Will Geddes, a counterterrorism expert, was on CNN the other day trying to explain why so many British Muslims with respectable jobs from a working-class neighborhood would be part of a diabolical terrorist plot. While it could have something to do with foreign policy issues, Geddes said that the individuals would have to be interviewed to determine “the contributing factors that make people do that.” But we don’t have to wait. A major research paper conducted for the University of Leeds conclusively demonstrates that Arab satellite channels, especially Al-Jazeera, have had a dramatic impact on the thinking and behavior of Arab Muslims living in Britain.
Which means that the “root causes” of terrorism include Al-Jazeera.
“Arab transnational media contribute decisively to reinforcing the sense of belonging to the local Arab and Muslim community and to the larger communities within the Arab and Islamic worlds,” the British study found. Al-Jazeera brings international conflicts to them “in a live and vivid way,” as one is quoted as saying.
Al-Jazeera “has unified the Arab public opinion on many issues,” said another Muslim quoted in the study.
The research paper, dated September 2004, was prepared under the supervision of Dr. Myria Georgiou, a lecturer in international communications at the Institute of Communications Studies at the University of Leeds, England. Her focus is on “transnational media,’ such as Al-Jazeera, and one of her students, Mohamed Ben Moussa, wrote the provocative dissertation on “The role of mass media in shaping identity construction among British Muslim Diasporas after 9/11.”
The paper notes evidence that “As far as Arab Muslims are concerned, transnational news channels like Al-Jazeera have become the main source of news for many Arabs living in many Western countries.” That’s a reference, of course, to the Arabic Al-Jazeera. An English-language Al-Jazeera, called Al-Jazeera International, is preparing to launch in the U.S. and other Western countries in order to reach the Muslim populations that don’t speak Arabic. You can learn more about this dangerous development by going to www.stopaljazeera.org.
While community societies and religious institutions, such as the local Mosque, are important, the study found that Arab Muslims in Britain spend on average 25 hours per week watching television, just like most of the British people. The difference is that the British Muslims are spending most of their time watching incendiary channels such as Al-Jazeera, where the correspondents refer to suicide bombers as “martyrs” and the coverage is biased against the U.S. and Israel.
Such coverage has an impact on Muslims worldwide. It is worth noting that two of the British Muslims allegedly involved in the mass murder airline plot are said to have recorded “martyrdom tapes.”
One Arab Muslim is quoted in the study as saying, “At home we watch only Arab channels…We watch mainly news programs on Al-Jazeera, and religious programs on Al-Manar and Eqra’a [Iqraa] channels.” Al-Manar is the television station of the Hezbollah terrorist organization and Iqraa is Saudi government controlled.
Another British Muslim commented, “When I want to know about something, I check the Guardian, the BBC and of course Al-Jazeera. But I trust more Al-Jazeera…when I read in the Guardian about Palestine I can’t help reading it critically and see how they present news…but when I see Al-Jazeera, it’s not the same.”
An appendix to the paper has an extensive interview with a British Muslim, who is asked what channels he watches most when wanting to learn about the war in Iraq or Palestine. “There are many channels,” he responds, “but Al-Jazeera remains certainly for me the best one, at least in the Arab world.”
Yet Al-Jazeera has extensive connections to terrorist groups. Its first managing director was accused of being an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime, its Afghanistan bureau chief was sentenced to prison in Spain after being convicted of being an agent of al Qaeda, another Al-Jazeera employee is in the prison at Guantanamo on terror charges, and reporters with the channel were arrested in Israel on suspicion of aiding Hezbollah.
The words and images on the Qatar-funded channel are designed to help the terrorist enemy. In our DVD on Al-Jazeera, we show confessions by captured terrorists that they came to Iraq to kill Americans after watching coverage of the conflict on Arab channels such as Al-Jazeera. Is it that far-fetched to think that the British Muslim plotters were motivated by Al-Jazeera as well?
The study found that “Those respondents who watch only Arab transnational channels are the ones who emphasized most their religious identity and its prominence over other types of affiliations and belonging. In addition, they insisted on the fact that the Muslim identity is totally different from other forms of identity, namely that of the ‘British’ one.” Such an identity is critical in the development of a potential terrorist.
After examining all of the evidence in this fascinating study, one has to draw the conclusion that Al-Jazeera is actually creating terrorists to kill Americans. It’s no wonder Al-Jazeera has been called “Jihad TV” or Osama bin Laden’s favorite TV channel. The possible Al-Jazeera connection to the bombing plot has to be considered as significant as a likely al-Qaeda connection.
The danger, of course, is that the same thing that happened in Britain’s Muslim community could happen here. In fact, Arab Muslims living in Dearborn, Michigan, were reported to be avid consumers of Al-Jazeera for news about the war in Lebanon, prompting many to take to the streets in protest of U.S. and Israeli policies in the region.
Could Al-Jazeera be inspiring the creation of new terrorist cells in America itself?
Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media, Accuracy in Academia’s parent group.