Tuesday, 21 February 2017

An Innocent Abroad: Updating 'Panorama'

Jamal Al Fiddler

In March 2004 the BBC broadcast Out of Guantanamo: A Panorama Special

It focused on the stories of two men. One (Moazzam Begg) was still in Guantanamo, the other (Jamal Al Harith) had just been released and reunited with his family in the UK.

Jamal's story, of a boy from a Jamaican family who converted to Islam in his 20s, was told like this by the BBC reporter (Vivian White):
Jamal Al Harith was one of the five British detainees freed this week from Guantanamo. His journey there was an extraordinary one. Jamal comes from a West Indian family, and he was brought up in Moss Side.  He converted to Islam in his 20s and changed his name from Ronald Fiddler to Jamal Al Harith.  
Jamal travelled widely.  He'd been to Pakistan and worked and lived in the Sudan. When he said that he was setting off again to visit a Muslim country just weeks after the attacks of 9/11 his family were worried. 
He left Manchester within weeks of 9/11. He went to Pakistan and was trying to get a lift out of the country towards Iran when he was captured by some Afghanistan tribesmen. They handed him over to the Taliban who suspected he was a spy and put him in jail. 
Jamal Al Harith from Manchester had become a prisoner of the Taliban. But after 9/11 the Afghanistan War broke out.   
As the Taliban regime was attacked by the US led coalition for harbouring Al-Qaeda, Jamal Al Harith from Manchester was in a Taliban prison in Qandahar. After the Taliban regime collapsed, he was still in the prison, stranded, his money and passport stolen.  An American journalist discovered him there. 
His family were looking forward to Jamal's release, but US special forces took over the former Taliban prison. 
Jamal Al Harith from Manchester had been transported to Guantanamo Bay. 
Last night five young Britons were released. Four were arrested under British anti-terrorist law  on their return. But Jamal Al Harith was simply questioned by the police and allowed to go. 
After two years detention he was a free man, innocent, out of Guantanamo.
During the programme Vivian White asked Jamal's sister, "But the idea that really means he's a fighter, that seems ridiculous to you." She replied, "Yeah".

A man in the wrong place at the wrong time, clearly. 

That suicide bomber is said to be the self-same Jamal Al Harith. 

He died fighting for the most brutal terrorist organisation in the world, Islamic State. 


Oddly, other than a couple of mentions of his nom-de-guerre "Abu-Zakariya al-Britani" and a single mention of "Jamal Al Harith", this BBC online report refers to him throughout as "Ronald Fiddler" or "Fiddler". That 2004 Panorama, however, said he changed his name to "Jamal Al Harith" even before 9/11.


  1. Aunty do have a soft spot for fiddlers.

  2. BBC Fake News faking it on behalf of the fake innocents.

  3. Three point plan for the BBC:

    1. Subject the BBC Management Board to election by all licence fee payers (just as we elect building society and trade union management) and ensure all heads of department appointments are made by panels with a majority of non-BBC staff.

    2. Make the licence fee an opt out subscription service (ie all households are assumed to receive it and be required to pay for it, unless they opt out).

    3. Undertake a thorough review of all BBC salaries to reduce them to market norms.

  4. Great memory Craig! Many people have only cottoned on to the BBC since the EU Referendum. But it's been going on for years.

  5. Great catch. They are truly shameless. Of course, this proves that he was innocent at the time of his Gitmo incarceration, as he hadn't blown himself up yet. So the Panorama report was 'accurate'.

    I suppose reporting his Western name and not mentioning his converted Muslim name would give permission for prejudice, so they left it out.

  6. On the BBC website today: “…a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, the BBC understands.” How strange that they use the same vague language that they use when they are quoting an unreliable source. As if it’s not yet certain if he was held at Guantanamo. I’m still trying to work out whether this is just a hurriedly written item or if there is something sinister in the wording.

  7. The impression that I got from BBC radio was that a (white) British man who fancied a bit of fight action and didn't know much about Islam had blown himself up.
    More and more BBC bias is what they leave out.

  8. As far as the BBC are concerned, anti-semitism is a side issue...


    The real deal is pushing the agenda... :(

    1. This was just an excuse for the BBC to slip in the vile, false narrative that Trump is possibly an anti-Semite. There is no need whatsoever to quote some congenital idiot whining about Trump reluctantly responding to anti-Semitism only after much pressure.

      Having said that, I notice that, while the BBC dared to mention the very recent threats to Jews around the country, there was no further discussion of trends from the past year or two, or any percentages, or any "incidents are on the rise" sort of thing, like they always do when somebody frowns at a Muslim. Note also there is no quote from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

      Of course, the BBC can't really play up any trend in anti-Semitism, for fear of the flood of complaints they get about being a Zionist shill - both from the public and internally.

  9. If we need to set a date when the BBC completely abandoned its commitment to impartiality, I guess the date of this article will do:


    Why on earth would you decide to run an article like this a couple of days before an important by election if you were genuninely impartial, given it focuses exclusively on negative campaigning against one of the contenders in the by election?

    1. I'd say odd more because this would appear to be the BBC helping UKIP, or at least possibly damaging Labour, considering the recent frenzy over Russia supposedly rigging the US election. Which, equally oddly, is coming from the exact opposite end of the political spectrum. If Russia wanted to help Trump, and Trump and his far-Right racist supports are the US equivalent of Farage and UKIP, why would Putin now want to harm UKIP? No wonder the Beeboids are confused.

      Perhaps the BBC's resident expert on all Putin-related electoral shenanigans, Paul Wood, can shed some light on the matter.

  10. Remember Munich attacker Ali Sonboly, who the BBC repeatedly called David?

    And Aylun Kurdi, who became Alan?

    BBC playing games to push their agenda.