BBC interviewees appear in report on extremism in UK charities

The Henry Jackson Society think tank recently published a new report:  

“The British taxpayer has handed over more than £6 million to charities that are currently, or have been in the past, used by extremists to further their radical agenda, according to a new report from the Henry Jackson Society. […]

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing: How Islamist Extremists Exploit the UK Charitable Sector finds that, despite more than a decade of attempts to improve regulations, a concerning number of UK-registered charities continue to fund and support extremism.

Figures from across the Islamist spectrum, including the Muslim Brotherhood, form a network which seeks to delegitimise and push out moderate voices, while masquerading as representatives of ‘true’ Islam. […]

 The Charity Commission – legally unable to de-register these ‘bad’ charities – has been particularly ill-equipped to deal with these organisations. Its powers have been extended in recent legislation, but the public is still waiting for those new powers to be put to use to tackle this problem.”

The report itself states:

“Charities have long been used to support the Islamist extremist cause, with a network of charitable organisations playing a pivotal role in the funding of international jihadism. […]

Beyond the exploitation of charitable status by violent Islamist extremists to support terrorist activities, they may also be used, wittingly or unwittingly, to provide violent or non-violent extremists with the platform and legitimacy they require to spread their illiberal and extremist views. This may take the form of an individual or small group of extremist entryists seeking to abuse a pre-existing charity for their own purposes, or the establishment of an organisation with charitable status specifically for Islamist extremist objectives. These charities, which for example provide platforms for extremist individuals and promote their literature, can be used to create a climate conducive to radicalisation and introduce potentially vulnerable members of the public to individuals who hold intolerant and extremist views. […]

The 2015 Counter-Extremism strategy recognises that charities were one of the institutions vulnerable to exploitation by extremists, who may use them to spread their ideology and charities have in the past, for example, promoted hate literature inciting the murder of homosexuals and Muslims and have hosted speakers who promote homophobic, sexist or anti-Semitic views.”

Members of the British public would probably not expect any of the organisations and individuals named in such a report to have been showcased by their publicly funded broadcaster. They would, however, be mistaken.

Page 37 of the report states:

“There are a number of well-reported incidents involving charities providing humanitarian aid and running aid convoys being involved in non-violent and violent extremism; above all, they highlight the blurred line between the two. On 16 October 2017 the Charity Commission published recent cases of individuals convicted of terrorism offences who were involved with charities. On 23 December 2016 two individuals, Syed Hoque and Mashoud Miah were convicted of entering into funding arrangements that they knew to be for the purposes of terrorism (contrary to Sec 17 Terrorism Act 2000). […]

During their trial the Charity Commission stated that they were investigating a number of charities organising aid convoys, including Al Fatiha Global, with which one of the pair was also involved. […]

Al Fatiha Global is a UK-registered charity that had a total income of £218,778 in the financial year ending 2016. It was investigated by the Charity Commission in 2014 after the son of its Chief Executive was photographed in Syria with two men holding assault rifles. The Charity Commission had “serious concerns about [the charity’s] governance and financial management” and set out to investigate allegations of “inappropriate links between the charity and individuals purportedly involved in supporting armed or other inappropriate activities in Syria”.

On August 13th 2014, the BBC aired a filmed report from the Gaza Strip by Orla Guerin which was based in part on a British woman’s unchallenged allegation that an IDF sniper had shot a Palestinian for “no reason whatsoever”. As was pointed out here at the time:

“Viewers are also not told that Ms Andolini’s activities in the Gaza Strip include distributing aid funded by a British charity called Al-Fatiha Global […] which is currently under investigation by the Charity Commission due to “serious concerns about the governance and financial management of the charity”.”

The HJS report states:

“Alan Henning, an aid worker who was kidnapped and executed by Islamic State, travelled with an aid convoy reportedly organised by either Al-Fatiha Global or Rochdale Aid 4 Syria, which raises money for Al-Fatiha and others. […]

Additionally, Aid4Syria, whose parent charity was al-Fatiha, and for which Alan Henning had been an ambulance driver, showed signs of extremism. The charity had promoted an event entitled “O’Ummah Wake Up and Rise!” on its Facebook page, involving speakers Zahir Mahmood and Moazzam Begg. The convoy’s team leader had posted on his Facebook page “Our men love death like your men love life”, alluding to a similar quote by Osama bin Laden. Aid4Syria had also named its water project and emergency vehicles after Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted in the US for attempting to kill US military personnel.”

Readers may recall that in late 2013 reports by BBC journalist Catrin Nye – who travelled with one of those convoys – were heavily promoted on a range of BBC platforms. Nye produced additional reports on the same subject in July 2014 which once again failed to adequately inform audiences of the convoys organisers’ links to extremism.

The HJS report goes on:

“One of the charity workers on the convoy, Majid Freeman, had posted extremist comments online, including calling for prayers for the brothers of Islamic State fighter Ifthekar Jaman. […] Freeman also had approvingly posted a link on Facebook to a video presenting Islamic State as a legitimate reaction to Western foreign policy. […] Freeman had retweeted support for Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra, as well as the group’s propaganda, and on Facebook wrote that Jerusalem would be “conquered by jihad, not by peace”.”

Freeman – described as “a credit adviser from Leicester” – was featured in one of Catrin Nye’s articles and following the kidnapping of Alan Henning he appeared in numerous other BBC reports – e.g. here, here and here.

Another charity appearing in this report is Islamic Relief (from p.64). In 2014 the BBC published an article in which that organisation’s links to Hamas were denied and later the same year the BBC produced a very superficial report on an audit of the charity.

The organisation ‘Viva Palestina’ – which had its charitable status removed in 2013 following an inquiry by the Charity Commission – is discussed on page 72 of the HJS report. Its founder – George Galloway – has appeared frequently on BBC platforms.

Among the individuals named in the report is Cerie Bullivant of ‘Cage‘ who not only has his own BBC profile but has appeared on numerous BBC programmesincluding one on ‘how best to tackle radicalisation’. Moazzam Begg – also of ‘Cage’ – has likewise been a BBC contributor. The report also names Haitham al Haddad (from p. 96) who was featured in a series of reports by Catrin Nye as well as in additional BBC content.

As regular readers are aware, the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

However the BBC usually makes little effort to adhere to that clause when quoting and promoting NGOs, charities and their representatives.

The same editorial guidelines state that due impartiality does not require “detachment from fundamental democratic principles” of the type typically rejected by extremists and the BBC’s public purposes oblige it to “contribute to social cohesion” in the UK.

Obviously that obligation is not met – and the wider interests of the public not served – through the provision of platforms and legitimacy to extremists – particularly when charities are regularly promoted without the required disclosure of their ideologies, political agendas and any extremist links.

Related Articles:

UK government’s MB review shows 2014 BBC report misleads

Not just about journalism: BBC editorial guidelines and the wider public interest

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Has the BBC opted out of ISIS terrorist’s Gaza convoy links story?

The investigation by the Washington Post and Buzzfeed which revealed the identity of a British member of an ISIS execution cell which murdered journalists, aid workers and others has naturally raised keen interest in most of the UK media. Among the many outlets which have reported the story are the Telegraph, the Independent, the Mirror, the Daily Mail and the Sun.

The reports include information about Alexanda Kotey’s participation in the 2009 ‘aid convoy’ to the Gaza Strip organised by former MP George Galloway’s ‘Viva Palestina’ group. The Washington Post writes:

“Kotey left Britain in 2009, when he traveled to the Gaza Strip on an aid convoy of 110 vehicles organized by George Galloway, then a member of British Parliament. Nine volunteers on the Viva Palestina mission were arrested under the United Kingdom’s Terrorism Act the day before departure. Galloway, a controversial figure in Britain for his radical views, described the arrests as an effort to “smear and intimidate the Muslim community.””

The Daily Mail reports:

“Mr Galloway told ITV news he does not remember meeting Kotey. His spokesman Ron McKay said: ‘There were 500 people on that convoy and George can’t ever remember laying eyes on this guy. It’s possible he was there but George doesn’t remember meeting him.’ 

He said there was a vetting procedure for those who applied to be on the convoy but he had never heard Kotey’s name before.”

This is not the first time that the ‘Viva Palestina’ “vetting procedure” has been shown to be unreliable and, courtesy of Harry’s Place, it can be seen that Kotey’s name appeared on its list of participants in that particular convoy.

Kotey on VP list

At the time of writing the BBC News website does not carry any coverage of this story on its international, national or local pages. However, seeing as George Galloway is a regular guest on BBC programmes, we can surely anticipate that it will not be long until a BBC journalist quizzes him on the topic of the criteria he laid down for his organisation’s “vetting procedure”, what exactly it was intended to check and the question of whether the organisation he headed exercised due diligence. After all, it would surely be in the public interest to hear the answers to such pertinent questions from a man who now aspires to run Britain’s largest city. 

