Accuracy in Media

In the Middle East conflict, the role of the media has been critical. The Israelis arrested some Al-Jazeera employees, on suspicions of aiding Hezbollah, and others were reportedly shot at. But the Israelis were far less kind to Hezbollah, bombing its television building on July 13. Then, on July 22, an Israeli air strike crippled a transmission tower in northern Lebanon that served as a relay station for the Hezbollah channel, Al-Manar.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies issued a release referring to Al-Manar as “a legitimate communications target in Israel’s response to an act of war.”

Here, on March 23, 2006, The U.S. Department of the Treasury had designated Al-Manar as a “Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity.” The same designation was applied to Hezbollah radio, Al-Nour, and the Lebanese Media Group, the parent company of both. The action “prohibits transactions between U.S. persons and the designated entities and also freezes any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.”

In a release, Stuart Levey, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, declared, “Any entity maintained by a terrorist group-whether masquerading as a charity, a business, or a media outlet-is as culpable as the terrorist group itself.”

As proof that Hezbollah radio and TV were part of the terrorist operation, the Treasury Department said that:

  • Al-Manar has employed multiple Hezbollah members.

  • One Al-Manar employee engaged in pre-operational surveillance for Hezballah operations under cover of employment by Al-Manar, and

  • Al-Manar and Al-Nour have supported fundraising and recruitment efforts by Hezbollah.

The question is whether such a designation could also be applied to Al-Jazeera. The channel is notorious for its habit of airing al-Qaeda videos and it got exclusive access to the main architects of 9/11 for a story on the network. Our DVD on “Terror Television” shows captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera. What’s more, one of its correspondents was sentenced to seven years in prison for being an agent of al Qaeda and another is in prison at Guantanamo Bay. Its first managing director, captured on film singing the praises of Uday Hussein, had functioned as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime. The channel is still banned from Iraq.

It is important to determine from the Israelis why it arrested Al-Jazeera employees. Can the evidence be shared with U.S. authorities?

If Al-Jazeera was designated a “global terrorist entity,” plans for the U.S. launch of the English-language Al-Jazeera International could be completely derailed, since both of them depend on the same financial resources and deep pockets of the oil-rich Qatar regime, supposedly a friend of the U.S.  The construction of the fancy Al-Jazeera International studios on K Street in Washington, D.C. could be stopped.

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