Disinformation campaign in Iraq?

Belmont Club found three separate articles from Iraq correspondents who were all

1) taken captive by Iraqi mujahideen,
2) brought to a picturesque locale,
3) given food and made privvy to inside information, then
4) granted a surprising release on the condition they tell the world ‘the truth.’

See the blog for a side-by-side comparison of the articles from the New York Times and UK’s Daily Telegraph. Then read the third article, from Canada’s Globe and Mail.

The Belmont Club editor says

This sounds like a disinformation operation targeting journalists. Maybe their captors went to the same school.

Reminds us of another journalist taken captive by terrorists, Newsweek’s Joshua Hammer.

April 13, 2004 16:12 By Category : Backspin

Challenging online jihadists

HonestReporting has challenged the legitimacy of online radical Islamic ‘news’ sites like JihadUnspun and Al Jazeera.

Aaron Weisburd at Internet Haganah takes another approach with such sites – he gets them shut down (over 420 so far) by notifying their ISP hosts of the nature of their content. A good article on Internet Haganah from IPS yesterday:

Haganah’s dogged persistence has made it the bane of Islamist websites, discussion forums and chat rooms. In forums on Islamist sites, posters urge Muslim hackers to attack the Haganah web site.

”Anything that can be done to attack a site has been done to attack us,” said Weisburd. ”Not that it’s done much good. At this point, efforts to organise e-jihad against us simply become another avenue for gathering information on the jihadists themselves.”

Weisburd is currently pursuing www.al-fateh.net, a website that seeks to educate Arab children on the history and merits of self-sacrifice. Run by Hamas, the site uses cartoons and bedtime stories to stress the glory of death while fighting in the Intifada.

”The children of stones are the heroes of today and tomorrow,” reads one caption.

Read the whole article.

Meanwhile, AFP reports that Gen. John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, is criticizing Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya coverage that portrays American security operations as “purposely targeting civilians.” Where have we heard this before?

April 13, 2004 12:11 By Category : Backspin

‘Relative calm’ watch

Israeli security forces thwarted at least ten intended Palestinian terror attacks over the past week’s Passover holiday. Among them:

– A woman from the Balata refugee camp caught cheating on her husband was going to carry out a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv to ‘restore her honor.’ (This motivation is becoming a pattern.)

– Fatah/Tanzim terrorists planned an attack that would include AIDS-infected blood in the bomb to infect survivors of their bombing.

– Hamas, Jihad and the Tanzim planned a triple-bombing in a major Israeli city.

April 13, 2004 11:26 By Category : Backspin

Burying Yassin’s Ghost

Military analyst Elliot Chodoff says the Israeli public’s behavior this past holiday week indicates that Palestinian terror has lost:

When Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was killed by an Israeli missile, the criticism of the action was heavily seasoned with warnings that this would simply lead to another, heightened, round of Middle East violence. According to this logic, Hamas would now really, really try to launch terrorist attacks against Israel, in revenge for Yassin’s death, as opposed to the mere dozens it was attempting during the quiet period preceding his elimination.

Coupled naturally with the dire warnings were admonitions that travel to and in Israel had now become impossibly dangerous, so much so that a Spanish basketball team chose to forfeit a critical game rather than risk their lives coming to play in Tel Aviv.

We argued at the time that it was all a lot of nonsense. Terrorism would not increase, as the terrorist organizations were already operating at their full operational potential and attacks were being prevented by successful operations by the IDF and other security agencies. While the possibility of a successful attack remains a reality today, with the certainty that it will be attributed to the killing of Yassin, the fact remains that there has been no major terrorist success in the three weeks since Yassin was killed.


April 11, 2004 17:34 By Category : Backspin

More misrepresentation of key surveys

In yesterday’s HonestReporting communique, we mentioned the distortion of the survey results from the EU’s Manifestations of Antisemitism in the EU 2002-2003, which was done to downplay the Muslim perpetrators of most European Antisemitism.

Daniel Pipes has found a similarly egregious case of survey sponsors distorting results, and again with the subject matter being Islamic radicalism. This time, it’s Muslim opinions in the United States, and the media played right along with the distortion. Read Pipes’ short article here.

April 8, 2004 19:24 By Category : Backspin

Worth Reading Today

- The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting report on the war against terrorist money:

Nations, police detectives, bankers, and accountants are striving to expose and trim back the shadowy networks that fund militant groups around the world.
The international coalition built to attack the sources of terrorist financing has frozen and seized approximately $200 million in terror-related funds, says Juan Zarate, head of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Treasury Department.

- At The Atlantic, Jonathon Rauch says that Israel’s war against Hamas is America’s, too:

Like al-Qaeda, Hamas is a radical Islamist organization that swears it will not rest until it has brought Muslim territory under Islamic rule. For al-Qaeda, the territory at issue is the whole of the Arab world, plus the Spanish peninsula and other parts of Europe, plus ideally North America; for Hamas, the relevant territory is all of Palestine, meaning all of today’s Israel plus the territories. The theaters are different, but the battles – America’s against al-Qaeda, Israel’s against Hamas – are of a piece.

What America is doing against al-Qaeda and what Israel is doing against Hamas are the same kind of thing, and that thing is not “extrajudicial killing” or “terrorism,” but war. Wars are won by many means (many of them nonmilitary), but killing the other guy before he kills you is one of them.

