Selective News Coverage of Islamic Terrorism

According to Reporters Without Borders, the U.S. has dropped to 46th place in press freedom.  The lowered ranking was based on the conviction of the WikiLeaks informant, the effort to punish NSA leaker Edward Snowden, and the Justice Department’s monitoring of reporters.

Unmentioned by the report, however, is an equally serious cause for concern.  Most press censorship in the U.S. is self-imposed.  The masters of the media are quite willing to suppress certain news stories without any government encouragement.  This can be accomplished in several ways:  by not reporting a story, by providing only minimal coverage, or by shaping the story to fit a pre-existing narrative.  There may be “eight million stories in the naked city,” as the old television series informed us, but the news producers are the ones who decide which stories you will hear and what slant they will be given.

Take the matter of Islamic terrorism.  The media is by and large committed to the narrative that Islam is a religion of peace.  Hence, they tend to underreport incidents of Islamic terrorism or else they shape the story to fit the narrative that violence has nothing to do with Islam.  For example, did you know that the group of knife-wielding assailants who slashed to death 29 people and injured 140 at a crowded Chinese train station on March 1, 2014 were Muslim jihadists?  The fact that the killers were Muslims is carried in some reports, usually at the end of the story, but the main impression given by most of the reporting is that they were “separatists” who were making a “political” statement about “repression” of ethnic minorities.  The words “jihad” or “jihadists” are notable by their absence from most reports.

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Did you know that Michael Adebolajo, and Michael Adebowale, the murderers of British soldier Lee Rigby have Muslim names?  After their conversion to Islam they took the names Mujaahid Abu Hamza and Ismail bin Abdullah, respectively.  In this case and in others, however, the mainstream media refrained from using the Muslim names.  After the killing, Abu Hamza forced a passerby to video record his message to the public.  While several TV stations carried the message, most of them cut out the part where he referred to passages from the Qur`an as justification for his act.  Also unreported was the fact that Abu Hamza handed a blood-stained note full of Qur`an quotations to a bystander.  Almost all news reports, however, did manage to give a lot of space to Prime Minister David Cameron’s assurance that the killing had nothing to do with Islam.

Cameron said more or less the same thing in reaction to the terror attack at a Nairobi Mall that left over sixty dead.  “They don’t represent Islam or Muslims in Britain or anywhere else in the world,” he said.  The media, however, couldn’t very well pretend that the massacre had nothing to do with Islam since the terrorist spared Muslims who were able to recite from the Qur`an.  Nevertheless, some details were not widely reported, including the fact that the terrorists themselves took time off for prayer in the midst of their deadly assault.

Luckily, such a thing could never happen here.  Or could it?  On February 12, 2007, Sulejmen Talovic, a young Bosnian-Muslim man, opened fire on shoppers in the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, killing five and wounding four others before he was shot and killed by police. Talovic, who was named after Suleiman the Magnificent, the sixteenth-century Muslim jihadist-turned-sultan, was a religious Muslim who attended mosque and wore a Qur’an necklace at the time of the shooting. The night before the attack he told his girlfriend that “tomorrow will be the happiest day of my life,” and he once boasted that his grandfather in Bosnia was “in the jihad.” Some witnesses at the scene heard him shouting “Allahu Akbar!” Nevertheless, according to Tim Fuhrman, the FBI special agent in charge of the case, “We were unable to pin down any particular motive.” Question: Do you remember the Trolley Square shooting? If you do, were you under the impression that the shooter was a Muslim who might have been motivated by jihadist impulses?

The above are cases in which the media chose to slant the news by leaving out key details which might connect Islamic beliefs to terrorism. There are numerous other examples—the Ft. Hood shooting, the Boston Marathon massacre, the Times Square bombing—in which the stories were tailored to fit the controlling narrative. Just as significant, however, are the stories that go unreported or underreported. It is not unfair to say that by giving the silent treatment to the vast majority of incidents, the mainstream media has managed to effectively cover up the sheer magnitude of Islamic violence worldwide. The streaming headlines at the bottom of your TV screen that detail the daily toll taken by jihadists represent only a fraction of the actual occurrences.

Here are some examples of stories that were underreported.

  • The French interior minister announced in January that 1,193 cars were burned on New Years Eve across France. More than 40,000 cars are torched each year in France by Muslim youth. Previous French governments have hushed up the numbers.
  • Thanks to Muslim immigrants, Sweden has the second highest incidence of rape in the world (after South Africa). Midland towns and cities in England are experiencing a similar rape epidemic.
  • In September of this year, over 60,000 Christians were forced to flee their homes when Muslim terrorists took over sections of Zamboanga, one of the largest cities in the southern Philippines.
  • Since March of 2013, at least 450,000 Christians in the Central African Republic have been forced to flee their homes following the Islamic takeover there.

In all likelihood, you have heard little or nothing about these stories. The mainstream media has a habit of burying them among other stories or of passing over them briefly lest anyone begin to see a pattern. Yet they are fairly significant stories. Suppose the shoe were on the other foot and it was Catholic youth who were burning 40,000 cars a year in France? Or if 60,000 Muslims were forced to flee a city that was under siege by Catholic terrorists? The answer, of course, is that such events would be the lead item on the news every night, followed by special one-hour in-depth programs and accompanied by morning-to-night analysis by panels of experts.

