Man described by BBC as ‘a businessman’ gets terror designation

A man described twice by the BBC as “a businessman” in an article from September 2013 has been named as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US State Department.Thailand Hizb

“Hussein Atris is a member of Hizballah’s overseas terrorism unit. In 2012, Atris was arrested in Thailand in connection with a terror warning about a possible attack in Bangkok. Atris was found to be hiding nearly three tons of ammonium nitrate, a component in the manufacture of explosives. In 2013, a Thai court sentenced Atris to two years and eight months in prison for illegally possessing the materials. He was released in September 2014, and traveled to Sweden and later Lebanon, where he is believed to be located currently.”

In its reporting at the time of Atris’ arrest and trial (here, here, here and here), the BBC consistently misrepresented Hizballah’s terror designation, suggesting to audiences that the United States alone considers it a terrorist organization.

In fact, Hizballah is also proscribed in its entirety by the governments of Canada, Israel, France and the Netherlands, as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Bahrain. Australia, the United Kingdom and the European Union proscribe what they define as Hizballah’s “military wing”, although such a distinction is of course at odds with the facts. 

The BBC also promoted the myth of a separate Hizballah “armed wing” in its September 2013 report about two additional individuals designated in the same US State Department announcement.Burgas trial 1

“On July 18, 2012, a bombing at the airport in Burgas, Bulgaria killed six people, including five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian citizen. In July 2013, Meliad Farah and Hassan el-Hajj Hassan were publicly identified as key suspects in the bombing, which has been attributed to Hizballah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO). Both are believed to be located in Lebanon.”

Notable in the BBC’s coverage of the Burgas terror attack is the fact that it provided a generous platform for Hizballah’s denial of involvement – see for example here.

Related Articles:

BBC blurs Iranian regime role in 2012 attacks

Another Hizballah plot against Israeli tourists gets the BBC silent treatment

BBC still using out of date Hizballah profile

BBC News website profile of Hizballah gets airbrushed


BBC still using out of date Hizballah profile

On September 12th an article titled “Bulgaria Burgas bus bomb accused face trial in absentia” appeared on the Middle East and Europe pages of the BBC News website. 

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The report euphemistically describes Hizballah as merely a “Shia group” and perpetuates the myth of a separate ‘armed wing’ to the terrorist organization.

“The suspects are said to be members of the armed wing of the Shia group Hezbollah, which denies any involvement.”

But perhaps BBC audiences are provided with more comprehensive and accurate information about the organization to which those accused of aiding and abetting the Burgas bombing allegedly belong in the links provided under the heading ‘related links’? Well, no. 

Those links include some of the BBC’s prior articles on the subject of the Burgas terror attack – which for the most part describe Hizballah in equally euphemistic terms – as well as a link entitled “Who are Hezbollah?”

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That link leads to an article dated July 4th 2010 which we have frequently criticized here as being long out of date. However – as noted at the end of July – the BBC has produced a better, updated profile of Hizballah under the same title which it published on July 22nd.

So why is that article not being presented to BBC audiences as background information instead of the one which is over three years out of date? 

BBC still describing Hizballah as “militants” after Bulgarian announcement

When a terror attack took place on a bus-load of newly arrived Israeli holiday-makers in Bulgaria last July, some of the BBC reporting on the subject was fairly dismissive of Israeli assessments of the involvement of the Iranian-backed terrorist organisation Hizballah. Yolande Knell wrote at the time:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to point the finger at Israel’s arch-enemy. He also claimed this was the latest in a series of Iranian attempts to harm Israelis and Jews overseas – in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other locations.

Other Israeli officials have made specific links to Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shia militant group based in Lebanon.”

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Six months on, Bulgaria has announced that indeed the Iranian proxy Hizballah was behind the attack. Much of the BBC’s coverage of that has disappeared pretty quickly from both the European and Middle East pages on the BBC News website, but it included a February 5th article entitled “Hezbollah linked to Burgas bus bombing in Bulgaria”, an interview from the same date with a member of Europol, another article from the same date entitled “Netanyahu: Hezbollah planning ‘global terror attacks’ ” and another filmed report from the same day under the title “Netanyahu: ‘Place the blame where it is deserved’ “.

On February 6th, the BBC ran a report entitled “Hezbollah hits out after Bulgaria bus bomb report” in which it devoted considerable space to the denials of involvement coming from the organisation’s deputy leader. 

However, even after the announcement by the Bulgarian officials and despite the fact that five civilian holiday-makers and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed and around 30 people injured  in what was obviously a terror attack, the BBC still insists upon using the word ‘militants’ in all the above reports from February 5th.

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Unsurprisingly too, the BBC’s profile of Hizballah has yet to be updated to include this – and other – relevant information about the terrorist organization