Related Articles:

BBC yet again fails to clarify the ‘particular viewpoint’ of Cage and Asim Qureshi

BBC Two’s ‘Newsnight’ gives a stage to Galloway’s conspiracy theories

Following the publication on January 21st of the results of the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the producers of BBC Two’s flagship current affairs programme ‘Newsnight‘ apparently reached the bizarre conclusion that their mission of providing audiences with “comprehensive coverage of the day’s important national and international news stories” could best be met by bringing George Galloway into the studio.

During that interview, Galloway made the following statement:

“Look, I know Plutonium [sic] 210. I was at Yasser Arafat’s bedside in France when he died from Polonium 210, so I know how foul a murder this was.”

Despite the fact that the conspiracy theories concerning Arafat’s supposed poisoning with Polonium were laid to rest months ago, presenter Evan Davis made no effort to relieve viewers of the inaccurate impression created by Galloway.

At one point during the conversation with Galloway, Evan Davis remarked:

“Well we can be sceptical and we can be super sceptical and then we can end up as conspiracy theorists.”

Did the ‘Newsnight’ production team’s pre-broadcast research really fail to turn up the fact that on the topic under discussion (and many others) the man they invited to contribute has long been situated in that latter category – as shown, for example, in one of his appearances (apparently from 2013) on the Iranian regime’s ‘Press TV’?

Yes; that is the caliber of populist commentator the ‘Newsnight’ production team apparently thought could contribute to meeting their remit of enhancing UK audiences’ understanding of international issues.

Related Articles:

Arafat ‘poisoning’ case closed: an overview of 3 years of BBC News coverage

BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine fails to challenge another Galloway lie about Israel

h/t JS

The December 14th edition of BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show included an item (from 01:38:30 here) about British resident and former Guantanamo detainee Shaker Aamer who had previously appeared on a BBC Two television programme.Jeremy Vine

The item included discussion with George Galloway and a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard Kemp, who happened to be speaking from Jerusalem.

On two occasions during the conversation Galloway made gratuitous references to Kemp’s location:

01:44:37 – “That is a libel. It’s defamatory. It’s a deliberate smear and lie and no wonder it’s coming from Jerusalem.”

01:48:13 – “Well I really don’t think we should be putting Shaker Aamer on trial here on the radio; least of all with the prosecutor being in Jerusalem – that well-known torture centre.” [emphasis added]

Presenter Jeremy Vine made no effort to challenge that inaccurate, off-topic and deliberately defamatory statement from a man infamous for his anti-Israel agenda.

Seeing as only recently the BBC Complaints department went out of its way to defend another inaccurate claim from the same interviewee, it may be unrealistic to expect a satisfactory outcome to any complaints made about this programme.

Unfortunately for the BBC’s reputation as a serious, accurate and impartial broadcaster, the precedent set by that obfuscation of its editorial guidelines on accuracy means that it has relegated itself to being the street-corner sandwich-board for the Israel-obsessed Galloway’s opportunistic lies – even when completely different topics are under discussion.

Related Articles:

BBC One fails to correct George Galloway’s lie about Israeli policy

BBC Complaints conflates opinion with facts

Resources:

Jeremy Vine show contact details

Jeremy Vine on Twitter

BBC Complaints conflates opinion with facts

As readers may recall, during an edition of BBC One’s ‘This Week’ broadcast on November 19th, studio guest George Galloway was given an unfettered platform for the promotion of inaccurate information concerning Israel.This Week Galloway on HP

“Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast.”

The response received from the BBC Complaints department by a member of the public who submitted a complaint on that topic includes the following:

“We understand that you were angered by comments made by George Galloway regarding Israel having a ‘shoot to kill policy’ as you believe he should have been challenged on this statement.

Although we appreciate your feelings, the fact is that George Galloway is well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East and it would be reasonably be expected for him to make his strident views on the situation known to viewers, however, we do recognise that you feel Andrew should have interjected at that point regarding his remarks.

Having watched the discussion on your behalf, George Galloway was asked what he thought about Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the planned attacks on Syria. Mr Galloway made his views about the situation in a strident and articulate manner, clearly setting out his own views and opinions. We do not make editorial comment or judgement on the views expressed by contributors to our programmes, and our aim is simply to provide enough information for viewers to make up their own minds.

The show’s policy is to invite guests from all political persuasions to get a fully rounded view on the day’s issues, in this instance the vote on Syria.”

George Galloway is indeed “well known for his views on Israel and the Middle East” and that should have been all the more reason for the programme’s presenter to be alert to the probability of attempts by his interviewee to exploit the platform provided for the promotion of gratuitous, opportunistic and off-topic falsehoods.

