Monday 5 August 2013

Alarm bells

Tonight's Panorama, The Brothers Who Bombed Boston, looks as if it's going to try to paint the Boston bombing suspects as being more akin to far-right, anti-government white supremacists than to Muslim jihadists. 

As if the two things are mutually exclusive. 

After all many Muslim jihadists share the same hatred of Jews and the American government as those on the conspiracist far-right - and expressions of admiration for Hitler are far from uncommon among Islamists.  

The programme's blurb raises alarm bells:
On the 15th of April, in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11, two homemade bombs exploded at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 200 participants and spectators. With interviews with those who knew them, Panorama reporter Hilary Andersson explores how the two suspected bombers - brothers raised and educated in the US - became radicalised, and asks if America's war on terror has come home.
With the surviving brother due to stand trial later this year, she goes on patrol with New York Police Department's anti-terrorist squad which uses the latest technology to protect New Yorkers from future terrorist attacks. But she finds a backlash amongst many Muslims in America against law enforcement programmes they believe are designed specifically to profile, map and spy on Muslims. Panorama asks: are the authorities spying on the right people? 
"...and asks if America's war on terror has come home" has an ominous ring to it. Is Hilary going to imply that America brought the Boston bombing on itself through its own foreign policy or security strategies?

The focus then looks to shift to the usual one for the BBC - changing the story from an attack by Muslim terrorists into an attack on Muslims  (the inevitable "backlash" angle we're so familiar with from the corporation).

The closing question, "Panorama asks: are the authorities spying on the right people?", leads me to suspect that the "right people" won't turn out to be Muslim extremists but white, right-wing Americans instead - the very people the BBC speculated were really responsible for the attacks in the first place. 

So, are we about to see a revelatory BBC investigation that changes everything we thought we knew about the Boston bombings, or are we able to see a manipulative piece of BBC agenda-pushing? 

Well, we'll see.

Those alarm bells might not have rung so loudly were it not for a post by the ever-excellent DB at Biased BBC:
BBC tries to blur the lines over Boston bomber
DB spots that the video report accompanying the BBC website write-up shows Hilary Andersson looking at the right-wing American publications one of the Tsarnaev brothers is said to have read.
For some reason the BBC has blurred the footage of the literature that Andersson is reading so that only a couple of headlines can be made out. 
DB then wondered "why the BBC [is] so reluctant to identify the publications that Andersson is seen reading?" (You can see his screengrab at Biased BBC).

DB identifies the publication in the blurred image as being from the American Free Press (AFP) - "a vehemently anti-Semitic weekly paper which peddles all manner of conspiracy theory, usually linked in some way to the neocon New World Order that’s run by the Jews."

Here's the nub though:
What doesn’t quite fit Andersson’s narrative, and perhaps explains the reluctance to identify the publication, is that while the AFP is very anti-Jewish, it is also sympathetic to Muslim grievances. In one article which blames pro-Israeli propaganda for inciting Anders Breivik’s horrific murderous spree, the writer says Europeans should fear Jews, not Muslims.
DB details several further examples of this - its defence of Iran's Press TV, its anti-Gitmo stance - and adds: 
"I imagine quite a few young Muslims read the American Free Press. It spouts the same bullshit that Islamists do, and that is what will have appealed to Tamerlan....It’ll be interesting to see if the full Panorama programme highlights any of the above information, because the teaser items certainly haven’t."
It will indeed be interesting to see if Panorama does that tonight. 

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