In conversations allegedly secretly taped by the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim reportedly said that the Al Jazeera news organisation is controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, and was heard discussing how to direct the network’s coverage with the country’s former emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani.
The unverified recordings were posted on social media by a Qatari opposition activist. If authentic, the recordings re-confirm the long–recognised Qatari government control of Al Jazeera and its pro-Brotherhood leanings, as identified by critics, making it responsible for the network’s long record of promoting extremism (See some of AIJAC’s past critiques of Al Jazeera here, here and here.)
The Muslim Brotherhood is of course the oldest and most pervasive Islamist group in the Middle East, using both violent and non-violent means to attempt to impose a version of politicised Islam as the government on all regional nations. For instance, the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas was the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
A good example of how the Brotherhood is at the root of Al Jazeera’s extremism is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who hosted a long-running and widely viewed program called “Sharia and Life” on Al Jazeera TV. He is regarded as a spiritual leader by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.
Notorious for his antisemitic and generally extremist views, Qaradawi once declared that Hitler was divinely ordained to punish the Jews: “Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”
On another occasion he expressed the hope “that as my life approaches its end, Allah will give me an opportunity to go to the land of Jihad and resistance, even if in a wheelchair. I will shoot Allah’s enemies, the Jews, and they will throw a bomb at me, and thus, I will seal my life with martyrdom.”
Sheikh al-Qaradawi literally sits at Qatar’s top table. Last year he was pictured at a banquet next to the current emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, who took over from his father Sheikh Hamad in 2013.
Meanwhile, Al Jazeera, continues its long–established practice of publishing a steady stream of material promoting extremist and antisemitic views on its various platforms. Yet many in Australia continue to treat the network as if it were a disinterested source of news and commentary similar to other international networks.
Here are some recent examples of what passes for normal at Al Jazeera:
- In a May 16 interview on Al Jazeera, Qatar University Professor Abduljabbar Saeed incited his listeners to violence against Jews, repeating the oft-quoted hadith (saying) of the Prophet Muhammad that “’Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.’ This is a promise made by Allah and His Messenger. [The Prophet said:] ‘The Muslims will kill [the Jews], until the rocks and the trees say: ‘Oh Servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’” Saeed called for the “liberation” of Palestine “from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its northern border with southern Lebanon to Um Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in southern Palestine.” Palestine, he said “includes all its soil, every grain of its sand, its waters, its mountains, its rivers, and its deserts. We do not acknowledge any other form of Palestine and we will not accept the occupation’s existence on a single centimetre of it under any circumstances.” To achieve this end he offered the following advice: “Victory will not come on a golden platter. Victory is achieved through the blood of martyrs and over the skulls of the enemies. Victory is achieved by sacrificing money, life, and all that is precious.”
- In May, on the anniversary of the Nakba – the Palestinian commemoration of Israel’s establishment – Al Jazeera Arabic interviewed Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar where he has settled, temporarily at least. The Qatari monarchy, and thus Al Jazeera, are sympathetic to the international Muslim Brotherhood movement – and Hamas is an outgrowth of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, so naturally that is who the network promotes. He used the occasion to threaten Israel, boasting that his Gaza-based terrorist organisation could kidnap Israeli soldiers to use as a bargaining chip if Israel did not release Palestinian prisoners. This revived memories of, amongst others, Gilad Shalit, the 19 year old corporal captured by Hamas in 2006 and held hostage for over five years. He was released in 2011 in exchange for over 1000 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners who between them had been responsible for the murders of well over 500 Israelis.
- Also in May, another of its platforms, Al Jazeera Podcasts, posted a video as part of its “Icons” series, glorifying the “martyr” Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani, commander of Iran’s terrorist-designated Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and mastermind of Iran’s proxy wars strategy, was assassinated on January 3 in a targeted US drone strike. While the Iranian Fars newsagency expressed satisfaction at Saudi irritation over the podcast, the Saudi Al Arabiya news channel reported the video had been deleted shortly after posting due to the controversy it had caused. The video’s voice over has Soleimani saying: “We defended Syria, its people, and the whole region against the American-Zionist conspiracy and terrorism, and Iran has become a source of stability in Syria… We helped them using our experience through non-military jihadi groups. Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad Movement are not proxy groups, but are our brothers and partners in the resistance project against the Zionist regime.”
- The word “martyr” was also recently used in a headline on the Al Jazeera Arabic news site to describe a Palestinian man shot by Israeli soldiers when he tried to ram them with his car. The ADL’s David Weinberg says, “Every time Al Jazeera calls somebody — anybody — a martyr, it violates the journalistic ethic of impartiality. What makes it much, much worse is that Al Jazeera consistently uses the term martyr to glorify terrorists, provided the civilians those violent extremists are trying to murder happen to be Israeli Jews”.
Staff openly defy Al-Jazeera’s own ostensible code demanding “professionalism” and accuracy
Al Jazeera and its news staff have long been guilty of displaying overt bias and a lack of professionalism, despite the network claiming to have a code of behaviour that calls “accuracy” its core editorial value, and notes its achievement “requires a high degree of professionalism, honesty and precision and should not be employed to promote specific policies and agendas.”
Members of Al Jazeera’s staff regularly display their non-compliance with the code, clearly unperturbed by the prospect of disciplinary action, which almost never happens for promoting extremism. Many with decidedly partisan views are prolific users of social media. For example:
- Senior Al Jazeera Arabic anchor Ahmed Mansour sneeringly attacked Mohammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, for his effort at re-building positive Muslim-Jewish relations. A leading Saudi cleric, Issa visited Auschwitz in January and has received an award for his efforts at fighting antisemitism. He recently addressed the American Jewish Committee’s online global forum and has condemned the Holocaust and its denial. Mansour mocked him for this efforts: “We congratulate Saudi Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa, Secretary General of ‘The Association of Bin Salman,’ for the warm hospitality of the Zionists and their honour and grant him the Great Medal of the Zionist?!”
- Like other Al Jazeera news staff, Mansour is a serial offender against the station’s stated code of conduct. In 2015 he conducted a sympathetic interview with the leader of al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, another terrorist-designated organisation. In 2017 he posted a photo on Facebook showing an American highway crowded with people fleeing an oncoming hurricane whom he mocked as deserving of divine punishment.
- On April 28 this year Al Jazeera journalist Fatima Triki attacked MBC TV, a Saudi channel that broadcasts from Dubai in the UAE, for promoting “normalisation” of relations between Arabs and Israel, a cardinal sin for hardline Israel haters. This attack was prompted by a Ramadan program portraying Jews living in Arab societies sympathetically, and another depicting Palestinians as ungrateful for the support they receive from other countries (more on these programs in Ran Porat’s Australia/Israel Review analysis in June). Her report was posted on YouTube with the following comment: “After MBC TV has made it its practice to desecrate the Arab and Islamic ethics and values, it has chosen for this year’s month of Ramadan to malign the history and memory of the Arabs by turning the Palestinian Cause into an ominous catastrophe and presenting the Palestinians as ungrateful, while the Jews are presented as angels.” Clearly, to this Al Jazeera journalist the media’s role is to always depict Jews in a negative light.
This snapshot of assorted Al Jazeera offerings from just the past couple of months gives a good idea how endemic antisemitic, anti-Israel and other extremist views are to its programming. This programming makes a mockery of the network’s claim to “[maintain] the highest global standards in news and current affairs programming”.
The alleged comments of former Qatari PM Sheikh bin Jassim appear to confirm that any such claim is mere pretence – and the network exists to promote an extremist agenda, not provide genuine and professional news and current affairs.