Lake City Quiet Pills
In 2009, an anonymous Reddit user passed away. A friend created an account on Reddit to announce their passing,and that seemed to be that. But over the next year or so, curious Redditors began to search through the history of these two strangers… and found strange links to a bizarre website named Lake City Quiet Pills…
Reddit is a website that bills itself as the “front page of the internet.” In many ways, it is for those that use it, becoming one of the most popular websites in the entire world.
Like thousands of others, I visit Reddit.com every single day. It’s my favorite place on the internet to hang out, comment with countless others from all across the globe, and learn about interesting things. Reddit allows each user to personalize their viewing experience, meaning that you can subscribe and unsubscribe from individual subreddits; tailoring Reddit into whatever you want to see or read about. This includes everything from sports to gaming to entertainment to politics to true crime.
One of my favorite online communities is the /r/unresolvedmysteries subreddit, which - as you can guess - focuses on unsolved mysteries and other related stories. It’s actually how I got the name for this podcast, and I owe a lot of this show’s success to its awesome and supportive denizens.
However, like almost every collection of human beings in history… Reddit is not a perfect place. It has its fair share of dark spots, which allow those with creepy or unusual tastes to congregate. This can result in subreddits dedicated to drug use, illegal pirating, white nationalists, or even child porn.
Many of these subreddits are hidden, able to be accessed by only select users, but there have been a few open examples that bridge the gap between illegal and immoral behavior. One such example is the /r/jailbait subreddit, which highlighted underage-looking models, actresses, and porn stars - who were not legally minors, but might have been close enough to warrant suspicion. This subreddit included images that got as close to child porn as you can get without breaking any laws, and was rightfully shut down following an Anderson Cooper segment on CNN back in 2012.
Despite this, however, the /u/jailbait subreddit had attracted thousands of followers in the years leading up to this.
One of these users, who went by the username /u/ReligionOfPeace, acted as a moderator of the /r/jailbait subreddit. If you’re unfamiliar, think of moderators as like babysitters: meant to keep the peace between bickering children. This gave /u/ReligionOfPeace a decent amount of control over the subreddit, but also meant that they would have to spend much of their waking time on the internet - which they were more than happy to do. You see, /u/ReligionOfPeace - as he or she was known - was an active participant on Reddit, commenting all throughout the day.
In their comments and posts, /u/ReligionOfPeace seemed to condone marijuana usage, and - in posts on several news and political subreddits - railed against things like the New York Times and socialism. In fact, one of this user’s favorite pastimes was telling spammers to “FUCK OFF AND DIE” - in all caps, of course - in addition to using such other colorful language as:
“You scumsucking spammer. Get the fuck off my internet.”
Basically, this was the equivalent of a grumpy, old, creepy uncle that spent too much time oogling young girls and telling others to get off his digital lawn.
But in addition to this behavior - which, while grimy, wasn’t exactly illegal in any way - /u/ReligionOfPeace seemed to express knowledge in many military subjects. In particular, this user seemed to have a history of violence, at one point expressing intimate knowledge on what kinds of piano wire could kill someone.
Perhaps this user, like many on the internet, was just B.S.'ing, but it’s possible that they were telling the truth. At least, their version of the truth, as they seemed to make sense in their posts, providing as much pertinent information as they did extraneous fluff.
Throughout this user’s two-year Reddit history, they often linked to a website, which was linked under the guise of being “This Old Guy’s Image Host.” With them being the moderator of a creepy /r/jailbait subreddit, it’s easy to understand that many of the images were pornographic in-nature, but the website name - Lake City Quiet Pills - led many to believe that there was more to this unusual user than originally thought. It was such a bizarre, unusual term that was rarely used, and seemed to have very little to do with the dirty images it hosted.
In addition to it being a website operated by this Reddit user, it was also a term they used more than once. In one of the last comments made by this user, /u/ReligionOfPeace, they stated:
“I can think of any number of criminal organizations that would benefit from a dose of lake city quiet pills.”
Eventually, this website - and this expression - would lead armchair investigators and Reddit sleuths through one of the most bizarre mysteries of the internet age.
This is the story of Lake City Quiet Pills.
In December of 2007, the user /u/ReligionOfPeace created their Reddit account. This was well before Reddit took off in popularity, making them a pretty early user on the site.
I already gave you a brief overview of this user's account, but - basically - this user was the epitome of an old man on the internet. In fact, they unironically referred to themselves as an "old man," at one point claiming to be in his upper 70's and even stating on multiple occasions that he had been born in 1930.
In addition to constantly complaining about spammers, this user claimed to have an extensive military history. In one post, this user claimed to have enlisted in the US military at the age of 14, claiming to have been physically large for his age. In at least one post, he had referenced being present at the Battle of Normandy, and responded to another user that inquired about it:
"I was there. But I was passing 40mm cannon shells on a troop ship. I didn't really get into any sort of us and them shooting at each other combat until I went to Jerusalem in '47. It was an exciting time to be alive. Fighting the food fight"
I know what you may be thinking: how would it have been possible for a teenager to enlist in the military during World War Two? Trust me, I've asked myself the same question, and don't have a solid answer. However, /u/ReligionOfPeace would continue to make claims about his military history, including references to his service during World War Two and then afterwards.
"I was in the navy until 45. I didn't see any land combat until palestine in 47. I saw it then (both sides) and continued seeing it until I got too old."
This user claimed to have been working in military-related fields for several decades after the end of World War Two. In a post explaining their usage of marijuana, /u/ReligionOfPeace claimed to have retired from a military career in 1987. What followed, he claimed, was a career in a computer-related field.
"Some people have the luxury of enough money to retire. I found a job I like that doesn't require much physical effort and it works for me. Happily, it's a computer related field."
This user never really went into detail about the extent of their new job, but referred to his new job as a "tech writer." This, he explained, was why he was on Reddit all of the time - as he was always at his computer, and had time to spare.
In addition to serving as a moderator for the /r/jailbait subreddit - which, again, was a community of individuals posting photos of young-looking girls and women - /u/ReligionOfPeace continued to post in other subreddits.
In one thread, he claimed to have seen Led Zeppelin perform three times in his lifetime, and touted the drumming ability of the legendary John Bonham. In another, he commented on a blogpost exploring the origins of the CIA's assassination program, which highlighted stories from the 1990's and early 2000's. In response, /u/ReligionOfPeace critiqued their timeline by stating:
"they're off by 4 decades"
In at least one comment, /u/ReligionOfPeace made reference to "IronKeys," which are encrypted hard drives that are often favored by intel operatives and/or those with sensitive info that they don't want others to see. More on that later.
Over the span of the next year-and-a-half, this user had become an active - but not incredibly popular - Reddit user. They commented frequently, making hundreds of posts, but didn't seem to attract that huge of a following. Their biggest contribution was the moderation of the /r/jailbait subreddit, which I've already detailed, but in the process had directed other Reddit users over to their website: lakecityquietpills.com.
This website was being used as an image host, hosting many of the risque and pornographic images that would appear on the creepy /r/jailbait subreddit. Whenever recommending the usage of this site to others, /u/ReligionOfPeace had billed it as "That Old Guy's Image Host," informing other users that they could use it to host images of their own. And they obliged. Willingly.
By the summer of 2009, lakecityquietpills.com was full of images of scantily-clad women and girls, including photos of pornographic material. Many thought very little of it, simply using it as a repository for the images that flooded the dark corners of Reddit. In addition to /r/jailbait, other subreddits had started to use lakecityquietpills.com to host images, which they would then link to Reddit.
On July 17th, 2009 - at around 6:46 Greenwich Mean Time - the user named /u/ReligionOfPeace made their last comment on Reddit. As was typical for them, it was a comment complaining about spammers.
Later that day - July 17th, 2009 - another Reddit account was created.
This account - which went by the username /u/2-6 (as in, the numbers two-dash-six) - posted for the first and only time roughly 13 hours after the last comment from /u/ReligionOfPeace.
The thread, titled "The end of ReligionOfPeace. He died today." was posted at around 19:50 GMT, and included the following passage:
"I'm the person who provided ReligionOfPeace the space for 'That Old Guy's Image Host.'
"Milo died today. He was 79 years old. He died at his desk lookin at your site. Milo was a mean old fucker. Mean and onery. He hooked me up with my first gig when I got out of the Army. I did'nt like findin him like that. Milo don't have any living relatives and no real friends, and other than his landlady and a few people where he worked, he did'nt talk to anyone about much of anything. Me he just tallerated. As I said, he was mean. I think he used that as a shield to keep people away from him.
"Milo thought god was some kinda con game thought up by some lazy sons-a-bitches who didn't want to work everyday. So he's going into the fire on monday without a service just like he wanted. I'm planning to dump his ashes in the woods in PA near where he was born. Can't put them right there cause theirs a mall there now.
"I gave the girl next door his raggedy old cat and most of his books. His computers and tronic shit he tagged for the disabled vets and the VVA. All the rest of the stuff is for the salvation army. All those years and everything he owned fits in the trunk of my car.
"I don't know what else to say. I'll miss him. Miserable bastard."
Despite containing a variety of spelling and grammar errors, this post received a pretty emotional response by dozens of Redditors that began going through /u/ReligionOfPeace's prior posts. They pointed to his posted war stories, as well as his gruff and grumpy responses to perceived spammers and trolls.
The user /u/2-6, who had made the death announcement, would respond to just a few comments. When one user called the entire thing a hoax, /u/2-6 responded:
"You are an ass. Milo was my freind and I was taking him to dinner on friday. He worked at home most days.
"I guess I ought to call his manager so thanks for that.
"I dont no why he liked this stuff."
That last comment seemed to be directed at Reddit as a whole. From an outsider's perspective, it seems like an odd, occasionally-hostile, perhaps-boring place, so I understand the sentiment entirely.
A couple of days later - on July 19th - /u/2-6 returned to Reddit, and saw that others had weighed in and offered their digital condolences to /u/ReligionOfPeace, who they continued to refer to as "Milo."
"goddam. I did'nt no so many people could like him that did'nt sling a gun with him. Thank you. So I'm outta here now. I don't do this stuff like you and Milo. Take care. keep the faith."
