Former Hizballah journalist returns to BBC Arabic

On April 30th the BBC News website published a report that now goes under the headline “Syria war: Missile strikes on military sites ‘kill pro-Assad fighters’“. Later versions of that article were amended to include an insert of commentary from “Ali Hashem, Iranian affairs correspondent, BBC Arabic, Beirut”.

As can be seen in his ‘Linkedin’ profile, Ali Hashem joined BBC Arabic in February of this year – but not for the first time: he was also with BBC Arabic between 2007 and 2011.

In May 2013 we noted on these pages that prior to being hired by BBC Arabic in 2007, Ali Hashem worked for the Hizballah TV station Al Manar – the self-proclaimed “station of the resistance” – which was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity by the United States during the period of Hashem’s employment. Al Manar was also banned by France on the grounds of its incitement of racial hatred, as well as by Germany and other countries.

More recently (2012 – 2018) Hashem worked for Al Mayadeen TV – an outfit known for its links to Hizballah and support for Bashar al Assad.

Five years ago we noted that:

“The fact that at the time, the BBC apparently did not consider there to be anything inappropriate about recruiting a recent employee of a terrorist organisation’s media arm is frankly amazing, especially as Mr Hashem’s newest gig suggests that his political sympathies and affiliations have not changed vastly since he worked for Hizballah.

One can only hope that the BBC’s Human Resources department has reviewed its hiring policy since then.”

Obviously that is not the case – and that of course means that the reporting on “Iranian affairs” that BBC audiences will be receiving from Ali Hashem will be ‘interesting’.

Related Articles:

The curious CV of a former BBC Arabic journalist

BBC report on the rocket that wasn’t

BBC report on the rocket that wasn’t

On May 26th 2013 the BBC published an article on the Middle East page of its BBC News website under the title “‘Rocket fired’ from southern Lebanon towards Israel” and quoting Lebanese “media and security sources”. 

metulla rocket art

The BBC article was published at 22:26 GMT – about half an hour after initial reports of an explosion having been heard in the vicinity of Metulla came to light shortly before midnight. Later in the day the IDF confirmed that no missile had fallen in Israeli territory, but the BBC report has not been updated to reflect that fact. 

Former BBC Arabic reporter Ali Hashem – now with the Hizballah-linked Al Mayadeen network – tweeted the following at 23:48 local time on May 26th

tweets metulla hashem

Metulla – founded in 1896 – is of course not a “settlement”. But of course to Hizballah supporters such as this former BBC employee, it too is illegitimate – as we see from a translation of Hashem’s second Tweet.

translation hashem tweet 2

All too often the BBC has failed to report on missile fire directed at Israeli civilians in the region surrounding the Gaza Strip or, more recently, in the Golan Heights. Curiously, in this case it appears to have somewhat jumped the gun. 

SONY DSC

Metulla, with south Lebanon in the background

The curious CV of a former BBC Arabic journalist

British readers may have heard of the ‘Al Mayadeen’ TV station which was launched in June 2012 as an alternative to Al Jazeera and broadcasts from Beirut – if only because it employs one George Galloway for, according to The Times, some £80,000 a year. Those familiar with Galloway’s record at the Iranian outfit ‘Press TV’ will perhaps not be surprised to learn that Al Mayadeen’s financial backers are alleged to be Iranian and Syrian. That is denied by the station’s Tunisian director, who formerly worked for Al Jazeera – as did his colleague Sami Kleib (also spelt Kulyab). Kleib’s wife Luna Shibl – previously of Al Jazeera too – has apparently worked as a media advisor to Bashar al Assad.

Al Mayadeen’s Chief Correspondent is another former Al Jazeera employee and – like several of his new colleagues – Ali Hashem resigned in March 2012 after just a year with that station, as a result of differences with the Qatari channel over its reporting of the ‘Arab Spring’. Hashem also writes for other outlets, including Al Monitor

Before joining Al Jazeera, Ali Hashem worked for BBC Arabic and some of his reports can be seen here, here, here, here and here

But the more interesting part of Ali Hashem’s CV comes before he joined the BBC, when he worked for the Hizballah TV station Al Manar – the self-proclaimed “station of the resistance” – which was declared a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity by the United States in 2004. Al Manar was also banned by France on the grounds of its incitement of racial hatred, as well as by Germany and other countries.

In this video Ali Hashem can be seen being interviewed by a Channel 4 reporter on the subject of the Israeli air strike on Al Manar’s communications facilities during the Second Lebanon war which broke out on July 12th 2006 after a cross-border attack by Hizballah. During that war Ali Hashem was one of Hizballah TV’s men on the ground in southern Lebanon and was on the scene at Qana on July 30th 2006 after 28 Lebanese civilians tragically died following an Israeli air strike on a Hizballah rocket launching site. Hashem’s report as it was broadcast on Al Manar TV can be seen here (warning: graphic images).

The fact that at the time, the BBC apparently did not consider there to be anything inappropriate about recruiting a recent employee of a terrorist organisation’s media arm is frankly amazing, especially as Mr Hashem’s newest gig suggests that his political sympathies and affiliations have not changed vastly since he worked for Hizballah.

One can only hope that the BBC’s Human Resources department has reviewed its hiring policy since then.