AP, Alone Among Scores of News Outlets Worldwide, Fails to Describe Brussels Attack Suspect As a Journalist

Media outlets around the world are reporting that Faycal Cheffou has been arrested for his alleged involvement with last week's terrorist attacks in Belgium.

Media outlets around the world are reporting that Faycal Cheffou was a journalist — except for the Associated Press.

There are two entries at the AP's "Big Story" site which contain references to Cheffou. A search at the AP's main national site, where stories originally posted often disappear after they are "updated" for future developments, returned no stories on Cheffou.

The first entry relating to Cheffou is a "The Latest" timeline item (most recent to least recent) from Saturday which contains references to him in its 5:15 p.m. and 1:15 p.m. local time entries:

5:15 p.m.

Belgian prosecutors say three men have been charged with terrorist offenses linked to Tuesday's attacks on the Brussels airport and subway.

Federal prosecutors said Saturday they have charged a man identified as Faycal C. for "involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder." They say he was arrested on Thursday but a police raid on his home turned up no weapons or explosives.

Belgian media are reporting that a man named Faycal Cheffou has been identified has the suspected fugitive in a light-colored jacket who fled Brussels Airport after two alleged accomplices blew themselves up there Tuesday. Prosecutors refused to comment on those reports.

Prosecutors say two other suspects arrested Thursday and identified as Rabah N. and Aboubakar A. have been charged with "involvement in the activities of a terrorist group."

A fourth man, taken into custody Friday after he was shot by police at a Brussels tram stop, is being held for at least 24 hours longer.

... 1:15 p.m.

Belgian prosecutors have issued an arrest warrant for a new suspect in Tuesday's attacks on the Brussels airport and subway.

The federal prosecutor's office said in a statement on Saturday that an arrest warrant has been issued for a man only identified as Faycal C.

The statement said he is wanted for "involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist killings and attempted terrorist killings."

Belgian media are reporting that a man called Faycal Cheffou has been identified as the man suspected of fleeing Brussels airport after two alleged accomplices blew themselves up there.

Here is the photo of the three men involved, with Cheffou on the right (HT Gateway Pundit):

BelgianAirportBombingTrio0316.jpg

The second AP "Big Story" entry containing Cheffou's name is a late Saturday night story by Lorne Cook and David Keyton:

Belgium charges 3 more attacks suspects with terror offenses

Belgian prosecutors announced they have charged three men with terror offenses over the suicide attacks on the Brussels airport and subway, as organizers canceled a solidarity rally at the government's request because police are too strapped to cope.

At a news conference in Brussels Saturday, officials confirmed that 24 of the 31 people killed in the attacks Tuesday had been identified, and a doctor who had served in Afghanistan said he and his colleagues have been shocked by the extreme burns suffered by some of the 270 people wounded.

Federal prosecutors said a man identified as Faycal C., who was arrested Thursday, has been charged with "involvement in a terrorist group, terrorist murder and attempted terrorist murder."

Belgian media say he is Faycal Cheffou, the man in the light vest and hat pictured on security video with two men who blew themselves up at the airport. Cheffou is described as a local activist known to police for trying to rally asylum-seekers and homeless people to radical Islam.

How interesting that the AP is merely calling Cheffou a "local activist."

AP seems either unaware, or doesn't care, that over 180 news stories since Wednesday have identified Cheffou as a "journalist" (based on a Google News search on Cheffou's full name in quotes plus "journalist"; sorted by date, past week, without duplicates).

One of the outlets not reluctant to describe Cheffou as a journalist way back on Wednesday was the BBC:

... 'Unknown' attacker - The third man in the CCTV, pictured wearing a hat, was said to have fled the scene without detonating his explosive device. His identity has not been officially given. But Belgian media have identified him as Faycal Cheffou, a freelance journalist, who has now been arrested and charged.

... Faycal C, Khalid A and Mariam A - arrested in a car outside the offices of the Belgian federal prosecution in Brussels on 24 March. The former has been charged with participation in the activities of a terrorist group, terrorist murders and attempted terrorist murders. A search of his home found no weapons. The others were released.

A story carried at the AFP wire service refers to Cheffou working, presumably as a news person, at a radio station back in 2008, but that he also was "accused last year by Brussels Mayor Yves Mayeur of trying to recruit jihadists among asylum-seekers and migrants living at a refugee centre set up by local charities and NGOs."

Gateway Pundit has posted a YouTube video Faycal Cheffou made which has been translated into English about "how poorly immigrants were treated in Belgium."

Why won't AP describe Faycal Cheffou as others have? Because he didn't have a union card? Someone will have to ask them.

AP's position on this is far more than an academic matter. Its writeups clearly drive the presentation of the news on the Big 3 networks' morning shows, and virtually ensures that Cheffou, if he is mentioned at all, will not be tagged as a journalist. If he really was, and there seems to be little reason to believe that he wasn't, that's a pertinent fact viewing audiences should know, and won't.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.