The Reddit account /u/2-6 would make just one more comment; this time, again, two days later, on July 21st, 2009. This comment was brief, simple, and straight-to-the-point:
"If your interested, this is where Milo is now"
What followed was a link to Google Maps, which pointed to an area near Round Top and Lake Heritage, Pennsylvania - just southeast of Gettysburg. The exact location was right near a shopping mall, which /u/2-6 claimed had been built on land that had once belonged to /u/ReligionOfPeace - or Milo's- family. Presumably, this is where his ashes would be spread.
This is where the story should end.
A Reddit user passed away, a friend created an account to let other Redditors know about their passing, and then everyone moves on.
But, as you can guess, it wasn't the end of this story. In fact, the story was really just beginning.
Users began looking into the trail of breadcrumbs left behind by these two Reddit accounts: both /u/ReligionOfPeace and this new user, /u/2-6. They seemed to have a relationship, but it wasn't really known at the time.
Over the next several months, Redditors began to uncover a story that was every bit as confusing as it was intriguing. I'll try my best to explain it, but fair warning: it gets a lot weirder and crazier from this point forward.
I've already explained the backstory of the Reddit user /u/ReligionOfPeace - the allegedly 79-year old man named Milo that died in July of 2009. However, I haven't explained much about his friend - this mysterious /u/2-6, who presumably created a Reddit account just to make this single death announcement.
Some Reddit users were able to find a similar-sounding username, AngelTwo-Six, on a website named Fark. Fark was a precursor to other sites like Reddit and Digg, and this user had commented on Fark as far back as 2001. In fact, their account on that site was created on October 11th, 2001. When they created their account account on Fark, they listed their email address as "firstname.lastname@example.org."
There it is again: lakecityquietpills.com. Odd, right?
On Fark, this user named AngelTwo-Six had commented primarily about rifles, amunition, and weaponry. Like /u/ReligionOfPeace, this user seemed to have a history of military service, and commented primarily about violence and shooting. Each of their comments were followed by a motto, was was pretty traditional in the olden days of forum posts. Their motto, in particular, was:
"Dispensing Lake City Quiet Pills to lousy bastards in need of permanent rest since 1968."
A cursory scan of the internet reveals a user with this same name - AngelTwo-Six - having made accounts on a number of other websites:
- Yahoo Answers, where they seemed to take an interest in crafts and DIY projects.
- Websites dedicated to Zbrush, a digital sculpting tool that was released in 1999 - implying some kind of technical expertise in art.
- And then there was Digg - the direct precursor to Reddit. In a 2007 post made under this user's name, a post had been signed by another user named ReligionOfPeace. Sound familiar?
The dots were starting to come together, but it still made very little sense. Were these two users one in the same, or were they just connected in a very sloppy way? We can reasonably surmise that the users /u/2-6 and AngelTwo-Six were the same, based on the consistent spelling and grammar mistakes across all accounts. They constantly put the apostrophe in the word "didn't" after the second D, instead of the N. They spelled "know," as in the knowledge form of "know," as N-O. And they misspelled a variety of other rather-easy words, such as "tolerated" or "friend."
It would be hard to keep that level of stupidity up across multiple accounts over several years if it wasn't genuine... at least, I think so. Right?
In the months after /u/2-6 announced the death of /u/ReligionOfPeace, several Redditors remained convinced that the entire thing was a hoax. Perhaps, even likely a publicity stunt to raise awareness for the website lakecityquietpills.com. If so, it was working, because the site was attracting more users than ever. The death of /u/ReligionOfPeace had drawn dozens of viewers to his Reddit history, and more people than ever were using the Lake City Quiet Pills website as an image host.
However, as more computer-savvy individuals made their way to the site, they began to explore the site's underlying code. This is the stuff that makes the website tick, so-to-speak. There, in the hidden code, some curious Redditors would find what looked like hidden messages, dating back months and years, which showed a bizarre story evolving underneath this internet drama.
On its surface, lakecityquietpills.com was little more than an image hosting site, which hosted hundreds - if not thousands - of pornographic images. But hidden underneath the website's Not-Safe-For-Work-veneer was something else entirely.
Hidden inside the site's HTML code was a motto, which sounded similar to something you've heard before:
"Dispensing Lake City Quiet Pills to lousy bastards in need of permanent rest since 1968."
Underneath this motto was a random smattering of information, which included names and acronyms which still aren't clear today.
"Shade is maintaining the calendar and access to the filedump. Angel has the job postings for EU and asia. We aren't sending anyone to ME. No one. Don't ask for listings."
Shade? That's a new name. But Angel? Sounds a lot like AngelTwo-Six, aka Reddit user /u/2-6. EU and Asia are pretty easy to figure out - Europe and Asia - but the meaning of ME has remained a debate for some time. Some believe it might mean Middle East, which will make more sense in a moment.
Hidden in this website's HTML code were a number of these secret messages - messages that were clearly not meant for public viewing. Comments like this, detailing who had what info, littered the top of the HTML code. But what followed were what looked like job listings, which detailed requirements that sound an awful lot like mercenary or assassin work.
Think I'm kidding? Listen for yourself.
"Immediate need! 8-10 chinese/korean. Fluent korean/dialect/accent details after contact. 12 week halfpay sequester on refusal."
