|Born||Kevin James Barrett
Madison, Wisconsin, United States
|Alma mater||San Francisco State University
University of Wisconsin-Madison
|Occupation||Journalist, radio host, activist|
|Employer||American Freedom Radio|
American Freedom Radio
|Known for||Truth Jihad Radio, 9/11 Truth Activist|
In the fall of 2006, Barrett taught an introductory class called "Islam: Religion and Culture", an undergraduate course for which he had formerly been a teaching assistant. Before the semester began, it was reported that he planned to devote a week or two of the sixteen-week class to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack and the War on Terrorism. Controversy erupted when it became known Barrett was planning to discuss conspiracy theories in his lectures. An internal university review found that "although Mr. Barrett presented a variety of viewpoints, he had not discussed his personal opinions in the classroom" and that the department-approved syllabus, which included a section on the War on Terror, had been followed.
In the early 1990s, Barrett received master's degrees in both English literature and French from San Francisco State University and married a Moroccan-born Muslim woman. He converted to Islam in 1992, having formerly been a Unitarian.
Barrett returned to the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1995. The United States State Department gave him a Fulbright Scholarship in 1999 to study a year in Morocco. He received a Ph.D. in African languages and literature with a minor in folklore from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2004, focusing his dissertation on the topic of Moroccan legend. He has taught English, French, Arabic, American Civilization, Humanities, African Literature, Folklore, and Islam at colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay area, Paris, and Madison, Wisconsin.
Barrett first drew attention to his views by publishing guest op-eds in the Madison Capital Times, in which he alleged that Muslims had nothing to do with the attacks: "As a Ph.D. Islamologist and Arabist I really hate to say this, but I'll say it anyway: 9/11 had nothing to do with Islam. The war on terror is as phony as the latest Osama bin Laden tape." Barrett has also alleged the 2005 London bombings and the 2004 Madrid bombing appear to have been committed by U.S. or western military intelligence and not Islamic terrorists.
Following a June 28, 2006 talk radio segment on WTMJ, Barrett's views came to the attention of Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, U.S. Representative Mark Green, and State Representative Stephen L. Nass. After conducting a 10-day review of Barrett's past teaching and plans for the class, UW–Madison Provost Patrick Farrell determined that Barrett was fit to teach. Barrett told the Provost that his course will spend one week examining current issues, such as viewpoints on the war on terror which will be based on the discussion on readings representing a variety of viewpoints.
Barrett has written a largely autobiographical book covering the controversy, entitled "Truth Jihad: My Epic Struggle against the 9/11 Big Lie," published by Progressive Press in early 2007. He also edited "9/11 and American Empire" (vol. 2) from Interlink Books, published in Dec. 2006.
Barrett taught the Fall 2006 class he'd been hired for. Comments in students' class evaluation forms were 73% generally favorable, and Provost Farrell said he'd mostly heard positive comments about the class.
Also in fall 2006 Barrett began hosting an Internet talk show weekly on Republic Broadcasting Network titled "Truth Jihad Radio." Twice a week he had another Internet talk show on the Genesis Communications Network called "The Dynamic Duo," (hosted on other days of the week by Dr. James Fetzer). The topic of both shows is mainly conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11.
Toward the end of the Fall 2006 semester Barrett said he would not teach the following spring due to conflicting plans. He applied to teach "Canterbury Tales" during the Fall 2007 semester, but was not hired. After his old lecturer position went to another applicant and Barrett was not hired for another position, Barrett alleged that he had been discriminated against for his political beliefs.
In an interview with Iran's Press TV which aired on March 30, 2014, Barrett suggested that Israel may have been behind the recent disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, explaining that "Christopher Bollyn just found that there is an identical twin of this plane. It has been sitting in a hangar in Tel Aviv, Israel, for the past couple of months. There was a shell-game played with this aircraft. It was in the south of France, and then they moved it down to Israel. Speculation is that there was some sort of false-flag plan afoot, perhaps another planes-into-buildings deception like 9/11. We have so many parallels between this event and 9/11." In the same interview, Barrett also suggested another theory that British banker Jacob Rothschild was behind the plane's disappearance.
The Anti-Defamation League specifically cites Barrett as one of the leading promoters of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories as part of a "network of anti-Israel conspiracists who endorse and reinforce each other's work" who "blame Israel for numerous nefarious deeds and false flag operations." along with Gordon Duff, who runs Veterans Today, and Alan Sabrosky.
Barrett announced in May 2008 his plans to run for U.S Representative in Wisconsin's 3rd congressional district as a third-party challenger to incumbent Rep. Ron Kind in the November 2008 election. On May 14, 2008 Barrett sent an email to supporters claiming to have received the endorsement of WTDY talk radio show host John "Sly" Sylvester. Questions were immediately raised about this claim, which Barrett was never able to prove. Some said Sly was joking. Also on May 14 Sean Haugh, the Political Director of the National Libertarian Party, asked the Wisconsin Libertarians not to nominate Barrett, and stated that he (Haugh) would "go out of my way to disassociate him from the national LP." Michael Badnarik, Libertarian presidential candidate in 2004, has signed the 9/11 Truth Statement, and Haugh said he had no problem with 9/11 Truthers in the Libertarian party. Barrett won 59% of the Libertarian vote in the primary September 9.
Wearing a V-for-Vendetta mask, Barrett visited Rep. Kind's office in La Crosse, WI on October 2 to deliver a "pink slip" symbolic of Kind's imminent removal from office in the election November 4. A poll sponsored by the La Crosse Tribune, Wisconsin Public Radio and the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and released a couple of weeks later showed Kind could expect 63 percent of the vote and Barrett 3 percent.
Barrett received the endorsements of 9/11 activists Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Carol Brouillet, Dr. David Ray Griffin, and Kevin Ryan in late October. On election day Barrett received 2.3% of the vote, and the incumbent got 62 percent.
Barrett has written: