media can!

So how does one really get to the truth on any matter these days when we are so attuned to the instantaneous nature of the “breaking” story via social media in particular?

A good start would be to treat any news report with a healthy skepticism unless the reporter produces hard, primary evidence of the story’s reality.

With the plethora of news that inundates us from all angles, 24/7, this would seem an impossible task. Given the state of today’s mass media confusion, is there any news source that you can really rely on?

One Reliable Source

Considering the comparisons made above, to an open mind the answer should be starkly obvious. It’s the one that refuses—point blank—to be politically correct. It’s the one that insists on “proving all things,” on holding fast to that which is good and right! (1 Thessalonians 5:21). It’s the one which has the capacity—proven over seven decades of its message being published to multiple millions worldwide—to demonstrate the prophesied outcome of major world events then track them till they become documented history!

The editorial policy of the Trumpet magazine remains consistent with that of our forerunner under Herbert Armstrong’s administration, the Plain Truth. It embraces all those principles mentioned above, yet with one added refining point.

Herbert Armstrong’s prophesied directive from God was to preach the good news of God’s coming Kingdom on Earth “in all the world for a witness to all nations” as a sign of the imminence of Jesus Christ’s return (Matthew 24:14).

The leadership Herbert Armstrong put in place to continue that work following his death patently rejected that task (Amos 2:11-12).

Only one man at the time—our editor in chief Gerald Flurry, with his loyal assistant John Amos at his side—stooped to pick up the baton of leadership of that work when it was cast aside on Dec. 7, 1989. Through Gerald Flurry, the editorial policy of the original Plain Truth was revived, as prophesied (Revelation 10:11), in the pages of the Trumpet magazine.

Yet that commission came with one added responsibility—to urgently warn a lukewarm church and a rebellious house of Israel of a coming, prophesied, Great Tribulation which they face due to their rebellion against their God! (Matthew 24:21-23).

You won’t get that message anywhere else! You won’t find any other news source that has such a proven track record of really delivering on the plain truth about today’s world news and its guaranteed outcome.

The Trumpet magazine is the news source you can completely rely on—not only to publish the real news behind the news, but also to give you the guaranteed, prophesied outcome!

The Diabolical Modern Slave Trade

The Diabolical Modern Slave Trade


More people are in slavery today than there have been at any time in human history.

Over the weekend, law enforcement officials rescued 105 children and arrested 150 individuals involved in sex trafficking and exploitation in 76 cities across the United States. The fbi announced the news on Monday, saying it was the largest child sex-trafficking crackdown in U.S. history. The rescue was a victory for those children and for the officials involved, but it isn’t even a drop in the cesspool of the unconscionably evil modern sex-slave trade.

For most modern people, the word “slavery” conjures up images of some shameful, bygone era of human history—maybe of biblical Egypt, ancient Greece or the 19th-century American South. Most think that large-scale slavery ended with the U.S. Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. But the truth is that more people are in slavery today than there have been at any time in human history.

“Approximately 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are trafficked annually across national borders, not including millions trafficked within their own countries,” the cia Factbook says. The international anti-slavery organization Free the Slaves totaled up all those thousands and millions worldwide: “[O]ur conservative estimate is that there are 27 million people in slavery today.”

That’s more than the population of Australia.

In 1850, the average slave in the U.S. cost the equivalent of $40,000 in today’s currency. A slave today costs an average of $90. Numerous historical accounts depict how savagely many of those slaves in early America were treated. How much worse must treatment be for these modern human beings who are bought at a fraction of a percent of the historic slaves’ price?

We don’t have to wonder. Detailed descriptions of their stories are out there. I considered telling one for the introduction to this article, but the reality of those stories is too unnerving and too heart-breaking to write.

Eighty percent of victims are female. Fifty percent are children. The average starting age of slave children is 12, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. But many are much, much younger. And while some are made to do hard labor in sweatshops or fields (like most all the slaves of past eras), staggering numbers of modern captives are sex workers. They are sexual objects that are purchased, sold, used and discarded—all for the traffickers’ profit.

