The BBC looks at the life and death of Mohammed Abbas.

If I were asked to indicate the single most damning evidence of BBC bias and moral cowardice in recent years, I think I might pick the way the BBC reported the capture of Mohammed Abbas last April. In the course of the report they had to mention the murder of Leon Klinghoffer, that being the crime for which the Palestine Liberation Front, which Abbas led, was most well known. Watching the successive stealthy alterations to the BBC story was a bit like watching the movie Groundhog Day. Even under pressure from a wave of outraged emails prompted by links from Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit, it took the Beeb four tries to bring themselves to describe the crime in plain words. This post runs through the different versions:

From “died during” to “led to the death of” to “was killed” to “An elderly American tourist in a wheelchair, Leon Klinghoffer, was killed during the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, and his body thrown into the sea.”

Instapundit tracks the evolution of a BBC story on the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.

How much has the BBC learned since that apogee of the stealth edit? We had a chance to find out yesterday when Abbas died in US custody.

In this report, “Cruise ship hijacker dies in Iraq” it says, “He was convicted in absentia by an Italian court for the attack, in which wheelchair-bound American tourist Leon Klinghoffer was killed.” Well, let us be thankful for small mercies. True, with typical delicacy the BBC prefers the blandly passive “was killed” (which suggests a near-random combat death) to stating what actually happened, which is that Mr Klinghoffer was cold-bloodedly selected, shot in the head and then his corpse pitched overboard, wheelchair and all. But at least this time the BBC managed to avoid saying that he had “died” during the hijack as if he had had a heart attack or something.

Next up we have Abbas: Palestinian throwback by Paul Reynolds. On the good side it does say clearly that Klinghoffer was murdered. It also sneaks in the word “terrorist” (as part of the package “militant or terrorist”). In other places it is standard BBC-speak, carefully explaining that “Abu Abbas was from a time when the West Bank and Gaza were wholly under Israeli control and Palestinians could not carry out attacks inside Israel very easily” (the poor lambs) and bending over backwards to say that finding him in Iraq was no big deal. Heavens, he could have ended up anywhere. We also hear that Abbas’s faction was “quite daring.”

Finally, I do not know what Reynolds is talking about in this bit:

The Italians had let him go when US fighter planes forced down an Egyptian aircraft in which he was travelling after the hijack ended.

They were forced to make amends after widespread protests.

I know the outline of the crisis in relations between the US and Italy that followed the forcing down of the Egyptian aircraft. But what amends did the US make, to whom did it make them and who did the forcing?

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20 Responses to The BBC looks at the life and death of Mohammed Abbas.

  1. Orion says:

    Off topic:

    BBC anchor cuts off correspondent who mentions objections to not calling the ETA terrorists.


  2. Neil says:

    On the same off-topic:

    While the smart money, and much of the intellegence, including recent seizures by Spanish police, etc., points to Basque terrorists, Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 this lunchtime led his programme on the possibility that the blasts were the work of Al-Qaeda in revenge for the Spanish Government’s support for the Iraq war. For pity’s sake. The BBC’s warped agenda is reflected in the current online article:


  3. Rob says:

    I read the “forced to make amends” as the Italians having to make amends for letting him go.


  4. Joe says:

    Let’s see how the bombing events in Spain stealthfully change their vocabulary…


  5. carnell says:

    Yes a deeply hurtful insult to Marylin Klinghoffer . (is she still living ?) whose husband was MURDERED ( the BBC does not even use that word) in front of her.
    Amongst Abbas later achievements
    The speedboat attack on women and children bathing at a Tel Aviv beach.
    The passing of funds from Saddam to palestinian suicide bomber families.
    hence Arafat’s campain to have Abbas released.
    It is interesting to speclate how the BBC matt white would have been dispensed if Idi Amin and been charged over the murder of the Jewish lady who was left behind at Entebbe ?
    Will ETA be called militants? or has the word terrorist been totally excised from BBCSPEAK.


  6. Anthony says:

    Mrs. Klinghoffer died 4 months after the hijacking. She had colon cancer at the timne and the stress exacerbated the disease.

    Off topic, has the BBC blamed the US for the Spainish attack yet?


  7. Susan says:

    Sneer quote alert, BBC Online: The Spanish bombings were a “massacre.”

    So the BBC is unsure of whether or not to call an atrocity that killed 200 people a massacre? What else would they call it?


  8. Rob Read says:

    Check out (don’t) have your say.

    Lots of people have written in to the BBC to ask them to change their description of ETA from separatist to terrorist.


  9. JohninLondon says:

    The BBC is still describing ETA as a separatist organisation – and Al Qaeda as Islamic militants. Just like they refuse to describe suicide bombers in the Middle East as terrorists.

    The Spanish Foreign Minister had to point out on BBC 24 Hours that ETA is deemed to be terrorist by the EU.

