BBC report on Hizballah rockets omits relevant background

Visitors to the BBC News website on September 20th were informed that “Hezbollah ‘has precision rockets despite Israeli strikes in Syria’“.

“The leader of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah movement says it has acquired sophisticated rockets despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it obtaining them.

Hassan Nasrallah told supporters it did not matter what the Israelis did to try to cut supply routes because the group already possessed “precision rockets”.

He did not produce evidence of this.”

Concealing the fact that Hizballah deliberately started the Second Lebanon War in July 2006 by conducting a cross-border raid and firing missiles at Israeli civilian communities, the report went on:

“Israel, which in 2006 fought a war with Hezbollah, has conducted air strikes in Syria aimed at stopping Iran supplying its ally with advanced weaponry. […]

In another speech on Thursday morning, the Hezbollah leader declared that the dozens of Israeli strikes aimed at preventing it from acquiring rockets with highly accurate targeting capacity had failed because it had “already been achieved”.

“No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over and the Resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities.””

So as we see, the BBC is fully aware of the fact that since 2006 Iran has made considerable efforts to supply the terror group Hizballah with “advanced weaponry”. It would therefore obviously have been appropriate for the BBC to go on to inform its audience that such efforts breach more than one UN Security Council resolution, including that which brought the 2006 war to an end.

“At the end of the Second Lebanon War, the U.S. and France drafted the text of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which was adopted unanimously on August 11, 2006, with Russian and Chinese support. Article 15 states that the resolution prohibits all UN member states from allowing their nationals to engage in “the sale or supply to any entity or individual in Lebanon of arms and related material of all types.” In short, Iranian weapons transfers to Hizbullah are a violation of a decision of the UN Security Council. Several years earlier, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1559, which also called for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias on the soil of Lebanon.”

Given the BBC’s dismal record of reporting on violations of UN SC resolution 1701, it is unsurprising to see that once again audiences reading this article were denied key information that would enable them to “engage fully” with this issue.

Related Articles:

Reviewing BBC reporting of Hizballah’s violations of UNSC Resolution 1701

BBC failure to provide context in Hizballah weapons stories continues

BBC News yawns over another violation of UNSC resolution 1701

BBC’s Hizballah omissions continue to blight reporting

BBC WS ‘special report’ claims Israel attacked Hizballah in 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A story BBC audiences are unlikely to be told

In the numerous reports concerning Ahed Tamimi that have been produced by the BBC since last December audiences have seen her described as “a prominent child activist“, a “star on social media”, “a modern-day Joan of Arc“, “a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation“, “a national icon” and “the new iconic face of Palestinian resistance“.

BBC audiences have also been told that Tamimi is to be seen as “standing up to the reality of Israeli occupation, defending her home with her bare hands” and “standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land” and that her aim is “to resist the occupation“.

It is considerably less likely that BBC audiences will be informed of a video message – aired on a Lebanese TV station – made recently by Ahed Tamimi in which she saluted the head of the terrorist organisation Hizballah, saying:

“To the honorable sheikh, Hassan Nasrallah, I say: Thank you very much. I wish you a happy holiday. His words boosted our morale – not just my morale, but the morale of many people, because I represent the people. I’m not just representing myself, but the people and the cause. This was in support of the entire Palestinian people, not just me. I’d like to salute him, to thank him for his support, and to tell him that he always makes us grow stronger. We all support him and are proud of him.” (translation by MEMRI)

Of course as far as the criminal and terrorist organisation Hizballah is concerned, the whole of Israel is ‘occupied land’ and an ‘entity’ which it aims to ‘obliterate’.

Given her expression of “support” for Nasrallah, obviously the BBC needs to clarify exactly what it means the next time it tells its audiences that Ahed Tamimi ‘resists the occupation’.

BBC News disregards al Quds Day hate in London once again

Back in February the BBC News website published an article on one of its regional UK pages about graffiti on a billboard in Luton.

