Ababiy: A weekend of lies in Minneapolis

A Twitter conspiracy theorist came to Minneapolis. Soon after, he was banned.

Jonathan Ababiy

This weekend, one of the world’s youngest hedge fund managers was here in Minneapolis. He was tweeting to his more than 100,000 followers about the city, its people and his investigation into the city. His Twitter account has since been suspended. I kinda like finance, Minneapolis, its people and investigations, so I emailed him from my Minnesota Daily email and left my phone number.

A few minutes later, I received a call from a Virginia number. I don’t know anyone from Virginia, so I let the phone ring for a bit on the couch, then I picked it up. 

“Hello,” I said. There was a long pause. The connection was terrible so the pause sounded like tinfoil in a microwave.

“Hello. Jonathan. This is Jacob Wohl.”

When he was 18 years old, Jacob Wohl was one of the world’s youngest hedge fund managers. He successfully raised millions of dollars under management at this hedge fund. That impressive haul brought him media attention.

The only catch was that he was lying and that he did it badly. 

The investors who poured money into Wohl’s hedge fund quickly figured him out. The returns he promised allegedly never happened. Wohl’s lies are like snowflakes on a day too early in the fall; as soon as they aren’t in the air anymore, they dissolve. Wohl is now a former hedge fund manager.

This weekend in Minneapolis, Wohl’s lies fell like the snow. Working with two other far-right activists, Wohl came to “investigate” whether Congresswoman Ilhan Omar married her brother for immigration purposes. Obviously, this is an absurd lie, but this is the world Wohl lives in. He tries to wrangle issues into existence for his followers, who fervently donate toward his cause.

He tweeted out that there were “no-go zones” in Minneapolis. In a Periscope live stream with his far-right buddy, he said that “Islamists’ [sic] forces here have taken over sections of the respective police departments.” His buddy added that “there are men who walk around in orange vests that say Sharia police in some of these Somali communities.”

As any normal person who has been in Minneapolis for more than 15 minutes would know, that’s got to be the dumbest I have ever heard, on par with the rumor of a Territorial Hall rooftop pool.

I tried to get Wohl to talk to me about these magical places and laws he was describing in vivid detail for his Twitter audience of over 100,000. After our call, he texted me a location on the St. Paul campus, telling me to “please put out the word on campus” and meet him there later in the day.

I showed up at the Magrath Library, along with some other Daily columnists. We prepared some questions and waited, hoping to interview him and see the snowflake melt once it made any contact with the real world.

Wohl never showed. He told me that, due to security precautions, he would only meet me if he picked me up in his car. I don’t like getting into cars with strangers from the internet, so that never happened.

He did make headlines after that, though. On Tuesday, Twitter announced Wohl was permanently suspended from the platform. As much as Wohl wants us to live in the hateful world he spins up for us, his main stumbling block seems to be his own idiocy. I guess the word is out on campus now.