Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ma'an News Agency (Jan 20): Mahmoud al-Mahbuh Dies of Terminal Cancer

I was a bit harsh a week or two ago about Jared Malsin, the American journalist for Ma'an News who recently was refused entry to Israel after he refused to answer questions asked of him by Israeli security officers after landing at Ben-Gurion. My comments, however, were directed at Mr. Malsin, not at his employer.

Ma'an News certainly has a slant in its reporting, but it does seem to be independent. Certainly, at the very least, it doesn't coordinate that well with Hamas.

From Ma'an News, last updated on January 21, 2010:

Hamas' armed wings the Al-Qassam Brigades announced the death of its co-founder in exile Mahmoud Al-Mabhuh died of terminal cancer in a hospital in the UAE on Wednesday. (emphasis mine)

Of course, a few days ago they changed their story, likely realizing that ascribing Al-Mahbuh's death to the terminal cancer that killed him was missing a golden opportunity to blame something on Israel. From AFP:

The Islamist Hamas movement blamed Israel on Friday for the death in Dubai earlier this month of one of the founders of its military wing and threatened retaliation at a time of its choosing.

"Mahmud Abdel Rauf al-Mabhuh died a martyr in Dubai on January 20, 2010 in suspect circumstances that require an inquiry in cooperation with the United Arab Emirates authorities," Hamas said in a statement released in its Gaza stronghold.

"We hold Israel responsible for the assassination of our brother and leader," the statement said, adding Hamas would "retaliate for this Zionist crime at the appropriate moment."

Obviously, not a surprise that Hamas would do something like this. The whole thing reminds one of the antics surrounding Arafat's death. But it is slightly more of a surprise (slightly) that the traditional media would not even bother to find out that they'd said something completely different to Arab media (which was picked up and posted by Ma'an on their English language section, which Mr. Malsin worked for) the week before.

On the other hand, it is not that much of a surprise. The European media is hardly known for fact-checking or an interest in truth when it comes to Israel. Apparently not even as much as is the Palestinian media.

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