Draining The Swamp Of Terror: The Case Against Al Jazeera

It should shock no one that Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain demanded Qatar shut down the notorious Al Jazeera network. It was only the sixth demand to start negotiating an end to the crisis, but the most critical. Is this demand logical? Is it because the boycotting states simply want to shut off any criticism of their regimes? Or is it about a much larger issue, which is the promotion of extreme ideologies and providing journalistic cover for various terror groups? Al Jazeera described the reported demand for its closure as "nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region."

After 21 years, Al Jazeera’s devastating effect on the region are visible. Close observers know for a fact that it was used as a political tool of pressure. The evidence has mounted. And the truth was revealed about the purposes and agenda of this notorious channel. Its inception was one with a regional agenda, and an ambitious plan by Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani. To his credit, the Qatari emir was the only leader who understood the power of media. No other leaders in the region sought to activate the media as a weapon before him. As a result of a very early calculation, Billions of dollars were pumped into AJ network.

With tens of spinoffs and affiliated papers and websites, Al Jazeera morphed into one of the biggest and richest TV network. Its power and influence cannot be denied. So how did the Qatari emir use this power? Did he use it in promoting democracy and freedom as his channel claims? Or did he use it to export his outsized influence and provide a platform to people like Yousef Al Qaradawi and Ayman Al Zawahiri that directly threaten the security of his neighbors ?

Libyans, Egyptians and Syrians are more than happy to discuss the devastating effect Al Jazeera had on their country’s security. The record against Al Jazeera is damning. Books can be written about how exactly Al Jazeera helped acheive instability in the Middle East.

Once praised by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as “Real News” that “raised the level of freedom of expression in the region”, Al Jazeera TV was set up in 1995. It later became the prominent face of the so called Arab Spring. Al Jazeera is often described as “the first independent news organization in the Middle East”. Its claims of independence however, applies only to non Qatar states. Never once did Al Jazeera dare to criticize the Al Thani royals, or discuss inner Qatari dissent and problems. Al Jazeera’s role as a mere tool of influence and soft power is now exposed more than ever before. Perhaps thats why Al Jazeera is already banned in most Arab countries.

In a leaked tape of a phone conversation between the Emir of Qatar and former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, where the two leaders were conspiring against Saudi Arabia, the Qatari emir admits that “we cannot match the power of the Saudis so we hurt them in other ways, Sa’ad Al Faqih (Saudi dissident and AQ affiliate) is hosted regularly on Al Jazeera, no other channel can host him, we are also funding Al Jadeed network in Lebanon and quietly support other programs against Saudi” the Qatari emir goes on to tell Gaddafi that “we are not de-escalating in the way you think”.

Another leaked tape released by Bahrain exposes Al Jazeera’s role during the 2011 crisis. In the tape, Hamad Al Attiyah, A Qatari intelligence operative, can be heard offering airtime to Iran backed Bahraini revolutionary Hassan Ali Sultan. Asking him to “suggest people to go on Al Jazeera” and discussing how to further choreograph the events.

The Qatari emir publicly admitted in 2011 that “Al Jazeera has caused us many problems with Arab leaders”. Asked if it was worth the trouble, the emir smiled and said “we hope so”.

With this information, and the realization that Al Jazeera is used as a tool against enemies of the Qatari emir, all claims of editiorial independence can be put to rest.

Former reporter from Al Jazeera Mohammed Fahmy told a Washington DC audience this week that Al Jazeera is run directly by the powerful former Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jassem (pictured above).
Living in the Al Jazeera world: is it worth it?

The world of terror that many Arab states currently live in is a reality that Al Jazeera helped create. What started out as criticism and attacking old power structures in the region ended up simultaneously promoting dangerous Islamist revolutionaries. Beginning with wanted Egyptian cleric Yousef Al Qaradawi explaining how and when to conduct suicide bombings, and ending with glowing reports on all kinds of shady characters over the course of its 21 years.

Al Jazeera was always fascinated with terrorists. It was more than happy to continiously lend a platform to Osama Bin Laden even when he was the number one wanted terrorist in the world. Last year, they sponsored a media campaign to rehabilitate the image of Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch from “Jabhat Al Nursa” to “Fatah Al Sham”. Starting with live and exclusive coverage of their announcements, and ending in an interview conducted with their veiled leader, where he got to tell more than 200 million Arabs that their governments are Islamically illegitimate and must be deposed.

The main question remains, just how damaging is Al Jazeera ? Now that we can see that Al Jazeera’s tone and coverage of issues goes hand in hand with Qatari state policy, the outcome has been disastrous. Media Support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda and ISIS was a key to their rise.

Years and years of glorifying and lionizing extremists, resulted - in one way or another — in the current terror phenomenon that we are experiencing. We learn of terror attacks on a daily basis. We know the attackers were wanted or on a list, or were known to (bear extremist ideology) and “radicalised online”. This ideology surely springs from watching ISIS or AQ propaganda. Most of the time, and for Arabic speakers, Al Jazeera reports are no different than the Amaq agency. The swamp of terror will be largely drained if Al Jazeera shuts off or dramatically changes course.