Wikileaks accuses BBC of being part of ‘possible propaganda media network’ for Al Qaeda
The BBC could be part of a ‘propaganda media network’ for al-Qeada, according to US files published by Wikileaks.
A phone number of someone at the BBC was found in phone books and programmed into the mobile phones of a number of militants seized by the Americans.
The number is believed to be based at Bush House, the headquarters of the BBC World Service.
The assessment on one of the detainees at the Guantanamo camp, dated 21 April 2007, said: ‘The London, United Kingdom, phone number 0044 207 XXX XXXX was discovered in numerous seized phone books and phones associated with extremist-linked individuals.
‘The number is associated with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).’
The US assessment file said forces had uncovered many ‘extremist links’ to the BBC number – indicating that extremists could have made contacts with employees at the broadcaster who were sympathetic to extremists or had information on ‘ACM’ (anti-Coalition militia) activities.
An analyst’s note on the file states: ‘Numerous extremist links to this BBC number indicates a possible propaganda media network connection.
Network analysis might provide leads to individuals with either sympathetic ties to extremists or possibly possessing information on ACM operations.’
The BBC number appears in the file of Turki Mish’awi Zaid Alj-Amri, a Saudi who was ‘assessed to be a member of al-Qaeda, who travelled to Afghanistan to participate in jihad.’
The US files says Alj-Amri had stayed at al-Qaeda camps and had received training there. He had also fought against Coalition forces at Tora Bora in Afghanistan.
‘Many of the telephone numbers in his pocket litter have been associated with multiple ACM personnel, indicating he may have played a greater role in multiple activities than previously assessed.’
He was repatriated to Saudia Arabia in late 2009.
The BBC number listed on the file is now dead, but the revelation could further dent the broadcaster’ reputation for impartiality. It has for years faced claims it is biased towards the left.
But this is the first time the BBC has been linked to Islamic extremism.
In September 2006, BBC chairman Michael Grade held an ‘impartiality summit’ to assess whether there was a left-wing bias.
A leaked account of the meeting showed that executives admitted they would broadcast an interview with Osama Bin Laden, the founder of al-Qaeda.
They said they would give him a platform to explain his views, if he approached them.
Former BBC political editor Andrew Marr later said the BBC was not ‘impartial or neutral’, saying it had a ‘liberal bias’.