David N. Robinson
When someone asks me – is Al Jazeera a terrorist network, I say YES.
I think there is strong evidence that Al Jazeera is a terrorist network. All too often the network likes to play footage provided by terrorists which makes terrorists more appealing to those who watch the network, and I believe this entices some into thinking that terrorism is a good thing.
There is general consensus among U.S. scholars and policy makers that anti-Americanism in the Arab world is at its highest point to date. However, there is disagreement about the root causes of this sentiment. The claim has been made that, ‘they [Arabs] hate our freedom’ or, ‘they hate our values,’ while others blame U.S. foreign policy for causing the anti-Americanism. . This study will examine whether Al-Jazeera does in fact contribute to this extreme anti-American sentiment that is reputedly so pervasive across the Arab and Muslim world. Further, it will examine the way Western discourses on terrorism are framed and how Al-Jazeera plays the role of a counter-ideology to these discourses.
According to Saudi state-owned news agency SPA, “(Qatar) embraces multiple terrorist and sectarian groups aimed at disturbing stability in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaida, and promotes the message and schemes of these groups through their media constantly.”
Qatar, while a close ally of the United States, has provided at least some form of assistance whether sanctuary, media, money or weapons to the Taliban of Afghanistan, Hamas of Gaza, rebels from Syria, militias in Libya and allies of the Muslim Brotherhood across the region, reported the New York Times as far back as 2014. The Qatari government’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood is why, in the wake of Muslim Brotherhood’s rise and fall from power in Egypt, Qatari-Egyptian relations have soured, with al Jazeera being a hotspot of contention.
Al Jazeera has hosted controverial figures on air since its founding. In 2011, Harith al-Dari, an Iraqi sheikh and tribal leader designated as a terrorist fund-raiser in 2008 appeared on Al Jazeera. “Arab countries won’t let us in to discuss things with them and complain to them — except one or two,” the Sheikh later said.
Few years ago, several Gulf states withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar for nine months over the country’s support for the Brotherhood. The details of the agreement that ended that standoff were never made public, but it included promises that Qatar would end its support for the Brotherhood and scale back Al Jazeera’s Brotherhood coverage. Since the demands made now of Qatar are also somewhat hazy, some version of this scenario could recur.
Al Jazeera was accused in Dubai based Gulf News of “showing its true colors” in the aftermath of the uprising that ousted Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Mursi from the presidency. Gulf News ran an editorial insisting that the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader was given his own show and free rein to call for jihad against the Egyptian state.
In 2014, then-US Treasury Under-Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen noted: “Qatar, a long-time US ally, has for many years openly financed Hamas, a group that continues to undermine regional stability. Press reports indicate that the Qatari government is also supporting extremist groups operating in Syria.”
He also drew attention to the “permissive” environment in Qatar that allowed fundraisers to solicit donations for extremist groups such as al-Qaeda and so-called Islamic State.
In 2002, Sr. Elaine Kelley is the administrative officer for Friends of Sabeel North America wrote in the Washington Report, the World Affairs Council of Oregon’s Monthly Headline Forum on July 25 featured a talk by Hafez Al-Mirazi, Washington bureau chief for the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite TV news network. An Egyptian-born U.S. citizen, Al-Mirazi, previously Washington correspondent for the BBC World News Service and hosts the weekly program “From Washington” which highlights U.S. policy for Arab audiences. In Portland, he discussed his network’s role as a voice for democracy in the Middle East.
According to Al-Mirazi, the news service began in 1996 as a Saudi-owned satellite in partnership with the BBC, with the Arab partners providing the financing and the BBC contributing staff, training, and management. The concept was to ensure sound and balanced coverage.
The project lasted only eight months, however. “The BBC/ Arabic TV service couldn’t agree on editorial policy,” Al-Mirazi said, “and the Saudis stopped financing the project,” causing 250 people to lose their jobs. In Qatar, meanwhile, the crown prince took over and implemented some changes toward increased democratization. Among Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani’s initiatives were discussions with the BBC in Doha, the capital, which resulted in Qatar agreeing to fund the first five years of Al-Jazeera (in Arabic, “the Peninsula”). Initially, Al-Mirazi noted, “This was just like Great Britain’s financing of BBC. Al-Jazeera started at six hours a day in the Arabic-speaking world,” he told the audience. “Now we are at 24 hours a day and reach the whole world.”
The news service was widely denounced within Qatar and elsewhere, Al-Mirazi continued. “The foreign minister of Qatar received 400 diplomatic protests, and three or four calls to ambassadors protesting Al-Jazeera’s broadcasting as inviting opposition.” Now, the Washington bureau chief observed, after failed attempts by some in the government to restrict the access of reporters, his network is seen as “the other voice.” “This is a sign of democracy,” he stated, “a new page for the country.”
Al-Jazeera, long dubbed the “CNN of the Arab world,” remained little-known in the West until the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. which piqued a new interest in the Middle East. Al-Jazeera had operated in Afghanistan prior to Sept. 11, and its journalists were the only ones the Taliban allowed to remain when the U.S. launched its attacks on the country. As a result, Al-Mirazi pointed out, Al-Jazeera became the only source for regional news and live war footage, eventually providing the most up-to-date information on the world’s biggest news story. Estimates on the numbers of new viewers claim an overnight increase from 35 million to billions of viewers.
