Accuracy in Media

When Al-Jazeera runs a new terrorist video, U.S. networks are anxious to get their hands on a copy. But when Al-Jazeera recently ran a story about its own reporter losing an appeal of his conviction on charges of being an agent of al Qaeda, we couldn’t find the news anywhere in the U.S. media.

The June 2 Al-Jazeera “news” story began: “Al Jazeera has expressed shock at the Spanish Supreme Court’s decision on Thursday to uphold the seven-year jail term of its correspondent, Teyseer Alluni [Al-Jazeera spells the name differently].” The story reported that the Arab Committee for the Defense of Journalists “described the move by the court as unjust and called upon all civil rights and media groups to ‘uncover the truth’ of Alluni’s case.”

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon alleged that Tayseer Alouni was involved with an al-Qaeda terror cell that helped plan the 9/11 attacks on America. “Alouni, 48, was a high-profile correspondent for al Jazeera who had met with Osama bin Laden and was often the reporter who received al-Qaeda tapes and messages from unknown sources,” as one report put it.

In the most infamous interview with bin Laden, conducted after the 9/11 attacks, Alouni gave the terror boss an international platform, saying, “Do you have a message for the viewers of Al-Jazeera? You know Al-Jazeera is now translated into so many languages and transmitted around the world.” Bin Laden responded, in part: “In this fighting between Islam and the crusaders, we will continue our jihad. We will incite the nation for Jihad until we meet God and get his blessing. Any country that supports the Jews can only blame itself.”

Something called the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has come to Alouni’s defense, saying the Supreme Court decision was a “regrettable confirmation” that journalists “reporting on security issues or on organizations branded as ‘terrorist’ could find themselves before the courts accused of collaboration with violent extremists.”

U.S. affiliates of the IFJ include The Newspaper Guild, the Writers Guild of America and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

The “truth” about Alouni? Here’s what Al-Jazeera itself reported about his “work” after 9/11 and the U.S. hit terrorist bases in Afghanistan:

“Alluni, who began his career as an Arabic translator for a news agency in Granada, Spain, is credited as being the only journalist based in Afghanistan in October 2001 to show the world what the US war machine was doing to one of the world’s poorest countries. By then working for Aljazeera, Alluni was able to capture images of civilian victims in the destitute villages of Afghanistan and the miserable streets of Kabul. His coverage triggered international outrage over the US action in Afghanistan.” (emphasis added).

It turns out that Alouni just happened to live close to al-Qaeda strategist Mustafa Setmariam Nasar. As noted by Washington Post reporter Craig Whitlock, Alouni was Nasar’s “neighbor” in a small town in the province of Granada. Whitlock, strangely, did not pursue the matter.

The Granada connection figured prominently in the indictment. A website called Trackingthethreat.com, citing an ABC News account, explained the case: “The indictment details his travels and wiretapped phone conversations in which Alouni allegedly agrees to carry money and messages to al-Qaeda operatives planning the Sept. 11 attacks. It also charges that Alouni later used his job at al Jazeera while based in Afghanistan to make it easier for him to pass money to al-Qaeda members.

“The indictment details Alouni’s relationships with many al Qaeda members. Documents, mostly seized phone records, show that he was in frequent contact with Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, the leader of al Qaeda’s activities in Spain. The indictment also maintains that both men were involved in recruiting and supporting a young group of extremists in Granada, where Alouni lived before moving to Madrid in 2000, and that after moving to Madrid, Alouni kept in frequent contact with the group in Granada.

“According to the indictment, Yarkas helped Alouni with passport and visa renewals, and he also handled the documents to obtain Alouni’s permanent resident status in Spain. The indictment also says Alouni often received money from Yarkas in order to support members of the group in Granada.”



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