More pro-Iranian conspiracy theories out of Sydney
Oct 27, 2021 | Ran Porat
In the previous AIR, I reviewed the pro-Iranian propaganda promoted in Australia by the Sydney-based 5 News website (5news.com.au) and especially its executive producer, Hanif Bismi.
This time the focus will be on Bismi’s sycophantic book about Iran, and on how he spreads anti-Israel fabrications and anti-US conspiracy theories.
Iran: Forty years of Revolution, Resistance and Resilience
Bismi regularly has his articles published in the Australian Muslim Times (AMUST) and in July 2019 was the winner of the AMUST writers’ award.
For Bismi, AMUST is just another platform for spreading Teheran’s narrative to Australian audiences. For example, reporting on the visit of then Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to India in 2018, Bismi described Iran as “the beacon of Muslim unity… Iran continues to live up with this popular narrative of Islamic unity”. Not a word about the wars, killings and deep animosity between Teheran with its Shi’ite proxies and Sunni nations across the Middle East.
Bismi’s book, Iran: Forty years of Revolution, Resistance and Resilience, appears to be his latest means for promoting Teheran’s interests and worldview to readers of English. Published earlier this year in India, Bismi’s country of birth, it is currently unavailable in Australia (and so has not yet been viewed by this author.)
The book was reviewed by AMUST editor Zia Ahmad, who admitted that he is an Iran enthusiast himself: “For me Iran is a special place, having visited it in 1985 following the Islamic Revolution in order to attend a conference where I met many great people including Imam Khomeini.”
Ahmad says that Bismi’s book summarises Persian history and culture, as well as “the unique Islamic revolution, its causes and achievements and the resistance and resilience of the Islamic Republic of Iran for more than four decades against all kinds of global opposition and hegemony … The book [includes] photographs showcasing … its revolutionary leadership and the popular base for Islamic Iran that continues to thrive as a result of its pragmatic policies.” The appalling human rights record of the oppressive regime in Teheran, the dire economic situation in Iran and the “pragmatic policies” of trying to build an atomic bomb and exporting terror do not seem to have been featured in the book.
Familiar anti-West conspiracies
To his followers on 5 News and on social media, Bismi spreads anti-Western conspiracy theories of the sort generally promoted by Iran and its proxies, and other Islamist radicals.
In June 2021, Bismi entertained on a Facebook post the conspiracy theory that the US “created 911 [terror attacks] to create islamophobia to loot the natural resources of Muslim nations in the name of their democracy.”
Similarly, commenting in April 2021 on the killing of the head of Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program Mohsen Fakhrizadeh the previous November, Bismi again insisted that the US and its campaign against terrorism are merely a pretext to murder Muslims and force Muslim countries to obey Washington: “Millions of Muslims have been systematically slaughtered since 9/11 by the US and its allies under the pretext of ‘war on terror’. America used 9/11 as an excuse to invade and to destroy Muslim counties [sic]. ‘War on terror’ was institutionalised to wage war, impose sanctions, and propagate to topple those governments in the Muslim world who would not take orders from Washington. US and its allies which are currently involved in numerous illegal wars against defenseless [sic] nations.”
In July 2021, at the beginning of an interview with Turkish journalist in exile Levent Kenez on his 5 News show about the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, Bismi suggested that Israel and the US colluded with Turkey to remove Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad: “[Turkish] Prime Minster [sic] Mr. Erdogan visited Israel in 2005. Turkey is involved in Syria, along with US and allies, since 2011, supporting those who want to overthrow the legitimate government of President Dr. [Bashar] al-Assad.”
Bismi expanded this concoction on 5 News later that month to insist Islamic State was also part of the plot. He claimed that “The Syrian conflict began in 2011 when local protests were hijacked and camouflaged as a ‘civil war’ which is how anti-Assad powers wanted to paint it. Next emerged the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) created with the sole aim of destroying Iraq and Syria. Western powers had incubated these outfits so that they could be released into the population to cause terror and the necessary chaos under which sitting governments could be overthrown and puppet regimes installed in the region.”
The US-Israel Master Plan
Bismi “analysed” the 2020 Abraham Accords peace agreements between Israel and four Arab and Muslim countries in an article on 5 News in April 2021. His main thesis: They are part of the US-Israel scheme to take over the region. “Expansion and acceptance of the newly created Israel was one of the political objectives of the US which since then has tried to create a favourable political climate in the Middle East”, says Bismi. “To advance this goal US empowered its proxies in countries at the heart of Muslim world which had no independent foreign policy.” Meanwhile, internal Palestinian divisions, explained Bismi, are not genuine, but “a proxy for Israel and US towards the Greater Israel master-plan.”
Only Iran, argues Bismi, stands in the way of this mega plot – which apparently also included both the Iran-Iraq war and Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait: “Experts say that ‘the master plan’ began when Saddam with help of America attacked the newly established Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. US viewed the new Islamic Republic as a threat to this ‘master plan’. Later Saddam invaded Kuwait enabling US to establish military bases in the region. ‘The master plan’ continued through the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 under the pretense [sic] of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In 2006, first time in Israel’s history it tasted a defeat as a result of Israel-Hezbollah direct war. Hezbollah was well supported by Iran and Syria. Hence attacking Syria became necessary for ‘the master plan’. A war against Syria loomed under the smoke screen of the ‘Arab Spring’.”
Discussing the latest illegal import of Iranian fuel to Lebanon by Hezbollah on 5 News, Bismi painted the Lebanese terrorist organisation as a peaceful NGO, failing to mention that it is an armed militia and an international crime syndicate, responsible for the deaths of thousands around the world and actively fighting alongside the Syrian regime. According to Bismi, Hezbollah is “a socio-political organization ingrained with the Lebanese society which must tried [sic] hard to be inclusive and to stay above religious differentiation in a religiously divided nation. Syed Hasan Nasrallah, the chief of Hezbollah stepped in to help the people of Lebanon by asking for aid from Iran. Over the past decades, Iran has helped Lebanon in its needy times.” The same Nasrallah dragged Lebanon into a war with Israel in 2006 bringing destruction and death to Lebanon’s citizens – oh wait, Bismi has said that war was a glorious victory against the US-Israel master plan, so obviously it must have been worth it!
As expected, following the May 2021 conflict in Gaza, Bismi joined the choir of disinformation about Israel. His “International outrage to Israel’s assaults” June article on 5 News blamed Israel for the violence, gave a false explanation about how it had started, and suggested that Israel’s very existence is at the heart of the violence: “The current situation has begun with a new illegal settlement just as illegal settlements are as old as Israel itself.”