Land of the Free?

As the nauseating news from this weekend reveals, the sex slave trade is not limited to Third World nations. The Department of Justice estimates that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 sex workers enslaved in the U.S.

As with most countries, U.S. slaves come from two categories: those brought in from other countries, and those who are citizens—trafficked and enslaved within their own borders.

The first category is sustained by 14,500 to 17,500 women and children who are trafficked into America every year. The most common ploy traffickers use in poorer countries is promising young women legitimate jobs in the U.S. as domestic workers or waitresses. Many are sold by poverty-stricken parents to men who promise a better life. Others are simply abducted.

Sex traffickers rejoice when Third World nations are struck by natural disasters or ravaged by war. At those times, they can find families ripped apart. They can find women and children alone and trembling, separated from husbands and fathers. Amid the rubble, the traffickers can find people desperate enough to believe their venomous lies.

Then there are America’s homegrown slaves. Many in this category began as adult women fleeing abusive circumstances at home. There are also an estimated 2.8 million children who run away from home in the U.S. each year. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says within 48 hours of hitting the streets, a third of these are picked up by traffickers and pimps promising shelter, food and respect. Some recruiters are young men or women who seek out vulnerable-looking girls at theaters, parties, shelters or shopping centers. These recruiters win a girl’s trust by pretending to be her friend or boyfriend, and then turn them over to pimps or traffickers.

Both the American citizens and the overseas victims are targeted because of apparent vulnerability and weakness. They are often people in dire need of help. Instead of helping them, traffickers use their weakness and vulnerability against them. They turn their lives into misery.

To transform the captured victims into willing slaves, traffickers use a variety of methods. Sometimes the victims are kept full of narcotics or tranquilizers. In other cases, physical force alone—over a long enough time—destroys a victim’s will to resist. Most often with imported slaves, the traffickers use threats, telling them that if they attempt escape their families back home will be punished or killed.

The Cause of This Evil

How can millions worldwide be enslaved to this mind-boggling evil? Is it just because of the handful of demented traffickers, like the 150 individuals arrested in the U.S. this weekend? No. Traffickers and pimps wouldn’t have reason to enslave victims if there was no demand for them.

The root cause of sex trafficking is the unprecedented proliferation of pornography. The technology that connects people all around the globe allows perversion, exploitation and criminal activity to multiply at unprecedented speeds. A 2012 fbi report said that in one decade, the U.S. underwent a 2,500 percent increase in arrests for child pornography. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works to identify and find children depicted in pornographic videos and photos, says its staff assessed over 10.5 million images in 2009 alone.

Many of the adults and almost all children depicted in amateur pornography are in some level of enslavement. Anyone using pornography could be contributing to the pandemic.

Data shows that sex trafficking flourishes in areas rife with commercial sex businesses. Areas rich in strip clubs, pornography stores and prostitution become meccas for sociopaths wanting to use children or other enslaved people for sex. It is impossible to bring an end to sex trafficking without also eliminating the pornography and sex-oriented businesses that are multiplying in the cities of the world. Yet, access to these businesses is championed in the West as a right that free people are entitled to. People should be free to live how they want, free to watch whatever movies they want, and free to buy whatever services they want. But this mentality creates only bondage.

The sobering truth is that there are far more slaves in the sex traffic industry than even the most concerned activists calculate. Besides the millions of literal enslaved victims, there are also the traffickers and pimps—slaves to crippling greed, and the untold numbers of users—both users of slaves and users of the pornography featuring them—who are slaves to lust.

What is the solution to this ineffable evil? On an individual level, we can and must avoid the industries that fuel the sex slave trade. On the national and international levels, this horrendous evil won’t be cured by anything short of a global revolution.

