Meet the DC-Area Wine Bar Manager Who Started the Ukraine Biolabs Conspiracy Theory

“YOU GUYS TUCKER’S OPENING STATEMENT IS THE BIOLABS STORY. HOLY SHIT WE FUCKING DID IT.”

Apr 12 2022, 12:49pm
Unraveling viral disinformation and explaining where it came from, the harm it's causing, and what we should do about it.

If you’ve paid any attention to the news in recent weeks, especially if you’ve tuned in to right-wing outlets like Fox News, you’ve heard about a conspiracy theory that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was perpetrated as a cover to destroy a network of U.S.-funded labs that were developing biological weapons.

The Ukrainian biolabs conspiracy theory has gained a large audience among America’s right, and as a result, the Kremlin has seized on it and supercharged it.

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But the conspiracy didn’t originate in some troll factory operated by the Kremlin. Instead, it was created by a former restaurant manager at an upscale winery on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., who served in the U.S. Army National Guard for over five years.

Jacob Creech, known online as WarClandestine and BioClandestine, was first identified in a report published Tuesday by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. Creech subsequently appeared on Alex Jones’ InfoWars platform and confirmed his identity.

According to a LinkedIn profile that VICE News reviewed, Creech attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, between 2011 and 2013. After college, Creech’s LinkedIn profile says, he worked as a manager and bartender at the Union Station Bar & Grill in Harrisonburg between 2013 and 2016.

In 2015, his profile says he took up a position as a sales technician with ValleyApps, a company that provides cloud-based services such as Google Workspace to other companies.

Then in 2018, Creech switched back to the hospitality industry and worked at the upmarket Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant in Rockville, Maryland, as restaurant manager. 

While his LinkedIn profile suggests he still works there, Creech wrote in a post on the BioClandestine Telegram channel, which has 60,000 followers, that he quit months ago.

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“I used to manage a winery/restaurant outside of DC, I quit just before Christmas because I just couldn’t take the insanity anymore. From the mask wearing, to the dock in pay, to the being surrounded by brainwashed libs who were conditioned to hate guys who look like me, etc. I had enough, moved away from the city back into rural VA.”

Union Station, ValleyApps, and Cooper’s Hawk all failed to respond to a request for comment about the employment claims Creech made on his LinkedIn profile. Creech did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

During much of this time, Creech was also a member of the U.S. Army National Guard, serving part-time between January 2011 and February 2016 at Fort Benning in Georgia. He lists himself as a Specialist 11B, which is a reference to the infantry division.

In his online personas, Creech has repeatedly referred to 11B including his Telegram channel, where he calls himself “11B Astute Observer."

Claims that the U.S. has been funding biolabs to develop chemical or biological weapons around the world have been circulating for years, but the Ukraine conspiracy theory was born on Feb. 14 on the far-right Christian social network Gab, when a user posted a map of Ukraine that claimed to show the locations of U.S.-funded biolabs.

The map, first reported by NBC, attracted just three comments, but on the day Russia’s invasion began, Creech shared the same image on his anonymous Twitter account, @WarClandestine, which is now suspended.

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That image formed part of a thread that quickly went viral, and hours later was the basis for an article about Ukrainian biolabs published on InfoWars, the conspiracy theory website run by Alex Jones.

Then, the claim took hold in QAnon and MAGA channels online, and within days, the Russian government had begun endorsing the conspiracy. Two days after Creech posted his thread, the Russian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina wrote on Facebook that the United States was stuffing “Ukraine with biolaboratories, which—quite possibly—were used to study methods for the destruction of the Russian people at the genetic level.”

Creech himself took advantage of the notoriety and appeared on RedPill78, a popular QAnon show hosted by Zak Paine, a podcaster who recently hosted former Trump adviser Roger Stone on his show and once encouraged his viewers to drink a bleach solution to cure cancer.

“I’m the one who wrote the [Twitter] thread that kind of took the world by storm. If you’re hearing about the bio labs, it was me,” Creech said during a Feb. 26 appearance on the show. 

Despite his appearance on a QAnon show, Creech has objected to media reports describing him as a QAnon supporter.  “I have never once quoted Q or referenced a drop,” Creech wrote on Telegram on March 14.

However, the ADL report outlines how Creech’s Twitter accounts repeatedly posted in support of QAnon between 2018 and 2020.

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“There are many stances on Q, but we cannot deny the reality and magnitude of the movement,” he wrote in 2018. In 2020, he tweeted: “What is our role as Anons to assist the Q team and carry on The Great Awakening? It is our personal responsibility to be informed.”

As the biolabs story took hold and was pushed by the Kremlin, Creech reveled in his newfound fame, especially when the conspiracy made its way to the nation’s top-rated cable show, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight.

“YOU GUYS TUCKER’S OPENING STATEMENT IS THE BIOLABS STORY. The story is on the most watched show in America,” Creech wrote on Telegram moments after Carlson’s show began on March 9. “HOLY SHIT WE FUCKING DID IT.”

Later the same day he wrote: “I am trying to get in contact with Tucker [Carlson], [Dan] Bongino, [Jesse] Watters, [Steve] Bannon, Alex Jones. If they wanna use my thread and they wanna send this mainstream, then I guess it’s time to go mainstream.”

And Creech got his wish: This week he appeared on InfoWars to discuss his “research.”

Tagged:

Virginia, Ukraine, conspiracy, Tucker Carlson, bioweapons, qanon, worldnews, Disinfo Dispatch

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