Strange Events 104

You will note that this morning’s piece on Afghanistan was posted at 4am. That is because I was awoken by what sounded like somebody rattling the back door. There was however nothing to be seen.

Then at 10.22pm this evening, Nadira received a phone call on her mobile from a witheld number. A heavily accented man asked “if her husband was the writer”. She asked who it was, and he gave his name as Osman. She noticed that another man was whispering, telling the first man what to reply.

“Osman” then started asking repeatedly “Is your husband at home?” Nadira said that I did not take phone calls from people at that time of night, and suggested that “Osman” should email. “Osman” said that I was going to write something for him, and again started asking if I was at home. Nadira told him to email, and he then started swearing and repeating “Your husband owes us £30,000”.

This is all very disconcerting. I don’t know any “Osman”, and to the best of my knowledge neither I not any organisation with which I am connected has any outstanding debts to anybody. Why phone so late of night, who was “Osman” and who was the man whispering his instructions? Most disconcerting of all, why phone Nadira and where did he get her number?

If I did not have a family I would laugh this off, but the approach to Nadira and the questioning of whether I am at home is alarming. Probably that is the object of the exercise.

104 thoughts on “Strange Events

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  • avatar singh

    sorry to hear about such unsettling expereince crag. May be it was simply a prank .Real sinister people do not work like that.

  • Matt Keefe

    The channels by which an unknown caller could possibly have got your wife’s number would appear to be the most immediate clue. Do you have no idea at all how they could have done so?

    What language was the second man whispering in, or was it inaudible? If English, does that not suggest the possibility the accent could be fake?

    I think there’s a facility for mobile phone providers to note nuisance calls. Even if the number was withheld to the final destination, it may be available to them. They won’t give it out to you, but they may be able to note it should it be relevant at a later date. I think there’s a website that carries specific government advice on nuisance calls – perhaps try Googling.

  • BP

    Most likely Gynephobic teenagers latching on to the ‘Tim Osman’ story. Micro penis syndrome, irritating but nothing to worry about.

  • Craig


    I’ve taken advice that there’s not enough for the police to do anything. Let’s see if it goes away. Taking obvious physical precautions.

  • Jake Turner

    I sympathise. There is little more unsettling than to be intimidated in your own home. Perhaps you could trace the number somehow – have you thought of phoning up BT or whoever to see if they can tell you the origin of the call?

  • kathz

    That’s horrible and unsettling for you all. Phone calls with implied threats are, unfortunately, not unusual – I hope that this is just someone playing an unpleasant one-off trick. I’ve had a few over the years – the worst was years ago when the phone rang at 2 in the morning, and the comments included the words “I know where you live” (particularly scary because my toddler son was asleep beside me). None ever came to anything worse. However the mobile phone company should be able to help in tracing future calls to the number.

    Best wishes to you all.

  • Ruth

    When I was investigating a carousel fraud and its links to the intelligence services, I had two calls from Belgium, where the fraud emanated. Only a couple of very close relatives had my mobile number but I know that both my landline and mobile were tapped; the clicks at the right places were obvious. Therefore, my conclusion was that the intelligence services made those calls.

    I think your blog with its openness, free discussion and potential for relevation is a threat to the Establishment and their corrupt practices.

    Although the police probably can’t do anything it’s very important to tell them so there’s a record.

    I remember on a separate occasion when one of the agents tried to contact my little son by phone, I sent a fax to Tony Blair, Paul Evans and the head of the intelligence services to leave my family alone.

  • ScouseBilly


    I’m very sorry to hear this.

    If you google “osman warning”, there’s a host of stuff there.

    It could, of course, be some freak but, as Matt Keefe points out, how would this person get your wife’s mobile number.

    Can I suggest that you keep backups of your webstats including all IP addresses and make sure they are retained by someone you can trust.

    Take care and keep posting to let us know you both are ok.

  • Mr M

    It once happened to me when I was being bullied by the middle east forum and their hoodlums. Now we leave the callers to ring until we hear their voices on the answering machine and pick as we please.

