To: Sir Quentin Thomas,
Sub: Take-A-Pen's Submission III:
Does the BBC employ a 'Hamas man'?
We, Take-A-Pen, are a volunteer international and multilingual organisation, or rather an internet network, founded in 2000. Our purpose and that of our readers around the world is to counter with truth the widespread inaccuracies, misinformation and anti-Israel propaganda about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
This submission deals with a massive offense to impartiality; with the seemingly well-based allegations that Mr Fayed Abu Shamala, the BBC's Gaza correspondent since 1994(?) and until today November 2005, has had active ties to the Hamas; a terrorist organisation according to the British government. We'll document it that Abu Shamala was considered by Hamas as 'one of their own'. No wonder all his journalistic output, accordingly, has had a strong anti-Israel bias we'll show an example of November 22, 2005.
This is mostly the abstract of our full web article on the subject, appended at the end of this letter. What is told here - is fully documented there.
Abu Shammala became first famous in 2001 when, speaking at a Hamas gathering on May 6 (all data are in the article) he said that 'journalists and media organizations in Gaza', the BBC of course included, 'are waging the campaign shoulder-to-shoulder together with the Palestinian people'. This demonstrates his total lack of journalistic ethics and infringes the BBC's own Charter as well. It does not speak well of his superiors either. One should have asked what justification can be for a BBC journalist to give speeches in a terrorist gathering?
Shamala's direct association with a terror organization was, as reported in December 2004, revealed by the leading Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz (see data in the web article) which acquired the exceptionally rare hard evidence; a tape recording where Mr Fayed Abu Shamala was called ''one of our own'' and ''Hamas man'' by the senior Hamas leader in Gaza, Fathi Hamad. It took place in an intimate Hamas forum.
I offered this information to BBC Chairman of the Board of Governors Mr Michael Grade in May this year. When this point (not my whole letters) remained unanswered until July, we put our article on the BBC's 'Hamas man' on our website www.take-a-pen.org . I'll quote full details below as it appears on our website.
In August I submitted this information to Ms Helen Boaden, BBC's News Director and to Mr Malcolm Balen, BBC's complaints official. What I received in response was a flat denial, legal threats and a demand to remove my whole web article about the 'Hamas man'. The BBC litigation people (their 7 letters I received did not show any name) based all on Shamala's denial. No reference was made to the evidence of my proof. Their letter said (quote): '"We have talked to Fayed and he strongly denies the allegation" (unquote).
I trust your select Review Panel will weigh this denial by the suspect against my independent sources quoting hard evidence; such as the tape recording.
Ms Boaden and the BBC lawyers never called Hamas a 'terror organisation', and, as it turned out, not by chance. Ms Boaden defended the BBC's non-usage of the 'terrorist' term by saying that (quote): "it is important that the BBC does not adopt other people's language as its own." If it were not so sad it would be funny: the UK Parliament which condemned Hamas as a terror organisation falls into the category of "other people" according the News Director of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
As previously mentioned I did not find any argument in the BBC answers justifying changes in our web article. So I maintained our suspicion about Abu Shamala. However I updated our web article to quote, for fairness' sake, the BBC responses.
Our web article did not address the impartiality of the reporting work of Abu Shamala in detail. One does not have to closely examine the everyday work of a policeman who turns out to have ties to the underworld there is sufficient reason to fire him. But if we want to look into impartiality briefly; every BBC report on Gaza in Arabic is strongly anti-Israel biased, as our Israeli Arab friend has been telling us. Even the usually softened English versions look more like cunning propaganda pieces than responsible journalism. As an example let us look at the BBC News 'report' from Gaza on 19 May, 2004 with the title "Israelis fire on crowds in Gaza", hinting at a massacre. Only when you dig deep into the article you may understand that the title is the unproven Palestinian version of what happened. Had your reporter followed through and studied what actually happened that day in Gaza, your viewers would have learned a few days later that all the victims - around ten - were killed by badly handled Palestinian explosives. The false, defamatory and libellous title is on the BBC website up till this day, November 22, 2005, courtesy of the BBC's 'Hamas man' and his superiors who permit this travesty.
This Conclusion would be best to read after reading the full web article below.
1/ Mr Fayed Abu Shamala, senior Gaza correspondent of the BBC has been suspected for many years to be connected with the Hamas terror organisation. The hardest available piece of evidence is the tape recording of the Hamas leader who called him 'one of our own', or a 'Hamas man', as reported on December 15, 2005.
2/ We believe that any personal association to a terror organisation is sufficient reason for a person to be removed from the BBC's service immediately. This is what, for example, The Guardian did in a similar case.
3/ It may be none of our business but it is difficult to understand how the BBC can, after the Twin Towers and after the London underground, employ and promote today such managers who ignore suspicions of ties to terror and disregard government qualifications of a terror organisation such as Hamas.
4/ But it is our 'business' that we do not wish to further suffer the cunningly veiled hostile propaganda work and libels of a Hamas connected man in the BBC. Neither want we look for and argue about tiny details of his constant anti-Israel bias and hatred. We think it appropriate that he and perhaps others similarly inclined be removed from the BBC's service immediately.
5/ I trust the select Panel will find out how a terror organisation associate suspect could remain in the BBC in a senior position so long, undisturbed. I hope it will make the procedural and personal changes required in order to ensure that something like this never happens again.
Our whole web article follows here:
(End of article)
We suggest to return now, after reading the web article, to our 'Conclusions'.
Thank you for your attention.