"two ground types. Fluent farsi arabic french. no papers, no problems"
"Need formed group (8-10). single op. deliv bonus. "gentleman's agreement" insurance. Immediate need."
This website's HTML code was full of these, which seemed to have no other explanation than being for military contractors. Maybe not necessarily mercenaries or assassin work, but perhaps defense contractors and bodyguards. These are just a few examples of the dozens of these postings, which were hidden in the HTML code of lakecityquietpills.com.
A number of these postings featured acronyms. Some, such as "ccw," seemed easy enough to decipher (concealed carry weapon's permit). Others, though, remain a point of contention - such as "w/w," which some took to mean wants or warrants in a certain region - such as the United States or Mexico. Others believe "w/w" meant "wet work," which... you can probably guess what that means.
Before long, curious Reddit users began to point out this unusual HTML code to others, wondering if others believed it looked as unusual as it did to them. Several months had passed since the Reddit user named /u/ReligionOfPeace had passed away, but users were now beginning to seriously question whether or not he had been working on a website that doubled as a job posting site for hitmen, assassins, military contractors, black ops, wetwork... Whatever you want to call it.
Shortly after this bizarre story made its way back to where it had started, Reddit, curious onlookers began to look into the meaning of the website's name.
Lake City Quiet Pills had always seemed like an odd choice of name for a website. After all, what was it supposed to imply? The term "quiet pill" doesn't exactly carry a happy or uplifting connotation.
Well, soon, Redditors began pointing out a government-owned and operated ammunition plant, based out of Independence, Missouri. Named the Lake City Ammunition Plant, it had been created by Remington Arms back in 1941, where it began manufacturing and testing small arms for the U.S. military.
Since 1941, the Lake City Ammunition Plant - also called the Lake City Arsenal - has remained in continuous operation . To this day, it produces nearly 1.4 billion rounds of ammo each and every year, remaining the single largest producer of small arms ammunition for the U.S. Armed Forces.
In fact, if you google "Lake City," this ammo plant is one of the first thing to pop up.
It is unknown if there is any connection between this plant and the website Lake City Quiet Pills, but the name doesn't seem coincidental. Many have come to believe that the website took its name after the Arsenal, implying that "quiet pills" are the bullets manufactured at this facility.
In the months after the alleged death of the Reddit user /u/ReligionOfPeace, the messages hidden inside the HTML code of his website continued.
In a message dated the same day as his death was announced to Reddit - July 17th, 2009 - an unknown individual posted in this hidden message board:
"I am sorry to tell you that old Milo died yesterday. He went quiet and calm, not like we all figured. I gave that fat mangy cat of his to the little girl next. No services or nothing, you know Milo. I'm taking his ashes back to where his farm was. Close to it anyway. Theirs a mall where his place was.
"So hoist a few for the old man. Remember what he said, keep with the man who'se got your back."
Based on a couple of misspellings in this post, we can reasonably surmise that this post was written by AngelTwo-Six, who also briefly went by /u/2-6. They would follow this post over the next several months with a few posts that shared the same type of spelling errors.
On September 30th, 2009 - more than two months later - this person posted:
"For those who have asked, I bricked Milo's IronKey the same day. All is well."
The meaning of this message is actually pretty clear. An IronKey is an encrypted hard drive, and by "bricking" a device, that means you essentially render it useless. By "bricking" a device, you are in essence destroying it and any of the information held on it.
By ending the message "all is well," this user is implying that there was incriminating information on Milo's hard drive, which now no longer exists.
On November 14th, 2009, AngelTwo-Six - or /u/2-6 - posted again:
"milos will clered probait. sirprize! milo was loded. email shade if we sent you out in 2005-2009. shade will have cheks cut for you. amont is by how many times, not by pay total. small share is 3-4k"
Sounds like Milo, whoever they were, left behind some savings... which this mysterious individual was now distributing to their work associates. Hidden in this porn image website's code, was a network of people that were closely associated between 2005 and 2009... at least, enough to warrant $3,000 to $4,000 in inheritance.
A couple more months would pass with little else being disclosed on this site, but in January of 2010, AngelTwo-Six returned - this time with an announcement.
"hapy new year, everyone.
"were having a birthday party for the old man on the 19th. party starts at 1500 at the usual. send your rsvp to shade. fyi, were booking a room for 3 days for anyone coming from out of area, and overnight for locals.
"come hoist one for dutch milo!"
Like all things associated with lakecityquietpills.com, this post seems rather innocuous. It sounds almost familial: a birthday bash to celebrate the life of someone that brought so many people together.
However, many have interpreted this post to have a different meaning altogether. In the years since this hidden message appeared in the code of lakecityquietpills.com, some have tried to tie this gathering - this alleged "party" - to one of the most intricate assassinations of the last century…
Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh was born in a refugee camp along the Gaza Strip in 1960.
During his teenage years, in the 1970's, he joined the Muslim Brotherhood; and as a young adult, he ended up getting into some legal trouble, resulting in a brief incarceration.