‘Break in Pieces the Oppressor’

During Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, He witnessed some extremes of human suffering. He did much locally to relieve it, but made clear that He wasn’t on Earth at that time to use His power to overthrow the existing world order (Matthew 16:21; 26:52-54; Luke 17:25).

But He did bring news of a future time when He would return and obliterate the corrupt man-made systems of this world. He made it clear that He would replace the worldly kingdoms with the Kingdom of God that will bring peace, prosperity and freedom for all men (John 18:36; Revelation 11:15; Daniel 2:35-45).

This future overthrow will fulfill the prophecy saying that Christ would “save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor” (Psalm 72:4). How many children of the needy today need to be saved? How many oppressors need to be dealt with?

At that future time, Christ will return to this Earth in power and glory. He will spearhead a global revolution that will overthrow all of the world’s systems that cause such unconscionable suffering today. Educator Herbert W. Armstrong painted an inspiring picture of that godly Kingdom He will usher in: “All crime, and organized rebellion will be put down by force—divine supernatural force. … See, now, a glimpse into a world of no illiteracy, no poverty, no famine and starvation, into a world where crime decreases rapidly, people learn honesty, chastity, human kindness, and happiness—a world of peace, prosperity, abundant well-being” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow).

We need this new world as never before. Reports like the one from last weekend make that inescapably clear. The good news is that nothing can stop the global revolution that will “break in pieces the oppressor” and “save the children of the needy.” To understand more about this rapidly approaching future, request a free copy of Mr. Armstrong’s booklet. In this world of increasing suffering, ugliness and evil, it offers a refreshing picture of hope—the only hope there is.

Detroit Bankruptcy: Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Detroit Bankruptcy: Nothing to See Here, Move Along

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Is Detroit’s collapse simply a case of not selling enough cars, or does it signal something more ominous?

Detroit is “just an innocent victim of market forces.” There is no bigger lesson here, says New York Times economist Paul Krugman. “For the most part, it’s just one of those things that happens now and then in an ever changing economy.”

What a pile of garbage. It is exactly this kind of mixed-up thinking that guarantees more cities will turn into Detroit.

On July 18, the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. The filing, if approved, would make it the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history—which would probably make it the biggest municipal bankruptcy of any advanced nation ever.

But according to one of America’s leading papers, there is no lesson to be learned here! What do you think?

The city has lost close to two thirds of its population. No lesson?

Last year, Detroit high schools had a dismal 65 percent graduation rate. In 2007, a study from Education Week found that only 25 percent of freshmen really ended up graduating on time. That means the children of Detroit have a better chance of going to prison than graduating. Almost half of Detroit adults are considered functionally illiterate. No Lesson?

What about Detroit’s sky-high divorce rates? Detroit has become a city of single mothers and delinquent dads. It is a tale of welfare addiction, family breakdown and social disintegration. No lesson?

Krugman talks about innocent victims. Well, there are a lot of victims in Detroit. It is the most dangerous big city in America and one of the most dangerous in the world. The gang activity and crime rates make Cúcuta, Colombia, and Sao Luis, Brazil, blush. Bodies lie in streets for hours due to morgue cutbacks. Victims are dumped in an abandoned building and lit on fire. Or stuffed in trunks. Or left in the streets. For the living, police response times average almost an hour. It is the city of 11,000 unsolved homicides. Nothing to see here.

Apparently, a population crash from 2 million to 700,000 is just one of those things that happens. The white flight was historic and well documented. Why did that happen? But what about black flight? And the flight of the dead? (as we reported in 2009, people are exhuming their dead relatives to move them out of the city because it is too dangerous to visit the cemeteries).

Move along, there are no lessons for you to learn.

But take a drive by at your peril. Detroit’s plight is a gigantic, flashing, warning sign for the nation.

Currently, the city owes money to over 100,000 vendors, contractors, and other lenders. Yes you read that right—one hundred thousand! The city emergency manager thinks it comes to around $19 billion, but it might be more. Some of the city’s invoices haven’t been paid for years.

