In December 2022, a coalition of 28 organizations asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement over its extensive links to terrorist groups. Of particular concern was the BDS movement’s links to a mysterious “Mapping Project” that published an apparent hit list of targets linked to the U.S. government, Israel, and the Jewish community.
An investigative report by the Zachor Legal Institute exposed the Mapping Project’s links to supporters of terrorists, the BDS movement and, in all likelihood, the government of Iran.
“Dismantling” and “Disrupting”
The Mapping Project’s content makes it clear that its anonymous creators’ intention is to inspire violent attacks on the listed sites. The project’s website states, “Our goal in pursuing this collective mapping was to reveal the local entities and networks that enact devastation, so we can dismantle them. Every entity has an address, every network can be disrupted.”
What the project means by “dismantling” and “disrupting” was clarified by a tweet it posted. The message called for the abolishment of the Boston Police Department and was accompanied by an image of a firebombed police car. The post is an unmistakable incitement to violence.
The project openly supports Palestinian terrorists, putting to rest any notion that the Mapping Project is merely a provocative academic exercise. “Glory to the martyrs! Free Palestine from the River to the Sea! Free All Political Prisoners!” the website proclaims in a statement expressing solidarity with Palestinian terrorists seeking the destruction of Israel.
The website’s language doesn’t depict the targets as mere political opponents, but as willing participants in U.S. and Israeli “imperialism”—and therefore, legitimate targets for violent “resistance.”
The creators’ rhetoric is designed to appeal across various ideologies, adopting themes commonly associated with Islamist extremists, “alt-left” extremists like Antifa, and “alt-right” extremists like white supremacists. The success of this crossover messaging became evident when the leader of the neo-Nazi Goyim Defense League lavished praise on the project during an online stream.
The identities of the project’s creators remain murky. However, one name has been reportedly linked to the project: Calla Walsh, a member of BDS Boston, Democratic Socialists of America and, as of April 2022, Office Manager for Massachusetts Peace Action. An investigation by the Canary Mission found four tweets by Walsh that idolized the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist group.
Walsh says she’s simply a promoter of the Mapping Project and denies having worked on it. However, Al-Jazeera reported that she “participated” in it and, in an apparent slip of the tongue, referred to the project as “we” in a tweet. She’s also implied that she knows the authors of the project who, she says, “have been working on it for years.”
Whatever Walsh’s role is, the project is not the creation of a single individual or even a single BDS chapter. The Zachor Legal Institute examined the site’s metadata and found that the map has over 2,300 sites internally listed. Only 500 of those can be seen on the publicly available version of the map.
The institute concludes:
It would require considerable funds to finance such an operation, far more than the standard anti-Israel groups initially suspected to be behind the project, whose yearly budgets do not generally exceed $1,000,000 annually. The skill and budget required to launch such a project are not found in average nongovernmental organizations or volunteer groups. Instead, the project was likely created by a state-backed element via a proxy group, private contractor, or civilian intelligence unit.
The common denominator among the groups that appear closest to the Mapping Project is support for the Iran-backed PFLP terrorist group.
The first PFLP connection comes through BDS Boston, whose Twitter account was the first to report the project’s debut. As mentioned, BDS Boston member Calla Walsh posts pro-PFLP material.
Later that same day, an anonymous group called the JISR Collective promoted the Mapping Project. JISR’s Twitter account has also expressed support of PFLP, as well as two other Iran-backed terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah.
The Samidoun Prisoner Solidarity Network, identified as a PFLP front in an expose by the Clarion Project, soon followed. Samidoun and the project appear to have an intimate relationship, as Samidoun published an interview with the project’s anonymous authors. Samidoun and the project also often retweet each other.
Shortly thereafter, PFLP itself praised the project, as did Iran’s state-run PressTV. It also received positive press coverage from Al-Mayadeen, a pro-Hezbollah news outlet.
This pattern of interaction provides the biggest clue about the likeliest source of the project’s resources: PFLP directly or PFLP proxies with sponsorship from Iran.
The Larger Problem
The Mapping Project is part of a larger problem, though. The BDS movement, while portraying itself as nonviolent activism for human rights, is intertwined with terrorist organizations backed by Iran who seek the genocidal elimination of Israel. BDS is not a nonviolent alternative to terrorism, but a weapon deployed by terrorists to augment their violent campaigns.
PFLP, Hamas, and the like are designated by the U.S. State Department as foreign terrorist organizations.
If the U.S. government is serious about preventing them from having safe harbor on American soil, then the Justice Department must investigate the BDS movement and, as able and necessary, prosecute BDS participants for their involvement with terrorist groups and their thinly veiled fronts.