Despite that, BBC Complaints now defends the presentation of inaccurate information to audiences by disingenuously claiming that a statement presented as though it were fact was actually an opinion – and hence BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy do not apply.

 

 

 

 

 

BBC One fails to correct George Galloway’s lie about Israeli policy

h/t LV

Among the promoted segments on the webpage of the BBC One programme ‘This Week’ one finds a clip from the November 19th edition featuring former MP George Galloway. 

This Week Galloway on HP

About six and a half minutes into that clip, host Andrew Neil asks Galloway for his reaction to the UK Labour party’s response to the recent terror attacks in Paris.

Galloway: “One has to say if anyone comes here with guns and bombs, our police will shoot them down and stop them. There’s no room for equivocation about that at all. Err…of course a shoot to kill policy in general…”

Neil: [interrupts] “That’s a different thing of course. That could give back thoughts of Northern Ireland.”

Galloway: “Indeed – Northern Ireland or what Israel does in the occupied territories and so on. Apart from being wrong, they don’t work. They make more terrorists.” [emphasis added]

Along with his guests Michael Portillo and Labour’s Liz Kendall, Andrew Neil sat in total silence as veteran anti-Israel activist Galloway opportunistically promoted the blatant lie that Israel employs a ‘shoot to kill’ policy to BBC audiences.

In addition to Neil’s failure to comply with BBC editorial guidelines on accuracy – which state “We should normally acknowledge serious factual errors and correct them quickly, clearly and appropriately” – by correcting the materially misleading claim from Galloway immediately after it was made, the BBC has further promoted that uncorrected clip for view by audiences who did not see the programme’s original broadcast. 

BBC bread and circuses on Question Time

As readers are perhaps already aware, the February 5th edition of the BBC One weekly debate show ‘Question Time‘ (made for the BBC by the independent production company Mentorn) was the subject of controversy even before it was recorded and broadcast. 

The decision to invite MP George Galloway – who is considerably more renowned for his anti-Israel agitprop, his support for terrorist organisations such as Hamas and Hizballah and his parallel career at media outlets financed by assorted repressive regimes than for his record of representing the people of Bradford West in Parliament – to join the panel at a location in a constituency with a particularly high proportion of Jewish residents was criticised, among others, by MP Mike Freer who described it as “deliberately provocative“.

Galloway’s presence on the panel and his entirely predictable derailing of the conversation to make it all about him detracted from any significant debate on the subject of the worrying report on antisemitic incidents in the UK published by the CST on the same day.

As ever, Galloway subsequently tried to frame himself as the victim of that debate and predictably, sections of the media collaborated with his antics.

The producers Question Time of course knew exactly what they were doing when they invited Galloway to appear in Finchley. Unfortunately, the mission to attract rating by means of the tawdry ‘shock factor’ provided by fringe figures such as Galloway was obviously deemed more important than the quality – or the subject – of the debate itself. And that (rather than Galloway’s inevitable self-indulgent showmanship) is the issue which should be the real cause of concern for the members of the public who funded this programme.  

Big BBC yawn at anti-Israel incidents in UK universities

A foreign diplomat has to be evacuated under threat from a British university.

A British MP flounces out of a debate at another UK university because of his opponent’s ethnicity.

One might have thought that both those stories would have been reported at least on the respective regional pages of the BBC News website, if not in its UK section.

But no: the February 20th incident  (not the first of its kind at a UK academic institution by any stretch of the imagination) in which the deputy Israeli ambassador Alon Roth-Snir was prevented from speaking at Essex University (details here, courtesy of Avi Mayer) is not reported in either the Essex section, the England section or the UK section of the BBC website. 

Neither will one find in those latter two sections or in the Oxford section of the BBC News website any mention of George Galloway’s petulant exit from an Oxford University debate on the same day after discovering that his British-born debating opponent Eylon Aslan-Levy holds Israeli nationality. 

As The Times succinctly put it:

“Given his willingness to talk to Saddam Hussein and congratulate the murderous dictator on his ‘indefatigability’, and to present programmes on the Iranian state-run Press TV, one might be forgiven for thinking that George Galloway would talk to anyone. But now we learn that Mr Galloway is rather picky. It is just that in picking, he prefers dictators.”

So perhaps instead, one may be thinking, the BBC chose to report these two dismal incidents in British institutions of higher education on its website’s UK Education page? Well actually no – but one can find two reports there on another subject: one filmed report entitled “Palestinian children in Gaza start to learn Hebrew” and one written article titled “Hebrew taught in Gaza schools, but barriers remain”.

Education

By any standards, those are strange editorial priorities.