Spotting False Martial Arts Claims: Lessons from the David Bannon Case
by Samuel Browning
On January 27, 2006, David "Race" Bannon was arrested by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for criminal impersonation, attempted theft, and computer crime.  Bannon had attempted to charge this law enforcement agency $3,000 for a two-day seminar. During this training he was to teach about human trafficking based on his supposed years of Interpol experience. Bannon, however, was never employed by Interpol, and according to the Affidavit for the Arrest Warrant, he was living in America between 1983 and 1990 when he claimed he was roaming the globe assassinating child molesters for this organization.  After a lengthy, complete investigation conducted by Bullshido.net revealed that none of Bannon's larger then life tales could be independently confirmed, while many could be refuted. Were there earlier warning signs to the casual magazine reader that Bannon's story was likely fabricated? The answer is yes.
False Martial Arts Claims: Warning Signs
- A) The Person Mentions Lots of Irrelevant Facts, but Avoids Providing the Most Important Details When Making Claims.
When Mr. Bannon first published his claims in the November/December 2001 issue of KUNGFU QIGONG ("Deadly Hands: An Interpol Officer's Fight for Justice" pp. 68-72), there were major clues in this article that his story was questionable. It should be said that Bannon had not yet started claiming in print that he had been an Interpol assassin. Instead, he claimed to be an Interpol officer participating in a lawful law enforcement operation in "a small town in Florida." He claimed to have led an emergency entry into a hotel suite where child molesters were abusing a young girl.
It is common for people who are attempting to deceive others to provide much colorful information while avoiding the really important details. While reading his article we learned that Mr. Bannon makes a mean cup of cappuccino, that he is addicted to the TV show COLUMBO, and that he has a good friend named Toni who is "a behavioral scientist." Nowhere in the article did Bannon give the name of the town where the incident took place, or the name of the local law enforcement agency he worked with. Either fact would have allowed confirmation of his story with a couple of phone calls. Remember, this was a "lawful" operation. There was no reason to hide such details. The location of the event could have been provided without risk to the victim's identity.
Bannon even says on page 72 of his KUNGFU QIGONG article that after the emergency entry, local deputies were "awarded citations." Such awards mean that the aftermath of this operation would not have been secret, and should have attracted media attention. This is especially true because one perpetrator was allegedly stabbed and two shot during the entry into the hotel suite. According to Bannon's scribe, Jason Putman, four of the perpetrators died in the suite.  An incident with that many dead would have drawn national attention, and would therefore not support omitting the location of the incident from the article. 
- B) Strange Coincidences Allow the Kungfu Artist to Please the Audience
In the magazine article "Deadly Hands," when Bannon discovers via electronic listening devices that an eight-year-old girl is being sexually abused in the hotel room, he recounts running up the stairs, leaving his pistol behind but carrying a Ka-Bar knife in a sheath and a collapsible baton. He even remembers to bring the key card to open the room, but still leaves his gun behind. Bannon then claims that he stabbed the doorman (presumably to death) and then in another room uses his baton skills on a man operating a camcorder. While he is using his baton, another suspect is subdued while displaying "knowledge of martial arts." In a matter of seconds Bannon claims to have used two weapons in two different rooms of the hotel suite, all in a stylized manner that does not reflect reality. (For example, when he stabs the doorman in the throat, the doorman collapses, and when Bannon hits the cameraman in the knee with his baton, the cameraman, who is swinging a tripod at Bannon, somehow manages to land the heavy end of the tripod on his own head.)
This extensively choreographed action appears quite Hollywoodish in nature and is inherently suspicious. Later, when a writer named Jason Putman appeared to write Bannon's story in "Kungfu Secret Agent," which was published as a Kungfu Magazine ezine article, Bannon would lay claim to a fight in rural Japan: "This guy's qi was unbelievable, . . . his arm techniques reflected lots of hours with the wooden dummy and he had that low stable balance point that's so common to Hung Gar stylists."  If one believes that a fighter pays attention to such details while in a life-and-death physical confrontation, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. The description is too "pat" to be believed. And how did that Japanese farmer learn Hung Gar in Japan?
Steve Robinson, a former Navy SEAL and author of the fraud-busting book, NO GUTS, NO GLORY: UNMASKING NAVY SEAL IMPOSTERS , remarked in a letter to the author that:
"The target audience for the man's published work is very evident... he's after the Martial Arts aficionados. The crap about being able to identify a man's training and style while nearly being beaten to death, the inclusion of the thoughts that were running through his mind while being so severely beaten, and the little details about what make, model, and caliber weapon each person was carrying/using... all are very specifically calculated to make a lasting impression on the phony tough; the downtrodden, socially inept males who dream of walking into a room and being the envy of every other male in the room, and the bed partner of every woman present... the wannabe James Bond "secret agent" with an unbeatable arsenal of weaponry and martial arts training."
