BBC reports on designation of a terror group it previously ignored

On January 31st the BBC News website published a report titled “Ismail Haniya: US designates Hamas leader as terrorist“.

“The United States has designated the political leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas as a terrorist and imposed sanctions on him.

The state department said Ismail Haniya had “close links with Hamas’ military wing” and been a “proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians”.”

That presentation failed to inform BBC audiences that the US announcement concerning the man described last year by the BBC as “a pragmatist” also included the following:

“Haniyeh has close links with Hamas’ military wing and has been a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians. He has reportedly been involved in terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens.” [emphasis added]

The report went on:

“Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip, is already designated a terrorist group by the US, Israel, the EU and UK.

It denounced as “worthless” the blacklisting of Mr Haniya.

A statement from the group said the decision would “not dissuade us from continuing to hold fast to the option of resisting and expelling the [Israeli] occupation”.”

BBC audiences were not informed that the term “resisting” is a euphemism for terrorism against Israelis or that as far as Hamas is concerned “the occupation” means Israel in its entirety.

Neither were they told that additional reactions from Hamas officials described the US announcement as “a violation of international laws” and “a reflection of the domination by a gang of Zionists of the American decision” and the BBC’s article was not updated to reflect the fact that the PLO also later condemned the designation.

The article continued:

“The state department also designated three militant groups as terrorist entities:

  • Harakat al-Sabireen, an Iranian-backed group that operates primarily in the Gaza and the West Bank and is led by Hisham Salem, the former leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. It is accused of planning and executing attacks, including firing rockets from Gaza into Israel
  • Liwa al-Thawra, a group active in Egypt’s Qalyubia and Menoufia provinces that has said it was behind the assassination of an Egyptian army commander in Cairo in 2016 and the bombing of a police training centre in Tanta in 2017
  • HASM, another Egyptian group that has claimed it assassinated an officer from Egypt’s National Security Agency and carried out an attack on Myanmar’s embassy in Cairo”

BBC audiences reading this report would no doubt have been surprised to learn of the existence of the first organisation on that list given that – as noted here over two years ago – the corporation has failed to produce any reporting whatsoever on Harakat al-Sabireen.

Readers were also not told that the other two groups on the list are suspected of having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Hence when they read at the end of the report that the US Secretary of State said that “[t]hese designations target key terrorist groups and leaders – including two sponsored and directed by Iran” [emphasis added], BBC audiences would not understand that, in addition to Harakat al-Sabireen, he was referring to Hamas.

As regular readers know, the BBC has long refrained from producing any meaningful reporting on the topic of Iranian funding of Hamas terror.  

Related Articles:

The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

The news the BBC has to omit in order to keep up its narrative

BBC audiences in the dark on Iranian terror financing yet again

Filling in the blanks in BBC reports on Hamas, Qatar and Iran

BBC News website plays along with the ‘softer’ Hamas spin

 

 

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The news the BBC has to omit in order to keep up its narrative

Last month we noted the emergence of “The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of” in the Gaza Strip and that organisation’s statements concerning its intended expansion of operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Recently the Palestinian Authority announced the arrest of members of that group.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“Palestinian Authority security forces have recently arrested five pro-Iranian operatives in Bethlehem planning to establish a foothold in the West Bank and carry out attacks against Israel, Israel Radio cited Palestinian security forces as saying. 

According to the sources, the five members of the ‘a-Sabrin’ organization had operated in the Gaza Strip over the past years before being arrested two weeks ago after leaving the coastal Palestinian enclave. 

The operatives working under Iranian orders had reportedly received funding in Gaza and were instructed to carry out terror attacks.”

To date there has been no BBC coverage of that story or of the earlier Israeli announcement concerning the apprehension of a Hizballah-run terror cell in Tulkarem.

Hizballah logo

Hizballah logo

“A terror cell based in Tulkarem in the West Bank and recruited and funded by Lebanon-based Hezbollah planned to carry out a shooting attack and suicide bombings against Israelis, but was stopped by a joint operation of the Shin Bet security service and the army, officials announced on Wednesday.

Jawad Nasrallah, son of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, recruited the cell via social media, the Shin Bet said. […]

To assist the cell, Hezbollah gave it $5,000 so it could acquire weaponry and equipment for an attack. Two members of the cell acquired guns and were preparing to shoot IDF troops in the area, but were captured before the attack could be carried out.

In addition to the planned shooting attack, the terror cell also received orders about carrying out suicide bombings and collecting intelligence on IDF activities and positions.

The five-man cell was led by Mahmoud Zaghloul, 32, from Zita outside of Tulkarem, who was recruited directly by Jawad Nasrallah. It was an initiative of Hezbollah’s Unit 133, which is charged with setting up terror cells in Israel.”

These two stories join the growing list of similar ones (see for example here and here) concerning the apprehension of cells connected to established terrorist groups which have been completely ignored by the BBC.

