SAS man exposed as fraud
November 14, 2001 4:01 PM   Subscribe

SAS man exposed as fraud The BBC has discovered that Tom Carew, who writes articles from an SAS perspective for the papers and has just published a book about serving in Afghanistan, was never actually a member of the SAS at all. I just saw this interview on TV and laughed and laughed when he punched the camera. WARNING: Realplayer link
posted by Summer (34 comments total)
The bit about the passport is hilarious! Bring back The Cook Report, I say...
posted by dlewis at 4:31 PM on November 14, 2001

"I can show you my passport"

"allright then, lets see it."

"I refuse."

Yeh, thats a classic.
posted by delmoi at 4:42 PM on November 14, 2001

Good gravy! And here I thought his in Salon was pretty good. (Pretty good fiction now, I guess.)
posted by RakDaddy at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2001

Uh, that should be his article in Salon. Sheesh.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:44 PM on November 14, 2001

I just Googled with "Tom Carew" and "SAS" and got 485 hits, from media all over the world. Everyone's been interviewing him, relying on his "expertise and experience"--including the BBC, on October 7, 2001: "An SAS veteran who has fought in Afghanistan has told the BBC that US and British special forces hunting down Osama Bin Laden face a hard struggle. Tom Carew, a 25-year veteran of the UK's most famous regiment, was sent to train anti-communist mujahideen forces in the country from May 1980 to December 1981, and also fought in the struggle."
posted by Carol Anne at 4:50 PM on November 14, 2001

The Cult of the SAS has been nurtured by the British tabloids -- especially the Sun -- ever since the storming of the Iranian Embassy on live television in 1980. It's about time that one of the myth-peddlers got caught out.
posted by holgate at 4:54 PM on November 14, 2001

Anybody got a transcript or summary? Or mpg or wma or Quicktime?

I'm allergic to Real.
posted by NortonDC at 5:14 PM on November 14, 2001

NortonDC, there's an accompanying article, but you really need to see the video for full comic effect. This man is going to be crucified in the tabloids tomorrow. Crucified.
posted by dlewis at 5:21 PM on November 14, 2001

That was pretty funny; like Mike Wallace, circa 1980, with a British accent...
posted by ParisParamus at 5:50 PM on November 14, 2001

Shades of Sean Bean in Ronin. The guy even looks kind of like him. Or there's always the ex-CEO of Lotus, who made up a flying career with the USMC.

I can understand exaggerating with a few friends at the bar or around the water cooler, but publishing a book? He is going to get crucified, and he totally deserves it.
posted by jaek at 6:03 PM on November 14, 2001

I don't know anything about British law; is it possible that he's guilty of criminal fraud? He has, after all, been taking money from people based on a lie.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:08 PM on November 14, 2001

How has he managed to make it this far? The US special forces ruthlessly expose people who run around making claims like this -- see this wannabe SEALS, wannabe Green Berets, heck -- a whole page of links to faker-exposing websites [uh -- some 404'd clinkers]. Hey, a whole article on phony veterans getting exposed, including US author Ellis; and more lie detectors.

I encountered this subculture when a friend of mine was getting divorced and her ex-husband was making threats. In that case, it turned out the people saying he was a dangerous ex-SEAL were actually third parties. Uh ... OK. Nemmind. But they were ready to kick his ass but good. You know, in a legal way.
posted by dhartung at 6:08 PM on November 14, 2001

No kidding jaek, that was my first thought, too! The BBC interviewer should have asked him, "What's the color of the boathouse at Hereford?!"
posted by Potsy at 6:25 PM on November 14, 2001

The media, who is usually good for exposing this sort of thing, tends to take the word of the speaker at face value quite often. Here in Canada, we had our own fake-Vietnam-vet (managed one of the sporting teams and told Vietnam stories all the time) that got absolutely savaged when he was caught out.
story here
posted by Grum at 6:26 PM on November 14, 2001

they should have ambushed him with a cup of coffee.

as the saying goes, "he'll never work in that town again" — the town being oh, the globe...
posted by bwg at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2001

Here in Canada

Somewhat related: NPR's On The Media reported a few months ago on a candidate's campaign manager who went on the radio and insisted he was the candidate to discuss policy.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2001

that was good shit.
he was all calm and everything even as the reporter basically ripped his 25+ year old lie to shreds.
"[my passport will show] exactly who i am" "alright lets have a look then" "[on second thought, what am i talking about. all spy books including mine detail how easily it is to fake official documents, bad idea, i better refuse this devious reporter.]"
posted by sixtwenty3dc at 7:05 PM on November 14, 2001

How has he managed to make it this far?