After his release from prison in the mid-1980's, Al-Mabhouh began to associate with Hamas - the organization that petitions for the creation of a Palestinian state. Many consider it a terrorist organization, but it has also been serving as the governing body for the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
Over the next two-and-a-half decade, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh earned a reputation in Hamas. In particular, he claimed credit for the 1989 killing of two Israeli soldiers - both of whom were killed in separate incidents. This made him one of Israel's Most Wanted, and he followed this up with several decades of service to Hamas.
In addition to spending time in an Egyptian prison and becoming wanted by the intel community in Jordan, Al-Mabhouh continued to rise up the ranks of Hamas. By the mid-2000's, he was serving as the chief of logistics and weapons procurement for the military wing of the organization, and was playing a vital role in the burgeoning relationship between Hamas and Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
As you can guess, this made Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh a target. Towards the end of the early 2000's, he became the target of multiple assassination attempts.
The first, a car bomb, failed to kill him. Not many details have been released about this to the western media, only that it failed.
The second attempt was more intricate, as detailed by Wired and GQ magazine:
"The elite team of orchestrating the kill tried to poison Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in November 2009 in Dubai...The unknown toxin, possibly slipped into a drink or placed on fixtures in a hotel room, left Al-Mabhouh mysteriously ill but not fatally so. Al-Mabhouh recovered from the illness without knowing he'd been poisoned..."
Because he was unaware of this second attempt on his life, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh continued to live his life with his normal security precautions. He lived in Syria but often traveled around the Middle East, conducting business on behalf of Hamas. He usually traveled under fake names, using fake passports, and - more often than not - traveled with a contingent of security guards.
Unbeknownst to Al-Mabhouh, there had been a security breach on his computer. The computer he used to to arrange his travels had been compromised by a trojan horse, which allowed an outside actor access to his dealings. In early January of 2010, Al-Mabhouh book a flight to Dubai, and arranged for hotel accommodations for at least two days.
On this trip, he was not going to be followed by bodyguards, who would arrive a day after him. For at least 24 hours, Al-Mabhouh would be in a foreign nation, isolated and alone.
Someone with this knowledge began making travel accommodations of their own.
On January 19th, 2010, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh arrived in Dubai - the largest and richest city in the United Arab Emirates. He was flying alone, under a fake name, and with no security guards.
Earlier that day, his trip had been preceded by a small network of men and women. Numbering around two dozen in total, these individuals had arrived in Dubai using fake names and passports of their own, and began coordinating their efforts to track Al-Mabhouh.
This operation was led by at least three coordinators, all of whom were working under assumed names: Gail Folliard, Kevin Daveron, and Peter Elvinger. These three had coordinated at least five trips to Dubai; presumably, to surveil the region, and do reconnaissance for what was to come.
Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh arrived in Dubai shortly after 3:00 PM local time, and from the moment he landed, he was followed by a network of operatives. Men and women began to mix and match, following Al-Mabhouh out of the airport, to a cab, and eventually to the hotel that he was staying at.
Prior to his arrival, a half-dozen operatives had checked in at hotels in the region: all of the hotels he had stayed at prior to this visit. They wanted to cover their bases, and make sure they had feet on the ground to find out which room he was staying in. They likely knew the ins-and-outs of each hotel, and were waiting in the lobbies of every hotel, awaiting his arrival.
We know this because security footage picked up these operatives - numbering around a dozen in total - following Al-Mabhouh from afar. On at least two occasions, these men and women would enter restrooms to briefly change up their disguise, and don a wig or exchange items of clothing. This footage also shows Al-Mabhouh arriving at the Al Bustan Rotana Hotel, where two men were standing in the lobby, wearing tennis gear and holding tennis rackets.
As Al-Mabhouh makes his way to his hotel room, one operative remains in the lobby, and begins reporting in to the other operatives on an electronic device. At this point, the other operatives - who are all in hotels in the surrounding region - begin to converge on this location.
The other man wearing tennis gear begins begins to follow Al-Mabhouh to his hotel room, eventually learning that he is staying in room 230. He doesn't act yet, but just pretends like he's heading back to his own hotel room.
Upon learning the room number of their target, one of the mission's leaders - the man whose passport named as "Peter Elvinger" - makes a phone call from the business center of another hotel nearby. He requests the room directly across the hall from Al-Mabhouh - room 237. This would act as the base of operations for the other operatives, who begin to meet up and assemble in that room shortly thereafter.
Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh would leave his room shortly thereafter, heading to a nearby mall. There, security coverage of his whereabouts would become spotty, but a couple of these unknown operatives tracked him throughout. It was rumored that he was meeting up with some local contacts, but that's mostly speculative. Nonetheless, the operatives now assembled in room 237 take this time to begin hacking into his door's electronic lock, figuring out a way to gain access to Al-Mabhouh's room without attracting any attention.
Again, this is all captured by security cameras. When another hotel guest walks out of a nearby elevator, one of the operatives attempts to distract them while the other operative continues working, and they make short work of the door's lock. When Al-Mabhouh returns to the room at around 8:30 PM, he has no suspicions whatsoever. The door unlocks normally, and he enters... completely and totally unaware that there are a handful of individuals waiting for him inside.
Roughly twenty minutes later, the operatives in room 230 begin exiting the room, and return to room 237.
Within moments, they begin to exit the hotel one-by-one, with all of their belongings in-tow.
