Conspiracy Theories

Another Ozymandias Moment, Take 683

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Baylen Linnekin sends word of the latest conspiracy theory emanating from the 51st state: That the U.S. has dumped sharks in the Euphrates River. From a Reuters account:

Karim Hasan Thamir said he was fishing with his sons last week when they spotted a large fish thrashing about in his net. "I recognised the fish as a shark because I have seen one on a television programme," he told Reuters.

The shark was pulled from the mouth of an irrigation canal that joins the Euphrates River. The Euphrates joins the Tigris River further east to form the Shatt al-Arab waterway which flows south past Basra into the Gulf.

Dr Mohamed Ajah, assistant dean of the college of science at Thi Qar University in Nassiriya, said barriers in river estuaries usually prevented sharks swimming upstream.

"In this case, I think this animal was there for a long time but no one had managed to see it," he said.

Locals blamed the US military for the shark's presence.

Tahseen Ali, a teacher, said there was a "75 per cent chance" Americans had put the shark in the water.

"This is very frightening for us. Our children always swim in the river and I believe that there are more sharks. I believe that America is behind this matter," said fisherman Hatim Karim.

Whole tale here.

I really doubt that the U.S. is responsible for the shark (and if it is, why don't the goddamn sharks have frickin' laser beams on their heads?). Then again, after that totally frickin' weird fake FEMA press conference, in which agency employees impersonated reporters (what, Jeff Gannon was unavailable?) and after a massive invasion in which there were no contingency plans for an occupation gone awry, who the hell knows?

Though I'm a seafood lover, I think that fishermen rank right down there with taxicab drivers as crappy journalistic sources, and Hatim Karim's comments are best understood as illustrating a conspiracist mindset that is widespread in the Middle East and Muslim world more generally. Chief among that mindset is an overly generous willingness to blame America (tool of Zionists) for everything bad in the region, from the poverty to the weather to, well, sharks showing up in the Euphrates. Which, given our recent history there, isn't all that much of a stretch.

Headline allusion background here.

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  1. Not just sharks, Karim.

    Jewish sharks.

    Bwah hah hah hah hah haaaaaaaa!

    *twirls mustache*

  2. How can you tell if a shark is Jewish?

    Oh. Never mind.

  3. Tahseen Ali, a teacher, said there was a “75 per cent chance” Americans had put the shark in the water.

    I would love to know the amount of statistical rigor that went into determining that figure.

  4. Iraq is now being invaded by IllegalSharks sent by the MexicanGovernment in collusion with DrEvil.

  5. It doesn’t eat shellfish, RC.

    Duh!

  6. John-David-

    probably at least as much as gone into calculating how “imminent” the threat Iraq posed to the US.

    joe – and it has no league games on Saturday.

  7. At the feeding frenzy, you barely nibbled. Do you want that I should get a heart attack?

  8. I have to ‘fess up that I too tend to blame our government for everything.

    …if the Iraqi people start attributing it all to incompetence rather than malice, can we start calling them small “l” libertarians?

  9. Rivers are freshwater. Although some species such as the bull shark and perhaps the releated tiger shark can briefly swim in brackish or even freshwater, no species of shark is strictly freshwater. Most sharks cannot survive in freshwater for long if at all.

  10. Here’s a conspiracy theory you guys will like.

  11. Not only Jewish sharks, but Jewish sharks with frickin’ “laser” beams on their foreheads!

  12. The jewish shark is pretty much my favorite animal. It’s like a Lion of Judah and a tiger shark mixed… bred for its skills in magic.

  13. Really, if we can control the sharks, the world might as well surrender. That, or shut down its beaches. American freshwater-friendly sharks are on the move, baby.

    We also control the world’s porpoises and have a panoply of aqua powers.

  14. *note to self: ProGlib is not allowed to go in his Aquaman costume next Halloween*

  15. We’ve also populated the world’s aquariums with coolie loaches…poised for attack.

  16. I think that fishermen rank right down there with taxicab drivers as crappy journalistic sources,

    Agreed. Everybody knows that Johnny, the shoeshine boy, is the best source.

  17. Joe – because he’s circumspect?

    ProLib – I hereby commit to following your example and use the word “panoply” in a real sentence. Wait, I just did . . .

