It all began on Reddit. Specifically, a particularly loathsome subreddit known as “jailbait”.
The community focused on sexual images of people who were technically of legal age but who were youthful enough to appear barely or even pre-pubescent. It was popular, as any sexually focused internet location tends to be, but it was also highly polarizing… so much so that after it was given national attention on CNN in 2011, the subreddit triggered investigations that eventually caused the exposure, job loss, and retirement of its creator, Violentacrez.
Violentacrez wasn’t the only moderator, though. There was also ReligionOfPeace. R.O.P. was an active Reddit user who commented regularly on a variety of topics but spent much of his time talking about violence and politics, railing against liberal news sites and socialism while promoting things like youthful sex, violence, atheism and his image site. That image site, unsurprisingly, featured hundreds of images – often pornographic – of teen and younger adult women. He claimed to be an old military vet. The image site was named lakecityquietpills.com
In July of 2009, long before the subreddit drew scrutiny from CNN, R.O.P. stopped posting.
A new poster logged on the day after R.O.P.’s last post. Their user name was 2-6, and they proceeded to let everyone know that “Milo”… ReligionOfPeace… was dead. They detailed what was happening to his possessions (some were to be donated to the local V.A., his cat was being given to his next-door-neighbor, etc.) and provided a general link to where Milo’s ashes were being spread. They also said they were the person who had provided Milo hosting space.
Some people are curious, though. It sounded like it might be a hoax… certainly nothing new for internet forums… and they decided to investigate. What they found was a history of a user named Angeltwo-six who had been an irregular poster to places like Fark (a humor / news crowdsourcing site founded in 1999) and who had an e-mail address at lakecityquietpills.com
The name “Lake City Quiet Pills” made some people curious, because it seems to have no relation to pornographic images. What it might have relation to, however, is the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. Especially when “AngelTwo-Six”‘s old forum posts were examined and their tagline (the quote that could be set to auto-generate at the end of a forum post) was noticed: “Dispensing Lake City Quiet Pills to lousy bastards in need of permanent rest since 1968.”
At that point, nothing was clear. It could be that everything was exactly as presented by ReligionOfPeace and 2-6; it could still be nothing more than a hoax, however. What argued against the hoax were the consistent spelling errors of 2-6/AngelTwo-Six over the course of year, errors which were not seen on R.O.P.’s posts.
Some Reddit users were drawn into the possible hoax nature of things. The resultant publicity further convinced doubters that it was all being done to generate traffic to lakecityquietpills.com. Driven by a desire to prove themselves right, hackers started investigating the site.
This is where the mystery kicked into high gear. Examining the available code for the site, a hidden message forum was found. Messages there referred to “Shade” maintaining a calendar, “Angel” having job postings for EU and Asia, and specifics about people not being sent to “ME”.
A poster – assumed to be Angel a.k.a. Angel 2-6, informed everyone in the secret message board that they’d found Milo dead, dealt with his things and given his cat to the next-door neighbor. They also provided more information: they’d bricked his ironkey, so all was well.
Amidst the response messages were job postings, which included data like “Immediate need! 8-10 chinese/korean. Fluent korean/dialect/accent details after contact. 12 week halfpay sequester on refusal.” , “two ground types. Fluent farsi arabic french. no papers, no problems” and “Need formed group (8-10). single op. deliv bonus. “gentleman’s agreement” insurance. Immediate need.”
If it was a hoax, it was an intricately planned one. Instead, on the surface, it looked as if a mercenary operation may have been accidentally uncovered… one that was possibly involved in illegal activity, based on the concerns about bricking (rendering useless) the ironkey (an encrypted flash drive).
There was no absolute evidence of it, but it is plausible. If that interpretation is correct, however, it calls into question one other thing, a “party” that was planned on the site.
Once suspicions were raised about lakecityquietpills.com, people noticed that the date of a party discussed on the site seemed to mirror the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
The problem here is that the evidence grows steadily less reliable. What begins as a certainty (that someone is involved in an incredibly shady website) devolves to a strong likelihood (there are at least two people involved, one of whom died while the other handled their posthumous affairs), then devolves further into a probability (the “secret site” involved job offers for a private group of associates), to a possibility (the job offers are for mercenary work) to a connection established purely by having common dates for two events.
It’s an interesting story. It’s a great example of how odd the internet can be. What is it not, however, is proof that an internet troll had a direct link to a notorious Dubai murder.