Within four hours, almost all of these men and women have left Dubai entirely, with their flights taking them all across the globe: to Frankfurt, Bangkok, Zurich, Rome, Johannesburg, Paris, and Doha.
Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, on the other hand, would never leave his hotel room. At around the same time the assassins were leaving his room, he missed a phone call from his wife, and his body would not be discovered until the very next morning - roughly twelve hours after he had been killed.
When hotel staff checked in on Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh the next morning - on January 20th, 2010 - they noted that the door was locked from the inside. This included the chain, which the assassins had somehow managed to lock from the outside. This made the death appear natural, and investigators originally noted the death as being from natural causes.
However, a more thorough autopsy revealed that there was nothing natural about this man's death. This had been a carefully-crafted assassination, plain-and-simple.
Prior to his death, Al-Mabhouh had been injected with a fast-acting muscle relaxant - which I won't even try to pronounce (succinylcholine) - but which acted as a paralyzing agent. Despite remaining conscious through the proceeding events, Al-Mabhouh was unable to resist; despite his attempts to, as police would later note.
Al-Mahmoud was electrocuted prior to his death, and when he was finally killed, it came via suffocation via pillow. That way, when his body was found, it would look natural - at least, long enough for the assassins to leave the scene of the crime, as well as the United Arab Emirates.
Dubai officials were able to recreate the movement of the assassins on the day of the killing, due to the security camera footage they were able to recover from the region. It showed that all of these operatives - numbering around a dozen in total - had arrived just earlier that day, January 19th. They had also all left shortly after the killing.
This, however, was not their first visit. Almost all of these men and women had visited Dubai numerous times in the preceding months - visits that were likely dry runs for this very assassination, allowing them to get a feel for the hotels and the quickest routes between locations. Like I already explained, they had checked in to various hotels in the region; each of them being hotels that Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh had previously stayed at.
This network of operatives had all been using fake passports, which came from predominantly western nations. This included the UK, Ireland, Australia, France, and Germany, who were now dragged into this issue without their knowledge or foresight.
In addition, several of these operatives had made phone calls to a number in Austria - who was perhaps their coordinator.
While some of the assassins had paid their way in cash, many of them had used Payoneer - a specific type of prepaid credit card. These credit cards had been branded in the United States, but it was rumored that the CEO of Payoneer - Yuval Tal - had direct ties to Israeli intelligence. Due to the victim being a high-ranking member of Hamas, as well as being a long-sought target of their intelligence forces, it made sense that Israel was involved in some fashion.
In February of 2010, the chief of Dubai police publicly stated that this assassination was most likely ordered by Mossad: Israel's intelligence force, who had wanted both justice and revenge against Al-Mabhouh for several years, at this point.
Israel didn't deny the claim, instead choosing to feign confusion or "muddy the water" of the investigation. Israel's Foreign Minister even stated that the international press was watching:
"... too many James Bond movies."
Maybe he was right, but that didn't stop several nations from vilifying the assassins responsible, and placing them on Interpol's Most Wanted List later that month. A total of 18 operatives were named, but because they had been using fake identities at the time of this operation, it was unknown who, exactly, they were. Pictures of 11 of these operatives would be distributed by Interpol, and to this day, they remain unidentified by the world at-large.
This assassination led to some international condemnation, when it was announced by Britain's Foreign Office that the passports used had been fakes. The French Foreign Affairs ministry claimed the same, and this ultimately led Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs to critique the nation of Israel.
According to Irish officials, Israel had helped create or distribute these fraudulent passports, and demanded answers. This led to some heightened tensions, which were only escalated by Australia later that year.
Foreign Minister Stephen Smith publicly summoned the Israeli ambassador to explain this incident, and later, ceased cooperation with Israel intelligence. In the process, he expelled an Israeli diplomat, and kept the story in the international press through the end of 2010.
The United States, of course, refused to cooperate with the investigation being handled by the United Arab Emirates. US officials refused to hand over the cardholder details of the Payoneer credit cards used by the assassins, which likely would have shed light on who, exactly, bankrolled this operation.
All of the operatives involved in the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh remain unidentified. Despite the international press and virtually the entire civilized world having access to 11 of their faces, these operatives - numbering anywhere between 18 and 28 - have seemingly disappeared.
Two men were arrested by authorities in the U.A.E. shortly after the crime; two Palestinian men that were living in Jordan at the time, who were later extradited to the U.A.E. Both weren't accused of being assassins, but rather middlemen, who helped arrange accommodations for the various operatives involves.
However, an article published in June of 2017 details how neither of these men had been charged in the interim seven years. Rather, they HAD been charged, but were convicted in a secret court, where the parameters of their conviction remained an undisclosed secret. Both had been living freely in the United Arab Emirates since their arrest, implying that their punishment was pretty much null.
Another man nicknamed "Brodsky" was arrested in Poland in June of 2010. He was later extradited to Germany, where he was supposed to stand trial for crimes related to this assassination. There, however, he was soon released on bail, and seemingly disappeared into thin air - just like the other assassins.
Despite this being one of the most high-profile assassinations of the modern era, it remains a unanswered in regards to who was involved and why. We have a pretty good idea on both questions, but the people involved - who actually pulled off the intricate scheme - are complete enigmas.
