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News Laundering - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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What’s worse than money laundering in our Arab world is news laundering.

This happens around the clock without any consequences or supervision. In the world of the internet, satellite channels, and SMS text messaging, it is clear to see that news laundering is widely popular and some media organs are contributing to this whether intentionally or unintentionally.

The simplest example of news laundering can be seen in the comments made by Deputy Chairman of the Hamas Politburo Mousa Abu Marzook during a recent lecture he gave in Damascus. He said, “We lost 1500 martyrs but our strong women and our hard-working sisters gave birth to over 3500 Palestinian babies during the [Israeli] attacks.”

This information was published as a news item on January 19 in one of the Saudi newspapers. That day, I spoke to the Editor of that publication as we were both in Kuwait, and I asked him how that could have happened when the hospitals were being bombed. Do you realize that you are acquitting Israel [of its attacks on hospitals], particularly since the news item could not be corroborated!

He seemed perturbed by the headline and said, “This cheapens Palestinian blood.” However, I was surprised by Abu Marzook’s comments on the Hamas victory, citing this unsubstantiated information, as if life and death had no value at all!

I searched for this news story once again and found no traces of it. All that I found was a report in a Western newspaper that showed concern for the conditions of pregnant women in Gaza considering that approximately 150 to 170 births take place on an average day in the Gaza Strip.

This came in a report calling for the West to put pressure on Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza. Those who trade in blood embarked upon a misleading, calculated operation and then they embarked on their news laundering activities.

Today, news is used to signify victory and resistance. What is disturbing is that this information is minimizing the magnitude of Israel’s attacks on Gaza, especially that the crimes of Israeli aggression should be investigated.

It was odd that the statement issued by UNICEF on the humanitarian situation in Gaza stated that the organization provided the Palestinian Ministry of Health with approximately 20 bags for midwives and enough supplies for 100 births to last at least one month in Gaza.

News laundering is not confined to Hamas alone; the Muslim Brotherhood also uses this method. Even Hezbollah played the game by all means through websites affiliated to it, by using fake Israeli names, or through Arabic-language Iranian newspapers. Sometimes, with the help of reporters of well-known foreign agencies, or through certain news agencies, news is leaked on Hezbollah-affiliated websites. The party’s media outlets, and other Lebanese and Syrian newspapers, then grab the news and broadcast it after the laundering process is complete.

News circulated about a politician giving condolences to Hezbollah after the assassination of Imad Mughniyeh in Damascus. I asked the politician, “Did you really offer your condolences?” He said, “No”. I asked him, “Why not?” He answered, “The party leaked the news after I had spoken to them about something that had nothing to do with Mughniyeh.” He added, “If I denied it, I would have clashed with their supporters in the streets and I was told that I could be subjected to assassination attempts. Of course, if I remained silent, this would cast doubt upon my position!”

Therefore, the news laundering that is taking place in our region and media must be monitored.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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