Hamas admit BBC Gaza Correspondent is one of their own

December 16, 2004


1. Hamas admit BBC reporter is one of their own
2. BBC: He is a "senior, experienced and impartial journalist"
3. "No way to Die": The cult of Arafat continues in today's Guardian
4. Scott Peterson and Yasser Arafat: Contrasting headlines
5. Jenin, again, today on the BBC
6. The BBC's own Charter

[Note by Tom Gross]


Israel's influential leftist newspaper, Ha'aretz, has finally highlighted the fact that one of the BBC's main reporters in Gaza has very close ties with Hamas. Fayad Abu Shamala, who has reported from Gaza for the BBC Arabic Language Service since 1996, is also possibly a Hamas member.

Ha'aretz reported yesterday ("Leading Hamas preacher warns of clash with Islamic Jihad," by Arnon Regular, December 15, 2004) that Fathi Hamad, the leading Hamas preacher responsible for "Hamas' coordination with the international media," has been caught on tape saying that BBC correspondent Faiz Abu Smala slants his reports "to favor Muslims."

Ha'aretz reports that Hamad said "that Hamas man Faiz Abu Smala works for the BBC, and that way he writes the story in favor of the Islam [sic] and Muslims."

Ha'aretz adds: "Hamad believed that he was speaking in a private closed forum, but the session was filmed and then distributed a copy of which was obtained by Ha'aretz."

He also says that the Al Jazeera correspondent in Gaza, Wa'al Dahduah, is a supporter of the terror group Islamic Jihad.

The full Ha'aretz story is copied below.



Faiz Abu Smala is also transliterated in English as Fayad Abu Shamala and as Faid Abu Shimalla.

On several occasions in the past, I have questioned the appropriateness of the BBC employing Fayad Abu Shamala as a senior reporter in Gaza.

See for example, references in the following articles of mine from 2001 and 2004.

** The Euro media and the Intifada
The National Review, 2001, and repeated on several websites, including:

** Living in a Bubble: The BBC's very own Mideast foreign policy
The National Review, June 18, 2004

In May 6, 2001, Abu Shamala told a Hamas rally in Gaza (attended by the then Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin) that journalists and media organizations in Gaza, including the BBC, are "waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people."

Yet after that revelation, the BBC declined to remove him as one of their main Gaza correspondents and he has continued to file incendiary reports about Israel from Gaza.

The best the BBC could do in response to these remarks at the time was to issue a statement saying, "Fayad's remarks were made in a private capacity. His reports have always matched the best standards of balance required by the BBC. He is a senior and experienced journalist who knows the requirements for impartiality."



Today's Guardian carries a piece that is extraordinarily long for a daily newspaper. It concerns Yasser Arafat's death, and is written by its former correspondent in Jerusalem, the notoriously anti-Israeli journalist Suzanne Goldenberg (who is now their Washington correspondent).

The piece, which is the length one might expect to find in a magazine, or at least in a weekend newspaper supplement, covers the first seven pages of The Guardian's second section, and comes complete with 10 photos.

The article is headlined "No way to Die," and photos accompanying it have captions such as "A nation mourns."

The Guardian does not headline its pieces on Israeli victims of Yasser Arafat's terror "No way to Die." But then it doesn't print any pieces on Arafat's victims.

However, while Goldenberg doesn't mention a single one of Arafat's victims, and indeed has barely a bad word to say about Arafat over seven pages, she does manage to write of "American peace activist Rachel Corrie." As Goldenberg fails to point out, unlike Arafat's thousands of victims, Corrie's unfortunate death was accidental.


In contrast to the headline "No way to Die," two pages on from the end of Goldenberg's article (on page 10) the headline is "Let him die." That piece refers to Scott Peterson, who has been held responsible for the death of one pregnant woman, not the deaths of thousands like Arafat.

Goldenberg's is an exhaustive piece speculating on Arafat's death, covering almost every aspect of it, and hinting on more than one occasion that Israel may have poisoned Arafat. Yet Goldenberg completely omits to mention the most widely circulated rumor in the Arab world that Arafat, who many claim was a homosexual, died of AIDS. (Several other western news media have carried reports about the AIDS rumors.)



Because the BBC has nothing else to report about the ongoing war in the Congo, for example, that has now claimed 3.8 m lives (the greatest number in any conflict since World War Two) or the ongoing genocidal policies against Black Africans carried out by government-backed Arab militia in the Sudan today BBC World Service Radio devotes several minutes of its main news broadcasts to report on how residents in Jenin are recovering from the non-massacre of April 2002.

And another one of the multitude of correspondents the BBC employs to forward the Palestinian cause, reports today for several minutes on its main news broadcasts on BBC World Service Television from Rafah, in Gaza, on how Palestinians are coping several months after an Israeli incursion there.

