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No Joke

She urged her audience to heed LaRouche's call to take Joan of Arc as their role model and make their bid for immortality: "They burned her alive, and she didn't flinch at all . . . Are you willing to put your life on the line? Because your life might actually never die if you accomplish those matters . . . If you know you are fighting for the good, nobody can touch you. They can't get you to flicker."

Jeremiah was critical of much of what he was hearing at the conference, a French university student who befriended him there later told his mother. But he and the French student decided to stay on together for a much smaller cadre school, where LaRouche organizers would be trained. After that, there would be an antiwar protest in Berlin. The cadre school was held at a youth hostel in Wiesbaden. There were about 50 people there, one participant said.

Lyndon LaRouche addresses supporters during an April 30 Webcast in Washington. (Stuart Lewis - EIRNS)

Jeremiah stood out. Not only was he Jewish, he was British. According to Jeremiah's written notes, at least one speaker described the Tavistock Institute, a public health research center in London, as a brainwashing center. Jeremiah, as it happened, had firsthand experience with Tavistock. When he was 7 and his parents were divorcing, they took the family to Tavistock for counseling. At the cadre school, Jeremiah discussed his experience at Tavistock with LaRouche organizers, participants later told his mother. His parents wonder if Jeremiah's nationality, religion and comments about attending Tavistock marked him as an "agent" or special target.

Late the night of Tuesday, March 25, Jeremiah telephoned his girlfriend, Maya, in Paris to say he couldn't get a ride home until Sunday and didn't have the money to take a train or bus, she recounted in a written statement for a British inquest. Very serious things were happening, he told her, but he indicated that he couldn't talk just then and would have to explain later. The next day some cadre school participants handed out LaRouche literature in nearby Frankfurt. Afterward, they visited an art museum. A Frenchwoman in their group asked Jeremiah what he thought of the exhibit. He didn't answer. He started to cry.

The Frenchwoman, who has since left the LaRouche organization and didn't want to be identified because she fears reprisals, asked why he was crying.

"I don't trust LaRouche," she recalls him saying nervously. Jeremiah, she says, wanted to go home.

The Frenchwoman told him that he was free to go, she says. "I said, well, you are not forced to do anything you do not want," the woman recalls. "If you want to just go back, you can. I tried to reassure him. He embraced me very strongly and thanked me for listening to him."

She got the impression that he was going to leave for home immediately.

THE FIRST THING JEREMIAH SAID when he telephoned his girlfriend early Thursday, March 27, 2003, was that he was under "too much pressure."

"I asked him what kind of pressure, but he didn't explain himself coherently," she recounted in her written statement to British authorities. "His voice was very small and weak."

Jeremiah's limbs hurt and his mouth was dry, he told her. "He said they were doing experiments on people with computers . . . and magnetic things . . . the government," his girlfriend recalled in her statement. "I was very worried, but wondered if he hadn't started to imagine things because of information overload . . . He also told me he no longer knew what reality was, what was truth and what was lies."

Jeremiah's girlfriend begged him to take a train to Paris right away. He promised he would, though in their disjointed conversation they didn't talk about where he might get money for a ticket. Not long afterward, Jeremiah placed the two desperate phone calls to his mother, both of which ended abruptly. Frantic and confused, his mother made predawn calls to law enforcement agencies in Britain, telling them that she believed her son had stumbled into a terrorist organization in Germany and needed help.

It was too late.

Just before 6 a.m. in Wiesbaden, the driver of a BMW saw a pedestrian run into the roadway. He swerved, he later told police, but clipped the young man with his side-view mirror, knocking him down. Jeremiah got up and ran. Minutes later, two more cars came into view, moving fast. A red Peugeot swerved. Jeremiah leapt forward, the driver later said. His arms were raised. His mouth was open. The windshield and a passenger door window of the car shattered. Jeremiah went down. The driver of a blue Golf ran him over. Jeremiah had massive head trauma and died on the road.

German police quickly concluded that Jeremiah had committed suicide by leaping into traffic. They concentrated their investigation on the accident scene. They talked to drivers and measured skid marks, but didn't probe deeply into how Jeremiah spent his final hours or investigate alternatives to suicide, police records indicate. LaRouche activists brought Jeremiah's luggage and passport to the police station.

Jeremiah's parents arrived in Wiesbaden the next day. There, they met with German police, who told them LaRouche officials claimed that Jeremiah had suffered from suicidal impulses and had been a mental patient at the Tavistock Institute.

Erica and Hugo Duggan were stunned at first, then outraged. Jeremiah had no history of mental illness or suicide attempts, according to evidence later offered at a British inquest.

