Who is Ali Alexander?

Who is Ali Alexander?
Source: Carlos Barria, Reuters
The “Stop the Steal” campaign Alexander organized was instrumental in provoking the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol that resulted in multiple deaths, including that of a police officer.

If someone were asked to describe the average supporter of former President Donald Trump, the image invoked would almost certainly look nothing like Ali Alexander. Alexander, whose birth name is Ali Akbar, is a Black man from an Arabic background who has roots in Baton Rouge, Louisiana but now lives in Texas.

Alexander may have remained a footnote in the Trump era of American history if not for the fact that the “Stop the Steal” campaign he organized was instrumental in provoking the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol that resulted in multiple deaths, including that of a police officer. Alexander’s campaign aimed to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on the unproven claim that it was stolen from Trump.

Leading up to the January attack, Alexander’s Twitter account (@Ali) had over 200,000 followers. In the aftermath of the attempted coup, though, that account has been suspended, as have Alexander’s accounts on Instagram, Facebook and even CashApp, among most other platforms. Social media companies are also deactivating “Stop the Steal” accounts.

With Alexander being nearly universally deplatformed and now potentially facing legal liability for his role in the Capitol attack, he may prove to be the poster child for the risk of committing so firmly to Trump.

The rise of a right-wing provocateur

Like Candace Owens and Jacob Wohl, Ali Alexander (nee Akbar) had an uneasy road to becoming one of the most influential right-wing commentators of the Trump era.

In the 2000s, Alexander, who was born in 1986 or 1987, accumulated a substantial record of criminal charges, including credit card theft and car theft. Alexander has avoided discussing his criminal past and not much else was known about him before he gained national recognition as a member of the fringe right.

His first stint in political activism, according to Salon, was working for the presidential campaign of the late Senator John McCain. Alexander was allegedly reprimanded while working on the campaign for proposing ways that the campaign could commit voter fraud. It was an inauspicious start in politics for the man who is now the face of a failed campaign to overturn an election.

Alexander (still using the name Akbar) first emerged as a conservative activist – or grifter, depending on whom you ask – during the rise of the tea party movement that coincided with the first term of President Barack Obama (who defeated McCain in the 2008 election).

Alexander organized the National Bloggers Club (NBC), a nonprofit organization purportedly created to support conservative bloggers. However, the organization never officially registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and has been accused of fraud (NBC is no longer in operation).

In the final years of Obama’s presidency, Alexander was involved in Louisiana politics, starting a political action committee known as the Black Conservatives Fund and working as the digital director for the failed gubernatorial campaign of Republican Jay Dardenne.

Like many other conservatives, including Owens and Senator Lindsey Graham, Alexander initially expressed distaste for Trump’s presidential run. In 2016, he reportedly posted on his Facebook, “I think [Trump] destroyed my party, and I hate the campaign he’s running … But I’ll gladly choose him over Hillary Clinton and the violent leftist mob.”

Ali Alexander’s right-wing allies

Before his “Stop the Steal” campaign, Alexander, who is a professed Christian and regularly uses anti-Muslim rhetoric, was mostly known for his partnerships with other notable right-wing personalities.

In 2019, he joined Wohl and far-right journalist Laura Loomer as they traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota to film a documentary to prove that Representative Ilhan Omar, a Muslim, had married her brother to illegally gain US citizenship. Omar, a Somali immigrant to the US who was naturalized as a child, has dismissed the claims and the unproven conspiracy theory does not align with known facts.

While investigating, Wohl and Alexander wore bulletproof vests and claimed they had received death threats, which Wohl even went to the Minneapolis police to report. However, those threats turned out to be fake, originating with a fraudulent Twitter account that Wohl himself had created. Alexander quickly distanced himself from Wohl after that.

Alexander has also been known to affiliate with Alex Jones, the far-right radio host who regularly espouses conspiracy theories, including that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. Jones has appeared alongside Alexander at “Stop the Steal” rallies and was in Washington, DC for the rally on January 6.

Stop the Steal

Borrowing a phrase that was already popular with conservatives from the 2018 election, Alexander started the “Stop the Steal” campaign on Facebook and Twitter within hours of Election Day 2020. He was one of the first high-profile conservatives to push the claim that the election was being stolen from Trump.

Within days, Trump and many members of the Republican Party were pushing (or, at least, not contesting) the narrative that the election had been stolen by President-elect Joe Biden. Though Trump’s legal team failed to ever provide any evidence of election fraud, Alexander continued to push the belief that the election was stolen and Trump was the actual winner.

That belief led to the violent insurrection in Washington, DC on January 6, when Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress’ certification of Biden’s electoral college victory. Alexander was one of the key players in organizing the rally-turned-riot that was planned to coincide with the congressional certification process.

In the wake of the riot, Alexander’s social media accounts were suspended and he has reportedly gone into hiding. There have been calls for Alexander’s arrest for his part in fomenting the coup attempt, including a speech he gave in Phoenix, Arizona on December 19 in which he advocated for “tar and feathering” DC politicians.

During that speech, Alexander stated, “We’re going to convince them to not certify the vote on January 6 by marching hundreds of thousands, if not millions of patriots, to sit their butts in D.C. and close that city down, right?” He then obtusely suggested they could “explore options” that included violence.

Following the Capitol attack, Alexander claimed that three Republican members of Congress – Representatives Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar – helped him organize the January rally to put “maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting.” The congressmen have denied their involvement in the rally.

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