To put this enormous debt in context, consider that the average annual per capita income of a Detroit resident is a measly $13,969—which is less than the average per capita income of a resident in Romania, Botswana or Belarus. Over the past 60 years, Detroit has gone from one of the most prosperous cities in the world, with the highest standard of living, to one of the world’s poorest.

During that whole time, the city was run by one political party, adhering to a specific economic philosophy. Politicians said they wanted to create a “fairer” city by raising taxes on businesses and productive individuals and redistributing it. The effect was to drive business out and make everyone poor. Think that warrants further investigation? Now that economic philosophy is being nationalized.

Detroitification is spreading.

But back to Detroit’s debt. If the city taxed residents at 100 percent of their salaries—took every dime from each of its 701,000 remaining residents—made each one of them slaves—it would still take two years of servitude to pay off the debt. That’s astounding. How in the world did Detroit’s leaders justify taking on so much debt? Where did all the money go? How were so many of its leaders able to waste and steal so much? What is the connection to the big unions (both private and public sector)? Surely there are another couple of lessons America can learn from this.

Now Detroit has run out of money—both its own and other people’s. With its credit rating trashed, no one is silly enough to lend to it anymore (except maybe the federal government, if President Obama decides to bail out the city). And with one of the highest tax rates in the country, one of the lowest per capita incomes and sky-high poverty levels, the city has nothing left to take.

And fewer citizens are willing to give. Almost half of all property owners are refusing to pay their property taxes. The Detroit News reports that there were 77 city blocks where only one owner paid taxes last year.

It is hard to blame them.

In the words of Detroit’s state-appointed emergency manager: “The city does not provide basic and essential services to the residents who remain …. The city is infested with urban blight.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that Detroit is shuttering another 50 schools. Once closed, the abandoned structures will be stripped of their copper wiring and plumbing. Anything of value will be stolen. Before long, they will probably burn. Detroit is shuttering its green spaces too. Only 53 of the city’s 300-plus parks are still open to the public. Of those, 36 are on limited maintenance, which means periodically mowing the lawn. Detroit’s most famous park, Belle Island, is literally sinking into the river, due to lack of preservation. There are approximately 78,000 abandoned homes in Detroit, and another 80,000 or so additional abandoned buildings. Forty percent of its stoplights don’t work. Half of Detroit’s 1,000-strong fire department are captains, battalion chiefs, drivers and other non-firefighters. Those who actually fight fires do it with ladders that don’t work, fire hydrants that often malfunction, and trucks that routinely break down. Its fire stations operate on a schedule of rolling brownouts. Ambulance drivers risk their lives trying to help people; automatic gunfire all around them. Detroit’s police officers battle internal and external lawlessness. Its citizens battle to survive. Its leaders battle over the scraps that are left. Remember Detroit’s $500 million “train to nowhere”—the light rail project to supplement Detroit’s other light rail project that no one rides?

A colleague from the Philippines who recently visited Detroit said that parts of the city he saw were just like the shanty towns back home, the difference being, “the abandoned buildings are a lot bigger.”

Detroit is described variably as a post-Apocalyptic ghost town, a post-industrial ruin, the city of flames, the city where the sirens never stop, America’s first Third World city, Murder Town, Hell on Wheels. Veteran Detroit reporter Charlie LeDuff describes it as “an archaeological ruin … empty and forlorn and pathetic.” Come on Krugman, look a little deeper.

And regardless of what union activists, corrupt politicians, or bankruptcy judges opine, regardless of what teachers, police officers, city clerks, or maintenance workers hope, and regardless of what bond holders, investors, or pensioners feel is just and fair, the simple truth is somebody just isn’t going to get paid.

The money simply isn’t there.

