Last month, the Jerusalem Post reported that an unidentified BBC employee who is also a member of Hamas was permitted to enter Gaza to seek Alan Johnston’s freedom. Now, the London Jewish Chronicle has identified that person as Fayad Abu Shamala.
If Shamala’s name rings a bell, the JC explains why:
In May 2001, the Israeli Embassy in London demanded that the BBC investigate comments attributed to Mr Abu Shamala during an event organised by Hamas. According to the Hamas website at the time, a man of that name attended a Hamas ceremony in Gaza for Palestinian and Arab journalists where senior Hamas figures such as Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Ismail Abu Shanab were present. According to contemporary reports, the website quoted Fayad Abu Shamala as thanking “the Hamas movement for holding the exceptional affair, despite the pace of current events and the sensitive circumstances applying to journalists and media organisations, which are waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people”….
Three years later, in December 2004, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a Hamas cleric, Fathi Hamad, as stating that a “Hamas man” of that name “works for the BBC, and that way he writes the story in favour of Islam and Muslims”. At the time, Nigel Chapman, director of the BBC World Service, stated: “The allegation that Fayed Abu Shamala is a member of Hamas is without foundation.”
Reached this week by the JC, Mr Abu Shamala said it was “completely untrue” that he had been a member of Hamas.
This has all the makings of another Sassygate.