I suspect it's because -- unlike the SEALs and the Green Berets -- retired SAS members are extravagantly protective of their anonymity, with the assistance of the Official Secrets Act, for fear of terrorist reprisals. Genuine "SAS novelists" such as Andy McNab write under noms de plume and are never photographed. (Of course, this sustains the publicity-generating mystique.) In short, if someone boasts of being ex-SAS in plain air, chances are he's a fake: you'll usually find one in every rowdy British pub on a Saturday night. This one, in particular, appears to have been rather blasé about showing his face in public, and finally pissed off too many real soldiers. A comparative review of McNab and Chris Ryan's fiction also suggests that the SAS now forces new recruits "to sign agreements not to write books when they leave", although this story suggests they may not have much luck enforcing them.

(And I suspect that any charge of "obtaining monies by deception" would be laughed out of court: caveat lector.)
posted by holgate at 7:59 PM on November 14, 2001

Jaek and Potsy - was that character the merc who suggested setting up the crossfire with shooters directly across the road from each other? Rockin' movie, but I haven't seen if for a couple years.
posted by GriffX at 8:47 PM on November 14, 2001

GriffX: That`s the one.
posted by chiheisen at 10:26 PM on November 14, 2001

"What's the color of the boathouse at Hereford?!"

i think it was more like "HEAR-FORD" gotta love that yankie translation... allominum
posted by monkeyJuice at 1:25 AM on November 15, 2001

"i think it was more like "HEAR-FORD"

*snigger*..... And the finale of the film suggesting the yanks saved the NI peace process ... cracked my last remaining rib with laughter that one.
posted by MintSauce at 4:28 AM on November 15, 2001

The other classic moment in the Tom Carew/ Newsnight interview was when the journalist leading the investigation spoke to Carew's co-writer, who was obviously embarrassed that he'd been lied to about Carew's identity, but pointed out that the misinformation was featured on just one page.

"Here, I'm tearing out the SAS claim", said the co-writer as he screwed the page into a little ball and threw it away. "Now, the book is one page shorter." "What, so you are asking all readers to tear out page 39 of the book?" replied the investigating journalist.

Now I know where shows like Brass Eye and the Day Today find their inspiration.
posted by skylar at 5:36 AM on November 15, 2001

BBC: Mr Carew's book, Jihad! The Secret War in Afghanistan, is expected to sell 100,000 copies by Christmas.

On Barnes & Noble's USA website , I see that "Jihad!" is "temporarily out of stock." Is B&N debating what section to display it in: nonfiction? fiction?
posted by Carol Anne at 5:57 AM on November 15, 2001

MintSauce: The Yanks did save the peace process. The argument goes like this: Colombia is full of US advisers working with the government there to combat the marxist rebels and the extreme right paramilitaries. The FARC were receiving bomb-making advice from the IRA. The prospect of Americans being injured by IRA built weapons when the IRA's political wing gets most of it's funding from the US didn't excite too many people. The provos subsequently disarmed.
posted by vbfg at 6:03 AM on November 15, 2001

It's interesting to contemplate the reception Mr. Carew may now expect at the hands of genuine members of 22 Regiment. If he knows his way around Afghanistan (which I doubt), this might be a good time to hole up in one of those caves we've been hearing about.
posted by alumshubby at 6:04 AM on November 15, 2001

I don't think anyone's questioning that 'Carew' served in Afghanistan. 99% of the book is generally agreed to be correct and most people agree he did serve in Afghanistan. It's just the one page in which he claims to have been a member of 22 Regiment SAS.
posted by skylar at 6:53 AM on November 15, 2001

It's just the one page in which he claims to have been a member of 22 Regiment SAS.

Better rip that one page out of the book then ;-)

That interview was classic. He looked especially bad because he only seemed to be able to think one step ahead of the interviewer - not good at thinking on his feet!
posted by spnx at 7:10 AM on November 15, 2001

This man is going to be crucified in the tabloids tomorrow.

Well, was he?
posted by crunchland at 7:16 AM on November 15, 2001

Looks like the "red tops" (the London tabloids) are playing it safe for the moment. Couldn't see anything in the Sun; found this in the Daily Mirror. Both had page one features about genuine SAS troops in Afghanistan.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:09 AM on November 15, 2001

Not really, crunchland. Here's The Sun article.
posted by Summer at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2001

Summer: good Sun spotting! (groan) I love the Sun's closer: IF you know Sessarego call The Sun on 020 7782 4105.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:32 AM on November 15, 2001

I love The Sun sometimes, I really do.
posted by Summer at 8:49 AM on November 15, 2001

I dunno.. the guy lied for 25 years, sure, he's a bastard. But man.. that reporter was an a-hole too. "Wouldn't a real SAS man stand his ground?"

There's no way to win against a reporter who tries to get you to lose your temper. Either way you're going to look like a jackass.
posted by Hildago at 9:40 AM on November 15, 2001

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