Why is it so hard to understand that the Detroit that used to symbolize American prowess is gone? Maybe it is the “Detroit is Back” Super Bowl commercials, or Eminem telling us that the city has “been to hell and back,” so everything is okay now. We are on the verge of a revival. Go out and buy a Chrysler. But take a closer look. GM and Chrysler may have been bailed out, and sales are up this year, but they are maxed out on debt again. Ford is no different. They are just one recession away from the next bailout. And oh—how much of their vehicles are actually made in Detroit anymore? How much is outsourced? But there is nothing to see here, move along.

Want to fix Detroit? Then stop pretending it is just a random victim of a changing economy. It is not!

Detroit is a victim, but it is a victim of an imploding national culture, not some mysterious market forces.

You know how I know? It really is simple. Consider Detroit’s situation. It is located in one of the choicest parts of the most blessed country in the world! Pull out a map and look at Detroit’s geographical location. Situated in the interior of North America, far from the coasts, yet because of its location on the Great Lakes and the St Lawrence Seaway, with waterway access to the whole world. Add on its position on the Detroit River, connecting lakes Huron and Erie, and that it also sits on the overland gateway to the heart of Canada. One hundred and thirty billion dollars’ worth of international trade crosses its bridges each year. Detroit is also situated within easy trucking and rail distance from the Ohio River, making it the beneficiary of Mississippi River trade and transport. Then there is its climate, fertility of soil, proximity to markets, economies of scale and skilled labor that all work in its favor.

Geographically, Detroit is a golden child. It was bequeathed virtually everything needed to make it a world-class center.

Yet despite that, and despite becoming one of the most prosperous cities in world history, it still collapsed.

And now the same thing is happening to many American cities. Despite America’s unparalleled agricultural, mineral, scientific and geographic resources, cities across the country are in various stages of Detroitification. Chicago, Baltimore, New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, Portland, Providence and Houston are all going the same way. And it doesn’t stop with municipalities either. California, Illinois and Kentucky—many states are headed for bankruptcy too. Then there are the tens of trillions in federal government obligations that everyone pretends will be paid.

So, what is the big lesson that America should really take from Detroit?

Detroit’s dramatic downfall can only be understood by identifying the source of its original prosperity.

Ingenuity, work ethic, economies of scale, access to capital, resources, mass transportation, low taxation, freedom, private ownership, and a skilled labor pool were all important factors. These things if implemented in Detroit would help, but they are not the most important and essential factors leading to prosperity.

It is God that makes the difference. It was God who showered down the blessings upon Detroit—and America—that made it great. It was God who provided America with its formerly unrivaled level of prosperity—that set it apart from all the other nations in the world. No random, economic forces here.

Yet now, because the conditions of retaining those blessings—things like keeping God’s commandments—are being broken, those blessings are being removed. If you read your Bible, you know that is the case. Cities are collapsing in spite of all the blessings they used to have, and in many cases still have. Detroit is in fact a warning from God, about what is in store for all America.

There Mr. Krugman; I don’t expect you to agree, but it’s the truth.

Scandals—What Scandals?

Despite the avalanche of scandals that have pounded his administration in recent months, President Barack Obama’s radical transformation of America forges ahead.

On May 8, three highly respected State Department officials who were in Libya at the time the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked on September 11 testified under oath before a House committee in Washington. Based on their sworn testimony, U.S. officials in Benghazi on that fateful night knew it was a terrorist attack from the start. But these requests for Washington to send help were rejected—basically because the White House would not accept the fact that what happened in Benghazi had been a premeditated act of terrorism.

Was Iran Behind the Benghazi Attack?

Was Iran Behind the Benghazi Attack?


There is clear evidence that al Qaeda and Iran are working together, despite the war in Syria.

Was Iran involved in the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012? Too many would dismiss that question with a simple “no.” Benghazi was al Qaeda. It’s Sunni. They hate the Shiites in Iran.

The war in Syria seems to confirm this view. Al Qaeda sends its men and resources to support the rebels while Iran and Hezbollah prop up Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But the truth is that the al Qaeda-Iranian relationship is much more complicated.

The Sunni-Shia divide is real and significant. But Iran and al Qaeda’s hatred for the West is even more powerful. Iran and al Qaeda have fallen out in the past. But they also have a proven record of working together.

Furthermore, al Qaeda is not a unified bloc, but rather a loose coalition of militants fighting under the same brand name. A local commander in North Africa doesn’t care who Iran’s fighting in Syria, providing he gets the weapons he wants.

Not only is it possible for Iran and al Qaeda to work together, but there is solid proof that it is happening right now, and even Benghazi is drawn into that relationship.

Reports from the U.S. Treasury Department expose a partnership between the two. In the summer of 2011, it announced that the United States had uncovered an al Qaeda network operating in Iran under an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government. “Iran is a critical transit point for funding to support al Qaeda’s activities in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” it wrote.

“Al Qaeda’s core financial pipeline—which runs from Kuwait and Qatar, through Iran, to Pakistan—depends upon an agreement between al Qaeda and the Iranian government to allow this network to operate within its borders,” wrote Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen, in written testimony in October 2011 (emphasis added throughout).

The next February, the Treasury reported that Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security “has facilitated the movement of al Qaeda operatives in Iran and provided them with documents, identification cards, and passports.” It said it had “also provided money and weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq (aqi) … and negotiated prisoner releases of aqi operatives.”

Then again in October 2012, Cohen unveiled new material that, he said, highlighted “Iran’s ongoing complicity in this network’s operation.” At this point, the Syrian conflict was well under way. Yet Iran and al Qaeda were still working together.

“Under the terms of the agreement between al Qaeda and Iran, al Qaeda must refrain from conducting any operations within Iranian territory and recruiting operatives inside Iran while keeping Iranian authorities informed of their activities,” wrote the Treasury Department. “In return, the government of Iran gave the Iran-based al Qaeda network freedom of operation and uninhibited ability to travel for extremists and their families.”

And Benghazi? These kind of links can often take years to fully uncover. Last November, a Washington District Court heard that Iran trained the al Qaeda operatives responsible for the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya. Dr. Matthew Levit, an expert witness for the case on the state sponsorship of terrorism, said that “it would not have been possible for al Qaeda to a reasonable degree of certainty to have executed this type of a bombing attack, which it had never previously executed, without this type of training it received from Iran and Hezbollah.”

It took 13 years for Iran’s involvement in the Kenya bombings to become public. It may take time before all the facts are known, but already there’s some good evidence that Iran had a hand in the Benghazi attack.

In May, Egypt arrested three militants armed with 22 pounds of explosives and bomb-making equipment. Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told journalists that the group had received instructions from an al Qaeda leader called Dawoud al-Asadi. According to Rewards for Justice, a website set up by the U.S. State Department, Dawoud al-Asadi is an alias for Muhsin al-Fadhli—the leader of al Qaeda in Iran. To cement the connection even further, Ibrahim said that one of the three terrorists had received military training in Iran.

Ibrahim said that Al-Asadi (aka al Fadhi) told the terrorists to get in touch with a group known as “the Nasr City Cell”—an Egyptian-based group that has since been rounded up, but has strong connections to al Qaeda and has been linked to the Benghazi attack. The cell’s leader, Muhammad Jamal al Kashef (aka Abu Ahmed) set up training camps in Libya and Egypt, founding the Jamal terrorist group. U.S. intelligence officials identified members of his network on the scene of the Benghazi attack.

In short, al Qaeda in Iran trained a terrorist agent, sent him to Egypt with two other operatives, and told him to get in contact with some of the key instigators of the Benghazi attack.

Al Qaeda in Iran was working with some of the planners of the Benghazi attack.

Under its agreement with Iran, al Qaeda also had to keep the Iranian government up to date with its activities.

“Egypt is rapidly moving into the Iranian camp,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in August 2011. “That means Egypt, which borders Libya, will now help bring that nation into Iran’s terror network.”