  • Anonymous

    Put up a 24hr cctv system, make sure its black and white. Colour cctv does’nt work that well at night.

  • Courtenay Barnett

    Your blog is getting to some people in power. Sounds very much like psychological warfare without physical attack. Maybe you can set up a sophisiticated trace on your phones, and have some experts assist you in getting to the root of it. No doubt – your blog is being noticed.

    Sorry to hear. I have had 3 death threats. Take care mate.

  • ScouseBilly

    Courtenay Barnett at June 11, 2010 1:15 AM

    Totally agree – good advice.

    Craig, you should report this to the police and stress the use of the coded “Osman”, they will be well aware of its significance.

  • Craig

    I googled “Osman threat”, That’s an interesting possibility – I was confused why on earth someone with a name I think of as Turkish would be threatening me.

  • Matt Keefe

    The other thing, Craig, is that it has been mentioned here on this blog that you’re buying a house, with reference to large, lump sum transactions. Could that possibly make you a target for extortion? A concocted debt and threats to kill on the off chance someone would be stupid enough to pay up?

  • Clark

    The back door incident and the ‘phone call may or may not be related, and the call could be a mistaken number, of course, but I’m glad that you’re taking precautions.

    I believe that the ‘phone companies are obliged to keep records of all calls; contact them and ask them to ensure that they keep records of incoming calls, or even that they send copies to the police.

    With land lines I know that you could request that your line be monitored; the police have a department for this and they attach a recorder to your line, though I don’t know what they do about mobiles. The police should do this if you ask them to as threats over the telephone are a criminal offence.

    It may be possible to block calls to Nadira’s ‘phone from unknown and/or withheld numbers; the caller would then have to reveal their number or desist.

    Yes, keep posting, and best wishes to you all.

  • Roderick Russell

    This type of stuff is very familiar to my wife and I. It is what I call the soft zerzetsen. While each incident on its own could be seen as coincidental (e.g just a nut phoning by mistake), our experience is that there is usually a small series of incidents (anything from 2 to 6) to let you know that it isn’t coincidental. That’s probably why they rattled your door in the middle of the night before.

    Ruth’s advice is good – file with the Police as a matter of record. We made the mistake for years of keeping it quiet in the hope that it would stop. Since the objective of this type of psy-ops is to make you worry all the time, keeping it quiet just plays into their hands. Use your blog to publicize any future incidents.

  • MJ

    Perhaps if it happens again and you are at home it might be a good idea to take the call and see what he says.

  • angrysoba

    I agree with those who said you should speak to the police. That “Osman warning” thing is interesting in a very, very creepy way.

    I think it is irresponsible of commenters here to immediately jump to the “only possible answer” that it is the intelligence services, “the Establishment”, Mossad etc… For people who rail at the way the “mainstream media” likes to promote fear they tend to do the same with rather gay abandon themselves.

    It’s quite possible that it is just a nutter and to be fair you do attract a few of them, Craig. (Some of them like to believe – want to believe – yearn to believe – that Osama bin Laden was a CIA agent by the name of Tim Osman).

    Anyway, on the off-chance that it really is someone dangerous who reads this blog DON’T discuss your security arrangements here.

    And as they said at the end of CrimeWatch, “Don’t have nightmares!”

  • Dave

    Craig–it seems a bit too coincidental that such a semi-threatening call should occur so soon after all this Israel stuff. Unless, of course, you’ve been getting them all along. I doubt it’s Mossad, but likely some pro-Israel clown expressing his impotence.

    Fifteen years ago, I started getting death threats on my answering machine, though for the life of me I had no idea why. The voice was unrecognizable, and never said why they wanted to kill me. Then one day it just stopped.

    If you really believe the back door was rattling though, my advice would be two well-trained protection dogs.

  • technicolour

    Dogs I agree are good. You just need one which barks, though, not a killer.

    The ‘Osman warning’ story is fascinating, but not really applicable here?

