“The enemy rollout of the experimental drug has pushed many people into a corner – either take the experimental drug and die or be excluded from the controlled society that we call the United States,” says the blurb of an American-registered website, whose owners appear to be preparing themselves for a war.
The experimental drug that the group “War Time Mind” is referring to is the COVID-19 vaccine, and as vaccine mandates are rolled out over the US, this group has been using the audio-only app Clubhouse to spread alarmist misinformation about what the vaccine does. They are one of many new communities to emerge in the last few months who are aligning anti-vax ideology with prepping – the preparations survivalists undertake in the event of climate emergencies, disruptions to political or economic order or, in their case, when they feel they are forced by their government to take the vaccine.
While preppers existed long before the coronavirus pandemic, empty shelves on supermarkets and lockdowns galvanised many to follow online prepping communities for tips. But War Time Mind is different, and as one expert told VICE World News, is the first time they have seen guns and armed conflict discussed in this way on Clubhouse with regard to anti-vax conspiracy theories.
On both its website and in Clubhouse conversations, the group falsely claims that the vaccine will “depopulate humanity,” and asks that listeners pay subscriptions to be part of a growing community for the unvaccinated, in which they can gain access to training for urban warfare and wilderness living. In the last few weeks, War Time Mind has gained hundreds of new listeners on the app.
The website, which is nearly six months old, first greets the reader with an image of a soldier emerging from fire and debris with the text “Our response to the attack on humanity” overlaid. The website offers various membership levels; for $15 a year you can get access to its full Clubhouse network, but at the top level of $45 you receive additional perks, including one-on-ones with the group’s founders, membership for your spouse, and, for some reason, a free chess lesson.
War Time Mind claims that learning chess “will help you save your life,” and offers chess classes alongside learning about under-the-grid networks, caring for crops and livestock, and urban warfare training. “Don't get caught,” a message on the website says. “The prospect of the federal government declaring martial law under circumstances of invasion, insurrection or outright war is disturbing and is something that Preppers live with in the back of their minds. Learn how to manage those threats and still be prepared to handle them.”
Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst at the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, said that the group’s apparent glorification of violence was worrying.
"The group is explicit in its belief that COVID is not real and the vaccines will kill you,” he told VICE World News via email.
“It’s concerning that they are combining promotion of these conspiracies with plans to host or conduct ‘urban warfare training,’ especially since the details of this are not clear from their online activities. It also appears as though they want to buy their own land and create their own form of a commune/self-sustaining community, which is a more advanced aim than most other conspiracy groups.”
While anti-vax sentiment is rife on Clubhouse, there are fewer visible prepper communities, and War Time Mind is one of the few examples of groups that combine both ideologies.
One of the organisers of the War Time Mind Clubhouse rooms states in their bio that “we are building a network of likeminded people who are ready and willing to protect all of our freedoms.” They explain on the site that “we offer beginner to advanced tactical simulation training in the urban jungle. Goals include learning combat skills, running urban evacuation drills and undergoing war time physical and mental training and conditioning.”
In one room run by War Time Mind, VICE World News heard a woman tell listeners that God had told her “many would die and have adverse reactions” if they took the vaccine.
In another, VICE World News heard claims that “these motherfuckers are demonic paedophiles” in reference to President Joe Biden and the Democrats and that “if we know their name, they’re the puppet” – all clear references to the QAnon ideology, one of the world’s most persistent and widely debunked far right conspiracy theories. One speaker said that they have distanced themselves from the vaccinated people in their life because “the vaccine embeds in the DNA so they’re not the same people” – a conspiracy theory debunked by researchers, who have noticed that some social media users have been confusing the nanoparticles that transport and protect the vaccine component with nanobot.
The main speaker and moderator of the War Time Mind rooms, who uses the pseudonym “Dr. Black B. Inc.” was flagged to Clubhouse last week as part of VICE World News’ investigation into doctors experiencing harassment. He remains on the platform, however.
VICE World News contacted “Dr. Black B. Inc.” on Clubhouse to ask how many memberships sign-ups War Time Mind had received, as well as why it was offering chess lessons, but has yet to receive a reply.
War Time Mind is not the only group to be aligning doomsday prepping with anti-vax conspiracy theories. In the UK, there is a Telegram group dedicated to those who are against the vaccine and who are preparing for living in isolated communities away from the vaccinated. People in the group are seriously considering going off grid. “I intend to build an earth bag building with earthbags and barbed wire,” says one user, who plans on staying near her local community. “No electricity either, so I am using hand tools.” Another responds: “Problem with that is by staying local is they could find you to force jabs. It’s why I’m looking further afield.”
VICE World News uncovered a series of anti-vaccine videos under TikTok’s prepper hashtags, in which users claim loved ones and friends had died from taking the vaccine, from both UK and US users.
There is no evidence of any causal links that could suggest the COVID-19 vaccine is responsible for deaths – but with prepper content surging since the pandemic and supermarket shortages, the pipeline between doomsday prepping and conspiracy theories seems to be getting stronger.
And in the meantime, War Time Mind is looking to buy land in Georgia. “Our goal is to raise the money to purchase land free of debt before the end of 2021,” they say on the site. “Once we own the land free of debt, families will have the opportunity to help build a rest haven for themselves and the community.” The GoFundMe has reached almost $10,000.