Now we see evidence that Iran is spreading its terror network in Libya, via Egyptian terrorists—men who were locked up by former President Hosni Mubarak, but were freed in the revolution.

Did Iran merely know about the attack, or was it a key part in it? Just like the attack on the embassies in Kenya, the proof might not come out for another decade.

But in another part of Africa, there is, almost literally, a smoking gun. In September 2011, the Nigerien military captured weapons and ammunition from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (aqim). It included ammunition that Conflict Arms Research identified as originating in Iran. Then in May 2012, it also intercepted a shipment of weapons containing Iranian-manufactured ammunition.

Also, in Somalia, Al Shabaab has strong links to Iran, and is also affiliated with al Qaeda.

Iran’s patronage of Al Shabaab’s predecessor, the Islamic Courts Union (icu), is clear. The United Nations monitoring group in Somalia discovered that Iran had flown it an aircraft full of weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, machine guns and grenade launchers, in July 2006. It also reported on arms from Iran sent by sea.

Around the same time, the icu sent 720 of its best fighters to Lebanon, to fight alongside Hezbollah. Some of the fighters stayed in Lebanon after the fighting for advanced training. “In exchange for the contribution of the Somali military force, Hezbollah arranged for additional support to be given to icu from the governments of Iran and Syria, which was subsequently provided,” said the report.

Since then, the icu has changed its name to Al Shabaab, and become the official Somalia wing of al Qaeda. But Iran’s support has continued. In July, the UN monitors mention hundreds of illegal fishing vessels—mainly Iranian and Yemeni owned—that visited the waters around Somalia. They say that they “had received several unconfirmed reports that some of the illegal fishing vessels are also being used as cover for weapons smuggling.”

“While the Monitoring Group has been unable to verify any particular vessel that has been used for both illegal fishing and weapons smuggling, it has nonetheless established other connections between the illegal fishing networks and networks involved in the arms trade and connected to Al-Shabaab in northeastern Somalia,” they write.

They also reported that they have captured several “nearly new” Rocket Propelled Grenade (rpg) launchers that “closely resemble Iranian-manufactured” launchers. The monitors are also investigating a ship seized in January in Yemen. It was packed with weapons and fuel, and the UN believes that some that could have been bound for Somalia.

On their own, each of these incidents of cooperation between al Qaeda and Iran would be interesting, though not conclusive. Together they paint a pattern of broad cooperation across Africa and the Middle East.

The two sides also share the same goals in the region. A recent study by rand corporation by analyst Seth Jones concluded that al Qaeda groups “want to establish Islamic emirates in specific countries or regions, though they may be agnostic about a broader violent jihad.” That suits Iran, who wants to push against Europe across north Africa. Jones notes that Algeria, for example, is one of the main targets of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Iran too would be keen to see an Islamic regime take over one of Europe’s key resource hubs. “France, rather than the United States, is the most significant foreign enemy,” notes Jones.

Hezbollah and al Qaeda are undoubtedly the two most powerful terrorist groups in the world. By working together with Iran’s support, they have nation-destroying potential.

The Trumpet has long forecast that Iran would become a major power in northern Africa—specifically that it would get control of Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia. Its links with terrorist groups in the area are a major step in that direction. These terrorist groups may be Sunni, but they are still influenced by Iran and supported by Iran.

Mr. Flurry identified Iran as the “king of the south,” or the leader of Islamic terrorism, in the early ’90s. Since then it’s retained that top spot. For more information on the significance of Iran’s terror network, read our free booklet The King of the South.

The Zechariah Booklet

This prophetic book of Zechariah has only now been fully understood! The book of Zechariah contains prophecy about two end-time churches of God. One church is doing God’s work. The other church, which is Laodicean, fails in its commission to do God’s work. The key to understanding these churches is a flying scroll. It shows us what God is doing today and where it is all leading.