- C) The Protagonist/Martial Artist Uses His Tale Repeatedly for Psychological Self Aggrandizement
Every human being has an ego; however, when the martial artist repeatedly recounts maudlin, sappy incidents that are meant to demonstrate his greatness, one must suspect the reliability of the reporting. For example, when "Race" Bannon supposedly saves Annie, the eight-year-old girl, her family somehow gets an ex-police dog to watch over her and she names it "Racy." The family obtains a picture of him and hangs it on their wall at home. Annie's father tells him, "We've been praying for God to send an Angel and save our little girl. He sent you," and "God prepared you to save my little girl." Such lines, designed to promote David Bannon as the protector of the innocent, are repeatedly foisted on the reader in the 2001 KUNGFU QIGONG article.  This is not normal behavior, and such comments should be treated as red flags.
- D) People Do Not Readily Admit to Crimes for which They Can Still Be Prosecuted.
Real Assassins Don't Talk Shop in Public.
In the warrant for his arrest, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation stated that Bannon claimed to have killed up to 200 people as an assassin (page 2 of the affidavit).  These claims apparently started with his book published in 2003 titled RACE AGAINST EVIL. A review of Bannon's book vividly describes a homicide in London, England, and three in South Korea. Bannon also alludes, with less detail, to other homicides committed in the United States and Western Europe. Bannon is presumably not a stupid man. Yet if he really was an "Interpol officer" in the past, you would expect him to know something about criminal law.
As a lawyer who has practiced criminal law, I can say that any criminal lawyer (or even a jailhouse lawyer for that matter) would have advised Mr. Bannon to shut up, and never mention such killings again if he wished to remain a free man. While people have previously confessed to killings with mild penalties, such results have been the product of immunity or plea bargain agreements worked out in advance with the state or federal prosecutorial authorities in exchange for tangible help on another criminal case (Think Sammy "the Bull" Gravanno informing on John Gotti). In Western countries there is generally no statute of limitations on homicide. Would a man who had literally murdered his way around the globe be so na?ve to think that publication of his claims, if true, would not place him in future legal jeopardy?
- E) Simple Numbers or Dates Reveal the Lie. Assassins Die, but They Never Get Arrested.
In his February, 2004 article, "Kungfu Secret Agent," Jason Putman claims that Jacques Defferre, an Interpol Commissioner, told him that "Each of his operatives accounted for ?three digits' worth of arrests or assassinations. Now almost all of the original 250 cleaners [assassins] are dead or missing."  In his book, Bannon describes only one instance, our Florida example, in which he was tasked with arresting someone rather than simply killing him. His fellow cleaners "William" and "Peg" behaved similarly. 100 assassinations times 250 cleaners produces the rather large figure of 25,000 assassinations. But let's be generous and assume that only half of the incidents were assassinations and the rest were arrests. That's still 12,500 assassinations between Archangel's founding in 1979 and its disbanding in 1991. 
In the best book on the history of Israeli Intelligence, "Every Spy A Prince," authors Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman recount the history of Israel's attempts to seek revenge against the Palestinian terror group Black September, a PLO unit which murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. The Israelis succeeded in carrying out approximately sixteen assassinations while blowing one operation in Lillehammer, Norway that resulted in the arrest of some of its agents.  If the Israeli Mossad, commonly thought to be one of the best intelligence agencies in the world, gets caught from time to time, how could over 200 "cleaners" get killed in the line of work, and thousands of perpetrators get killed, without at least one operation going off track and resulting in the arrest of an Interpol assassin? Murphy's Law alone would indicate that no organization could assassinate thousands of perpetrators (over two a day) for approximately 13 years without suffering a single public mishap. Yet this is what Mr. Bannon would have us believe.
In conclusion, even to a casual reader there were indications that this story was unbelievable on its face. Unfortunately, Mr. Bannon is not the only person out there telling such stories, and the reader should be aware of the warning signs.
You visit a martial arts school and are in the instructor's office as he tries to sell you lessons. Alternately you meet a person who identifies himself as a martial arts instructor in a social setting. In the worst-case scenario you are already taking classes when the stories start. Instead of teaching class or explaining to you what he teaches, the instructor talks about his extensive military covert operations or spy experiences.
He hints at having covert action experience during the Vietnam War. Since he looks 45, you are suspicious (he would need to have been 18 or older in 1972 when we withdrew our last combat formations from Vietnam, making him early 50s or older). Or he may brag about shooting people as a sniper in a more recent military conflict ? a rather odd admission if he has never met you before. If you ask him for details, he claims the whole matter is classified, despite having opened up the subject in the first place.  He may also mention being the only surviving witness to a particular incident, since everyone else has died. This is code for: "I have no proof for my story."
After talking about youth programs he runs, he may show a flare for the dramatic by claiming to have saved troubled youths from the street, through activities that go well beyond those carried out by your local Police Athletic League. His stories seem designed to paint himself a hero, as someone fighting against the system.
Be careful of anyone who claims to have been a prisoner of war in Vietnam or later conflicts, or has spent time rescuing POWs. There are now probably less then 600 former American serviceman alive who survived captivity in Vietnam, but many more who claim that they have been through this experience. Less than a couple dozen American servicemen and women have been POWs since then, and an internet search here will turn up all of their names.