A British coroner convened a court hearing last year to determine how Jeremiah died. According to a transcript of the inquest, he found no evidence to support a ruling of suicide. "I could not accept the investigators' bald conclusion that Jeremiah Duggan intended to take his own life," the coroner, a magistrate, concluded. He noted that, based on the evidence he'd heard, Jeremiah had been "in a state of terror." He lamented that he lacked authority to compel German witnesses to answer his lingering questions. "What was it that turned that young man into a terrified young man?" the coroner asked. "Sadly, we might never know . . ."

Jeremiah's parents are campaigning for German authorities to reopen the case, and the British government has provided them with a lawyer to help. Meanwhile, the Duggans are conducting their own investigation. They want to know if their son was trying to find someone to help him when he ran into the road.

"How do you try to flag down a speeding car?" Erica Duggan asks softly. Wouldn't you jump forward, arms raised and mouth open -- screaming?

MICHAEL WINSTEAD WAS SO SHAKEN AFTER HE QUIT the LaRouche Youth Movement that he barely spoke to anyone for weeks, he says.

Eventually, he sent anti-LaRouche letters to local newspapers and colleges where he'd tried to recruit for the movement. He chatted in anti-LaRouche Internet discussion groups, trading war stories with former followers, sparring with current devotees. In May, he mentioned on one electronic bulletin board that he had given an interview to a reporter asking about LaRouche and Jeremiah Duggan.

Soon afterward, the New Federalist, a LaRouche newspaper, ran a photo of Winstead on its front page under the headline: "The Washington Post's Latest Pervert: Michael Winstead." The accompanying article suggested that Winstead and The Post are part of the worldwide conspiracy against Lyndon LaRouche.

The June 25 issue of LaRouche's Executive Intelligence Review suggested that Jeremiah's death was not only part of a U.S.-British conspiracy to "get LaRouche," it was also linked to the failed search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the suicide of British weapons expert and senior civil servant David Kelly. Though the publication doesn't explain the connection, it lists them on the same timeline as if they are part of the same unfolding anti-LaRouche plot.

In his e-mail, LaRouche declined to answer questions about Jeremiah's time in Germany or his death, noting that the matter is addressed in one of his latest pieces of campaign literature, "Children of Satan III: The Sexual Congress for Cultural Fascism." That publication contends that Jeremiah was mentally ill and points out that German authorities continue to stand by their finding of suicide. It portrays Jeremiah's grieving mother as a dupe who has been pressured into joining the worldwide conspiracy to get LaRouche: "The objective of the media smear campaign, linking LaRouche-affiliated organizations to the Duggan suicide, is to build pressure in several Continental European countries, and eventually launch a major disruption of the LaRouche campaign . . . to assure that if there is a John Kerry Presidency, LaRouche will be nowhere near the premises."

FOR MORE THAN A YEAR NOW, Erica Duggan has been possessed by the very question that young LaRouche activists say they burn to answer: "What is truth?"

With her gentle voice, cascade of soft red curls and open manner, the 58-year-old mother makes an unlikely agitator. She spent her career helping immigrant children adjust to London schools. She is spending her retirement and savings pursuing clues to her son's death. She sold her home and is using the proceeds to investigate. She is meeting with human rights lawyers and maintaining a Web site called Justiceforjeremiah.com to publicize and fund her cause.

She has moved into her parents' cozy home on the outskirts of London and turned an upstairs room into her command center. It is crammed with bulging files. From the window there is a view of the lush garden below. She gazes instead at her computer screen, downloading literature, researching LaRouche organizations, trading e-mail with former members and critics who are trying to help her. Not long ago, she obtained the phone number of the LaRouche activist in Paris who had invited her son to attend the German conference from which he never returned. She called. He pretended to be someone else, she says. She rang back. He hung up. She called again. Three times. Four times. He told her she was harassing him. She told him that he was the reason her son went to Germany, so he owed it to her to tell her what happened.

"I found myself raving and crying," she recalls. "I said, 'Do you want to see a photo of how he ended up?' "

It is an irony not lost on Erica that LaRouche, veteran weaver of conspiracy theories involving the British and Zionists, is being pursued by a Jewish mother from Britain. She has become an accidental but determined traveler in his realm of plots and apocalyptic fantasies. She even wonders if LaRouche partisans are tracking her movements, hacking into her e-mail.

Sometimes she thinks about showing up at one of LaRouche's speeches and disrupting it the way LaRouche activists disrupt other people's events. She'd like to pose some hard questions from the audience: How dare he dismiss her son's death as a hoax? How dare he talk about saving the world when he doesn't have the humanity to help a grieving mother find the truth?

It is very late, almost midnight in London. She is very tired. And dark fantasies are infectious. "I suppose he has security people who have guns, and they might try to shoot me," she says, speaking softly. "Then the world would know the truth, wouldn't they?"

April Witt is a Magazine staff writer.

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