“Police are investigating after a billboard advertising an al-Quds Day rally was vandalised in Luton. […]

Also known as Jerusalem Day, al-Quds Day originated in Iran in 1979 and the poster was billed as “United for Palestine”.

The words “ban race hate posters” were daubed over it. It has been taken down.

The poster advertises and rally and march in London on 10 June. […]

…Reza Kazim, from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) which is behind the poster, said it “is not dividing the community” and the removal of it “censors free speech”.”

The link provided in that report leads readers to an article published by the BBC in 2013 in which the racial hatred and terror promotion that typify al Quds Day events was whitewashed.

Given the BBC’s past record of ignoring the annual IHRC-organised jamboree of anti-Israel/anti-Jewish hate and public support for the Hizballah terror group, it was hardly surprising to see that this year too no coverage of that June 10 event appeared on the BBC News website. The BBC’s funding public therefore remained unaware of the fact that the rally included calls for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel that were met with raucous applause.

“I have a couple of messages today. One message for the Jewish people who are living in Palestine, the other message for the Zionist bunch who are occupying the Palestine, and the other messages is for the Saudis – we are standing in front of their embassy – and the people who are standing on the wrong side. My message to the Jewish people of Palestine is that the British governments, several decades ago, and then America used you to wipe Palestine off the map and you can make sure that the resistance will come and free Palestine and wipe Israel off the map. […] We tell you, you haven’t seen in the Al Quds Day yet. The Al Quds Day, when we march into Al Quds (cheers) with all the conscientious people, with people who have human hearts, with Muslims, and Jews and Christians, we will come, we will free Palestine and we will free the world of this Zionist bunch who is supported by all corrupt powers in the world. My message to the Zionist bunch who are occupying Palestine: “Your days are numbered, either you go yourself, or we will drive you away, we will kick you out of Palestine, that’s a promise.” 

As noted at ‘Harry’s Place’:

“Bahmanpour’s speech alone makes a mockery of the UK’s absurd distinction between the “military” and “political” wings of Hezbollah. The former is a proscribed terrorist group while the latter is not. Hezbollah itself makes no such distinction and nor do its supporters really believe in any separation, including the Al Quds speakers and marchers assembled by the self-styled Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).”

The motifs heard by the crowd in London were remarkably similar to those heard two days before by Hizballah supporters in south Lebanon when they saw a televised speech marking al Quds Day from Hizballah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.

“Our speech, the Palestinian people’s speech, the Arab and Islamic people’s speech and even Islam’s speech, I can claim that this is Islam’s speech, and the resistance’s speech is we do not want to kill. We do not want to destroy. We do not want to throw anyone into the sea. We tell you with all civility, take your ships, board your planes and return to the countries you came from. The native Jews who are the people of Palestine remain in Palestine. However, the invaders, the settlers who came from all over the world leave. This is the message of Islam, the message of the resistance and the message of the people of the region. No one is going to make a new Holocaust like what Netanyahu said. But if you insist on the occupation, I tell you the day of the great war in this region will come. It will be the day that all of us will pray in al-Quds. We are waiting for that day. A positive waiting. Preparatory waiting. The true faithful waiting.”

And for those wondering who exactly are “the native Jews” or “the Jewish people who are living in Palestine”, here is a taste of the thinking behind such terminology.

As the BBC reported at the time, in January of this year a debate on the UK’s currently partial proscription of Hizballah was held in the House of Commons and that topic remains under discussion. Obviously public and parliamentary debates are not enhanced by the fact that Britain’s public broadcaster repeatedly refrains from reporting on the advocacy of ethnic cleansing of Jews from Israel either in London or by the leader of the terror group whose flags fly on the British capital’s streets.

The fact that the BBC has also spent years cultivating the myth of separate ‘wings’ of Hizballah and whitewashing the fact that it is a terrorist organisation through use of euphemisms such as “Lebanese Shia group” or “Lebanese political and military group” as well as misrepresenting its terror designation by numerous countries and misleading audiences with regard to its activities is also clearly not conducive to meeting the corporation’s public purposes.