- At Haaretz, a defense of historical Jewish claims to the Silwan valley in eastern Jerusalem, which was the focus of a great deal of critical attention last week when Jews moved into homes there:

When the Yemenites arrived in Jerusalem 122 years ago and sought to settle inside its walls, the veteran residents doubted they were really Jews. So they settled in caves on the slopes of the Mount of Olives, near Silwan. In 1885, the first three houses were dedicated. Six years later there were 65 houses. Over the years, more land was bought and the neighborhood grew. Simha Hazi, 75, whose parents were born in the Yemenite Village in Silwan, remembers the neighborhood and its alleyways, and the house built by her grandfather.

- Watch out for this – US-Syria Clashes Reported on Iraqi Border (via UPI):

U.S. forces in Iraq and Syrian troops engaged in several border skirmishes last month in which one Marine and one Syrian soldier were wounded, reports said. Beirut’s daily As-Safir quoted U.S. political and military sources in Washington as saying Tuesday that Syrian troops fired at a U.S. helicopter in one of the border incidents, causing the casualties. The State Department summoned the Syrian ambassador in Washington, Imad Mustafa, to complain about the incidents.

April 8, 2004 19:14 By Category : Backspin

Al Jazeera reporter aided terrorists

In February, HonestReporting questioned the New York Times’ portrayal of the Al Jazeera network as a ‘balanced’ news agency.

Now more evidence has emerged that Al Jazeera employees actively support anti-Israeli and anti-Western terrorists:

Also on Thursday, the Samaria Military Court indicted a correspondent of the Al-Jazeera Arab satellite television network suspected of aiding Palestinian terrorists.

Dib Abu Zayad, 38, from Jenin, was arrested three months ago in Nablus. According to the indictment, Zayad supplied terrorists with weapons, money, clothes and modes of transportation.

Zayad served as a liaison between a Fatah leader in Lebanon and Fatah cells in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, passing money and information between the two countries.

As they never responded to the many emails sent by HR subscribers after the first communique, the Times should be reminded now of al Jazeera’s lack of legitimate journalistic credentials: letters@nytimes.com

April 8, 2004 19:01 By Category : Backspin

Sharon’s Passover Interview

Every year the Israeli Prime Minister gives an extended, candid interview to a prominent journalist, on camera just before the Passover holiday. You can read Ariel Sharon’s recent interview with Ben Caspit at Maariv. Excerpt:

Sharon: I gave much thought to the [evacuation] issue until I reached the conclusion that part of the settlement enterprise, in Gaza probably the entire one, would eventually have to be evacuated. I said this even prior to my first term in office.

Maariv: True, but no one took you seriously.

Sharon: Let me give you a piece of advice: Take me seriously.

Also, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a page in memory of the victims of the Park Hotel massacre by Palestinian terrorists, two years ago as they were celebrating the Passover seder dinner.

April 5, 2004 16:23 By Category : Backspin

Obsessed with Arab Anger

Important article in the Arizona Republic today debunking the main argument against anti-terror military actions:

The accepted worldview is that when fighting terror, one must avoid actions that are liable to enrage the Arab world, however effective and justified those actions might otherwise be. Under this principle, however, Muslim extremists have veto power over any effective counterterrorism policy.

A serious look at the numbers shows that Israel’s policy of targeted killings has had the effect of decreasing terrorism. Israel began a serious campaign of targeting terrorist leaders in early 2003, resulting in a 50% decrease in the number of Israeli victims of terror as compared with the previous year. Israel’s policy has also saved Palestinian lives, as the number of Palestinian dead decreased by 30% over the same period. Without terrorist ringleaders around to send unwitting Palestinian adolescents to murder Israeli civilians, the region will become more peaceful. By catering to the murderous rage of Arab terrorists, we only promote more rage. Arab anger is an internal Arab problem that we cannot tame, and that only they can solve.

Read the whole article.

April 5, 2004 14:48 By Category : Backspin

Remove ‘Jew Watch’

When one performs a search for the word ‘Jew’ in Google, the world’s most popular search engine, a horribly anti-Semitic hate site called “JewWatch” is the number one listing.

A concerned individual has started a petition drive to demand Google remove this hate site: Remove Jew Watch

Jerusalem Post has an article that provides good background on this problem:

What is a Jew? Those hoping to find out from a Google search are in for an unpleasant surprise. The first of 1.75 million entries that appear when you type “Jew” into the search engine is an anti-Semitic site.

This discovery by a New York real-estate developer, among others, has sparked a cyberspace showdown, and a bid to alter the situation by a small band of Internet experts.

IMPORTANT NOTE: HonestReporting recently challenged GoogleNews’ inclusion of JihadUnspun in the increasingly popular GoogleNews site.

Though both issues involve anti-Semitism and Google, there’s a key difference: JewWatch’s prominence is due to a default output of the Google algorithm’s reading of all web pages. JihadUnspun, on the other hand, has been actively selected by GoogleNews for inclusion as a legitimate news site. There is a significant editoral decision involved with GoogleNews that is far less on the main Google search. We therefore view GoogleNews’ inclusion of JihadUnspun as a more egregious violation.

Meanwhile, JihadUnspun remains on GoogleNews.

UPDATE 4/13: New York Times has an article on this matter, and the general issue of hate groups indexed on search engines.

UPDATE 4/26: The Jewwatch battle is won…according to CNET.

April 4, 2004 15:01 By Category : Backspin