Tuesday, September 27, 2011

27-Sep-11: Press freedom, democracy and terrorism: how is it that some people keep getting them mixed up?

For some weeks, there has been a steady stream of protests and advocacy concerning the arrest by Israeli authorities of a senior journalist. We're referring to Samer Farik Muhammad Allawi. He lives in Pakistan and has worked until two months ago as Aljazeera's Afghanistan bureau chief. Al Jazeera is headed by Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani, a member of Qatar's royal family.

On 9th August 2011, which happens to be the tenth anniversary of the murder of our daughter in a Hamas massacre, Allawi was arrested at the Allenby Crossing on Israel's border with Jordan. The charge was involvement in Hamas activities. Hamas is a proscribed terrorist organization.

Yesterday, Allawi was convicted in an Israeli court. Since the fact of his arrest has gotten wide coverage, and since - for strange and inscrutable reasons - the things he admits to doing have not (the Reuters report here, for instance), we are making our small contribution here to publicizing what Samer Farik Muhammad Allawi admitted to doing.
  • Allawi, who happens to call himself a Palestinian Arab by birth, admitted that was recruited to Hamas in 1993.  
  • Until 2004, he served Hamas as a member of its Supreme Palestine Committee that supervises and directs Hamas institutions and activity.  
  • He collected donations for Hamas fronts including the Al-Aqsa Association and the so-called Palestinian Information and Media Center.
  • While working for SPC, Allawi traveled to Syria in 2001 and 2003 in order to report on his activities to Musa Abu Marzook, deputy to Hamas fuehrer, politbureau head and Terrorist-in-Chief Khaled Mashal.  
  • Allawi says Mashal asked him in 2004 to come and work for him as Hamas representative in Iran.  Allawi said no.
  • Allawi admitted that in 2000, during a meeting with a Hamas operative in Dubai, he agreed to carry out activity of a military or organizational nature for Hamas.  Specifically, Allawi proposed that he would work to aid Hamas in advancing its goals by utilizing his position as a senior journalist with Al Jazeera.
  • In 2006, Allawi met in Qatar with Hamas terrorists who also serve as Al Jazeera correspondents. Collectively they agreed to exploit their work with Al Jazeera in order to strengthen Hamas in a variety of ways including criticizing American operations in Afghanistan and expressing support for the Palestinian resistance - a euphemism for the terrorist groups, chiefly Hamas, that target Israeli civilian populations.
  • In 2010, during another meeting with Hamas "operatives" in Al-Jazzera's hometown of Qatar, Allawi was asked again to undertake subtle public advocacy to benefit Hamas and the Palestinian struggle by leveraging his journalistic position to undermine support for the Americans.
Allawi was convicted yesterday (26-Sep-11) on the basis of his own confession, in the framework of a plea bargain. He will serve no additional jail time, though he now has a suspended sentence of three years hanging over his head.

Those who believe Aljazeera and similar news agencies deliver objective news reporting with no bias, no advocacy, no hidden deals or agendas, will keep believing. But at least now there's a written record of what this particular reporter has admitted. (And we have it in Arabic too, here.)

Oh, and in case he plans to go report from Gaza, Allawi's Hamas colleagues, those world-class champions of democracy and free speech, have introduced some brand new rules. The BBC has a summary today: "Gaza foreign press restrictions imposed by Hamas... New restrictions on foreign journalists working in the Gaza Strip have been introduced by the Hamas authorities. The Islamist movement which governs the Palestinian territory says journalists must now apply five days in advance in order to work there."

We wonder whether Aljazeera's editors will consider this worthy of their objective, impartial attention.

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