Speculation, speculation, speculation: BBC ‘news’ report on Sudan fire

Wednesday morning’s BBC World Service news reported, among other things, a fire in an ammunition factory in Sudan. As the day progressed, a Sudanese government minister came up with a story about “four radar-evading aircraft” that “appeared to come from the east” – and the BBC rushed to publish. 

So what do we have in the story as far as facts and hard evidence goes? Well; nothing.

“The Sudanese government says it believes Israel was responsible” 

“Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman said: “We think Israel did the bombing”

[emphasis added]

But why should a mere lack of facts spoil a dramatic story?

Further commentary by BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus adds an even more bizarre tone to the article: 

“At this stage there is no way of knowing who was responsible for the air attack against the Yarmouk arms factory in Khartoum.” [emphasis added]

Quite, and therefore an article based entirely on speculation and rumors promoted by one of the world’s less salubrious regimes is rather pointless. But it is interesting that Marcus seems to accept that there was an “air attack”, despite the lack of hard evidence. 

It is especially noteworthy because the Governor of Khartoum, whom one assumes is likely to be more up to date on the situation than a BBC correspondent in London, has denied that an air strike occurred at all. 

“Khartoum State Governor Abdel Rahman Al-Khidir said in a televised statement that the cause of the incident is not clear yet but he discounted the possibility of foreign entities being involved.

His statement was clearly aiming to quell wildly spreading rumours that the factory was hit by an airstrike. Some witnesses told Sudan Tribune that the explosion occurred after a sound resembling that of a rocket was heard and the sky lit up. There is also a rumor that an airplane carrying military materiel crashed on the site of the factory but Sudan Tribune was not able to independently verify those claims.

Al-Khidir said that the explosion probably happened at the main storage facility of the large factory.

SAF’s [Sudanese Armed Forces] spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said that an internal explosion occurred in one of the storage facilities and the fire spread due to the plenty of grass in the area. He confirmed that they already launched an investigation into the incident.

An anonymous police source also told AFP that the explosion erupted during a routine maintenance operation, adding that the authorities continue to count the losses.

A similar explosion occurred at the same factory in August 2006 leading to the injury of seven SAF members. The authorities attributed the incident at the time to an electric short circuit.”

Nevertheless, Marcus continues: 

“While the Sudanese authorities are yet to provide any evidence for their accusation that it was Israel, this is by no means as outlandish as it might sound” [emphasis added]

Ah, the suspense!

“For a bitter secret war has been going on for a number of years between Israel and Hamas” [emphasis added]

That must be one of the worst kept secrets on the planet: except from some BBC correspondents, apparently. 

Perhaps – had they been a little less caught up in the drama of speculation about Israeli “radar-evading aircraft” – BBC journalists could have asked the Sudanese government minister about the apparent claims by the Sudanese opposition that the munitions factory in question belongs to the Iranian Republican Guard, or why it is situated in such close proximity to a busy city. 

There might have been a real story in that. 

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14 comments on “Speculation, speculation, speculation: BBC ‘news’ report on Sudan fire

  1. That must be one of the worst kept secrets on the planet: except from some BBC correspondents, apparently.

    The anti-Israel mindset of these ‘hate Israel’ BBC types causes them to become better comedians than they ever thought that they could be.

  2. Meanwhile, whilst Khartoum was busy committing grnocide in Darfur for years, and massacring thousands in South Sudan, the BBC had almost nothing to say on the matter.

    BBC News is pathetic.

    • They were busy looking for mysterious radar evading aircraft. When you’re looking up in the sky for answers you often miss what’s happening on the ground.

      • What radar evading aircraft?! They were the vultures (with their protective bee-eater escort) of the Mossad…

  3. Part of the BBC report said that helicopter gunships had been used in the attack. As the distance from Eilat to Khartoum is approx. 1,000km and the maximum range of an attack helicopter is 800km, it’s unlikely that Israeli helicopters were involved on a minimum 2,000km return flight.

    Seems the BBC will say anything to suggest Israel is responsible for armed aggression.

    Adam, spot on – what they should report, they don’t, as has become evident with the Savile paedophile scandal.

