Blogs and social media has been abuzz with talk of a supposed “German news report” indicating that Andreas Lubitz, the co-pilot of Germanwings flight 9525, was a Muslim convert. In fact, there is no such report. The rumor that Lubitz converted to Islam got started on the German site Politically Incorrect. In the American blogosphere, Politically Incorrect is being cited as a “German news website.” It is not a news site, however, but rather is an overtly anti-Islamic blog/forum. The confusion apparently arose from the site’s url: www.pi-news.net.
Given the orientation of the site and reports that Germanwings 9525 was intentionally crashed by the co-pilot, it is hardly surprising that commentators on Politically Incorrect would speculate about whether Lubitz was a Muslim. Reference was made in particular to a blog post by a site regular named Michael Mannheimer. Mannheimer’s post contains no evidence that Lubitz was a Muslim convert, but just more speculation. Mannheimer’s conjecture is based on such apparently suspicious details as the fact that Lubitz did flight training in Bremen and Bremen is also home to a mosque known for its radicalism. In fairness to Politically Incorrect, it should be noted that several commentators on the site have themselves rejected the speculations in Mannheimer’s post as unfounded, including one who remarked that he “must have been very drunk” when he wrote it.
Related American posts have also made reference to newly minted Facebook pages celebrating Lubitz in an Islamist vein. But of obviously greater relevance is Lubitz’s own Facebook page. That page has been taken down, but a Google cache of the entry page (i.e. without timeline entries) is still available here. It contains no trace of any interest in Islam. It does, however, feature the now famous photo of Lubitz posing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as a banner photo of New York’s Times Square. Lubitz is known to have done training and travelled in the United States, and it is clear from his Facebook page that he was an admirer of the country. This hardly fits the standard profile of an Islamist – no more so than Lubitz’s evident enthusiasm for techno musicians like the French DJ/producer David Guetta.
We will undoubtedly learn more about Lubitz’s life in the days and weeks to come. But the supposed “German news report” does not exist and for the moment, there is no reason whatsoever to believe that he was a Muslim convert.
John Rosenthal is the author of The Jihadist Plot: The Untold Story of Al-Qaeda and the Libyan Rebellion. You can follow his work at www.trans-int.com or on Facebook here.