Erasing the word terror from a BBC WS programme about Hamas

The February 16th edition of the BBC World Service radio history programme ‘Witness’ – presented by Louise Hidalgo – was titled “The Attempt to Kill Khaled Meshaal” and its synopsis reads as follows:Witness 16 2

“In 1997 Israeli secret agents tried to kill a Hamas leader, Khaled Meshaal, in Jordan. But they botched their assassination attempt and a diplomatic scandal followed. In February 1998 the head of Israel’s secret service, Mossad, was forced to step down after an official inquiry into what went wrong. Hear from Mishka ben David, a former Mossad agent, who played a part in the events in Jordan.”

Throughout the nine minute-long broadcast listeners heard the head of the Hamas political bureau since 1996 described as:

“…the Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal…”

“…Hamas’ political leader in Jordan….”

“…this man Khaled Meshaal…”  

“…a leader of the Islamic movement Hamas…”

What they did not hear at any point was the use of the word terror to describe either the organization headed by Masha’al or the suicide bombings it carried out against Israeli civilian targets which are mentioned in this programme.

As this example shows, the BBC’s long running failure to distinguish between the means and ends of Hamas and other terror organisations – and the resulting compromises in accuracy and impartiality – is not only limited to news reports.  

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BBC News website does ‘one man’s terrorist’

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