More than 850,000 people have now signed up to the "Storm Area 51" event as interest mounts in what appears to be a satirical ploy to raid the secretive military facility and "see them aliens."
According to the event page, the alien enthusiasts will meet at 3 a.m. on Sept. 20 “at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry.”
“If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. [Let’s] see them aliens,” the event said in the description of their page, referring to the popular Japanese anime series "Naruto" in which characters run with arms stretched behind them.
According to HuffPost, the page was started by a social media user who goes by the name “SmyleeKun” who is best known “for posting memes and streaming to fans on Twitch,” which is a streaming video platform used by video gamers. While appearing to be a joke, the event has sparked enough online buzz for the Defense Department to take seriously.
″[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces,” Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews told The Washington Post on July 12. “The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”
Area 51, the mysterious United States military base nestled between mountain ranges north of Las Vegas, Nevada, has for decades been a lightning rod for UFO buffs and believers in government-led alien coverups. While in 2013 the U.S. government admitted to the existence of Area 51 in a declassified CIA history of its U-2 spy plane program, no acknowledgment was made of interstellar spaceships or little green men.
Access to the facility remains highly restricted. According to inverse.com, about the closest place interested parties can get to on land to catch sight of Area 51 is Tikaboo Peak, around 26 miles away. But now the hundreds of thousands of “Storm Area 51, They Can't Stop All of Us” participants appear to want to get far closer.
The assembly point for the Area 51 raiders is Area 51 Alien Center, a restaurant and souvenir shop located near the intersection of US-95 and Nevada State Route 373 in Amargosa Valley. It's got 3.5 stars out of 5 on Trip Advisor and such glowing reviews on Google as "Such a cute stop in the middle of nowhere!" and "the restrooms are clean & neat" and "had one of those put your head on/in alien figure for photo things."
After meeting up at the Alien Center, the group will supposedly charge toward Area 51, which the DoD has advised them sternly not to do.
Besides the hundreds of thousands that have signed up to take part in the presumably satirical raid, a further 750,000 have expressed their interest in joining the already formidable force looking to lift the lid of mystery on Area 51.
CIA Declassifies Area 51 Documents
After decades of extreme secrecy surrounding the site, the CIA lifted its veil on Area 51 in 2013 in response to a public records request from George Washington University scholars in Washington.
The university’s National Security Archive released a 400-page CIA history containing the first deliberate official references to Area 51, also known as Groom Lake, as a site developed by the intelligence agency in the 1950s to test fly the high-altitude U-2 reconnaissance plane.
Other top-secret aircraft were tested there later, including the supersonic reconnaissance A-12 aircraft, code-named OXCART, and the F-117 stealth ground-attack jet, said archive senior fellow Jeffrey Richelson, who asked for the CIA’s U-2 history in 2005.
“It’s the first time that there must have been a senior-level decision to acknowledge the term ‘Area 51’ and its specific location,” he told Reuters.
The CIA has also declassified a trove of UFO-related documents and published them online, inviting interested sleuths to "Take a Peek Into Our X-Files."
A separate CIA catalog headlined "UFOs Fact or Fiction?" contains decades of documentation relating to the agency's dealings with reports of alleged alien spacecraft.
"Most of the documents concern CIA cables reporting unsubstantiated UFO sightings in the foreign press and intra-Agency memos about how the Agency handled public inquiries about UFO sightings," the agency said.
Former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) contractor T.D. Barnes, who allegedly served at Area 51 as a radar expert, was cited by The Las Vegas Review-Journal as saying that besides Area 51, other unofficial names used for the facility include Dreamland, Home Base, Watertown Strip, Groom Lake, and Homey Airport.