Guess The Missing Word In NY Times Report On Attempted Plane Bombing

Imagine that there had been a series of three incidents in which members of a [invented for present purposes] fanatical Jewish sect had attempted to bring down airliners from Arab countries.  

In reporting on the latest attempt and describing the previous ones, do you think the New York Times might have mentioned the religion of the perpetrators? So do I.

But with the legerdemain required to describe a spiral staircase without using one's hands, the Gray Lady has managed in its article today to report yesterday's attempt to bring down a NWA airliner, and the earlier attempts by Richard Reid [the "shoebomber'] and the those who plotted to bring down as many as ten jets leaving the UK for the United States, without using the word "Muslim."

Now it's true that there were some pretty good hints in today's story.  Even the New York Times can only sugar-coat things so far.  Take the current suspect's name: Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab.  And the reported fact that "Mr. Abdulmutallab is said to have told officials that he was directed by Al Qaeda."  But never did the Times employ  the word "Muslim," "Islamic" or any variation thereof, describing Abdulmutallab simply as a "Nigerian man."

Things were even murker when it came to the other plots.  Reid was simply described as "the so-called shoe bomber."  The Times told us that Reid "pleaded guilty to three terrorism-related counts."  But that he was a Muslim convert [who had reportedly attended a virulently anti-Christian seminary in Pakistan], the Times never told us.  For all an unsuspecting reader knew--and with a name like Reid--the would-be bomber might have been an IRA member.

And as for Islamist terrorist plot in 2006 to kill thousands aboard planes bound for the US from the UK?  The Times only told us that "eight men were arrested." Not a word as to their origins or religion.  Such multi-cultural sensitivity!
Mark Finkelstein
Mark Finkelstein is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.