As usual, in these reports, BBC correspondents decline to put the Israeli side of things at all, let alone file a report on how Israelis handicapped in terror attacks are coping.


The BBC is the world's largest television and radio network, broadcasting in dozens of languages. It is funded by the British taxpayer and is under a legal obligation to be balanced in its news reporting.

The BBC's own Charter and its Producers Guidelines state: "Due impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC. All programs and services should be open minded, fair and show a respect for truth... [BBC reports should] contain comprehensive, authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world."

-- Tom Gross



Leading Hamas preacher warns of clash with Islamic Jihad
By Arnon Regular
December 15, 2004


A growing rift between Hamas and Islamic Jihad has led to a break in cooperation between the two groups, and is threatening to lead to an all-out clash between them, according to a leading Hamas preacher who recently slammed Jihad for trying to outmuscle Hamas. "There was a time when there were more Islamic Jihadists than us, but now we are more than them, but nonetheless they have managed to take over the media and to get ahead of us, and are now intensively competing with us," said Fathi Hamad, a member of the Sura Council, the supreme Hamas religious body in Gaza responsible for the the organization's communications system in Gaza.

"An Islamic Jihad takeover would means the Shi'ites take over, and if that happens you will all be turned into heretics ... We must fight and clash with all those who are not Sunni and guarantee our faith remains pure."

Hamad have his speech a couple of months ago before a few dozen Hamas activists working in the organization's Communications Councils, whose job is to promote Hamas in the Palestinian, Arab and international press.

Hamad believed that he was speaking in a private closed forum, but the session was filmed and then distributed a copy of which was obtained by Haaretz - sparking a dispute between the two groups. They have now cut off ties between them and have ceased cooperation, and the clash between the two Islamic fundamentalist groups is shaking up both organizations.

For years they worked side by side, more or less in harmony. During the intifada they even began cooperating militarily and claimed joint responsibility for many attacks in Gaza. But Hamad is now hinting that Islamic Jihad wants to take Hamas' place, and is citing Iraq as an example.

"Wherever Jihad fighters fought, Muslims, meaning Sunni Muslims like Hamas showed up, and then the hypocritical Sh'iites came and sat down on the chairs that became available. This is an American, Zionist, Arab Shiite plot," he said.

Hamad was saying that Islamic Jihad is financed and run by Hezbollah and Iran, the Shiite heretics according to Sunni Islam. He said the Islamic Jihad has no right to operate in the Palestinian street on ideological grounds, and pointed out that despite the Hamas' hegemony in the street, the Jihad had managed to take over "the agenda" and the media by putting its people in key jobs in the press. He called for a "media jihad," meaning getting into important Arab and Palestinian media outlets.

Hamad's talk forced an apology from senior Hamas activists to the Arab press working in Gaza, whom Hamad had accused of serving the Jihad and the Palestinian Authority.

Hamad's speech on tape opens a rare window into the balance of power inside the Gaza Strip, including Hamas relations with the PA and how it motivates its activists in the street. But more than anything, the tape shows how frustrated Hamas is that despite being by far a larger organization than Islamic Jihad, in the press, at least, they are presented as equally important.

Hamad opened his lecture with "the media is the decisive weapon," and then delivered a series of examples from the life of Mohammed the Prophet and how his sermons to his warriors determined battles. But the Hamad speech quickly turned to the subject of the Islamic Jihad.

"We outnumber them, we have many more mosques, and much more commitment, but they are ahead of us in the satellite TV stations, and their Web sites are much bigger than the group itself. They are stealing attacks from Hamas, exaggerate the number of their killed, and inflate the numbers of their street demonstrations as if they are a domestic group, even though they are supported by Hezbollah. The media has turned them into the equals of the Muslim Brotherhood," Hamad complains in the tape.

He labels specific Palestinian reporters working in Gaza, saying an Al Jazeera correspondent in Gaza, Wa'al Dahduah, is a Jihad supporter, as is Imad Eid, the Hezbollah TV correspondent in Gaza. Hamad said that Walid Alomri, the senior Al Jazeera correspondent in the territories, is a Fatah man "with a burning hatred for Hamas, and he reports tendentiously in favor of the PA."

Hamad says on tape that Hamas man Faiz Abu Smala works for the BBC, "and that way he writes the story in favor of the Islam and Muslims."

Beyond the issue of the media, there is an ideological abyss between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. While Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, believes in social activity to educate society and create an Islamic rule, the Islamic Jihad has always believed in a violent campaign to take over power centers, and its social activities were marginal. But in the last year the Islamic Jihad changed direction and began undertaking social activities in Gaza.

Three months ago, armed Islamic Jihad men took over Al Qassam mosque, a Hamas stronghold, by force, and the takeover led to armed clashes between men from both groups. Thus, Hamad complains in the tape, "the Islamic Jihad ignited our spirit of resistance when it took away our mosque, and there is a danger they will try to take over others."

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.