The U.S. media propaganda campaign in favor of Al-Jazeera getting on more American television networks, stations and cable systems has reached Time magazine and The Washington Post. But the shocking truth about this Arab government-funded “news” network may still get out through congressional hearings arranged by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Time has a story, “Why the U.S. Needs Al Jazeera,” by Ishaan Tharoor, who claims, that “…millions across the world, including many first-time viewers in the U.S. , have marveled in recent weeks at Al Jazeera English’s impressive coverage from the front lines of the protests currently shaking the Middle East.”
A different opinion is provided by Florida broadcaster Jerry Kenney, who compares Al-Jazeera to an arsonist who, after setting a fire, records the inferno and then brags about the film footage. Hundreds have died in the violence in the Middle East egged on by Al-Jazeera. AIM’s “Terror Television” DVD showed captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera.
Could the same thing happen here if Al-Jazeera English reaches more American Muslims, who don’t speak Arabic, with inflammatory words and images making America out to be the enemy and villain in the Middle East?
Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) released a statement on Thursday in response to the arrest of a Saudi national suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S. The top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said, “This plot is yet another example of radicalized extremists working to do us harm from within our borders. I am alarmed at the growth of homegrown terrorist plots.”
She added, “Between May 2009 and November 2010, there were arrests made in 22 ‘homegrown’ plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents. By comparison, in the more than seven years from September 11, 2001, through May 2009, there were 21 such plots.”
What is needed is a congressional inquiry into whether Al-Jazeera, through its exposure to some Americans through the Internet and YouTube and some cable systems, is playing a role in this carnage.
Al Anstey, managing director of Al-Jazeera English, has recently been meeting with cable providers such as Comcast to demand more media access. His campaign will succeed unless Americans contact Comcast executives with their concerns. The telephone for the corporate office is 215- 665-1700.
However, the channel’s brazen cover-up of the sexual assault of CBS News reporter Lara Logan has had the effect of waking up even some liberals about the channel’s real agenda. This has been a significant turning point. For example, liberal columnist and editorial writer Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post has denounced the channel in harsh terms for ignoring the Logan assault.
Ignoring this kind of criticism from one of its own columnists and editorial writers, the Post’s Sunday “Outlook” Section carried an article by Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al-Jazeera, entitled, “At Al-Jazeera, we saw the Arab revolutions coming. Why didn’t the West?”
As far as revolutions are concerned, it is noteworthy that Al-Jazeera has failed miserably to rally supporters of democracy in the country which pays its bills— Qatar . Indeed, it has spared the authoritarian regime there any serious scrutiny.
Khanfar rails against “the moral, political and economic bankruptcy of the old Arab elites,” without noting that the Emir of Qatar hired him and pays the bills at Al-Jazeera with his oil billions. The emirs have run the state of Qatar since it was founded in 1850.
Walid Phares writes in his book, The Coming Revolution, that “While hosting a large U.S. military base and promoting a pro-Western image, Doha’s ruling family launched the jihadist TV Channel al Jazeera in 1996” and that it “supports jihadism over democracy and liberalism.”
“Since fall 2001,” notes Phares, “the Qatari-funded channel al Jazeera had systematically challenged war efforts and public relations of U.S. and allied campaigns in the region. It played a tremendous role in arousing sentiment and mobilizing large segments in the Arab and Muslim world against America . Amazingly, despite the savage attack [on 9/11] against the United States, al Jazeera was able to turn the tables against Washington by portraying the United States as waging war against Islam, and not in defense of its own security. I followed the network closely and saw clearly that the ideological and political line, from editorial to talk shows, was without a doubt that of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was barely even camouflaged.”
Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, describes Phares as a respected author, scholar and expert on Islamist Jihadism who “has been advising the Homeland Security Committee staff and me in preparing for Committee hearings on Islamist or Jihadi radicalization.” Those hearings begin on March 9.
King adds, “I certainly expect to call him to testify at future hearings regarding Jihadi ideologies and strategies. My staff and I will also continue to rely upon Professor Phares for his advice and counsel as these hearings go forward.”
We shouldn’t have to wait for hearings for the media to take into account Phares’ well-documented criticism of Al-Jazeera. The picture he paints of the channel is directly opposed to the carefully cultivated public image it is creating for itself.
The Time article, which takes the form of an interview with Al-Jazeera’s Washington bureau chief Abderrahim Foukara, inadvertently discloses the truth when Foukara declares, “To be honest, I don’t know what objective journalism means.”
Nevertheless, Time argues that Al-Jazeera “deserves a greater American audience.”
In the Time interview, the Al-Jazeera official is asked if protests like the ones we’re seeing now in the Middle East hit Qatar , “would we see coverage on Al Jazeera?” His reply, “It’s an if.”
He went on to say, “My sense tells me that if something like that happens, we would see coverage,” but later said, “The question is what happens in Qatar that would warrant attention 24 hours a day.”
How’s that for a commitment to complete coverage and exposing Arab dictators?
He also declared, “I do not recall one time in which somebody from the Qatari government picked up the phone to say we want you to do this or to do that.”
Of course, Qatar officials don’t have to do that. The coverage by Al-Jazeera has not been directed at corruption by the authoritarian monarchy in Qatar because employees know that the regime, which controls personnel at the channel, would fire them if they were too critical.
“If the government of Qatar funds Al Jazeera with hundreds of millions of dollars annually, obviously it’s not a charity,” says Foukara, in an obvious understatement.
Al-Jazeera has already been shown to play a role in radicalizing Muslims abroad to make Americans into terrorist targets. Is there any reason to believe its impact in America itself would be any different? Through Al-Jazeera English, the channel could further stir up and inflame the Arabs and Muslims inside the U.S.
Could its increased presence in U.S. media markets spark more terrorism on American soil from home-grown Jihadists?
This is a question that Rep. King will want to address. It’s also a question that Comcast executives should consider before making a rash and reckless decision to put the channel into millions of more American homes.