Accuracy in Media

If Al-Jazeera English had wanted to impress people with its first week or so of programming, including a David Frost interview with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, it failed. The channel was very quick out of the chute in airing a terrorist video, featuring an “inside” look at the Islamic Army of Iraq, and it misrepresented the Blair interview in order to create the impression that U.S. policy in Iraq–and not Al-Jazeera’s terrorist friends–was producing a bloodbath. Simply stated, Al-Jazeera English looks a lot like Al-Jazeera Arabic, known for its pro-terrorist and anti-American programming. Frankly, we thought that it would keep the radical stories in the closet for weeks or months until the channel got carriage in the U.S. media market. Those U.S. cable and satellite systems which decided not to air the channel have been vindicated. The American people thank them.

Those who doubt the vicious nature of the Al-Jazeera brand of “journalism” should examine the remarks delivered by Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, at the Merage Jewish Community Center in Orange County, California, on November 19, where he called it “today’s greatest recruiter for terrorism.” He explained, “They are pouring gasoline…for lunatics running around with lit matchsticks. It’s an advocate for terrorism.” Daniel Pearl was abducted and beheaded by al-Qaeda terrorists, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the main architect of 9/11, who was later captured, held and interrogated by the CIA in a counter-terrorism program that Dana Priest of the Washington Post did her best to expose and discredit. Because of the exposure, Mohammed has been transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison, where he will be given legal counsel and all of the “rights” that he denied to Daniel Pearl and almost 3,000 Americans on 9/11.

Richard Chang, the Orange County Register reporter who covered Dr. Pearl’s remarks, thought it was his obligation to go to the defense of the channel. He wrote, in regard to Pearl’s criticism of Al-Jazeera, “While that charge is common among Western critics, other observers say the argument that Al-Jazeera supports terrorism is false. Hugh Miles, author of ‘Al-Jazeera: The Inside Story of the Arab News Channel that is Challenging the West,’ wrote in the July/August issue of Foreign Policy Magazine that ‘the network has never supported violence against the United States’ and ‘not once have its correspondents praised attacks on coalition forces in Iraq.'”

Chang is an embarrassment to his profession. He ignored the fact that Al-Jazeera has been banned from Iraq because of its role in promoting violence and civil war. It has been a consistent mouthpiece for Sunni terrorists in al Qaeda and, more recently, the Islamic Army of Iraq. Indeed, on November 20, Al-Jazeera English posted the transcript of a story it carried by a correspondent, Hoda Abdel-Hamid, who apparently traveled with the Islamic Army of Iraq in order to provide the “inside” story of “its campaign against US troops.” Abdel-Hamid reported on new recruits training on the outskirts of Baghdad and obtained an “exclusive” interview with the group’s spokesman, Ibrahim al-Shamary, who declared, “The fighters sacrifice their lives to protect the people.” The report was terrorist propaganda from start to finish.

In regard to Dr. Pearl’s specific charge that Al-Jazeera recruits terrorists, there is abundant evidence. Our DVD on “Terror Television” shows captured terrorists in Iraq saying they came to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera. In a subsequent letter to the editor of the Orange County Register, Dr. Pearl noted that an Al-Jazeera television personality, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, “was the first to give religious license to suicide bombers in Israel and Iraq and still defends those licenses on his ‘Sharia Alive’ program.”

Reporter Chang quoted from the Hugh Miles book but he ignored the section on Tayseer Alouni, the former Kabul, Afghanistan bureau chief now serving a seven-year prison sentence in Spain for being an al-Qaeda agent linked to the 9/11 plot. As we note in our “Terror Television” film, Miles says in his book, published before Alouni was actually convicted and sentenced, that if the Spanish judge in the case was right–that Alouni indeed was “an al-Qaeda mole”–then his reporting “might have been the voice of al-Qaeda.”

Miles added, “If al Qaeda had penetrated Al-Jazeera at such a senior level, it would be a serious blow to the channel.” Al-Jazeera, he said, was paying Alouni’s salary, legal fees and “related expenses” during his trial. It continues to defend him.

But rather than being a serious blow, Al-Jazeera has expanded, from Arabic to English, thanks to the generous petrodollars provided by the Emir of Qatar, whose largesse has landed such luminaries as Dave Marash, formerly of ABC’s Nightline, and David Frost, formerly of the BBC. Qatar is a Sunni-run Arab dictatorship that claims to be a friend of the U.S. and committed to democratic “reforms.” It is the same kind of double-talk we saw from Saudi Arabia, another so-called friend of the U.S., before 9/11 exposed Saudi financing of a terrorist underground that produced most of the terrorist hijackers.

It was Frost who generated headlines for the launch of Al-Jazeera English by landing an interview with British Prime Minister Blair. The story carried by the English-language website of Al-Jazeera was headlined, “Blair admits Iraq a ‘disaster.'” It claimed that British Prime Minister Tony Blair had “admitted in an interview with Al-Jazeera English that events in Iraq since the US-led invasion have been a ‘disaster.'” In fact, Blair never uttered the word “disaster” in the interview, and he didn’t blame the “US-led invasion” for the carnage. He put the blame squarely where it belongs–on the terrorists themselves. The word “disaster” was uttered by the interviewer, David Frost, who tried to get Blair to agree to his characterization of what was happening in Iraq.