At this point, you may be asking yourself: why the hell did we just hear all that? What in the hell does an assassination in Dubai have to do with a random Redditor and his creepy website?
Well, now that I've told you most of what happened during the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, let me back up just a little bit.
Remember when I told you that there was hidden HTML code written on the Lake City Quiet Pills website? Well, there was a message sent out on January 12th, 2010 - just about a week before the assassination unfolded in Dubai. That message invited people out to a birthday celebration for Milo - aka /u/ReligionOfPeace, the Reddit user that had died the year prior. The message hidden in Lake City Quiet Pill's code stated that the party started at around 1500, roughly fitting in with the time period that Al-Mabhouh was flying into Dubai.
As if that wasn't enough, another message was sent out the day before the assassination took place. Like the prior messages, this one was also hidden in the site's HTML, and read:
"we got 38 rooms in the marriot on 46. shade has the key cards for locals (pick up at the party). give your travel name to the desk and that's it. no id needed since were covering the bill. keep the room service under 500, okay? the phones there are not secure.
"bus from the hotel leafs at 1330. car service vowchers for return trip when your ready to crash. DONT DUI!!!!"
Now, maybe I'm just sounding picky, but these instructions seem very odd for a party. Who needs to worry about using a travel name for a birthday party? Who needs to worry about insecure phone lines? And I feel like the last reminder - the reminder to not get in a DUI - is advice that grown adults don't need to be told. However, if it implied that any legal entanglements could be messy, then I can see it making some sense.
Many have tried to decipher what this could have meant, but the most obvious lead comes from the multiple hotel rooms. What kind of party rents out 38 rooms in a single hotel?
Plus, knowing what we know now about the investigation in Dubai - that the network of assassins totaled above two dozen, and had rented out hotel rooms in hotels all throughout the city - makes it a bit clearer.
There was no visible activity on lakecityquietpills.com for the next couple of weeks, at least none pertaining to this story. The site continued to exist as a photo-dump, full of images that were mostly pornographic in-nature, but the messages hidden in the code remained unchanged until February 2nd, 2010 - roughly two weeks later. That post, titled "party bills," read as follows:
"here is the final for the party
"hotel rooms 48341 limo 6080 bus 569 bar bill 18890 food 8030 dancers 8300 misc tips 850 misc exp 2840 med supplies 180 (fat tommy and stu are okay, to.)
"you all did dutch milo proud. thanks."
Over the next few months, people involved with the site continued to post the strange, hidden job postings from before:
"Immediate need! 4 korean. fluent korean/dialect/accent details after contact. 6 week halfpay sequester on refusal. 6mo gig. bonus."
"2 "business class" security. nonconus. fluent french req."
"2 lite surveil. no us w/w. no mex w/w."
This all continued until around the spring of 2010 - around two months after the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh. That was when curious Redditors finally began poking around the source code of lakecityquietpills.com, and uncovered these strange, hidden message. Up until then, this had all been unfolding under the surface.
The Redditors that discovered this source code, and began posting links to it on Reddit. Some posts working at the hidden meaning of the many acronyms used - such as "w/w" - while others began to link up the timing of the numerous posts with world events. This eventually led some Redditors to begin linking up the January posts with the assassination of Al-Mabhouh, which was then posted online for anyone to read.
Almost as soon as this happened, the code for Lake City Quiet Pills was changed and encrypted. What had once been easy-to-read messages now became a frustrating series of numbers and symbols. When Redditors began working at deciphering that, it was encrypted again, becoming too convoluted to translate.
Shortly thereafter, the website was taken offline for good, with the new curators of the site deciding to change to a new host. The website once known as Lake City Quiet Pills was gone for good, but the mystery had just been born.
In the years since this internet mystery unfolded, many have come to believe that Lake City Quiet Pills is nothing more than a hoax, or even a game.
Some believe that it was an elaborate stunt meant to make the users internet famous, but... I personally don't believe that. If they had wanted to simply fool everyone, then it seems like a lot of work to go to to plant some seeds and then immediately shut down the site when it was discovered. It would have taken years to establish all of those internet accounts, making the odd comments and posts, etc.
Others have argued that this has the makings of an ARG - an alternate-reality game, which often utilize the internet to create weird, complicated puzzles. These ARG's have been known to hint at some kind of conspiracy or cover-up, so this makes sense to me, but again - we fall into the same pitfall as before.
Why would someone spend years of their life dedicated time to creating a really intricate puzzle or hoax, and then immediately shut it down as soon as anyone discovers it? To me, that doesn't really make any sense. I feel like anyone that creates wants others to see it - taking down the site just as it gained a modicum of exposure would be like me pulling down this episode of the podcast 5 minutes after uploading it. Nobody would hear it, and it would live and die as creation for nobody.
Now, is it possible that myself and others have over-hyped Lake City Quiet Pills? Quite possibly. It's possible that there were multiple people involved, who were little more than weirdos, but the likelihood that it was all a fabrication - or a hoax - just doesn't sit right with me.
The most likely possibility, in my opinion, is that Lake City Quiet Pills was a website established as a job posting board for former military members. It seems likely that they chose to recruit from among a pool of friends, instead of choosing to network and compete among hundreds of others. It's possible that this was mostly contracting work - stuff like security and bodyguards - who often provided protection for companies and business executives.