However, at the same time as it elects not to report such stories, the BBC does continue to promote the “DIY unrest” narrative on the topic of Palestinian terrorism which it adopted over four months ago, repeatedly telling audiences (in a manner eerily similar to the dictates of the PLO’s guidance for foreign journalists) that the ongoing wave of attacks against Israelis is the result of “frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation”.

The BBC’s framing of this topic leads to the failure to meet its obligation to enhance audiences’ “awareness and understanding of international issues” by serially avoiding compromising its adopted narrative with any mention of terrorism which is not ‘grassroots’ but organised by groups such as Hamas and Hizballah out of motivations which go far beyond “frustration”. 

The terror group BBC audiences have never heard of

As our colleagues at CAMERA documented back in October, there is a relatively new kid on the block of Gaza Strip terror and – given both the Sunni-Shiia proxy wars currently blighting the Middle East and the fact that the Iranian regime now has more cash to spare – its background and affiliations as reported by the invaluable Khaled Abu Toameh are of particular interest at this time.

photo credit: Times of Israel

photo credit: Times of Israel

“The new Iranian-backed Al-Sabireen was established in wake of tensions between Iran and its two former allies in the Gaza Strip: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis four years ago, relations between Tehran and Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been strained. […]

Al-Sabireen, whose emblem is identical to that of another Iran proxy, Hezbollah, so far has about 400 followers in the Gaza Strip. Each one receives a monthly salary of $250-$300, while the senior officials of the group get at least $700.”

On October 20th 2015, one of Al Sabireen’s operatives was killed near al Bureij when the IDF targeted a sniper cell.

“A pro-Iranian armed group in the Gaza Strip says that the Palestinian man reported killed by IDF fire today was one of its operatives.

Harakat al-Sabireen, a splinter group which broke away from Islamic Jihad and has symbols similar to that of Hezbollah, issued a statement saying 27-year-old Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi was a leader of one of its armed group, which was outlawed by Hamas earlier this year.”

The ITIC adds:

“On October 20, 2015, Ahmed Sharif al-Sarhi, aka Abu Bilal, 27, from Dir al Balah, was killed by IDF fire near the border security fence east of al-Bureij in the central Gaza Strip. According to a statement issued on his death by the Al-Sabirin network, he was killed by sniper fire when he and a squad of network operatives were on a surveillance mission. According to IDF sources he was a sniper, one of a squad situated near the border security fence.

Ahmed al-Sarhi was a senior operative in the Al-Sabirin network, which is affiliated with Hezbollah and Iran. He escaped two targeted killings on his house during Operation Cast Lead and Operation Protective Edge. He formerly belonged to the PIJ. Al-Sabirin and Fatah issued death notices for him. His funeral was held in Dir al-Balah, attended by supporters of Fatah, the PIJ, Hamas and the Al-Ahrar network in the Gaza Strip. His body was draped in the Palestinian flag.”

Here is how the BBC described that incident at the time: [emphasis added]art 20 10 15 Gaza

“A Palestinian man was also killed during clashes with Israeli troops near the Gaza border fence, medics said. […]

Palestinian medics in the Gaza Strip meanwhile said a Palestinian man was shot dead and three others wounded during clashes between protesters and Israeli troops east of the Bureij refugee camp.

The Israeli military said “terrorists in Gaza” had attempted to attack soldiers near the border fence. They were “identified and targeted”, and hits were confirmed, a statement added.”

Recently, Al Sabireen announced that it is widening its operations.

“A Palestinian jihadi group with close ties to Iran claimed on Wednesday that it has expanded out of the Gaza Strip and is now operating in the West Bank and Jerusalem as well.

“We have an armed branch whose goal it is to wage war on the Israeli occupation everywhere,” Hisham Salim, founder of the Harakat al-Sabireen, told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency.

“Within this framework we have members in the West Bank and Jerusalem who will soon receive financial and military support from us,” he said.”

Khaled Abu Toameh notes that:

“Al-Sabireen is also believed to have succeeded in recruiting scores of militiamen belonging to President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction in the Gaza Strip. These militiamen have gone to the Iranian-backed group mostly for financial considerations. This, of course, is bad news for Abbas, who is now watching as many of his former loyalists have come onto Iran’s payroll and are sharing its radical ideology.

Iran’s presence in the Gaza Strip – this time through Al-Sabireen – is bad news not only for Israel, but also for many Palestinians and Arabs in the region. The Egyptians, who have been waging a relentless war on Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip and Sinai, are already voicing concern over Iran’s new Palestinian proxy. The last thing Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and Jordan’s King Abdullah need is another Iranian terror group similar to Hezbollah in the Middle East.”

Members of the British public funding of one of the few Western media organizations to still maintain a permanent office in the Gaza Strip remain, however, oblivious to the existence of this terror group.