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Report on listing of 11 “terror suspects” deviates to fuel alarm

A deeply troubling alarmist report by Graeme Hosken in The Times (February 20, 2015), “Al-Qaeda at the gates”, is best described as a perfect specimen of news manipulation (see report).

My analysis of it allows me to use it in MRN’s media workshops as an example to illustrate how relaying information in a news item can be “shaped” to mislead public opinion.

Mixing fact with fiction, is an explosive combination, especially in the arena of America’s illegitimate “War on Terror” and the dehumanisation of its victims in a climate of racist Islamophobia.

Hosken does a disservice to journalism by linking an important set of facts to unwarranted comments by a source whose Islamophobic utterances and pro-Israel bias, renders his article as nothing more than another piece of propaganda giving uncritical credence to the “War on Terror”.

The basis of his report flows from the United Nations Security Council which said that 11 persons and two “terror-based” organisations are directly linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

He goes on to report that the SA presidency has published a proclamation in the Government Gazette listing the 11 “wanted” men and women as “financiers, recruiters and logistical supporters” of terror groups (see here – PDF).

These listed individuals hail from 5 countries: France, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait.

He continues by expressing his own views on South Africa’s obligation to “ensure” that 600 suspects currently on a global terror list, including the 11, are captured and banned from travelling and that their finances and weapons sources are stopped.

This opinion is buttressed by the sub-text of Hosken’s report which reveals its purpose. It is contained in the following: (the 11)…”might consider using the country (SA) as an operational base”.

To support his “thesis” he quotes Darren Olivier of African Defence Review claiming that the 11 are “enemies of the state”. Which “state” is not specified and though it sounds ambiguous, the impression created is that it has to be SA.

Left hanging in the air without any attempt to be state-specific, Hosken then devotes the balance of his article to the suppositions of Hussein Solomon, whose role in fuelling Islamophobia via unproven allegations, has been convincingly discredited on numerous occasions.

Regurgitation of stale allegations without any credible evidence is a pattern associated with Solomon. Of course he made his mark in Israel some years ago when he appeared alongside some of the world’s most despicable hate-mongers, to declare that Muslims in SA pose terror threats.

The challenge we issued to him at the time and subsequently during the buildup to the 2010 Soccer World Cup, remain unanswered. Hosken cannot claim to be unaware of this.

One therefore finds it quite perplexing that Hosken would resort to obtaining comments from Solomon, except to conflate the UNSC list of 11 with an agenda that feeds a narrative which will comfort rightwingers including the Israeli lobby.

Absent from his report is the need to understand that SA is a constitutional democracy where rule of law cannot be at the expense of due process.

The correct and perhaps only direction Hosken’s report could veer towards is to raise questions about the legality and constitutionality of listing groups and individuals as “terrorists” without recourse to due process.

Recent disclosures by US Senate on what’s become known as “CIA Torture Report” serves as a warning to countries such as SA to be mindful of America’s illegitimate military adventures, mainly prosecuted on behalf of its misplaced vested interests.

Threat assessment thus cannot rely on the secretive and arbitrary listing of people who are profiled by Israeli-linked “terror experts”, whose network of funders and pundits thrive on perpetuating a climate of fear and mistrust.


Iqbal Jassat

Executive: Media Review Network


Iqbal Jassat