Despite Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry’s assertion that as President, he would “use every available resource to destroy terrorists and deny them sanctuary…and new recruits,” one of the invited guests at the now-concluded Democratic National Convention was an organization that has served as a terrorist recruitment tool, a communications conduit for al-Qaeda in general and Osama bin Laden in particular. This network has repeatedly described Palestinian suicide-bombers as “martyrs.” High above the platform and the sea of “Kerry-Edwards” placards, covering the convention from a skybox towering over the Fleet Center floor was Arabic network al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite news agency whose allegedly “factual and accurate” news coverage has been blatantly anti-American. The Democrats were at least savvy enough to remove the network’s banner, which had been strategically placed near the speakers’ podium. But how could any candidate or political party “serious” about terrorism make no fuss about allowing such a news group inside its convention?
Al-Jazeera was founded in 1996 and is renowned worldwide for its dubious claim that it is politically independent. In reality, the agency was started with $150 million in seed money from the emir of Qatar, who continues to grant the agency annual gifts. Al-Jazeera, which has been called the “Arab CNN,” acts as a public access channel for foreign terrorists.
It would appear al-Jazeera not only shares the airwaves with al-Qaeda; it shares personnel, as well. In 2003, Taysir Allouni, a popular reporter for al-Jazeera, was arrested in Spain for having links to the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Allouni, who interviewed Osama bin Laden after 9/11, was accused of giving assistance to two al-Qaeda officials: Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah, who was arrested in November of 2001, and is believed to have been Spain’s al-Qaeda commander; and Mohamed Bahiah, alias Abu Kalhed, who is believed to be an al-Qaeda militant fighting in Afghanistan.
Throughout the past eight years, al-Jazeera has raised the ire of the U.S. government for walking a fine line between reporting terrorism and complicity in terrorism. Its repeated airing of remarks by bin Laden and other al-Qaeda officials offer terrorists of all stripes a pan-Arab platform for their propaganda. After the tragedy of 9/11, the agency aired a tape of Osama bin Laden praising the hijackers for changing "the face of history." The network played the tape continually, ignoring U.S. requests it be pulled form the air out of fear it contained coded instructions for more attacks. Furthermore, the agency refused to say how it obtained the tapes, demonstrating that protecting their source was more important than protecting human lives. On the eve of the second anniversary of 9/11, the network played a recording of Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, calling for Iraqis to “devour the Americans just like the lions devour their prey” and “bury them in the Iraqi graveyard."
Al-Jazeera has also continually and purposely disregarded the Geneva Convention. By airing video footage of captured American soldiers being interrogated and killed, they are in direct violation of Article 13 of the Geneva Convention, which holds the protection of prisoners of war from public curiosity. The agency has flouted this directive, displaying every instance of this occurring, and obligingly passing along the captor’s demands. The network also recycled Ba’athist propaganda during Operation Iraqi Freedom, leading Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to label their coverage “vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable.”
So what was al Jazeera doing at the Democratic National Convention? Stephanie Thomas, spokeswoman and manager for al-Jazeera’s Washington bureau, may have answered the question best when she said, “al-Jazeera really is interested in the elections process.” Or, as a pro-terrorist outlet, the network has a vested interested in who gets elected.
Al-Jazeera’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention has been uncharacteristically favorable, a courtesy not been extended to the Bush administration. Thus far, al-Jazeera has merely regurgitated the speeches of Democrats, occasionally lauding them for their commitment to the downtrodden. In their coverage of the convention’s opening night, entitled “Democratic speakers slam Bush,” terrorism’s favorite TV network exulted, “Bush's decision to launch a war in Iraq came in for a special roasting. [Former President Jimmy] Carter said the United States ‘cannot lead if our leaders mislead’ and said Bush's agenda had polarized the country.” Contrast this with a recent story, claiming the United States is funneling WMDs to human rights violators around the world entitled, “Shift in U.S. Arms-Sales Policy Deplored.” Even on mundane political matters, the network is highly critical of anti-terrorism policies. See, for instance, a report the agency published on July 18, 2004 entitled “Bush losing Arab American support,” which states, “The [Bush] administration's policies on civil liberties, the war in Iraq, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have created a growing sense of frustration in the Arab-American and Muslim-American communities. Such political discontent could spell trouble for Bush in a close election, some experts say.” Al-Jazeera’s positive portrayal of the Democrats’ opening night speaks volumes about the party.
Describing Senator Ted Kennedy’s remarks on the second night of the convention, an al-Jazeera report stated, “Making a passionate plea for traditional Democratic values -protecting the poor and the afflicted, Kennedy drew a sharp contrast between his party and a Bush administration he said had burned its bridges with the rest of the world.” (They also wrongly claim Ted Kennedy sought the presidency twice; he ran only in 1980.) In another report, entitled “Anointed Kerry trains guns on Bush,” al-Jazeera reports, John Edwards and other speakers on Wednesday night “pledged to reverse the president's go-it-alone approach and win back allies for Washington's so-called war on terrorism.” (Emphasis added.) The story also praised John Edwards, a “smooth-talking populist senator from North Carolina,” for his “biting broadsides against” Bush.
Al-Jazeera is somewhat less enthusiastic about John Kerry, believing he is too much like…George W. Bush. Their coverage of Kerry’s speech, “Kerry’s Iraq Stance Similar to Bush’s,” they suggest Kerry reduce America’s “occupation force” in Iraq. They also quote Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “I don't think Kerry has come to grips with how great a disaster Iraq really is,” he said. Nonetheless, one can almost hear al-Jazeera screaming between the lines, “At least he’s not George W. Bush.”
In its quest for “objectivity,” al-Jazeera has said that it plans to cover the Republican National Convention as well. Of this, spokeswoman Stephanie Thomas has said that the agency’s Convention coverage is “a logical part of our news continuum as we report on the presidential campaign and issues like civil liberties, the Patriot Act, and the War on Terrorism.” It remains to be seen how they portray the Republican Convention in light of those issues, but it doesn’t require much foresight to predict its impending prejudice.
The simple fact that al-Jazeera was embraced by the Democratic National Convention – and more importantly, that the feelings were mutual – speaks volumes about which party the terrorists and their partisans in the Arab media would rather see in power.
This also sends a clear signal to terrorists. Although many have feared terrorists would strike one of this summer’s political conventions, the Democratic Party allowed Jihad TV, a network whose media roster occasionally includes terrorists, into a skybox overlooking the entire Fleet Center. From al-Jazeera’s coverage, the terrorists back home were able to see the party’s attack on the War on Terrorism, especially in Jimmy Carter and Al Sharpton’s demagogic remarks.
Terrorists are certainly interested in the elections process. It was just this past March that a series of ten bombs exploded aboard a crowded commuter train in Madrid, Spain, killing 201 innocent people, and causing Spanish citizens to elect a government that was more appeasing to the desires of al-Qaeda terrorists. John Kerry has said, “As president, I will not rest until I can look into the eyes of the American people who want a future of freedom and security, and say ‘We are as safe as we can be.’” It wasn’t only the eyes of the American people that Kerry has looked into, but also the lens of an al-Jazeera camera, a camera that has pervasively portrayed the United States as the evil antagonist, and global terrorists as the guiltless victims, but which has subsequently portrayed Kerry as a more agreeable figure than the current incumbent.
John Kerry and the Democratic Party failed this terror test.