DIA Conspiracies Take Off

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Evangelical Christians have also found messages in the murals. In a 2003 newsletter, biblical research group Cephas Ministry included photos of the murals, along with the caution that they referred to bio-warfare, 9/11 and paganism. "They are frightening to Christians as well as American citizenry since one speaks of death to Christianity as we know it," the newsletter noted. Another grainy YouTube video shows a speaker alleging that the murals indicate that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has built a concentration camp below the airport to systematically murder the "people that Lucifer hates."

Many of these Internet speculators believe that DIA is linked via underground tunnels to nearby conspiratorial hotbeds such as NORAD and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. But some also believe that the conspiracy stretches from the airport to controversial Colorado tragedies such as Columbine. (A few even posit that those students may have been consumed by aliens.) One 1998 article posted on www.konformist.com managed to connect the DIA conspiracy to JonBenét and the Denver Broncos. Reached by phone at his home in Las Vegas, the site's creator, Robert Sterling, admits that the best conspiracy theories often necessitate dizzying leaps of logic, demonstrated by a kind of free-association exercise he calls "the conspiracy game."

Even though Sterling realizes that these connections are more than a little tenuous, he is willing to err on the side of speculation, given the sheer weirdness of the murals and evidence of DIA's capstone. "The idea that [DIA] is a temple or monument to the New World Order, it almost in some bizarre way makes sense," he says.

In his sociological observations of conspiracy culture, Barkun has noticed a rise in the number of individuals suspicious of Freemasonry, a trend he thinks may be the cause (or effect) of conspiracy-thriller novelist Dan Brown's popularity. As with The Da Vinci Code, there's a belief that the future can be accessed if you can only decipher the code. "It's often something that's in plain sight as it is [at DIA]. But their claim is that there's a hidden meaning," Barkun says. "Most often it is thought to exist in text; people have long done this with the Bible. But it can often be visual, as in the case of DIA."

Although conspiracy theories vary widely, they all share three commonalities. "One is the belief that nothing happens by accident," Barkun points out. "Another is that everything is connected. And a third is that nothing is as it seems."

Jay Weidner would agree with that. From his office in Seattle, the former National Public Radio talk-show host says that world events like the war in Iraq, the oil crisis and the erosion of global economies signal that a fundamental alteration in human history is on the horizon.

"There's some profound shift that's about to happen," he says. "And for those of us who are prescient and aware and conscious, we can feel there's something going on here." And they can see it in the Tanguma murals.

Although the DIA conspiracies have branched off into wild ideological directions, they're all rooted in a 1996 radio interview with Alex Christopher, an interview whose transcription has been republished on hundreds of websites. Many theorists surmise that the man quoted in this transcription is dead.

Actually, Christopher is a 65-year-old grandmother living in Alabama.

Christopher first became interested in the New World Order in the mid-'80s, and she started writing a book on the subject. In the mid-'90s, she came to Denver for the Global Sciences Congress conference, where she gave a lecture on her theories about aliens and the globalist agenda. People there were talking about how odd the long-delayed airport was, "and I started looking at all the murals and floors and weirdness," she remembers. "I got really intrigued."

At the conference, she met people who she claims took her into DIA's underground tunnels. The first time, she went with a man who worked there. "It was really spooky," she remembers. Then she returned with fellow conspiracy theorist Phil Schneider, and they went down four levels.

That was enough to convince Christopher that something funny was going on at DIA. "As far as I know, I'm the one who started all that," she acknowledges.

She went with a few family members to visit Tanguma at his studio, where he was working on the second mural. "And I asked him, 'Where on earth are you coming up with this material from?' And he said, 'Well, it's just a collection, a collage.' And he had a lot of books in his studio that had strange pictures," she remembers.

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Jared Jacang Maher