Thursday, February 02, 2012

2-Feb-12: The BBC reports a massive terror plot but leaves out some details. Can you guess what they are?

The BBC says these are "four men". No need for us to be told more
than that, right?
Following the largest British counter terrorism operation of 2010, the BBC says four men confessed this week to plotting to kill London's mayor plus two rabbis, to blow up the US Embassy in London and to plant an improvised explosive device in the toilets of the London Stock Exchange. They will be sentenced shortly.

Under the headline "London Stock Exchange bomb plot admitted by four men", the BBC gives their names: Mohammed Chowdhury, Shah Rahman, Gurukanth Desai and Abdul Miah.

The BBC says they come from London and Cardiff.  The BBC says all are British nationals. The BBC says they were "inspired" by al-Qaeda and especially by the preachings of the recently-deceased radical extremist Anwar Al-Awlaki.  The BBC says they wanted to execute a "Mumbai-style" atrocity, and prepared for this by carrying out close inspection of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Palace of Westminster, admitting that this was in preparation for carrying out acts of terrorism.

The BBC says the discovery of the plot was the result of co-ordinated police work by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, the national CT (Counter Terrorism ) network, the Staffordshire, South Wales and Metropolitan Police, the Security Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. It was a triumph for the electronic surveillance for which the British are famous. Though the BBC report does not say it, there's no doubt the security personnel involved deserve the gratitude of an entire nation.

Mumbai 2008
Here's something else the BBC does not say in the report we quoted above.

It doesn't say that all four of the terrorists (yes, it uses the word 'terrorist' over and again, as it certainly should) are Buddhists. The reason it does not say that the men are Buddhists is that they are in fact Moslems. They are adherents of a form of Islam that ascribes religious value of the highest order to plots like the one to which they confessed yesterday.

But the BBC makes no mention of this.

The New Zealand Herald prominently states their religion in its report. London's Express, Daily Star, Evening Standard and Mirror do too. The Sun's coverage starts with the words "An Islamic terrorist gang yesterday admitted plotting horrific bomb attacks". AFP's syndicated report is headlined "Islamists admit plot to blow up London Stock Exchange". The New York Times opens its report with the words "Four Islamic militants, all British citizens, admitted involvement..." The Scotsman calls them "Islamists"; so does Reuters, Sky News, and the UK Press Association. Pakistan's The Nation does too. 

Why does the BBC avoid saying that the plotters are all Moslems, Islamists, acting in the name of their interpretation of their religion? (Al Jazeera's coverage headlined "Four UK men plead guilty" delicately avoids the issue too as does the LA Times and several other globally prominent news channels we reviewed.)

How is the British public's need to understand terrorism helped by this non-accidental deletion? Is there some way to understand this plot without bringing the matter of the admitted perpetrators' religion into it? If the motivation was not religious, then what was it? Does the BBC's omission of the terrorists' religious beliefs serve the interests of the British Moslem community or do it a disservice?  

Is the battle to defeat the terrorists - and to understand what drives them - helped or hindered by the BBC?

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