Al-Ghad apology

In today’s issue (Arabic), al-Ghad published an apology on the front page. Here is the gist of it.

Al-Ghad said Raed al-Banna was not the car bomber of al Hilla and apologized for publishing information without checking it. Al-Ghad apologized as well to the Iraqi people for publishing this information. The paper also condemned the attacks on Sunni and Shia Iraq and stated their support and solidarity with the Iraqi people. Okay at least they apologized, this makes me feel much better. Perhaps I will change my mind about boycotting them.

Also in al Ghad, a Jordanian official denied (Arabic) that the Hilla bomber was Jordanian.

In addition, the father of the alleged bomber sent a letter (Arabic) to al-Ghad that in essence denied his son’s role in al-Hilla, saying that his son left Jordan to work and that he received a phone call informing him that his son was killed in Mosul. He denied organizing what the paper called "a martyr’s wedding" and condemned the attacks on Iraqis. The father said he only received people in his tribe conference hall that had heard the news that his son was killed in one of the districts of Mosul. He also said he plans on suing the satellite stations that ruined his image and that of his family.

The lesson of this fiasco: Irresponsible journalism can result in national scandals. Advice to al-Ghad: Train your journalists!

Before I go, I just discovered a NY Times story following up on these events. Their version follows out much of what I’ve written here, adding some pictures and curious quotes. The full text is also available on the newswire.

21 thoughts on “Al-Ghad apology”

  1. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark! This apology from al-Ghad is certainly appropriate and necessary. But this new take on the story does not fly with me. This article was supposedly motivated by an advert taken out celebrating the martyrdom of this guy. Now the family denies culpability for what it says, “he died in Mosul” they say. Well, someone should find the reporter that wrote this story for al-Ghad and find out a bit more about this. Someone is lying.
    I’ve encountered good and bad journalists in Jordan. But I can’t imagine a journalist that would make up this entire story. The idea that he went to Salt, visited the family during some “event” and got quotes from the brother … it seems an amazing bit of creativity. I can only imagine someone being paid/put up to do such a thing. I can’t see the motive for it.
    Al-Banna’s father says it was just some sort of a wake. Something is definitely fishy. Also, my wife reports to me that last night Aljazeera ran a comment from the father, looking very stiff, where he read or stated something that seemed mighty “produced” about the whole situation.
    The NY Times article has a couple of very interesting comments from the family:

    But perhaps the most puzzling aspect is the obituary that appeared March 10 in Al Ghad, which was paid for by the family.

    “Announcing the death of a martyr,” the obituary read, “who got his martyrdom in the Iraqi land at the age of 32. Don’t think that those who were killed for God are dead – quite the contrary. They are alive, and are even born again.”
    Mansur Banna, the father, said that in his grief he could not bring himself to write the obituary, and that friends and family members had written it for him. He had not meant to imply that he was celebrating his son’s participation in the Iraqi insurgency, he said. He said his son was referred to as a martyr because, according to the Koran, anyone who dies outside of his country is considered one and therefore worthy of congratulations.

    Without a doubt there is reason for embarrassment over this whole issue on a multitude of levels. There should have been an editorial team prepared to check and hold such a story if it was in fact bogus. But of course, it misses the larger issue. If, in fact, this guy did carry out this attack, that is a terrible, terrible thing that al-Ghad should have reported. How could it have occurred? That’s a story in itself; what’s the motivation (the story provided one that should be investigated: 9/11, becomes religious, hanging out with jihadis, etc).

    I don’t agree with Nas on much, but I do agree that what was necessary here was even-handed coverage of the events. That was the major problem with the story from the get-go: it seemed to condone and even celebrate the actions, moving from article to propaganda.
    No, no. I don’t think we have the full story here. But, as has proven the case the world over, a new story has surfaced and now the truth will become ever increasingly difficult to divine.

  2. A martyr is anyone dying outside their country? Is what the father told the NYTimes correct? It sure seems that for those interested in a heaven full of virgins and wine it’d be an easier choice to move to the Bahamas and die of old age as a martyr than to strap explosives to yourself. But that might just be me. Is the father making this up or do you suppose it’s a bad translation?

  3. More on the Jordanian terror connection

    The NYT’s Dexter Filkins has an interview with the family of the alleged Jordanian al-Hilla suicide bomber. They deny ever celebrating their son’s “martyrdom” and express shock and horror that their son, Raed Mansur al-Banna, may have been involved in …

  4. It’s is strange that the New York Times article makes no reference to Mosul. (What was he doing in Mosul, beheading people per chance?)
    I don’t know why reading the article in the NYT makes the story all the more tragic. How did this well-to-do family not challenge a religious viewpoint that allowed their son to become a mass murderer?
    Wake up Jordan.

  5. People remember:
    1) It has not been confirmed that the bomber was Jordanian.
    2) The father is grief-stricken it may be that he was wishing his son was a martyr.
    3) Beheadings are not confined to Mosul. Neither are executions. In fact, members of the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s police force have taken to executing women they deem to be prostitutes. This is the force trained by…you guessed it Uncle Sam.
    Savak, anyone?

