Since its establishment during the Carter Administration in 1979, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has spurred rumors that it was in reality formed to detain political dissidents in concentration camps. As part of the US’ Continuity of Government program to respond to overwhelming natural disasters and nuclear war, FEMA camps stimulated the imaginations of Cold War Americans, particularly since Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s bestselling book, The Gulag Archipelago, which described life in the Soviet forced labor camp system had been released in English just 5 years previously.
In 1980, memories of the internment of 120,000 US Citizens of Japanese descent between 1942-1946 by Franklin Roosevelt were still fresh especially because that year, Jimmy Carter opened an investigation into this terrible chapter of US history. Throughout the 1990s, rumors about FEMA concentration camps continued to blossom within the militia movement. The post-9/11 era saw increased speculation about FEMA camps after US Attorney John Ashcroft spoke of his desire to detain all US Citizens deemed to be “enemy combatants”. In 2006, Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Corporation announced that it had built detention camps capable of housing 2 million American “terrorists”.
In 2010, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura covered the topic in his show, ‘Conspiracy Theory’, which featured on-location scenes of secretive FEMA “Residential Centers”, thousands of plastic coffins and the officials who were behind the latest FEMA legislation ducking from his cameras.
The recent scuttlebutt of Military Tribunals has got people thinking about FEMA camps again but now, the old time FEMA camp conspiracy theory has been turned on its head. Today, we hear about tens of thousands of sealed indictments against government personnel and how FEMA camps would be the ideal venue to receive this large population of corrupt officials. That’s quite a remarkable shift from the old time urban legends!
If this slickly-edited piece frames FEMA in a manner that seems slightly out of step with the current conspiracy culture in the US, it’s likely because it was created by the Sweden-based Black Banners of the East Iraqi Shia movement led by Ahmad al-Hassan, who claims to be “the son, messenger, vicegerent, and executor of the affairs of Imam Mahdi, al-Yamani, a messenger of the prophets Isa (Jesus) and Elijah.”
In Muslim eschatology, the Mahdi is the redeemer who will appear and rid the world of evil, ruling for a period of a few years before the Day of Judgment. In most traditions, the Mahdi will arrive with Jesus (Isa) to defeat the false Messiah or Antichrist. The Black Banners group appears to incorporate a Sufic element, that reconciles the wisdom teachings of ancient Greek philosophers, Christianity and Hinduism with Koranic verses.