    And yes, the BBC is all the time trying to insinuate that “it was Spain’s/Alzar’s fault for joining the coalition. Like – the bomb intended to be exploded by Muslims in a german cathedral market square was payback for Germany joining ? Why can’t the BBC get it straight – Al Quaeda hates the West – all of the West. We are all infidels, crusaders and we deserve to be conquered or killed.


  10. Zevilyn says:

    The BBC would call it a “mild inconvenience”.

    200 people dead…but of course we must not judge those people who committed the crimes (note sarcasm).

    For all the Beeb’s mocking of Americans, I suspect if a major terrorist attack occurred in the UK, the fabric of UK society would collapse almost instantly. There is an air of decadence in the UK media.

    I wonder, would a UK attack be perpetrated by “terrorists” or “millitants”?

    But of course one of the reasons the UK has not been attacked is because many of the terror folk use this country as a base.


  11. Martin says:

    Off topic, but I’ve just switched on BBc World and Susannah Yorke is on HardTalk. Goody, I thought, haven’t seen her for a while, let’s hear what’s happening in the world of acting. And what’s she talking about, Mordechai bloody Vanunu. It’s relentless. Has any BBC reporter yet made the link back via the Necons’ War on Iraq to Israel for being objectively reponsible for the Madrid bombings? No one has yet mentioned that Osama calls for the liberation of Al-Andalus in virtually every statement.


  12. peter says:

    This sneering POS makes me angry —

    It finishes with —

    “But the Spanish government would have to deal with the accusation that its policies had made the country an al-Qaeda target.

    Rallying public support against Eta, the familiar enemy, is a more comfortable situation to be in.”

    E.G, if they’d just stuck their head in the sand like… er… Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, or, well Iraq’s Shittes, everything would be fine. Its amazing to me that whatever AQ holds up as their MO du jour, these journalists swallow it. Have they ever actually read their propaganda?



  13. peter says:

    But what really has me steamed is the use of the word “comfortable”, as if the ETA did it the goverment would be in a “comfortable” position. And do they really believe that rallying public support againt AQ after this incident is “uncomfortable.”

    The point though is that its as if the BBC thinks that for everyone, not just them, that any tragedy or loss of life is overshadowed by their obsessive zero-sum game of political us vs. them. Massive loss of life, but what really matters here is what political parties are impacted by it.

    Sneer sneer sneer


  14. danS says:

    In addition to carnell’s list of Abbas doing you can add the murder of the Haran family in Naharia (north Israel). All the same it just comes to show what a filthy terrorist this thing was.
    I hope that the bbc will be right in their pro palestinian insinuations that he hadn’t passed away naturaly.
    It will make me much more happy to learn that he was tortured repeatedly with piano wires, hot metal sticks and acid.


  15. danS says:

    And as for the ETA issue, I heard today on the 1 oclock news that the reporter called those terrorist murders “yesterday’s terrorist attacks”, this was also apparant in the report on the bbc’s website, at least the original version, with no sneer quoates.
    The CNN which generally follows the same guidelines of using “militant/radical/activist”, also used the terror root more than they usualy do.
    I guess the use of the term is quantity dependant, I’d rather hope it has nothing to do with the geography or the nationality of the victims (yeah right).
    Anyway i think the ways of the biased bbc dwarf in comparison to yesterday’s shocking events.
    I am joining the Spanish people and all the victims and wounded in mourning and condolement.


  16. peter says:

    Reuters is calling them “guerillas”.


  17. danS says:

    One more thing, i disagree with peter on the “comfortable” issue.
    I’m affraid this time the bbc got it right for a change, well almost.
    Rallying public support against Eta is “comfortable” not for the Spanish gov. but to all the European governments who will find it easier as a measure of panic control to make it a local Spanish issue. It sounds terrible but it is logical. This horror is somthing hard to digest, especially for the ‘head in the sand’ policy the EU practices.
    I am willing to eat my dirty underware if ETA is responsible for this.
    Only naive people would believe that this ephemeral lefty crumbling groub which is hated even by its own people is able to carry out such a wide scale coordinated attack.


  18. danS says:

    soon it will be “commandos”


  19. Susan says:

    Actually the Madrid bombings must be putting the Biased Broadcast Corp. into something of an ideological dither. What tact of propaganda to take? Emphasize the bombing as al-Qaeda’s revenge against the Coalition of the Willing, and you score political points off of the hated Aznar — sure — but at the same time, you emphasize that al-Qaeda is not made up of very nice people.

    This would put the BBC’s beloved Tipton Taliban in a rather bad light. Might even incite “hatred” against the dear, innocent, al-Qaeda-lovin’ lads, and put a decided crimp into their “hail to the returning heroes” triumph over the Great Satan. Oh, the tragedy of it all!

    Hmmm? What to do, what to do? Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.


  20. danS says:

    Last one:
    Read this and show your children!