Riz Khan of Al-Jazeera International made a dramatic appearance in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, assuring a conservative group that America has nothing to fear from the new channel being launched by the Arab regime of Qatar. But if the United States wants to win the war against Islamic terrorism, Khan and his Arab backers should be told in no uncertain terms that an English-language affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s favorite TV channel is not welcome on U.S. cable and satellite systems.
The stakes are high: If Al-Jazeera International gets access to American households, it is probable, if not inevitable, that we will lose the war, not only in Iraq but worldwide. Such a channel could not only further tilt global media coverage against the U.S. position in the world, but could incite Arabs and Muslims inside the U.S. to engage in jihad and commit terrorist acts. That is exactly what the Arabic version has done in Iraq, and that is why it is banned by the new democratic government there.
Khan attended the conservative meeting in the wake of very powerful speeches by President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld about the tremendous stakes in this war. Both say we are facing an enemy as determined as the fascists and Nazis of World War II. And both emphasized how al Qaeda uses the media and the Internet against our side.
Yet there was Khan, a former CNN journalist who wrote a fawning biography of the Saudi billionaire Prince Alaweed bin Talal, passing out a flier claiming that Al-Jazeera International will simply offer a “fresh perspective on global news and current affairs.” His flier also made reference to his sister channel, the Arabic Al-Jazeera. Its “ground-breaking work” was said to have “changed the face of news within the Middle East and brought fair and free journalism to the region?” The flier said that Al-Jazeera International is part of “a growing network focused on accurate, impartial and fair reporting.” The words “accurate, impartial and fair reporting” were highlighted in bold.
If Riz Khan really believes this, then Al-Jazeera International is the danger we at AIM have been warning about, and Khan and perhaps his cohorts, David Frost and Dave Marash, are parrots of a company line. If Khan expects us to believe that rubbish about being fair and accurate, then he must think we are fools.
Al-Jazeera began in 1996, the same year bin Laden declared war on America. They have been working together ever since. In addition to the numerous al-Qaeda videos and statements aired by the channel, its anchors openly refer to suicide bombers as “martyrs” for the cause. In other words, it actively recruits Muslims to kill Americans and Israelis. Being a terrorist channel, however, does have its advantages. Al-Jazeera reporter Yosri Fouda was singled out to obtain exclusive interviews with the al-Qaeda architects of 9/11, who wanted credit for killing almost 3,000 Americans. Such terrorist “exclusives” are what Al-Jazeera specializes in.
However, this can get them in trouble. One Al-Jazeera employee is currently at Guantanamo Bay, facing charges of collaborating with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and a former Al-Jazeera Afghanistan correspondent is in prison in Spain, having been convicted of being an agent of al Qaeda. His legal bills continue to be paid by Al-Jazeera, which is funded by the emir of Qatar, supposedly a friend of America. On the U.N. Security Council recently, Qatar was the only member of the 15-member body voting not to require Iran to stop producing nuclear weapons. Some friend.
The channel’s first managing director was booted after evidence emerged that he was a lackey of the Iraqi dictator’s son Uday Hussein. Captured film footage shows him acting like a lapdog of the notorious murderer and sadist. All of this has been well-documented in the AIM DVD on “Terror Television,” which also shows captured terrorists saying they came to kill Americans in Iraq because of what they saw on Al-Jazeera.
No serious observer of the global media disputes the fact that Al-Jazeera has had an anti-American and anti-Israel bias and has been encouraging jihad against the West. The debate has been over what kind of approach the U.S. should take toward it. Bombing the channel’s headquarters in Qatar has obviously been ruled out because American troops are stationed there, and U.S. corporations have offices in the country and conduct extensive commercial relations with the regime. The founding members of the U.S.-Qatar Business Council include major U.S. oil companies as well as Al-Jazeera.
But the U.S. presence doesn’t mean the regime is a friend of the U.S. After all, Saudi Arabia was a host to U.S. troops while al Qaeda was active there and producing most of the 9/11 hijackers.
While Rumsfeld used to regularly denounce Al-Jazeera, things seemed to change when Karen Hughes, an old friend of the President, was put in charge of “public diplomacy” at the State Department. She has been encouraging U.S. officials to go on the channel, as if they can persuade the Arab and Muslim audience that America wants to be their friend. That’s hard to do when the channel repeatedly emphasizes the blood and carnage that the U.S. is said to have brought to Iraq and other places around the world. The Hughes plan of being nice to Al-Jazeera is doomed to fail.
The Arabic Al-Jazeera has to be dealt with if America wants to win this war, but the immediate problem is to make sure the threat doesn’t get worse with Al-Jazeera International taking a place alongside CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC on your cable or satellite system.
If Khan had washed his hands of the Arabic channel, his pitch for the English-language version might have been worth listening to. But the failure to account for the Arabic channel’s well-documented relationship with al Qaeda means that Khan simply does not want to be honest with his potential audience. At least Dave Marash was honest when he admitted to the New York Sun that the channel had inspired those who want to kill us. “Undoubtedly, some Al-Jazeera programs may have inspired some social misfits to undertake terrorism,” he said.
Khan’s deceptive public relations campaign can only mean that Al-Jazeera International is as potentially dangerous as its sister channel. That always figured to be the case, since they are funded by the same Arab government, which had connections to al Qaeda before 9/11, and personnel between the channels overlaps.
One conservative who heard Khan’s sales pitch in D.C. said that he came across as “slick”?perhaps as slick as the Arab petro-dollars paying his salary and the cost of the new network, which is said to be reaching a staggering $1 billion. The sheer cost means that the channel, despite reluctance by cable and satellite systems to carry it, could buy its way into the American media market.
Strangely, however, while Congress erupted in anger over an Arab-owned firm taking over some American ports, the prospect of an Arab-financed “news” channel directly broadcasting al-Qaeda propaganda into American homes has failed to make it on the list of top congressional priorities. But if the analogy to World War II is appropriate, we should take some time to consider that America’s “greatest generation” would never have tolerated the prospect of fascist and Nazi agents and sympathizers getting access to America’s airwaves. That would have been unthinkable, even treasonous. Americans knew that we had to win in the media and on the battlefield and that the enemy could not be permitted to use our own media against us.
If you don’t want al Qaeda’s latest videos being broadcast directly into your homes through Al-Jazeera International, you must act fast. Contact Congress and ask your Senators and Representative to take action to stop the channel from gaining access to the U.S. media market. After several delays, the channel is planning to launch on U.S. soil in November. Time is running out. The lives of our fellow citizens are at stake.