Must-Read: Cliff May on Radical Islamic Disinformation Agents Being Honored Like Journalists

Brent Bozell sent this to me marked "Terrific." Cliff May wrote about "The Disinformation Age" for National Review Online.

May found that "mainstream" journalists and their "Newseum" can't seem to tell the difference between a journalist and a communications operative for an Islamic terrorist organization. With more information sources than ever, some of them are interested in spreading jihad, not in providing accurate information:

A former senior federal law-enforcement official recently e-mailed me and others an article from a publication called Diversity Chronicle about an 18-year-old West German woman who was attacked while sunbathing and subsequently found guilty of "raping" eight Muslim men "in the first case of its kind in Europe." The story was a hoax - but it was slick enough to fool this sophisticated individual and perhaps others on his list.

Now imagine a troubled high-school student who finds his way to the glossy online magazine Inspire. How would he know that its publishers, editors, and writers are all members of al-Qaeda? What might it motivate him to do? Actually, no need to imagine: Authorities believe Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev used information published in Inspire to make the pressure-cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon attack.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, now al-Qaeda's leader, said in 2005: "More than half of this war is taking place on the battlefield of the media." More recently, Omar al-Hammami, a member of al-Shabaab, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Somalia, said: "The war of narratives has become even more important than the war of navies, napalms, and knives." Do America's leaders understand the challenge implicit in those words? [Emphasis mine.]

The Islamic Republic of Iran is the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, according to the U.S. government. Its media voices include the Fars News Agency and the oddly named Press TV. Does anyone believe that they operate according to the ethics taught in Reporting and Writing 101 at the Columbia School of Journalism?

Al-Manar, Hezbollah's broadcast media outlet, was formally placed on the government's terrorist exclusion list in 2004. Two years later, after much work - not least by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), the think tank where I hang my hat - it was added to the Specially Designated Global Terrorism List (SDGT).

Al-Aqsa TV is Hamas's media outlet. It was added to the SDGT list in 2010 by the Obama administration. FDD played an important role in facilitating that designation as well.

But in May of this year, the Newseum, a prestigious Washington institution, announced that it was honoring two Al-Aqsa employees - adding them to the Journalism Memorial Wall, which features Daniel Pearl and other "reporters, photographers, and broadcasters who have died reporting the news." Near the Wall is a quote from Hillary Clinton: "The men and women of this memorial are truly democracy's heroes."

I was among those who protested. Just minutes before the ceremony honoring the Al-Aqsa employees, the Newseum issued an "update" saying that "serious questions" had been raised about the individuals and that, in response, it had "decided to re-evaluate . . .  pending further investigation."

It wasn’t just Hamas that was employing so-called democratic heroes:

Around the time the Newseum announced it would put members of a designated terrorist organization on the Journalism Memorial Wall, we learned that Ahmad Haidar, an employee of Al-Manar, was already there. It’s unclear when he was so honored. What is clear is that the Newseum knows Al-Manar is owned by Hezbollah — and that both are designated terrorist entities.

As with the Al-Aqsa employees, it is not certain that Haidar ever actually contributed to any journalistic products whatsoever. In its designation of Al-Manar, the U.S. Treasury Department noted that some of those on the organization’s payroll are “engaged in pre-operational surveillance for Hezbollah operations under cover of employment by al Manar.”


Then take the “journalists” working for the tyrant in Syria:

I’m afraid there’s more: Al Dunya Television, which is closely tied to Syrian president Bashar Assad, has been placed on the U.S. government’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list — an indication that it is either controlled by or acts on behalf of the Syrian state — and also on the European Union’s list of sanctioned entities. According to the U.S. Treasury Department:

Correspondents of Al-Dunya and official Syrian television allegedly conducted interviews that were not broadcast, but were delivered to Syrian intelligence personnel who used them to arrest interviewees. . . . After ransacking and storming farms in Harasta, Syria, Syrian government forces planted weapons and ammunition and brought in an Al-Dunya crew to falsely portray the location as a weapons depot. Correspondents from Al-Dunya and Syrian television accompanied Syrian military intelligence units to interview detainees. The detainees were interviewed after being tortured and threatened with death to force them to say what the Government of Syria wanted. [Emphasis mine.]

Yet one of Al-Dunya’s operatives — killed during the fighting in Aleppo last January — is being considered for the next round of “journalists” to be honored by the Newseum...

Should the Newseum’s executives and its eminent board of trustees not be concerned that by making no distinctions between journalists and propagandists — and in some cases, intelligence agents masquerading as journalists — they are doing serious damage to the cause the Newseum was founded to champion? Again, I and members of my staff have asked Newseum spokesmen to discuss this, to provide their perspectives, and they’ve declined — a peculiar posture for an organization dedicated to the public’s right to know.

May also raises questions about the al-Jazeera networks and their attempts to spread Arab propaganda in America and work with students at Northwestern University.

The Newseum really should be pressed to answer questions about their honors. Are they journalists or just evasive politicians? Sadly, their "Question Authority" media buddies seem more interesting in helping them promote their "Anchorman 2" exhibit.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis