The World Economic Forum (WEF) has become a popular target of conspiracy theorists who believe the group is part of a shady global cabal of puppet masters.
Founded in 1971 by Klaus Schwab, the WEF has been variously (and misleadingly) linked to claims that it has declared a “new one world religion”, that it promoted child abuse and that it called for an end to private car ownership.
This week, as the group prepares to host its annual conference in the Swiss town of Davos, social media suggested that an infantry of soldiers was to be flown in to oversee proceedings.
A tweet, posted by the Wall Street Silver account on January 12, 2022 and viewed more than two million times, receiving 27,000 engagements, stated “5,000 Troops to protect WEF in Davos. Are they expecting trouble?”
The tweet included a screengrab of an article with the headline “Switzerland to Deploy 5,000 Army Troops to protect World Economic Forum Meeting in Davos.”
Many misleading claims have been attached to Davos and its organizing body, including that WEF had its own police force, allegedly seen at the event.
The newest claim about a troop of 5,000 soldiers being sent in to protect the WEF is, likewise, misleading.
The article screengrab shared on Twitter is from the Hal Turner Radio Show website, home of Hal Turner, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who, according to the FBI, was sentenced in 2010 to 33 months in prison for threatening three federal appeals court judges. Turner has used his website to spread numerous other false claims.
While the headline is wrong, there is a crumb of truth in the article the screengrab came from. It states that the Swedish federal government “set a ceiling of 5,000 troops who will serve in support during the WEF, which will run from January 10 to 26.”
As statements on the Swiss Armed Forces (SAF) website show, these security arrangements are not new, having been approved for previous WEF meetings.
Also, crucially, a “maximum” of 5,000 soldiers have been assigned, but not necessarily deployed, to Davos.
“In 2023, the armed forces will once again support the civilian authorities in the canton of Graubünden in carrying out security tasks in connection with the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF),” it states.
“Parliament approved the deployment of a maximum of 5000 soldiers on these civil affairs support operations from 2022 until 2024. The 2023 WEF meeting will be held from 16 to 20 January, the army’s mission lasts from 10 to 26 January.”
Further information online details the SAF’s duties at WEF, including protecting “objects, persons and airspace”, providing logistical support, and coordinating medical services.
“The armed forces play no part in law enforcement services, which are the responsibility of the police. The soldiers carry out their missions in accordance with the Ordinance on the Police Powers of the Armed Forces.”
Newsweek has previously checked false claims about the WEF’s founder Klaus Schwab including that his father was a confidant of Hitler and that he attended the 2022 G20 conference alongside Bill Gates.
Newsweek has contacted the World Economic Forum and the Swiss Armed Forces for comment.
The Swiss government has approved the assignation of up to 5,000 troops to Davos during the WEF conference.
However, this does not mean that all 5,000 will be deployed, as the social media posts suggest, nor will they participate in law enforcement, which remains under the purview of the police.
The misleading social media post about Davos included a screengrab from a website with a track record of misleading and misinformative news stories.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s Fact Check team
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