According to the official Al-Jazeera transcript of the interview, Frost said to Blair that “so far it’s been…you know, pretty much of a disaster…” Blair responded, “it has,” in acknowledging the question, but quickly went on to say that the problems were being caused not by U.S. and British forces, which are trying to protect the country’s fragile democracy, but by the terrorists. Blair said “it’s not been difficult because of some accident in planning, it’s difficult because there is a deliberate strategy, al Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on the one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militia on the other, to create a situation in which the will of the majority of Iraqis, which is for peace, is displaced by the will of the minority for war.” Those same terrorists have the ear of Al-Jazeera, which serves as their mouthpiece.

So rather than blasting U.S. or British policy for the “disaster,” Blair was putting the blame on the Sunni terrorists–the same ones glorified by Al-Jazeera–for creating chaos in the country and inviting retaliatory violence. The Islamic Army of Iraq is composed mostly of former Saddam Hussein intelligence and army officers who resent the destruction of the dictatorship that kept them in power.

Asked by Frost about the death and destruction in Iraq, the transcript shows that Blair responded by saying that “…the alternative was leaving Saddam in charge of Iraq, where hundreds of thousands of people died, there were a million casualties in the Iran/Iraq war, Kuwait was invaded and four million people went into exile. So the idea that Iraqis should be faced with the situation where they either have a brutal dictator in Saddam or alternatively a sectarian religious conflict, why can’t they have in Iraq what their people want? Which is a non-sectarian government, a government that is elected by the people and the same opportunities and the same rights that we enjoy in countries such as this.”

Curiously, these important remarks were left out of the Al-Jazeera English story posted on the channel’s website. Instead, the channel consulted Marwan Qabalan, a political analyst from the University of Damascus in Syria, for comments on how Blair’s remarks were full of “contradictions.”

The only real contradiction is how Al-Jazeera, Arabic or English, can continue to maintain the facade that it is a legitimate “news” organization. In addition to its employment and continued defense of the terrorist “reporter” Tayseer Alouni, it has still not explained precisely what happened to its first managing director Mohammed Jasem al-Ali, who is shown in a videotape recovered after the U.S. invasion of Iraq telling Uday Hussein that Al-Jazeera was at the service of the Saddam Hussein regime. He was let go but the channel never flatly disavowed his work.

Al-Jazeera English’s airing of the Islamic Army of Iraq video shows that the channel, Arabic or English, continues working on behalf of the Saddam Hussein regime or its remnants. This is “Terror Television” without apology, designed to force an American withdrawal from Iraq and victory for the terrorists. Thank heavens that all major U.S. cable and satellite providers had the courage to decline to carry this subversive channel. They have spared themselves boycotts and protests.

Blaming the current bloodshed on the liberation of Iraq is a falsehood that is parroted not only by Al-Jazeera English but several commentators in the U.S. media, such as Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, who claims that the Bush team failed to comprehend “that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity.” With that comment, she diminishes the courage and strength of the millions of Iraqi people who turned out to vote for democracy in free and fair elections. It is a tiny minority, egged on by Al-Jazeera and outside regimes in Syria and Iran, that has put the new democratic government in Iraq in peril.

The U.S. failure has come in pretending that the foreign threat would somehow go away. And one of the main foreign threats has been Al-Jazeera, once heralded as a voice for democracy in the Arab world but which has been unmasked as a voice for terror and violence. As former Army officer Ralph Peters put it in a 2004 column, “…al-Jazeera is so consumed by hatred of America and the West that the network would rather see Iraq collapse into a bloodbath than permit the emergence of a democracy sponsored by Washington.”

Since then, we have seen the hatred produce its intended results. What’s worse, Al-Jazeera has magnified its transgressions by launching the English-language channel that too many na?ve people in the U.S., such as the hapless Joe Scarborough of MSNBC, see as having only a different perspective on the news. Scarborough is quoted in TV Week as saying that it’s a “terrible loss” not to see Al-Jazeera English on American cable and satellite networks and that we all need to see more horrifying images of death and destruction in the Middle East. The former conservative Republican Congressman has proven to be a captive of the new left-wing regime that has taken over this low-rated channel.

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld consistently spoke out about the problems posed by Al-Jazeera, but the Department of State, first under Colin Powell and now under Condoleezza Rice and Karen Hughes, failed to get the Qatar regime to do anything about it. The launch of Al-Jazeera English has to be seen as a slap in the face of the U.S. Government, unable or unwilling to confront its enemies in the global propaganda war. Our soldiers, fighting in a noble cause, and the Iraqi people, are paying the price. But President Bush will also pay a price, possibly going down in history as the President who liberated and then lost Iraq.

But there is still time to act. Given a chance to prove it was different, the pro-terrorist video and anti-American slant make it clear that Al-Jazeera English is a virtual carbon copy of Al-Jazeera Arabic, albeit with a Western face. The U.S. Government should immediately undertake a federal review of Al-Jazeera’s business operations in the U.S. to determine if the channel represents a “global terrorist entity” whose operations constitute a national security threat to the U.S.

As for Dave Marash, the American face of Al-Jazeera, he must be told by his true friends that all of the Arab petrodollars in the world will not be worth the damage that is being done to his career. His resignation might begin to repair some of the damage.




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