He may also volunteer that he spends much time street fighting, and while there are people who do this, he seems unaware of the legal risks (because he is either a fool or a liar). If he brags of such full-contact fighting, he either disparages sanctioned fighting in Mixed Martial Arts or boxing events ("I'm too deadly") or refers to events in places that can never be checked out, such as Thailand instead of "I competed last year in the North American Grappling Association tournament in Hartford, Connecticut."
Lastly, though you can't explain why, you intuitively feel that this person is lying. Do not ignore this gut reaction; it is there to protect you. Listen to it and act accordingly.
-  See the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's Warrant for Arrest Upon Affidavit, and Affidavit and Application for Arrest Warrant. A copy of these documents is reproduced at: http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=30325 see post #10.
The date of Mr Bannon's arrest can be confirmed by reading Charlie Brennan's article "Interpol Imposter", ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS, February 25, 2006
 See pages 4-5 of the Affidavit.
 Jason Putman, "Kungfu Secret Agent: Agent for Interpol comes clean on his career as an assassin." February, 2004
 In the March/April 2002 edition of KUNGFU QIGONG, there is a supposed letter from "Annie's Father, Name and address withheld by request." In this letter the supposed father writes, "When Major Bannon first enquired about sending this story to your magazine he was resolute not to publish a single syllable without our permission. He changed the location and named (sic) and other important points to protect us, as he has done for three years." (p. 95). However, nowhere in his 2003 book RACE AGAINST EVIL and the previous November/December 2001 issue of KUNGFU QIGONG, "Deadly Hands: An Interpol Officer's Fight for Justice," did Bannon ever indicate he was changing the underlying locations, names, or facts of the story, which is what is normally done at the beginning of an article or book to prevent misleading the reader.
So which parts of Bannon's supposed adventure in Florida are truthful and which are made up? Bannon doesn't say, but there is no record of a law enforcement operation of this nature happening in Florida during August or September 1998. In Michael Grunwald's "Internet Child Porn Ring Raided", WASHINGTON POST, September 3, 1998; Page A12 the Washington Post reported on September 3, 1998 the US Customs Service announced that they had seized computers from 32 American suspects in 22 states and had arrested four suspects as of this date. They did not announce that any perpetrators had died during their operations, or that a child had been saved during a raid as Bannon claimed. Since Bannon states that the emergency entry happened on Sunday, August 30, 1998 (Race Against Evil, p. 295), it is unbelievable Rayond W. Kelly or another representative of the U.S. Customs Service would not have announced the deaths or the rescue of a child, in their press conference several days later.
 Jason Putman, "Kungfu Secret Agent: Agent for Interpol comes clean on his career as an assassin." February, 2004
 Steve Robinson, NO GUTS, NO GLORY: UNMASKING NAVY SEAL IMPOSTERS ( Self Published, 2002, ISBN 0-9723585-1-X) Steve is also not a stranger to the Martial Arts, having some background in Judo. His book is available at http://www.moosecreekforge.com/special.html
 KUNGFU QIGONG, "Deadly Hands: An Interpol Officer's Fight for Justice" November/December 2001 issue (pp. 68-72)
 In his book, RACE AGAINST EVIL, Bannon specifically mentioned killing 25 people, of which 21 were killed during assassinations. (See the following pages, 8, 158, 165, 189, 208, 230, 238, 244, 245, 246, 292). I have heard Bannon dodge the question of how many people he actually assassinated, but he referred to the three-figure estimate and implied that they might apply to himself. For an example of Bannon avoiding this question, listen here.
 See Jason Putman, "Kungfu Secret Agent: Agent for Interpol comes clean on his career as an assassin." February, 2004. Mr. Bannon repeated these numbers when interviewed by radio host Alex Jones on July 17, 2003. Listen to the interview.
 See David Bannon, RACE AGAINST EVIL, (New Horizon Press, Far Hills, New Jersey, 2003), p. 5, for the date this part of Interpol was allegedly created. For the date Archangel was officially disbanded, see Chiu Hse Yu, Ph.D. and Jason Putman, "Interpol's Secret Army" Western Libertarian Alliance, p. 1, and 19. The date of 1991 is provided on the latter page. The issue in question can be found here.
In "Kungfu Secret Agent" by Jason Putman. Archangel was allegedly disbanded over a two-year period from 1989 to 1991.
 Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman, EVERY SPY A PRINCE: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF ISRAEL'S INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1990), pp. 186-192.
 Some of these points are borrowed from advice given by Steve Robinson in his book NO GUTS, NO GLORY: UNMASKING NAVY SEAL IMPOSTERS ( Self Published, 2002, ISBN 0-9723585-1-X), pp. 360-361, on how to spot phony SEALs. While the fact patterns change, the self aggrandizing behavior of people who falsely claim to be SEALs and those who falsely claim to have other covert operations or spy backgrounds are identical.
Discuss this article online David "Race" Bannon arrested for criminal impersonation
About Samuel Browning:
Samuel Browning is a staff member at Bullshido.com. His complete report on this board's Bannon investigation can be found at http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=30325