Just one day after having refrained from describing a car ramming attack against Israelis as terror, BBC News did use that word in its reporting on a vehicular attack in Stockholm on April 7th.
The BBC News website’s main report on the incident – “Stockholm lorry rams crowds, killing ‘at least four people’” – informed readers that:
“A lorry has smashed into a store in central Stockholm, killing at least four people.
At least a dozen people were also injured in the incident on Drottninggatan (Queen Street), one of the city’s major pedestrian streets, on Friday afternoon.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it was a terror attack.”
Readers of that report were provided with analysis by the BBC’s security correspondent:
“I was in Stockholm yesterday, ironically at a security conference. I don’t think Sweden was prepared for something like this.
The last big terror incident they had was in 2010 when a failed suicide bomber blew himself up in a car in central Stockholm.”
The article also included an insert now titled “Timeline: Vehicle ramming attacks in Europe and the US” from which the scores of vehicular attacks against Israelis were of course excluded.
CNN produced a similar timeline of vehicular attacks in locations around the world but – in contrast to the BBC – it did include on its list the lorry attack in Jerusalem in January in which four people were murdered and sixteen injured.
Since August 2014 forty separate attacks using trucks, tractors, vans or cars have been perpetrated against Israelis, with images encouraging such attacks commonly appearing in incitement posted on social media. The use of vehicles to carry out terror attacks however goes back still further; what Europe has been seeing in the past nine months has been an all too familiar sight to Israelis for many years.
Many of those attacks – even fatal ones – have been ignored by the BBC. Those that were reported have – in contrast to similar incidents on European soil – not been described as terror attacks in the corporation’s own words.
The reason for that double standard lies in the BBC’s failure to distinguish between method and aims, with the result being that when somebody deliberately drives a vehicle into a group of people, the corporation’s description of the attack as terror – or not – depends on the perceived aims and affiliations of the perpetrator.