Here are some closer-to-home stories you might have missed. All of the following stories were covered to some extent by the media but not to the extent that they were likely to stick in the memory for long. It is very unlikely, for example, that you would recall the case of Nuradin Abdi, who was sentenced in 2007 to 10 years in prison for a planned jihad attack against an Ohio mall. Nor is it likely that you would remember the case of Derrick Shareef, who was sentenced in 2008 to 35 years in prison for plotting to explode grenades at a Rockford, Illinois shopping mall. A convert to Islam, Shareef was recorded as saying that he wanted to kill infidels. How about Tarek Mehanna? In 2009, the 27-year-old Massachusetts man was charged with conspiring to attack shoppers in U.S. malls. According to the complaint, Mehanna and his co-conspirators often discussed their desire to participate in “violent jihad against American interests.”

While it’s unlikely you will have a good memory of these trials, it’s very likely you will not have forgotten the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case. That shooting might have remained a local news affair, but influential people in and outside the media decided to turn it into a major national story. Am I suggesting a conscious and deliberate suppression of some stories and a conscious inflation of others? Yes and no. In some cases, yes, the bias is quite deliberate. But many cases of lopsided reporting can probably be attributed to an automatic response. Some cases will seem more important to the news editors because they fit into a preconceived narrative, and other cases will receive less attention because they don’t fit the established narratives. Indeed, if some cases were to be explored in depth, they might challenge and even explode the narrative. Hence, there is much less incentive to dig into such stories. The trial of Major Nidal Hasan, the Fort Hood shooter, was at least as significant an event as the trial of George Zimmerman and it took place, moreover, in roughly the same time frame. Yet it received nowhere near the coverage of the other trial. The media was quite happy to focus on the supposedly racist motivations of Zimmerman but quite reluctant to look into the blatant jihadist motivations of Major Hasan.

With the exception of Hasan’s case, the other trials I cited took place several years ago. It’s not surprising that these events have faded from memory (assuming that they ever registered in the memory banks in the first place). But what about events that happened almost  yesterday? Let’s look at some very recent cases:

  • In January 2013, a jury convicted Mohamed Osman Mohamud of attempting to detonate a 1,800-pound bomb at a crowded annual Christmas tree lighting in Portland, Oregon, in 2010. Undercover FBI agents said Mohamud spoke of the need to eliminate unbelievers, and said that he didn’t mind that children would die.
  • In December 2013, Terry Lee Loewen, a convert to Islam and an avionics technician at Wichita’s Mid-Continent Airport, was arrested for attempting to drive an explosive-laden van into the airport. Although Loewen had repeatedly written about his love for Allah and the Qur’anic justification for his planned jihad, the FBI special agent in charge of the case assured Kansas citizens that Loewen’s actions had nothing to do with Islam. (The Wichita Eagle, December 15, 2013).
  • On March 17, 2014, Nicholas Teausant, a convert to Islam was arrested and charged with attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda and plotting an attack on the Los Angeles subway system.  Teausant’s Muslim name is Ased Abdur-Raheem, but for some mysterious reason, the news reports refrain from using that name.
  • In April 2013, two Muslim men were arrested in Canada for plotting to blow up a New York to Ontario passenger train as it crossed the trestle over the Niagara River Gorge.  One of the defendants, Chiheb Esseghaier, insisted in court that he be judged only by the Qur`an instead of by Canadian laws.

Question:  Do you remember hearing of these stories or reading about them?  If  so, did  you receive a clear impression at the time that the accused were Muslims?  That they were devout Muslims?  That their actions were inspired by their Islamic faith?  While the mainstream media can’t very well ignore a plot to blow up a major U.S. to  Canada train line, they can minimize the coverage, and they can and do downplay the  Islamic connection.

The average Western citizen can be forgiven if he is not up-to-speed on the numerous successful and attempted jihad attacks in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.  There is abundant evidence that the opinion-makers don’t want us to think too much about the subject.  When an attack occurs or when one is foiled, the media give it a perfunctory nod and then almost immediately lose interest in the story.  Are they hoping that we will lose interest too?

As political scientist Samuel Huntington observed, we are in a civilizational struggle with Islam.  One of the major fronts in that conflict is the information war, and thus far Islam seems to be winning it hands-down.  Why?  Because the Western media has adopted as its own Islam’s narrative about itself—that it is a religion of peace that has been hijacked by a handful of misunderstanders.  The result is that what information we get about Islam is filtered through a rose-colored prism.  Whether consciously or through force of habit, the mainstream media has effectively taken Islam’s side in the information war.  Thanks to the media’s pandering, Western citizens are ill-informed about Islam, and as a result they are unprepared for the more aggressive forms of jihad to which the information jihad is merely a prelude.

Editor’s note: The above graphic depicts a 2013 press conference in which Prime Minister David Cameron downplayed Islamic culpability in the slaying of a British soldier in London by self-professed Jihadists.

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