    There’s an article in the Daily Telegraph today by Peter Oborne, titled, ‘Patten (head of the BBC Trust) personifies everything that is wrong with the BBC elite’, and Oborne tears to pieces the people who run the BBC, and Patten, who instead of regulating them, has gone native and become one of them.

  4. Patten himself has a long history of Israel bashing prejudice. Whilst on the EU gravy train, he oversaw “aid” to the Palestinians, most of which ended up in Fatah officials’ Swiss bank accounts. When asked to investigate what had happened to the aid, he said “we need an investigation like a hole in the head.”

    His career is amazing, given that he is a failed politician who was booted out of his seat by his constituents. He’s even Chancellor of Oxford University. Why? What has he contributed to academia? He is the epitome of the old boy’s network.

  5. Lord Patten today told Sky TV News in a tetchy interview that allegations about the late Sir Jimmy Savile’s child abuse have “damaged the corporation’s reputation.” He also admitted that Director-General George Entwistle and others have questions to answer. Sky TV commentators speculated that “others” included Lord Patten himself.

    Meanwhile, police have branded the late Sir Jimmy, “one of Britain’s most prolific sex attackers ever.” 300 potential victims of the late Sir Jimmy have now come to police attention following yesterday’s raid on his cottage in Scotland. The figure has almost doubled from 161 yesterday.

    Police Commander Peter Spindler gave an on-air “message to those in positions of influence and power who think they can abuse children in our society. We will come for you.”

    Former Director-General Mark Thompson, who left his job 19 weeks ago to take up a better job with The New York Times on 12 November now faces calls for him not to be permitted to take up his position.

    Bookmakers Paddy Power have shortened odds on Director George Entwistle’s departure before the end of 2012 from 2 to 1 yesterday to 7 to 4 today.

    Duvidl’s conclusion: The BBC is nearly twice as likely to be toast as in his concluding comment yesterday, when the burning had already begun. Duvidl wishes he had gone down to Paddy Power’s then.

  6. I like the way Patten said what happened about Savile was “devastating for the corporation” – as if it wasn’t for the victims. I see he’s got his priorities right…

  7. The Sun newspaper today forecasts 12 forthcoming arrests of BBC TV personalities.

  8. For interested BBC Watchers, here is a list of Directors-General of the BBC from 1959, when the late Sir Jimmy first took up post, to the present.

    Sir Ian Jacob 1952–1959 dead
    Sir Hugh Greene 1960–1969 dead
    Sir Charles Curran 1969–1977 dead
    Sir Ian Trethowan 1977–1982 dead
    Alasdair Milne 1982–1987 alive
    Sir Michael Checkland 1987–1992 alive
    The Lord Birt 1992–2000 alive
    Greg Dyke 2000–2004 alive
    Mark Thompson 2004–2012 alive
    George Entwistle 2012–present-alive

  9. Here is another “Dead or Alive” list from 1959 onwards, this time of chairmen of the BBC Board of Governers, which later became the BBC Trust (not included)

    Sir Arthur fforde (1957)dead
    Sir James Fitzjames Duff (1964)dead
    Norman Craven Brook, 1st Baron Normanbrook (1964)dead
    Lord Hill of Luton (1967)dead
    Sir Michael Swann (1973)dead
    George Howard, Baron Howard of Henderskelfe (1980)dead
    Stuart Young (1983)dead
    Marmaduke Hussey, Baron Hussey of North Bradley (1986)dead
    Sir Christopher Bland (1996)alive
    Gavyn Davies (October 2001 – 28 January 2004)alive
    Lord Ryder (acting chairman) (28 January 2004 – 17 May 2004)alive
    Michael Grade (17 May 2004 – 28 November 2006)alive

    The board was dissolved on 31 December 2006.

  10. As I wrote elsewhere, BBC are masters at thoughts/opinions-as-facts and feeding them to a gullible public. We should be pushing for the release of the Balen Report – what has the BBC to hide?

  11. Pingback: A BBC feline interest story | BBC Watch

  12. Pingback: Iran, munitions and the BBC | BBC Watch

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