Friends of Raed Salah,  Grauniad

Friends of Raed Salah: Is the Guardian a Newspaper?

I’ll be writing longer piece, in the next few days, on the role that The Guardian played in spreading the lie that Raed Salah was anything other than a racist, and extremist and a funder of Hamas. However, for now, I’d like to concentrate on one aspect of The Guardian’s coverage of the Raed Salah case.

Here are the articles which The Guardian published about Raed Salah over the last few months.

Now, here’s a strange thing. Since an Immigration Tribunal examined the case against Raed Salah, and found the following:

We are satisfied that the appellant has engaged in the unacceptable behaviour of fostering hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence in the UK.

“We are satisfied that the appellant’s words and actions tend to be inflammatory, divisive, insulting and likely to foment tension and radicalism.

… The Guardian has had literally nothing to say about the case. It hasn’t reported the finding of the court that the man The Guardian spent so long defending is a whipper-up of hatred, radicalism and violence.

This post won’t deal with the content of those pieces. We’ll cover that in a later post.

Rather, the point I want to make here is this. When it comes to Islamist racists and supporters of terrorism, the Guardian will only report what it regards as “good news”.

A similar phenomenon was evident over the reporting of the plight of the Al Qaeda detainee, Abu Rideh. Until last year, Mahmoud Abu Rideh was detained in 2001, and placed under a control order in 2005.  This is why:

He arrived in Britain in January 1995 and claimed asylum, living off benefits with his wife and five children.

His asylum claim was initially refused because his story was not credible but he appealed and was granted refugee status in November 1998.

On December 19 2001 he was arrested under immigration rules which said he was “an active supporter of various international terrorist groups, including those with links to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.”

The central allegation was that he had been involved in fund raising and distribution of funds for terrorist groups with links to al-Qaeda as well as procuring false documents and facilitation of the travel for volunteers to training camps in Afghanistan.

Although he was living on benefits, he was said to have raised around £100,000 in just two years, using the Arab Bank in Park Lane to funnel his money to al-Qaeda.

He also held an account at the Wimbledon branch of HSBC entitled “Islamic Services Bureau – Treasurer’s Account.”

He was said to be closely involved with senior extremists and associates of Osama bin Laden both in Britain and overseas.

Among them, he was described as “heavily involved” with the radical preacher Abu Hamza, who he said he regarded as “sincere but indiscreet.”

He was also described as “well-acquainted” with Abu Zubeida, a senior member of al-Qaeda later captured by the Americans, as well as other extremists who were associated with al-Qaeda.

A letter sent in the summer of 2005 by Ayman al-Zawahiri, the deputy head of al-Qaeda, to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq, referred to a book, The Knight under the banner of the Prophet, which he had passed to Abu Rideh for publication.

Amnesty ran a campaign against the control order to which Abu Rideh was subject from 2005-9. You can read their output on this case here.

CagePrisoners, whose Director Moazzam Begg believes that “securing the release of Muslim prisoners” captured during jihad is “obligatory” on all Muslims, devoted significant campaigning resources towards this case. Here is an interview that Begg conducted with Abu Rideh, where Begg claimed that he had worked with the Al Qaeda activist to build a school for girls:

MAR: My work before – I have – like a charity. I help people in Palestine, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Chechnya – any country that have problems, I help them. I have charity, Islamic Services Bureau and I have two schools in Kabul, Afghanistan.”

Moazzam Begg: I know that very well, because we worked together to build that school, which we all had problems with, for girls. And for our readers – I think it is very important for our readers to know this – that the school that you began, with many people, including myself, helping in it, was for girls in a place where the rest of the world was saying that the Taliban did not allow female education, when in fact Muslims were helping to set up schools, like yourself, for girls in Afghanistan.

The Guardian also lined up behind poor Abu Rideh:

These are just a few of the friendly articles which The Guardian published, highlighting the plight of poor Abu Rideh.

However, The Guardian did not report, and still has not reported, on the end of the Abu Rideh saga. Abu Rideh, it was claimed, wished to leave the United Kingdom so that he could rejoin his large and young family. However, that was a lie. Instead, Abu Rideh travelled to Afghanistan, to join up with his Al Qaeda brothers.

In December, The Telegraph announced that an “Arabic jihadi web forum associated with al-Qaeda reported that Abu Rideh had become a “martyr in Afghanistan” and was with a group of fighters when he died”.

Were you to get your news from The Guardian, alone, you would be completely ignorant of the fact that Raed Salah had been condemned as a dangerous extremist and hatemonger by the courts, and that Abu Rideh had turned out to be an Al Qaeda fighter, after all. As far as The Guardian is concerned, this information is the sort of thing that its readers shouldn’t be troubled with.

Is The Guardian a newspaper? I am not sure that its editor and some of its journalists think it is. In effect, The Guardian has been taken over by Comment is Free: a realm where, to reverse its slogans, facts are not sacred, but are merely props to be deployed in its campaigning work.

The Guardian has come to see itself as a crusading voice. It regards itself as an active participant in various “struggles”. Like a blog, it only reports the facts which suit its case. When the facts change, in a manner which undermines or makes a nonsense of the political narrative, it simply ignores them.

Can you imagine a more unprofessional approach to journalism?

Oh, what a falling-off there has been.