Al Jazeera: The Terrorist Propaganda Network
Al Jazeera‘s support for terrorism goes far beyond on-air cheerleading. Many of its employees have actively supported Al Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist groups. In fact, concerns over the network’s consistent pro-terrorist positions prompted several Gulf States to demand that Qatar shut the network down in June.
Sheikh Said Bin Ahmed Al-Thani, director of Qatar’s government information office, called such demands “a condescending view [that] demonstrates contempt for the intelligence and judgment of the people of the Middle East, who overwhelmingly choose to get their news from Al Jazeera rather than from their state-run broadcasters,” in Newsweek.
But a week earlier, United Arab Emirates Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash detailed Al Jazeera‘s connections to terrorists and terror incitement in a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Al Jazeera constantly violates a 2005 UN Security Council resolution that called on member states to counter “incitement of terrorist acts motivated by extremism,” Gargash charged.
The network has given a platform to terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, Hamas leaders Khaled Meshaal and Mohammed Deif, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and others, Gargash wrote.
“These have not simply been topical interviews of the kind that other channels might run; [Al] Jazeera has presented opportunities for terrorist groups to threaten, recruit and incite without challenge or restraint,” Gargash claimed.
Al Jazeera incites terrorism
Al Jazeera took credit for the wave of Arab Spring revolutions in early 2011. Network host Mehdi Hasan noted in a December 2011 column that Al Jazeera gave a regional voice to the irate Tunisian protesters, who ousted their dictator.
Faisal Al-Qassem, host of Al Jazeera‘s show “The Opposite Direction,” boasted that television, not the Internet or Facebook, was responsible for some of these revolutions. In fact, Al Jazeera‘s influence during the Arab Spring and the subsequent revolutions is a factor in the effort by Qatar’s Gulf neighbors to clip its wings.
Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi used his widely viewed Al Jazeera a program to support regime change in Tunisia.
“We salute the [Tunisian] people, which has taught the Arab and Islamic peoples … the following lesson: Do not despair, and do not fear the tyrants, [who are] more feeble the than a spider-web. They quickly collapse in the face of the power of steadfast and resolute peoples,” Qaradawi said in a January 16, 2011 Al Jazeera broadcast. “The tyrants never listen and never heed advice, until they are toppled.”
He likewise called on former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down on a program later that month.
“There is no staying longer, Mubarak. I advise you (to learn) the lesson of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” Qaradawi said, referencing Tunisia’s toppled dictator.
A month later, Qaradawi issued a fatwa calling for the death of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Qaradawi also urged the overthrow of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, after demonstrations began in Syria that March.
Before the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera acted as a platform for violent terrorists.
Qaradawi’s endorsement of suicide bombings often aired on Al Jazeera. The network also glorified a female Palestinian suicide bomber — whose 2003 attack killed 19 people at an Arab-owned restaurant in Haifa — as a “martyr.”
The network also broadcast a 2006 speech by Al Qaeda leader Abdel Majid al-Zindani at a pro-Hamas conference in Yemen, even though the United States and United Nations already had designated him as a terrorist. Proceeds from the conference benefited Hamas. Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and the widow of slain Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi also attended that event.
“What is our duty towards this righteous jihad-fighting people, the vanguard of this nation? What is our duty? What is our obligation? ” al-Zindani asked. “The Hamas government is the Palestinian people’s government today. It is the jihad-fighting, steadfast, resolute government of Palestine. I don’t have it in my pocket right now, but I am making a pledge, and as you know, I keep my promises. So I’m donating 200,000 riyals. What about you? What will you donate? Go ahead.”
Defector alleges that Qatari intel service runs Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera is not just another news organization, Qatari intelligence whistle-blower Ali al-Dahnim told Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper in April. Qatar’s state security bureau both finances and operates Al Jazeera, he claimed. “By and large, its [Al Jazeera] news content comes under the sway of security officials, rendering it as a mouthpiece for Qatar’s security and intelligence apparatus,” Al-Dahnim said on Egyptian television.
“Not to mention its free publicity to hardened terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, who used to use Al Jazeera as an outlet to disseminate his terror messages to the world.”
Al Jazeera English likewise pushes the Qatari government’s favored narratives, such as exaggerating the global importance of its emir.
Its short-lived affiliate, Al Jazeera America (AJAM), aired pro-Palestinian propaganda. During the 2014 Gaza war, AJAM host Wajahat Ali pushed Hamas’ talking points about the territory’s population density, without a single reference to how the terrorist group used mosques and civilian buildings to launch rockets.
“I think [AJAM] is simply providing one side of a story. It doesn’t rise to Soviet propaganda, but it certainly is propaganda for one side,” Temple University journalism professor Christopher Harper told the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 2014.
