Hi. I’m Eliot Higgins, the founder of Bellingcat.
In 2014, I turned to Kickstarter to raise funds for Bellingcat. Thanks to the generosity of 1,701 backers, we’ve spent the past two and a half years using online open source investigations to find truth in what often feels like a post-truth world.
Now we are back on Kickstarter to raise funds to keep the lights on (to hire staff, run the website, pay our developer, and cover rent), and to expand our training and archiving programs.
Soon after our first campaign, we uncovered the location of an Islamic State (ISIS) training camp in Iraq using Google Earth, located where American journalist James Foley had been killed, and showed that the Buk missile launcher linked to the downing of MH17 in Ukraine was under the control of separatists and that it originated from Russian troops.
We’ve secured grants from organizations like the Google Digital News Initiative, Adessium, and Open Society Foundation for some very exciting projects, but this Kickstarter campaign will bridge the gap and allow us to greatly increase Bellingcat’s role in the world.
Together, we will continue to grow this revolution.
Thanks to your support with our last Kickstarter, we have established ourselves as the go-to-source for online open source investigations.
We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in just two and a half years––much of which has been amplified throughout the media:
The Group of Bloggers Unearthing MH17 Intel Quicker Than U.S. Spies ––Mashable
Kickstarter-funded journalists found an ISIL training camp using Google Earth and Bing Maps ––Quartz
Meet Eliot Higgins, Putin's MH17 Nemesis ––Newsweek
Report: Russians regularly shelled eastern Ukraine in 2014 ––AP
The Citizen Journalists Challenging Assad And Putin’s Story Of War ––The Huffington Post
Researchers Think the Same People Hacked the DNC and MH17 Journalists ––Fortune
In Aleppo’s misinformation war, a 7-year-old girl prompts a fact check ––The Washington Post
We were also just nominated for a European press prize ––France 24
Through this Kickstarter, we will expand what we started, and continue to do more than just investigations.
We are dedicated to extending the role of open source investigations around the globe through work including:
We are currently training citizen journalists to perform investigations that will prove just as influential as those listed above.
In 2016 alone, we conducted seventeen training workshops in countries that could benefit the most from well-trained open source investigators––from Iraq, to Georgia, Ukraine, and beyond.
The funds raised in this campaign will allow us to expand our training to more and more countries around the world. Whether we’re in Kuala Lampur, Kyiv, or Tbilsi, the more well-trained investigators there are, the less places there will be for falsehoods to hide.
We've also created projects to collect and share information from conflict zones.
For instance, The Syrian Archive project has joined Bellingcat under the Archive of Conflict Investigations project, funded by the Google Digital News Initiative, to archive videos from the conflict in Syria and ensure that they remain in context thorough investigation work.
By working with international organisations, we’re archiving this information in the best manner possible with a view to use it in future criminal prosecutions. Lessons learnt from this will also be applied to other investigations in the future, ensuring that the best investigations produce the best possible evidence. Again, the funds raised will further these efforts.
We are proud to work with a variety of human rights organizations and stand-up for those who need our support the most. This includes supporting projects and individuals working on a variety of subjects, from conflict to financial corruption.
Bellingcat believes in the importance of co-operation with organisations across the world, and strengthening networks of organisations and promoting cooperation. This will continue to be a core part of Bellingcat’s ethos moving forward, and only be strengthened by this campaign.
Our readers are unbelievably important to us. Your interest, support, and pledges have made Bellingcat possible from the beginning. By crowdfunding here on Kickstarter, we are able to stay completely independent and 100% accountable to the people who matter most––our readers.
Where the money will go
Here are some of the rewards you will receive in exchange for your donations.
These images are digital mockups and subject to change.
We have a team of 3 full time members of staff and 15 volunteers.
Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.
Christiaan Triebert is an open source researcher and trainer with Bellingcat, who focuses especially on armed conflict in the Middle East and North Africa. His research includes the bombed water infrastructure in Yemen and Syria, car bomb attacks in Mosul, as well as reconstructing the Turkish coup attempt by verifying leaked WhatsApp messages – an investigation that gained worldwide attention and is shortlisted for the European Press Prize. Christiaan also geolocates civilian casualty incidents due to international airstrikes for the watchdog Airwars as a volunteer. Next to his open source work, Christiaan has conducted field research and reported as a freelance (photo)journalist from Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine, amongst other areas. Christiaan graduated in Conflict, Security and Development from King’s College London, after obtaining two bachelor degrees from the University of Groningen, in International Relations and Political Philosophy.
Aric Toler is Bellingcat's lead on Eastern Europe/Eurasia, where he coordinates research, editing, and translations of Bellingcat's work on the regions. Over the past two years, Aric has led over a dozen training workshops teaching open source research and verification techniques for Russian-speaking journalists and activists in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, the Czech Republic. Before joining Bellingcat full-time, Aric received an MA in Slavic Languages & Literatures and worked in the private sector in the United States as an intelligence specialist.
Hadi Al Khatib has been working on collecting, verifying, investigating and preserving citizen-generated data as evidence of human rights violations with the SyrianArchive project in order to expose and draw attention to human rights violations committed by all sides in the Syrian conflict. He works with Bellingcat as a project lead for open source investigations in the MENA region. He has been doing digital content verification and open source investigation trainings for journalists and human rights activists since 2015. Open source investigations that he did included the use of illegal weapons such as cluster munitions, incendiary weapons and chemical weapons.
We use open source and social media to investigate a variety of subjects, from Mexican drug lords to conflicts being fought across the world. Bellingcat brings together contributors who specialise in open source and social media investigation, and creates guides and case studies so others may learn to do the same.
Thank you for listening.
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk is that we do not reach our goal, and can no longer pay for the infrastructure that makes Bellingcat possible.
Beyond that, we are working with fulfillment companies to help us produce and ship rewards. While delays are always a possibility, we will push for you to receive your rewards in a timely manner, and always keep you updated if that's not the case.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)