    And who remembers “Knock, knock. . . Candygram from Mr. Shark.”?

  18. No, Ma’m. I’m just a dolphin.

  19. just to point out, the iraqis arnt safe out of the water either,

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6295138.stm

    Killer BADGERS!

  20. British Libertarian – Man eating badgers! I’ve been lied to!

  21. Lawyers in the Euphrates? Oh no?

  22. Q: So how do they circumcise a shark?

    A: They send down four skindivers.

  23. re middle easterners embracing conspiracy theories. I’ve read this lots of times but wonder if there are any non-western scholarship of the idea?

    sharks being planted by the US seems pretty crazy idea though

    I was listening to A.R. and they were interviewing an Iraqi jouranlist who said he believes that some car bombs in marketplaces are orchestrated by US or by contractors or by affiliated militias infiltrating the government themselves. He said that a high percentage of the people believe this too. Now why would the US conduct car bombs? is this an arab conspiracy theroy? but what if it’s true? see we just don’t have the same discourse with this culture that we are now devoted toward re-arranging in a more US-favorable way.

  24. This is nothing new. Weeks ago the Army Times reported that Iraqis in Basra were accusing the British of releasing “giant cow eating badgers.” It just so happens that the Brit unit in Basra has the badger as a mascot (though not a real one w/ them in Iraq) and an Iraqi farmer swears that he saw one attack and kill one of his cows.

  25. Finally, all those Sci-Fi Channel movies about the military-industrial complex creating genetically engineered super-sharks are starting to pay off.

  26. Why isn’t Dave W explaining why the sharks are clearly planted by the CIA? Surely there is something that didn’t happen that proves it.

  27. British Libertarian – Man eating badgers! I’ve been lied to!

    Baked Penguin, I really enjoyed feeding the badger, thanks.

  28. The range of conspiracy theories in the Arab world are unbelievable…

    This weeks economist details out a common belief among some shia that the US and Britain invaded to eclipse the arrival of the Mahdi

    e.g.

    http://www.economist.com/world/africa/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10026481

    The businessman says the invasion was a deliberate attempt to cause so much chaos that the Mahdi’s return would be hidden from the world’s gaze. “America and Britain want to destroy Iraq and control it,” he says. “We see proof every day. Nothing has been built in four years. We’ve lost everything-our security, our jobs, our country.” He blames the British, who have overseen Iraq’s southern zone, and the Americans for sowing sectarian hatred. British soldiers defaced Sunni and Shia mosques at night, he says, in order to provoke clashes between the two groups. The Americans, he says, secretly brought al-Qaeda fighters into Iraq in containers and gave them money and weapons.

    It’s really just another sign of how deep a pile of shit the whole thing is

  29. This is nothing new. Weeks ago the Army Times reported that Iraqis in Basra were accusing the British of releasing “giant cow eating badgers.” It just so happens that the Brit unit in Basra has the badger as a mascot (though not a real one w/ them in Iraq) and an Iraqi farmer swears that he saw one attack and kill one of his cows

    The badgers in question (Ratels aka Honey Badgers) are quite real and quite indigenous to Iraq (which makes the conspiracy theory that much more odd). They like honey (hence the name), are mean as fuck (even by the standards of badgers), produce foul-smelling secretions from their anal scent glands (a common feature of Mustelidae), will attack large livestock, and it has been suspected that when attacking larger mammals they deliberately target the scrotum.

  30. it has been suspected that when attacking larger mammals they deliberately target the scrotum

    Yeah. Badgers, and my exgirlfriend

  31. Badgers? Badgers? We don’t need no steenking badgers!

  32. Proof of the badger’s scrotom-targeting prowess =
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVzfcpu9RM0

    WARNING: contains images of animals fighting, which could be construed as cruelty by me for even allowing myself to view this or share with others. I like badgers personally. Mean sons a bitches. I like that.

  33. produce foul-smelling secretions from their anal scent glands

    Did you write this with a straight face?

    The range of conspiracy theories in the Arab world are unbelievable…

    I’d love to read a book on the subject. Paranoia+lack of reliable information=?

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