Bellingcat (often spelled bell¿ngcat) is an investigative journalism site specializing in wars, crimes, and human rights issues. Bellingcat was founded in 2014 by British journalist and blogger Eliot Higgins.
The group that maintained Bellingcat initially collected its data mainly from open sources on the Internet.
It was later reported that Bellingcat has access to e.g. Russian passport data, car registrations, land registry, call records and air passenger data, as well as other databases. The site claims that this information can be purchased online from leaks.Bellingcat has become known for, among other things, the Syrian Civil War and the Eastern Ukraine War
articles related to the events. The best-known case investigated by Bellingcat is probably the shooting down of a Malaysian MH-17 plane in eastern Ukraine. In 2019, the group had 16 members, and 60 temporary assistants. Russia declared the site a foreign agent on October 8, 2021.
The name Bellingcat was taken from the English phrase “belling the cat,” ‘a clock for a cat’. In a medieval fairy tale of this name, mice would like to make a cat harmless with a neck watch, but none of the mice dare to put a watch around the cat’s neck. Thus, the name Bellingcat refers to a dangerous or difficult task.
In March 2012, the British Eliot Higgins began writing a blog about the Syrian Civil War called Brown Moses. In his blog, Higgins said the video evidence he found shows that Syrian government forces are using cluster bombs and chemical weapons in the war. In 2014, a group of Higgins and a few other volunteer internet journalists began operating under the name Bellingcat. The group initially focused on finding out, based on the evidence found on the network, who is responsible for dropping the MH-17 passenger plane.
In 2020, the group, in collaboration with other investigative journalists, investigated that the secret poisoning unit of the Russian Security Service had poisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny. According to Bellingcat, Vladimir Kara-Murza, a former adviser to Boris Nemtsov, an opposition politician who was murdered by the shooting, has also twice been the target of a failed poisoning attempt by the FSB poison group.
The Russian government has not considered the Bellingcat investigations to be credible because they consider them to be anti-Russian and anti-Syrian.
Hans Pool: Bellingcat and Truth (Bellingcat - Truth In a Post-Truth World). The Netherlands, 2018.
Higgins, Eliot & Preface: Kivimäki, Veli-Pekka: We are Bell [i] ngcat - Online Intelligence Service. Translated by Helasvuo, Antero. Jyväskylä: Docendo, 2021. ISBN 9789522919564.