It's even possible that the site evolved as a job board accidentally. Think about a biker bar and how those can become known for drug activity and drug dealing. It didn't happen instantly, but rather evolved over time. Perhaps this was just a simple website that ended up serving multiple purposes: starting as a porn website, and eventually including job listings for military contractors - or vice/versa. At this point, it's impossible to know.
Lakecityquietpills.com has since shut down, with many of the anonymous individuals involved moving on to other projects. Many of the images once hosted on the site were moved over to another when the website was shut down for good in 2014.
In the years since, many have continued trying to crack the case, hoping that a hidden line here or there would provide some kind of answer for this bizarre internet mystery. However, since the website was taken offline, very little of note has happened. Some have tried linking up the anonymous people involved with real people - such the mysterious AngelTwo-Six, or /u/2-6, as he was known on Reddit. A couple of Reddit users believed that they had located "Shade," the person who allegedly handled "the calendar and controlled access to the filedump" - whatever that means. They identified him as a man named Oscar that passed away in 2015, but that was purely speculative.
Others, meanwhile, have made it their mission to go through the history of the most notable individual at the center of this bizarre story: the Reddit user named /u/ReligionOfPeace, whose presumed death kicked off this entire thing.
These web-sleuths have pointed out that many of this individual's comments didn't seem to make sense, at least in terms of a timeline. Again, they claimed they were born in 1930 and were 79 years old at the time of their death, but some curious Redditors discovered a comment from 2007, in which this user claimed they were only 70.
As if that wasn't enough, the language of this user's post were plugged into the website uClassify, which analyzes the age of someone's language. This website hinted at a younger individual - someone that was in the age range of 36 to 50 years old. Paired with the knowledge that this user possessed - of intricate computer terminology, as well as knowledge of modern military tactics and procedures - this indicates that whoever /u/ReligionOfPeace was, they were likely not 79 years old.
If that was a lie, then what else was a lie? Perhaps everything, honestly. Maybe this entire thing was a hoax, and we're all getting played by simply giving it the time of day.
Before I begin to wrap up this episode, I just want to share a couple of things I found during my research.
I've told you a lot about bizarre internet drama and the assassination of a Palestinian official, but I'm going to take just a minute to explore some military terminology from the UK.
I know, I know... please, just humor me.
Throughout several online posts, the Reddit user named /u/2-6 - who later wrote similar messages in the code of the Lake City Quiet Pills website - referred to his elder friend /u/ReligionOfPeace, as Milo. Many assumed that this was the first name of this deceased individual, and scanned U.S. obituaries looking for a deceased man named Milo.
However, what if this wasn't his name? What if it was a title of sorts? Or a rank? Or even an acronym?
During my research, I discovered a white paper titled "Intelligence and Peace Support Operations: Some Practical Concepts," which I'll be linking on the podcast website. You can read it, if you like, but a passage from this white paper reads:
"The Military Intelligence Liaison Officer concept has existed for a long time in the United Kingdom. The aim is to have a group of trained intelligence officers available with a broad background who could be quickly deployed to any potential mission area, to assist in the planning and preparation of any potential peacekeeping operation (prior to the deployment). They can also be assigned as temporary reinforcements in case particular intelligence requirements have arisen."
So... Military Intelligence Liaison Officer? M.I.L.O., perhaps?
Now, if we turn our attention to the other known figure in this story: /u/2-6, also known as AngelTwo-Six. Many have tried to find some hidden meaning in THIS name, believing that the name hints at some kind of coordinates or hidden location. However, what if the truth is just in the title?
"Two six heave" is an expression popular in British military culture, so much so that it has its own Wikipedia page. An excerpt from that page reads:
"In Britain it has a broader meaning and is often used in any situation where a coordinated pulling effort is required, often were maritime people are involved, but almost as frequently where 'civilians' are working together."
So... you tell me. Was this all a weird scheme, or... is there something to this?
In addition to the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mahbouh remaining unsolved to this day, the story behind Lake City Quiet Pills remains unresolved.
Written, hosted, and produced by Micheal Whelan
Published on January 13, 2019
Mystery Mammal - "Xanadon’t"
ROZKOL - "If These"
Sann Gusmao - "Acho Que Comecei a Esquecer Pra Descobrir Como Voltar a Se Lembrar e Te Mostrar Como"
ROZKOL - "Please tell me youre seeing this too"
Blue Dot Sessions - "Levanger"
OKAM vs ps - "Understanding the Limits of Symbiotic Echolocation"
Vitus Von Degen - "Oath Of Blood"
Mystery Mammal - "Asylum"
ROZKOL - "Stay Quiet"
ROZKOL - "Happiness Free For Everyone and Let No One Be Forgotten"
ROZKOL - "All the Little Pieces"
Mystery Mammal - "Pragia"
Other music created and composed by Ailsa Traves
Sources and further reading
Reddit - “Lake City Quiet Pills Revisited - I Realize How This Sounds… Over a Year Ago I Stumbled Upon a Series of Posts/Comments Which Led Me and Others to Start to Etch Out What Could be a Group of Assassins Communicating Online - The Mystery Still Stands”