Bellingcat is an independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists using open source and social media investigation to probe a variety of subjects – from Mexican drug lords and crimes against humanity, to tracking the use of chemical weapons and conflicts worldwide. With staff and contributors in more than 20 countries around the world, we operate in a unique field where advanced technology, forensic research, journalism, investigations, transparency and accountability come together.
Bellingcat’s innovative approaches to using publicly available data and citizen journalist analysis have been particularly significant for advancing narratives of conflict, crime, and human rights abuses. We have produced investigations on these issues in coordination with partners and allies and expanded our training so that a growing corps of citizen journalists is poised to pursue these stories alongside us.
Our most popular posts of the last year included analysis of the April 7, 2018, chemical attack in Douma, Syria; exposure of a fake persona who had been widely cited in Ukrainian and anti-Putin Russian media as a Pentagon official; the illegal shipping of precursors of the nerve agent Sarin to Syria by Belgian companies; the Syrian Arab Army’s armored vehicle losses; and the use of drones by non-state actors in Syria and Iraq. Our most significant publications have included identifying a key suspect in the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 investigation as a high-ranking Russian intelligence officer, and identifying suspects in the Skripals poisoning as Russian intelligence officers as well. Our reporting has also been covered extensively by a range of international news media.
After the poisoning of MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March 2018, Bellingcat has been able to unmask three suspects that we’ve identified as high-ranking Russian military intelligence officers. In October 2018, our researchers appeared at a press briefing at the House of Commons to detail findings about two of the suspects, which supported Britain’s assertion that Moscow had been behind the nerve agent attack. Our investigation into the attacks, which is ongoing, continues to receive significant global attention, from media outlets and governments alike.
Bellingcat has led the way in the use of open source investigations in examining the conflict in Syria. Because of that work, we have become involved with the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Technology Advisory Board to help them understand how open source investigation could be applied to their work. The newly created International Independent and Impartial Mechanism (IIIM) on Syria, created by the UN General Assembly to gather evidence of potential war crimes and other violations in Syria, has also become very interested in the work of Bellingcat and the use of open source material and investigation in their own work. In partnership with the Syrian Archive, we have been working on these issues, and we have become part of a network of like-minded organisations and individuals from a range of disciplines who have been working to answer the many questions been raised by about how to archive open source material for the purposes of accountability.
Bellingcat partnered with Transparency International to uncover the misuse of Scottish Limited Partnerships (“SLPs”) as the preferred vehicle for corrupt officials and organised crime figures to launder billions of pounds through the UK — most prominently the Moldovan bank raid and the Azeri Laundromat. Our work was featured in the Guardian newspaper due to SLPs connections to the Azeri Laundromat. Since then, our lead investigator has made several visits to the houses of Parliament to discuss the matter with Dame Margaret Hodge, who cited our work at length in her adjournment debate in the House of Commons in October 2017. We have also offered our assistance to Dame Margaret’s office with the aim of introducing a series of measures to ensure SLPs cannot be used in large scale money laundering operations.
The Need for Partnership
Bellingcat’s distributed, collaborative model is key to its value proposition. Through curated expertise from around the world and analysis of open source data, Bellingcat is shedding light on an eclectic array of global issues. Bellingcat’s remarkable successes using a dedicated corps of contributors and grassroots supporters speak to the relevance and need for our approach; building our capacity to manage, grow, and measure the impact of this network will ensure this approach endures and scales. At this critical inflection point for our work, we welcome your support and partnership.
Contact details can be found on this page.