Muslim Brotherhood shapes Al Jazeera narrative
Al Jazeera has been “hijacked” by the Muslim Brotherhood, Tunisian intellectual Khaled Shawkat alleged in 2006. Shawkat claimed to have spoken with numerous Al Jazeera journalists who told him that Qatar’s rulers had handed the network over to the Muslim Brotherhood.
“Most of them agreed that ‘loyalty’ [to a group] had come to supercede ‘qualifications,’ and that journalists with no Muslim Brotherhood background had to choose one of two options: [either] adapt to the new work conditions and swear loyalty to the representative of the supreme guide [of the Muslim Brotherhood] at Al Jazeera, or leave,” Shawkat wrote, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Around the same time, a top UAE official complained to American diplomats that Qatar had acquiesced to Al Jazeera staff who were “linked to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and jihadists,” a State Department cable noted.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan “said although the Qatari royal family finances Al Jazeera, the people ‘controlling’ it were the same ones financing Osama bin Laden, Hamas, and Iraqi jihadists,” the cable said.
Numerous Al Jazeera employees resigned in protest in 2013 due to the channel’s pro-Muslim Brotherhood orientation. Former Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Nabil charged that she and her colleagues “had the feeling that the channel is partisan in favor of political Islam, and in most cases selectivity is exercised in broadcasting the text messages [of viewers] on the channel, and even more so in the selection of guests and interviewees.”
The Qatari government controls the network’s coverage, former Al Jazeera journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Mohamed Fawzi, who were arrested by Egyptian authorities in 2013 on terrorism charges, told the Washington Times. Al Jazeera actively worked with Brotherhood members in Egypt, Fahmy claimed.
Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Mansour allegedly supported a secret Muslim Brotherhood group in the UAE that aimed to stir up unrest and chaos, Egypt’s Youm 7 reported. Qatar provided fugitive members of the Muslim Brotherhood with passports and money. Abdulrhaman Khalifa bin Sabih, the former leader of the secret Muslim Brotherhood organization in the UAE, told Youm7 that an Al Jazeera employee named Mohammed al-Mukhtar al-Shankiti trained him to use social media to foment demonstrations and unrest in the Emirates.
Al Jazeera also reportedly enabled the secret Muslim Brotherhood group to link with foreign media, because they lacked the means to do so on their own.
Al-Arabiya recently noted that Mansour emphasized the commonalities between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda during a 2015 interview with Syrian terror leader Abu Muhammad al-Joulani.
Al-Arabiya claimed that Al Jazeera’s organizing the interview with al-Joulani to improve his image so that he can take over after Assad falls, and which would give an in-road to Qatar.
Emails seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, also show the importance that Al Qaeda gave to Al Jazeera. One email noted that while other networks were hostile to the terrorist group, it could not afford to turn Al Jazeera into an enemy.
“Although sometimes it makes mistakes against us, their mistakes are limited. By clashing with it, it will be biased and damage the image of the Muslim Mujahidin,” bin Laden wrote under the alias “Zamarai.”
Alleged Al Qaeda members on Al Jazeera’s staff
Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and Syrian native Ahmad Muaffaq Zaidan — identified in a leaked National Security Agency PowerPoint as a member of both Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood — helped Al Jazeera reporter Ahmed Mansour secure the interview with Joulani. Zaidan denies belonging to Al Qaeda — yet he met with bin Laden several times after 9/11.
Zaidan, however, periodically writes for a website connected with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
Numerous emails retrieved from bin Laden’s compound showed that Al Qaeda viewed Zaidan as an asset. Al Qaeda leaders discussed what they wanted to ask Zaidan, including in a 2010 email — where an Al Qaeda leader said that he hoped to use Zaidan to talk Al Jazeera into running a documentary on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Zaidan isn’t the first Al Jazeera journalist accused by the US government of belonging to Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Sami Muheidine Mohamed al-Haj worked in Al Jazeera‘s Doha newsroom in 2000. He also served as a money courier for Al Qaeda under the cover of his employment with Al Jazeera and a beverage company.
Pakistani authorities captured al-Haj in December 2001, because his name appeared on a watch list, and turned him over to US forces in January 2002. US authorities transferred al-Haj to Guantanamo Bay for questioning, including for information about Al Jazeera‘s contacts with bin Laden.
A leaked Guantanamo Bay file describes al-Haj as a member of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda. He also belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura council, and was involved in plans to distribute weapons to terrorists in Chechnya. And a photo showed Al-Haj in Al Jazeera‘s Kandahar, Afghanistan, office with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.
Another email captured in the raid on Bin Laden’s compound describes an Al Jazeera cameraman — referred to as “Siraj” — as a member of the Al Qaeda-linked Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Networks have their biases. But none comes close to Al Jazeera‘s persistent role as the biggest promoter of terrorist propaganda.