Related Articles:

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More BBC whitewashing of ‘Al Quds Day’

BBC News ignores Al Quds Day – in English

Why BBC accuracy matters for its funding British public

Islamic Human Rights Commission & Al Quds Day: Tip of the UK’s Iranian support network iceberg (UK Media Watch)

Can UK MPs turn to the BBC for accurate information on Hizballah?

 

 

BBC News promotes Hizballah’s lexicon and a false narrative

An article published on the BBC News website on May 7th under the headline “Lebanon election: Hezbollah leader declares ‘victory’” includes uncritical use of the lexicon employed by that terror organisation.

“Hezbollah’s leader says the Iran-backed militant Shia group and its allies have achieved “victory” in Lebanon’s first parliamentary elections since 2009.

Although the official results have not been announced, Hassan Nasrallah said their gains guaranteed the protection of the “resistance” against Israel. […]

In a televised address a day after the elections, Hassan Nasrallah declared what he called a “great political and moral victory for the resistance option that protects the sovereignty of the country”.” [emphasis added]

Moreover, the report does not confine itself to using the unexplained term ‘resistance’ in quotes and paraphrasing but promotes the same terminology itself.

“Formed as a resistance movement during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hezbollah is today a political, military and social organisation that wields considerable power in the country.” [emphasis added]

This is of course far from the first time that the BBC has adopted the terror group’s language without clarifying to audiences that ‘resistance’ is actually Hizballah’s euphemistic term for its commitment to the obliteration of Israel and that the “Israeli occupation of Lebanon” ended eighteen years ago.

Moreover, this is also not the first time that the BBC has promoted the inaccurate notion that Hizballah came into existence as a response to the first Lebanon war in 1982. As recently documented by Amir Toumaj, Hassan Nasrallah himself in fact refuted that myth in a speech made to a friendly audience.

“Nasrallah touted that the organization was born after the success of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979. That highlights that the network that later became Hezbollah in 1985 was active and had a defined ideology prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.” 

As well as failing to clarify that Hizballah instigated the 2006 war with Israel, the article gives an inaccurate portrayal of the extent of Hizballah’s terror designation by failing yet again to clarify that it is also proscribed by the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League.

“It is designated a terrorist group by Western states and Israel, with which it fought a war in 2006, and several of its members are accused of being behind the 2005 assassination of Mr Hariri’s father Rafik – himself a former Lebanese prime minister.”

The simplistic narrative according to which Hizballah came into existence because Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 is undoubtedly more palatable to Western audiences than the actual theological background to the relationship between Hizballah and the Iranian regime. However, the BBC’s continued promotion of that erroneous claim does not serve the interests of members of its funding public trying to understand the terror group’s role in Lebanese politics or in the wider Middle East.

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BBC WS radio listeners get unchallenged Hizballah messaging – part two

As was noted in part one of this post, the November 11th afternoon and evening editions of BBC World Service radio’s flagship news and current affairs programme ‘Newshour‘ both included an interview with Lebanese academic Amal Saad who was presented only as a “political analyst and author” and who on both occasions promoted Hizballah propaganda – including in relation to Israel.

The evening edition of the programme – again presented by Rebecca Kesby – ran with the Saad Hariri resignation story as its lead item (from 00:48 here). Kesby began by telling listeners that an unidentified “many” suspect that Hariri “was coerced at the very least” into resigning from his post as prime minister of Lebanon before going on to amplify more Hizballah hyperbole.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kesby: “Yesterday the head of the powerful Lebanese Shia movement Hizballah, Hassan Nasrallah, said the move amounted to a declaration of war on Lebanon and the Reuters news agency quoted today an unnamed senior Lebanese official quoting the President Michel Aoun saying that he’d told foreign diplomats that he believed Mr Hariri had been kidnapped by Saudi Arabia.”

Listeners then heard from the BBC’s Arab affairs editor Sebastian Usher who reported on a statement put out by Hariri’s party before remarking that “the mystery, internationally, is growing”.

From 04:30 Kesby continued:

Kesby: “Over the past few days many nervous eyes have been watching the Middle East as Saudi Arabia ordered its nationals to leave Lebanon with immediate effect earlier this week and the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was warning yesterday that other countries should not use Lebanon for proxy conflict – he called it – a comment that seems to have been aimed at Riyadh potentially. So could this tense situation spill over into a new war in the region? I’ve been speaking to Professor Amal Saad who’s a Lebanese political analyst and author of ‘Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion’.”

Listeners then heard an edited version of Kesby’s previously broadcast interview with Saad – up to and including the allegation that “Saudi Arabia is […] paying Israel money”, thereby “pressuring it to invade Lebanon” along with amplification of additional Hizballah propaganda.

Following that interview, Kesby continued to promote the theme of Israeli involvement in the Hariri story.

08:17 Kesby: “So what could the implications of Mr Hariri’s apparent resignation be for the region and what role might Israel play?  I’ve been speaking to Amos Harel the defence correspondent at Ha’aretz and I asked him first was there any genuine appetite in Israel for a fresh war with Hizballah militants in Lebanon.”

After Harel responded that there is no such “appetite”, Kesby went on:

Kesby: “Even so though, there are some analysts – and even the former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro – have been suggesting that Israel could actually find itself manipulated or provoked somehow into another war with Hizballah. Is that something that would concern you?”

Harel replied that such a possibility always exists, pointing out that if Hizballah’s hundreds of thousands of missiles were used to attack Israeli civilians it would not be “taken lightly”. Kesby continued:

Kesby: “I wonder what you make then of these reports circulating that Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently sent a memo out to Israeli ambassadors to advocate in favour of Saudi Arabia in the past week or so. If those reports are true, does it make you rather nervous that this relationship could be getting a bit too cosy with the Saudis?”

Harel pointed out that the claim – reported by Israel’s Channel 10 – “doesn’t mean action” and that Saudi Arabia and Israel “see eye to eye on Iran”.

The item ended after the rest of that interview with Harel, meaning that listeners once again heard nothing at all to counter the Hizballah (and Iranian) talking points promoted by Amal Saad.

Obviously Kesby’s bland presentation of Saad as a “political analyst and author” was not conducive to aiding audiences to understand her “particular viewpoint” – as required by the BBC’s editorial guidelines on impartiality – and thus be able to put her assertions and allegations into their appropriate context.

Even a cursory look at Saad’s Twitter account gives ample insight into the views of the academic who claims to have had her contract with a US think tank “terminated because of my ‘biased’ work on Iranian foreign policy” and does not consider Hizballah to be a terrorist organisation but describes it instead as a “grassroots resistance movement”.

We do not of course know whether or not the ‘Newshour’ team actually bothered to research Amal Saad’s political agenda before inviting her to be the sole ‘analyst’ of the Hariri resignation story in these two episodes of ‘Newshour’. What is clear, however, is that her completely unchallenged recycling of Hizballah propaganda contributed nothing to helping BBC audiences better understand the story.

Related Articles:

BBC WS radio listeners get unchallenged Hizballah messaging – part one

Reviewing BBC portrayal of Hizballah in Hariri resignation reports

 

 

BBC WS radio listeners get unchallenged Hizballah messaging – part one

The November 11th afternoon and evening editions of BBC World Service radio’s flagship news and current affairs programme ‘Newshour‘ both included an interview with a person presented only as a “political analyst and author” who on both occasions promoted Hizballah propaganda – including in relation to Israel.

The item in afternoon edition of the programme (from 30:00 here) – presented by Rebecca Kesby – opened with an introduction that made no mention of the relevant context of Hizballah’s designation as a terror organisation.

[emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

Kesby: “Now the shock resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri a week ago has thrown the Middle East into diplomatic confusion. He made his announcement from Saudi Arabia. That fact alone has caused great unease in Lebanon with many suspecting that he was coerced into that decision. Yesterday the head of the powerful Lebanese Shia movement Hizballah Hassan Nasrallah said Mr Hariri’s resignation had been orchestrated by the Saudi government and its actions amounted to a declaration of war on Lebanon.”

Listeners then heard a voice-over translation of Nasrallah’s speech that had been aired in the previous evening’s edition of ‘Newshour’.

Nasrallah (v/o): “In short it is clear that Saudi Arabia and Saudi officials have declared war on Lebanon and on Hizballah in Lebanon. But I have to say, this is a war on Lebanon.”

Kesby: “So just how serious is this situation for Lebanon and the wider region? I’ve been speaking to Professor Amal Saad who is a Lebanese political analyst and author of ‘Hizbu’llah: Politics and Religion’.”

Listeners then heard uncritical repetition of the claim made by the head of the Lebanese terror organisation from the BBC’s chosen ‘analyst’.

Saad: “Well it’s definitely a serious one. Now when we talk about war, I’m not quite sure that military warfare is the only way this situation could escalate. I mean obviously that is an option but I don’t think it’s a very likely one at this moment. Just to kind of like centre Lebanon into this discussion, Lebanon is basically the new battleground where this regional escalation is…basically might take place, right? And Saudi Arabia has now basically declared war on Lebanon and in so doing, is also attempting to weaken Iran –of course focusing on Hizballah here in Lebanon. Now pundits are saying and a lot of people are very concerned that this could actually mean a Saudi-Israeli aggression on Lebanon. I think that’s quite unlikely at the moment. Obviously there isn’t going to be a Saudi-Iranian war so to speak. So what’s most likely to happen I think is a kind of security, possibly de-stabilisation of Lebanon. There might be an attempt to do that. And definitely some kind of economic war on Lebanon, which could actually harm Lebanon quite a bit – not just Hizballah. And the reason I say that is it’s very unlikely that the Israelis are going to allow themselves to do Saudi’s dirty work for them. First of all Saudi is definitely not going to launch any war on Lebanon on its own and definitely not one where it has to actually be at the forefront. It wants Israel to do most of this work.”

Kesby: “And why is that? Because it’s involved in actions elsewhere like Yemen?”

Saad then inaccurately told listeners that the coalition fighting in Yemen is “led by” the US, which – according to the BBC itself – is actually supplying “logistical and intelligence support”.

Saad: “Well that’s one reason of course and even in Yemen where it’s fighting an asymmetrical war against the much, much weaker Houthis, it’s still faring miserably. And it’s not only fighting there alone but fighting alongside an entire coalition – an international and Arab coalition – led by the US. So I really don’t see how the Saudis could expect to fare any better if they chose to confront Hizballah in Lebanon and of course Hizballah is far more sophisticated as a military power than the Houthis are. The Houthis have actually been accused, and so has Hizballah, of aiding the Houthis which means the Houthis are seen as a potential Hizballah model. But Hizballah is definitely here the template they fear the most so if they’re not doing very well fighting the Houthis, then it’s going to be much harder for them to fight Hizballah.”

Kesby: “OK, so let’s unravel why they see Hizballah as such a threat and whether that’s a growing threat in recent years. Obviously Hizballah has been around since the ’80s but there is this concern in the region certainly from the Saudis, isn’t there, that there’s this corridor – geographical as well as political and militarily – linking Hizballah in Lebanon, through Syria, to Iran. Why are they so threatened by Hizballah?”

Saad avoided answering that question, instead opting to amplify more Hizballah propaganda and present a context-free account of the second Lebanon war instigated by Hizballah that went completely unchallenged by Kesby.

Saad: “Well Hizballah has been perceived by Saudi Arabia as an enemy for many years now, especially over the past ten or twelve years. Yesterday, in fact, Nasrallah suggested that Saudi Arabia is not only now basically paying Israel money, pressuring it to invade Lebanon – now it actually did so in 2006 – and that’s because Hizballah is seen by Saudi Arabia as an impediment and a huge obstacle for its regional ambitions inside Lebanon.”

Saad then amplified another Hizballah talking point:

Saad: “It wants to dominate Lebanon and we’ve seen that very clearly over the past few days now with the arrest of the Lebanese prime minister Saad al Hariri. And it’s also being seen as a close ally of Iran and clearly Saudi Arabia sees Iran as its main rival in the region.”

Kesby: “Now we know that President Aoun hasn’t actually accepted Hariri’s resignation. We understand that he is planning to meet or meeting foreign ambassadors and other dignitaries today. I don’t know if you can tell us any more about that and what sort of support he might be seeking and how likely he is to get any support.”

Saad again parroted Hizballah messaging in her response – once again with no challenge at all from Kesby, despite the fact that the BBC had itself reported the previous day that “France’s foreign minister said France believed Mr Hariri was able to move freely”.

Saad: “Well he’s already asked European officials – in fact we saw the French yesterday as well. They issued a statement saying they too…it suggested that Hariri might be being held against his will. So I do think that Aoun’s activities borne some fruit so far because there is a concern among many European capitals and diplomats and I’ve been reading in Western media in fact that they do fear that Hariri is being held under some kind of house arrest and they are attempting to broker some kind of an agreement whereby he could be released. At the very least constitutionally he has not resigned until he comes back and submits a written resignation. This is one of the reasons why many people also believe he’s under house arrest as he’s not being allowed to do that. He’s not even making his resignation official. It was done in a very shoddy, lazy kind of manner on TV. He didn’t even come and submit an official resignation and at the very least, I think, what many of Lebanon’s diplomats in Lebanon would like to see is for at least this issue to be resolved because the government now is kind of suspended. It’s in a state of suspension. It’s not able to meet without their prime minister and yet it’s not a caretaker government either so it’s a very kind of fluid situation and one that isn’t at all conducive to Lebanon’s stability.”

Once more describing her sole interviewee as a “Lebanese political analyst”, Kesby closed the item there.

Parts of this interview were re-broadcast in the later edition of ‘Newshour’ on the same day, which will be discussed in part two of this post.

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BBC reports development in Hizballah story, fails to update original report

Earlier this month we revisited a BBC story from May 2016 in which audiences were initially told that Israel had killed a Hizballah commander.

“…the final version of the article – which is still available on the BBC News website – points BBC audiences towards the assumption that Israel may have been responsible for the killing.”

In that post we noted that an investigation conducted by the Al Arabiya network (unreported by the BBC at the time) suggested that Mustafa Badreddine’s assassination was in fact carried out by Hizballah and its Iranian backers and hence:

“…we would of course now expect to see the BBC revisiting this story, reviewing its steering of audiences towards the default conclusion that Israel was likely to have been involved and checking the accuracy of this particular example of “historical record”.” 

On March 21st the BBC News website published an article titled “Israel: Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine ‘killed by own men’” which opens as follows:

“The Israeli military’s chief of staff has added weight to Arab media reports that Hezbollah was behind the killing of its own commander in Syria in 2016.

Lt Gen Gadi Eisenkot said Israeli intelligence had similarly concluded that Mustafa Amine Badreddine was assassinated by his own men.”

Later on readers were told that:

“Earlier this month, the pan-Arab news network al-Arabiya said its investigation into Badreddine’s death had concluded that the commander was killed on the orders of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

The report said Hassan Nasrallah was put under pressure to remove Badreddine by Maj Gen Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ elite overseas operations arm and a key adviser to the Syrian military.”

And:

Tweet to 14.3 million followers promoting the BBC’s original article on May 13, 2016

“On Tuesday, Gen Eisenkot said the Arab media reports that Hezbollah had killed Badreddine matched the “intelligence we have”.”

The BBC’s original article – including the repeated suggestion that Israel may have killed Badreddine – is of course still available online. In light of the developments in the story, best practice would of course necessitate its amendment to include the information in this latest BBC report.

To date, such an update has not been added.

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Revisiting a BBC ‘Israel did it’ story from May 2016

Revisiting a BBC ‘Israel did it’ story from May 2016

As was documented here back in May 2016:

As was noted here at the time, although that information did not in fact come from Hizballah, subsequent versions of the BBC’s report inaccurately told readers that the terror group had “rolled back” the claim.

Nevertheless, the final version of the article – which is still available on the BBC News website – points BBC audiences towards the assumption that Israel may have been responsible for the killing.

“An initial report by Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV said that Badreddine, 55, died in an Israeli air strike. But a later statement by Hezbollah on al-Manar’s website did not mention Israel.

Israeli media reported that the government refused to comment on whether it was involved in Badreddine’s death.

Israel has been accused by Hezbollah of killing a number of its fighters in Syria since the conflict began.”

And – under the sub-heading “Key questions”:

“Who could have killed Mustafa Badreddine?

Any of the armed groups seeking to overthrow Mr Assad might have sought to kill the man co-ordinating Hezbollah military activities. However, suspicion is likely to fall on Israel, which fought a war against Hezbollah in 2006.

Israel has been accused of killing several of the group’s leaders over the years, although it has never officially confirmed its involvement.

Hezbollah military chief Imad Mughniyeh was killed in a car bombing in Damascus in 2008 that US intelligence officials said last year was a joint operation by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

In January 2015, a suspected Israeli air strike in the Syrian Golan Heights killed six Hezbollah fighters, including Mughniyeh’s son Jihad, and an Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.

And in December, Hezbollah said one of its senior figures, Samir Qantar, was killed when missiles fired by Israeli jets struck a block of flats in Damascus.

Israel has also reportedly conducted air strikes aimed at preventing advanced weapons shipments from Iran from reaching Hezbollah via Syria.”

On March 8th 2017 the Israeli news website Walla reported that an investigation by Al Arabia suggests a different answer to the question “who could have killed Mustafa Badreddine?” than the one promoted by the BBC.  

“According to an investigation by the ‘Al Arabia’ network, the General Secretary of the organisation [Hizballah – Nasrallah], together with the commander of the Iranian Quds Force [Soleimani], planned the assassination of the organisation’s senior figure [Badreddine], who died in a ‘mysterious explosion’ at Damascus airport. Hizballah blamed the Syrian opposition – which in turn blamed Hizballah.”

Whether or not that allegation is true is unclear but Al Arabia’s report is certainly no less reliable that the one from Al Mayadeen claiming that Badreddine had been killed by an Israeli airstrike which the BBC elected to amplify without independently confirming the claim.

As we know, the BBC relates to its online content as “historical record”:

“Our online news is far more accessible today than the newspaper archives of libraries. But in principle there is no difference between them: both are historical records. Fundamentally it is in the public interest to retain them intact.”

Given that, we would of course now expect to see the BBC revisiting this story, reviewing its steering of audiences towards the default conclusion that Israel was likely to have been involved and checking the accuracy of this particular example of “historical record”. 

 

Nasrallah speech necessitates update of BBC’s Hizballah profile

As we noted here a few months ago, the BBC is decidedly coy on the subject of Iranian terror financing in general and its material support for Hizballah in particular.

“The BBC News website’s coverage of the Iranian president’s visit to Europe late last month included two reports – “Rouhani in Europe: Italy covers nudes for Iran president“, January 26th and “Rouhani arrives in Paris as Iran drums up business with France“, January 27th – in which audiences were told that:

“Iran has been accused of funding militant groups, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

Obviously that choice of minimalist phrasing does not clarify to readers who has accused Iran of funding “militant groups” (the BBC standard euphemism for terrorist organisations) or whether or not there is any basis to those accusations. It also obfuscates the fact that at least one Iranian official has acknowledged that Iran provides support to Hizballah.”

Neither the BBC profile of Iran nor its profile of Hizballah provides audiences with any in-depth information on that topic.  Moreover, in June 2013 the BBC specifically told its audiences that:

“A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) on the impact of international sanctions on Iran found no indication that the sanctions had affected Iran’s regional role.

And the report’s principal author says there is no evidence of any financial support provided to Hezbollah. “There isn’t a single line in the budget that confirms any aid or financial support to Hezbollah”, Ali Vaez contends.” [emphasis added]

Hassan Nasrallah evidently disagrees with that ICG analyst.Iran Hizballah

“Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said his group would not be affected by fresh US sanctions because it receives its money directly from Iran, not via Lebanese banks.[…]

“We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he added. […]

“As long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it,” Nasrallah said.”

If the BBC is to fulfil its remit of enhancing audiences’ understanding of international issues, then obviously its profile of Hizballah needs to be updated following Nasrallah’s confirmation of Iran’s long-known funding of that terror organisation and the implications of his admittance of receiving weapons from Iran in violation of UN SC resolution 1701.

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BBC News ignores Hizballah terror designation development

Last week the BBC News website reported that the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – had decided to declare Hizballah a terrorist organization.GCC & Hizballah

The article states:

“The GCC’s designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation brings it into line with the United States and the European Union, although the latter has only blacklisted the group’s military wing.”

That statement of course provides audiences with only a partial view of Hizballah’s terror designations: in addition to the EU, the so-called ‘military wing’ of Hizballah is also designated by Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The entire organization is now designated by the six GCC member states, the US, Canada, France, the Netherlands and of course Israel.

It is obviously not in the least bit surprising that the following story is currently making waves in Israel.

“Hadash and Balad, two of the four parties that make up the mostly Arab Joint List in the Knesset, published condemnations Monday of Sunni Arab states that last week designated Shiite Hezbollah a terror organization. Both parties argued that the move serves Israel. […]

Hadash, which is helmed by Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh, denounced the blacklisting, which it said came “in the service of occupation and the continued occupation of Arab land.” Hadash backs the continued rule of Assad in Syria.

Balad followed Hadash’s lead Monday, posting a condemnation of the Gulf Cooperation Council on its website on Monday afternoon. “Even if there is criticism of its activities, there is no justification to condemn the organization,” Balad said of Hezbollah.”

The Jerusalem Post adds:

“The Balad faction, whose MKs recently were at the center of controversy for meeting with the families of Palestinians killed while perpetrating terror attacks against Israelis, said in a statement that “the GCC’s (Gulf Cooperation Council) decision to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization pours oil on the sectarian conflict and worsens the ordeal the Islamic nation has been witnessing.”

Balad argued that “no criticism of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria justifies this dangerous decision, which serves Israel and her allies who do not hide their colonialist aspirations in Palestine, Lebanon and the rest of the Arabic homeland.”

Hadash, led by Joint List head Ayman Odeh, also condemned the decision, attacking Saudi Arabia for spearheading the effort to blacklist Hezbollah.

“After Saudi Arabia failed in its attempt to harness Lebanese society and political forces against Hezbollah by halting its military aid to Lebanon and after the Syrian people have succeeded in keeping Syria united, comes the decision to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization that proves that Gulf States are totally loyal to neo-colonialist and Zionist forces, the enemies of Arabs.””

Readers may recall that last month the BBC World Service presented audiences with a very one-sided view of the sanctions placed by the Knesset Ethics Committee on three members of the Balad party after that meeting with the families of terrorists. Despite the fact that the same committee is likely to be called to address the topic of this latest support from Hadash and Balad for a terror organization designated by Israel, the BBC has not seen fit to report the story to date.

And – although it rarely misses an opportunity to amplify a speech by Hassan Nasrallah – BBC News also passed up on last month’s story of the Hizballah leader’s threat to deliberately fire missiles at ammonia storage tanks in the city of Haifa and thereby cause mass casualties – including of course among the 10% of Israeli Arab residents of that city.

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