In the same way that Al-Jazeera television has complicated the prospect of a U.S. victory in Iraq, the channel has dramatically increased the Islamic terrorist threat to Israel, helping to produce the conflagration we are now witnessing. The U.S. and Israel will not be able to win this global war on terrorism unless the role of Al-Jazeera in radicalizing Arabs and Muslims throughout the world is recognized and addressed. In the U.S., Accuracy in Media is redoubling its effort to keep the English-language Al-Jazeera out of U.S. media markets. If Al-Jazeera International is allowed to reach English-speaking Arabs and Muslims in the U.S. with its incendiary messages, we could see suicide bombings on the streets of America and the development of more al-Qaeda cells plotting 9/11-type terrorist attacks.
The AIM “Terror Television” DVD shows the channel’s first managing director, while in Iraq, acting in effect as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime. Al-Jazeera’s Baghdad bureau has been closed since August 2004 because of its sympathetic coverage of terrorist acts. The channel, however, is operating in the Kurdish-ruled area of the north and still broadcasts into Iraq. Indeed, it was reported last week that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during a visit to Kurdistan, refused to entertain questions from the Al-Jazeera correspondent, saying, “I told him that I will not reply because we have position against Al-Jazeera.” Al-Maliki added, “I blame my brothers in Kurdistan to allow Al-Jazeera to work although it is banned from that because it incites sectarianism day and night in Iraqi circles.” This statement reflects recognition that Al-Jazeera, like al Qaeda, has been trying to spark a civil war in Iraq.
In the broader Middle East, Al-Jazeera has been doing whatever it can to thwart a reasonable approach to a peace settlement. Despite a series of unilateral Israeli concessions, Al-Jazeera has provided what sympathetic observers call “intensive coverage” of the Palestinian cause. That means that its coverage has encouraged violence against Israel. Its “reporters” openly refer to Palestinian suicide bombers as “martyrs.” Honest Reporting, a media watchdog group, has documented how Al-Jazeera has run inflammatory articles on its website referring to President Bush giving the government of Israel a “license to kill” and suicide bombers as “self-sacrifice operations.”
Al-Jazeera has played a clear role in the rise of Hamas (the Islamic Resistance Movement) and its Palestinian election victory in January. From the start, Al-Jazeera has been accused of undermining Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement in order to build up Hamas. Arafat even temporarily closed down the Al-Jazeera bureau in Ramallah after it aired an “unflattering image” of him. Fatah supporters in May burned three cars belonging to Al-Jazeera because the channel did not cover an anti-Hamas demonstration in the city.
As part of its pro-Hamas bias, Al-Jazeera in March broadcast a conference in Yemen where a supporter of al Qaeda praised Palestinian suicide bombers and called on the crowd to financially support Hamas. Coverage of this event is available at the website of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which monitors the media in that part of the world. Al-Jazeera in May aired a Hamas fundraising event in Gaza, where a jacket worn by the “martyred” former Hamas Chief Sheikh Salah Shehada was auctioned off. Shehada, who was responsible for hundreds of attacks on Israeli citizens and security forces, was killed by Israel in 2002.
Stories bashing Israel have to compete with the channel’s well-documented bias against America. In our DVD on “Terror Television,” we show some film footage of Al-Jazeera television staff in Ramallah in an anti-American demonstration chanting “Down with fascist America.” Not embarrassed in the least by its employees staging an anti-American protest, the footage was aired on Al-Jazeera.
Here, Al-Jazeera continues to promote conspiracy theories that Muslim terrorists were not really behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Al-Jazeera recently ran an article about a Los Angeles conference that viewed the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “an orchestrated U.S. attempt to incite world war.” One of the participants was identified as Webster Tarpley, who wrote a book, 911 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA. As the title implies, Tarpley insists that the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon were an example of “state-sponsored, false-flag terrorism,” undertaken by a faction of the U.S. Government in order to “start the war of civilizations.” Tarpley is a long-time associate of “anti-Zionist” and former Marxist activist Lyndon LaRouche, who himself has appeared on Al-Jazeera.
Al-Jazeera knows this is a bunch of bunk because its own reporter Yosri Fouda interviewed the al-Qaeda architects of 9/11, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Ramzi bin al-Shibh, and co-authored a book about it entitled Masterminds of Terror. Peter Maass wrote a fascinating story about Fouda’s contacts with al Qaeda in an article in the New York Times magazine entitled “When Al Qaeda Calls.” Ron Suskind’s new book, The One Percent Doctrine, takes the story one step further, alleging that Fouda’s information about the possible locations of both al-Qaeda operatives led to their ultimate capture. Suskind claims the Emir of Qatar provided the information to then-CIA director George Tenet.
Insisting that it “never communicated any information that it has obtained to any political, security or any other party whatsoever,” Al-Jazeera has rejected Suskind’s claims as ridiculous and baseless. The channel said it was “well known for its editorial independence” and its “commitment to protect the rights of sources.” The implication, of course, is that some of Al-Jazeera’s “sources” are terrorists or their agents. And this is part of the problem we face as Al-Jazeera International, which is financed by the same Arab government which brought the world Al-Jazeera, prepares its launch. Even if the Suskind story is true, the capture of these al-Qaeda operatives cannot make up for the murder of almost 3.000 Americans on 9/11, especially because Qatar had links to al Qaeda and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed before 9/11. Today, however, the Wahhabi Muslim regime postures as a friend of the U.S. and hosts American forces.
Al-Jazeera International is busy constructing its new Washington, D.C. bureau on K Street in the nation’s capital. Employees say salaries and benefits are good, but former ABC Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, who interviewed for a job there, said he would have nothing to do with it. The new channel has put tremendous resources, including the public-relations muscle of the British-based firm Brown Lloyd James (BLJ), into a campaign to secure carriage on American cable and satellite systems. So far, AIM has stopped them.
Subscribers to our AIM Report are receiving copies of postcards they can send to Michael Holtzman, BLJ executive vice president. The cards say:
“You have a very tough job trying to sell Al-Jazeera International, which is an offshoot of a channel that was labeled the terrorist channel because of its habit of airing al-Qaeda videos. 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 was exposed as an agent of the Saddam Hussein regime and appears in a captured video singing the praises of Uday Hussein. The New York Times reports that $1 billion is being spent on Al-Jazeera International. How much of that is your firm getting?”
BLJ should not be underestimated. The company boasts that Holtzman, who is handling the Al-Jazeera International account in the U.S., “managed the successful global campaign on behalf of China’s bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games.” The company website says this “extraordinarily successful engagement” was named “Campaign of the Year” by PR Week in 2001.
If the entry of Al-Jazeera International into U.S. media markets becomes another “Campaign of the Year,” it is predictable and inevitable that Americans will suffer and die because of it.
Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media.