The impunity of some of the world’s most frightening men is under threat from people stereotyped as geeks in basements around the world. In the 21st century, well-informed and observant social media addicts have extraordinary powers. Eliot Higgins started watching and reporting on war from the comfort of his living room in 2012. Five years later, he’s using his skills to help the International Criminal Court in The Hague to prosecute war criminals. It’s been a strange journey.
This week on War College, Higgins walks us through how he built Bellingcat—a team of investigators who use open source-intelligence and social media to investigate a variety of subjects. They unearthed Russian lies about the shootdown of passenger flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, proved the existence of chemical attacks in Syria, and looked into financial crimes in England.
Higgins is a self-taught open source intelligence expert who thinks anyone can learn to do what he does. Bellingcat doesn’t only investigate crimes, it also teaches its readers how to do the same. For Higgins, it’s a hobby that became a job and a mission. One that’s earned him the admiration of the international community and more than a few enemies.
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