Al-Jazeera is best known by Westerners for its airing of live interviews with Osama bin Laden. Perhaps indicative of its journalistic achievements, the agency has been widely criticized in the U.S. and in Israel, in Arab countries, by the Palestinian Authority, as well as by members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It is accused of being both a mouthpiece for terrorists and as a lackey of Israel. Last October, Secretary of State Colin Powell complained to Sheikh Hamad about Al-Jazeera’s “inflammatory” reporting. The following month U.S. bombs completely destroyed the agency’s Kabul offices. The Israeli media have condemned Al-Jazeera for inciting Palestinian violence, while some Palestinians are enraged that Al-Jazeera interviewed representatives of the Likud government. Even the Arab League at one point called for a boycott of “the TV station that invites Israelis” to be interviewed.
“What is shocking to me,” said Al-Mirazi, “is that the U.S. government is doing the same here in trying to control the media.” He has been introduced, he said, as “the bureau chief of bin Laden’s and Saddam Hussain’s favorite TV channel.” The network is viewed with suspicion by U.S. officials and fellow journalists.
Al-Mirazi insisted, however, that Al-Jazeera’s coverage proffers a challenge to its critics. When CNN, for example, declined a permanent presence in Afghanistan, Al-Jazeera filled a void there and successfully exposed the Taliban to the Arab world, providing an awakening message about regimes claiming to be Muslim. When Al-Jazeera received a March 2001 tape by the hijacker of Flight 93 explaining what he was going to do against Americans, Al-Mirazi said, it decided to investigate to verify its authenticity because, in the Middle East, there was considerable doubt whether the Taliban or Bin Laden had been involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Arabs weren’t of the mind, he explained, that just because the Pentagon believed it the rest of the world had to. “We believed it needed an extra effort to convince people it really was Bin Laden,” he added. “We investigated and aired live for our audience.”
Al-Mirazi reported that there had been negative reactions to the airing from Arab viewers who criticized Al-Jazeera for not focusing on the Palestinian cause, while some believed the tape had been “doctored.” “That didn’t affect us,” he said. “It was the same as the criticism that we were listening to Israelis.”
In Al-Mirazi’s view, “the job of media is like a court of law,” and both sides must be heard. Some only want to use the media to influence and change public opinion, he said: “They want people carrying the American flag.” He argued, however, that the audience must be engaged in the issues, in a sincere and constant way. As an interpreter of news between the East and West, Al-Mirazi said, Al-Jazeera has an obligation as the “translator in the middle.”
When he heard President Bush’s words referring to Saddam Hussain’s description of America’s war as a crusade, for example, Al-Mirazi said he saw the similarity in the Arabic use of the word jihad. “There is nothing different in Arab and American culture,” he maintained. “’Give me liberty or give me death’ was said by an American hero,” he pointed out, but when similar statements are put into a different historical and cultural context the meaning is questioned: “One entrance for white, one for colored; we need a higher moral ground.”
Al-Jazeera is trying to establish a larger U.S. presence by the end of the year, Al-Mirazi said, and plans to expand its broadcasting from Washington from the current four hours to 24 hours a day within the next three to four years. Because there is a growing demand from the English-speaking audience for access to Al Jazeera, he added, subtitles will be added to some shows, primarily on re-runs. Meanwhile, its English-language Web site, , has been very successful, Al-Mirazi said.
The World Affairs Council, sponsor of the monthly forum, recently announced the line-up for its 2002-2003 International Speakers Series, which will include Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League; Sen. George Mitchell, architect of the Mitchell Plan; and Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Al Jazeera’s bias against India:
Every Indian remembers that fateful day, isn’t it? Mumbai was burning because terrorists from across the border showered the city with bullets and bombs. But guess how al-Jazeera reported the whole incident? In an article published on the first anniversary of the attack, they wrote:
Just after midnight, armed men attack the Vidhan Sabha, the legislative assembly, the lower house of state legislature in India.
Indian troops continue to battle armed men in the city.
Officers kill two gunmen inside the Trident-Oberoi hotel and ended the attack.
Do you see that they have referred to the terrorists as gunmen/armed men and not terrorists? I have given a link to this article in the footnote. Go through it and you would see that there is no mention of where the terrorists came from.
On yet another article published on the second anniversary of Mumbai attack, Pakistan does find a mention but see how it’s done.
The deadly rampage, which India has blamed on elements inside Pakistan, claimed 166 lives. About 300 people were injured in the incident.
Both India and the United States blame the attacks on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Remember when Indian government banned Zakir Naik and his organisation? This is what al-Jazeera had to say.
The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi responded by imposing a five-year ban on the IRF under the country’s anti-terror laws.
Hindu nationalist government??? Why not GoI or Indian government.
The news agency spends considerable amount of effort in portraying India in a poor light. But is it just limited to India? Nope they are against Jews and Israel too. See the below heinous, anti-semitic cartoon posted by them.
Al-Jazeera is funded by the Qatar and in the name of journalism what al-Jazeera does is to spread Qatar’s propaganda. You will never hear anything about the discrimination, human rights violation taking place in the Qatar and Middle East. It portrays as if its all unicorns and rainbows in there. al-Jazeera is so deeply involved in Arab politics that they comfortably manipulate the facts to suit their agenda and thereby making a mockery of their journalism and professionalism.