    I agree, this doesn’t sound terribly professional, but certainly unnerving. Next time, if there is a next time, keep them talking and tape them (you can get a sucker mike to link the phone to a dictaphone, if you didn’t know).

    all best.

  • Anonymous

    I know two people who have been threatened after obviously upsetting powers-that-be (whoever they are) by putting explosive or highly embarrassing material into the public domain or just powerfully exposing establishment criminality using information already out there. I received a 5:15 am visit from a chap in jeans and a leather jacket myself after engaging in similar activities.

    It would seem that nebulous threats or unsettling theatre (organised presumably by the ‘security services’)are a common first step in dealing with individuals who upset powerful interests.

    You can rest assured that if you seriously threaten their interests you are likely to be on the receiving end of treatment that is much more severe than this.

    O, that we could discuss this issue with JFK who withdrew the power of money creation from the Federal Reserve, demanded US inspections of Israeli nuclear facilities and an American presence in Israel and had decided to end the Vietnam War.

  • James Chater


    I agree that it would be wise to avoid revealing too many personal details on your blog, at least for the time being. This can attract nutters and possibly lead to identity theft (though admittedly your personality would be hard to steal!)

  • StefZ

    There’s no way of knowing what this exchange is all about. Craig has done the right thing by making the events public and he knows that he has the support of the majority of people who visit his blog

    and, personally speaking, on the subject of a little sideswipe I noticed in the comments, one thing I don’t like to believe, don’t want to believe, don’t yearn to believe, is that the bin Laden and Bush families were business partners

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Craig, I think you’re right to be concerned. Definitely take the steps people have suggested. If you can get recordings or proof then it might warn them off. There are a number of possible perpetrators, I guess, from straightforward idiots to real goons of one sort or another; you’ve a lot of potential enemies, Craig, you don’t anyone to remind you of that.

    I agree that maximum publicity and contacting the police, BT, etc. every time anything happens, as well as bolstering security arrangements, would be sensible. Let your neighbours know to look out for anyone snooping around and tell them to phone the cops immediately if they see any such things happening. I would get locks for the windows, a cctv system and sliding double-bolts with a metal bar for the outer doors, the usual stuff. My father’s house got burgled; the aram went off so they got very little as they ran off; we installed cctv – intrusive, but he’s an elderly man living alone – and we got the bastard burglers when they came back. Now they’re in jail, which is where they belong.

    I certainly wouldn’t shrug it off, as Alan Campbell and BP have suggested, I think suggesting that is astonishingly complacent and nonchalant. Sorry, guys. If it were your wife/ husband/ family, would you shrug it off? I don’t think so.

    I think it is only prudent to do more, Mark Golding, as I think you would if it were your home, no? Okay, not to become like Gene Hackman in that early ’70s film. But still, to pursue it.

    Ruth and Roderick’s narratives are very interesting – Ruth, you did the right thing, that is terrifying, esp. that they tried to harass your young son. Such people, the Stasi-boys – in our imagination at least – really require a Glasgow Kiss.

    But the best one can do in the real world is expose them, contact all authorities at the highest levels, etc. and hopefully thereby warn them off. Shout loudly. Also, it might be useful to make quiet contact with anyone you’re still friendly with inside the state, to enquire as to who or what these individuals might have been.

    It sounds amateur, but it’s no less dangerous for that.

    This type of thing puts the possible threat made against Mr Russell on another thread of this blog in sharper perspective, I think.

    I would resist jumping to conclusions though, about it being this or that group. It is odd, though – one cannot help making the observation; that is all it is at present – that in all your time criticising, say, Uzbekistan, the UK Govt., the US govt., this has not happened (I assume) before, but that it’s happened after your blog criticised Israel’s recent actions.

  • Vronsky

    Craig, you’re high profile and could attract this sort of nuisance from any number of directions, some sinister but most silly. Anyone who thinks that threats could shut you up doesn’t know your personal history, so at the moment I’d incline to the ‘silly’ hypothesis. Don’t worry, but keep records.

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