  6. im getting a dan rather flashback.
    well parts of this story are starting to make some sense. if this obituary was taken out then im expecting that the father, upon recieving the phone call, concluded the following…his son had underwent a martyr operation which killed americans. the events that followed are based on the logical conclusions that were drawn from that phone call.
    hubby, about the quote ure refering to, it was in all probablity something that was lost in translation. had this man killed an occupational force he would’ve been deemed a martyr.
    i dont understand why the reporter is in prison, thats one thing the dosnt make sense to me. and as for the son in question, no evidence has verified it was him in the first place other than a phone call that was also placed to the neighbours.
    something tells me this may be the cruelest prank phone call ever made.

  7. Nas,
    I agree with you, the reporter should not have been arrested. He should have been questioned then fired along with the page editor who approved the story.

  8. Okay you guys,
    Have you heard of Jason Blair of the NY TImes? A reporter who made up pratcially all of his stories? Unfortunately, things like this happen.
    Natasha and Nas, the reporter could be in jail because he may be withholding information. The same thing would happen in America if there was a story the government was investigating, or if it went to court and a reporter withheld info a judge ordered him or her to tell. This maybe the case with this reporter. Maybe he has sources who told him the story and he did not want to reveal thenm because he promised to keep them anonymous. Who knows.
    And did Iraqi officials identify who the bomber is yet? I am sure the bomber’s body was blown up all over the place but i am sure they can find something to indentify him. What if this Jordanian guy did not even do it and hes somewhere secluded and does not watch tv or watch the news. who knows.
    I would also like to know if there are more pictures of the “martyr celebration” other than the one that was posted, because if therer is only the one that was posted, it does not prove anything. In fact, it looks like a medallah. who knows. that is te problem here. nobody knows anything. Darn it, where’s Woodward and Bernstein when you need them.

  9. natasha, even fired is a little harsh in my opinion. unless he has a trend of making up fake news i dont think his whole career should center around this one article which may have been based on miscommunications. all that will happen now is that he’ll be thrown in jail for the embarassment and then harrassed or tortured.
    there should be accountability and responsibility and something tells me those two words were uttered by the king when he visted the editor in chief a few days ago.
    linda, you could be right but i doubt he’s got any kind of information.
    in general, i think this article sucks but it does bring to the surface those two words again “responsibility” and “accountability” and throw in “integrity” too. they may seem mundane but i believe they are the most crucial thing to come out of this mess simply because we are begining this new era of free press in jordan and this experiment calls for the aformentioned elements to be reviewed extensivly so that when such cases happen we dont have to call king abdullah to the rescue, who im sure has much better things to do such as trying to stabalise the country.

  10. Good start. I also hope the journalist who wrote the story was strictly reprimanded, or even better, fired.
    I also agree with hubby, that this change of story and accounts sounds fishy. Perhaps the Jordanian gov. is so embarrassed that it forced it? This is not the right way to go. Denials, denials, denials, I am so sick of them.
    Natasha, you have my apology for my first post on your site. I did not mean to direct my comments to you in person. You have integrity in your blogging, so I’m sorry if I have offended you.

  11. okay are there any press organizations in Jordan? Where do Arab journalists get their training? Are there any ethics classes or seminars taught? I am asking these questions because this journalist has lost all credibility. Are there no fact checkers at this paper? Come on, when a journalist lies, he or she has lied and cannot be trusted. I think every story written by the reporter needs to be checked now. Like I said, the smae thing happened with Jason Blair at NY Times. They found a story to be made up, and went and checked every single one of his other stories and they were all fake. Journalism needs a transformation every where. It really does. The fact like these incidents happen is sad, and there is no excuse for it. Reporters have a major responsibility. Something needs to be done.

  12. Bagdad Dweller has posted a partial translation of the article in question.
    Whether or not he was the murderer of the citizens of Hilla or the murderer of Shiites gathered in a mosque for wedding in Mosul, he was an insurgent bent on killing.
    So, was there or was there not a divine wedding for Raed?

  13. An insurgent bent on killing?
    Kinda fits the US army’s slogan in Iraq.
    We’re the US army, bent on killing all you ragheads…
    Yep, fits alright…

  14. Um Jackie, Baghdad dweller posted a partial translation based upon the full translation posted here, just scroll down a bit. He also notes the fact that he based his translation from the wife’s post on this site and “fine tuned” it a bit. You’ll also find on the same link you provided a note from me, where I point out that he actually excluded a terribly important part of the full translation found here for reasons he details on his site.
    But after I pointed them out, he went back and amended things to the joy of most of his readers. If you want to read the full and complete translation of the article published in al-Ghad — without refinement — you’ve come to the right place. It’s here in all its infamy. Click here or explore the site.
    And Nas, my understanding of what is said right here is that the father says just what they say he said: dying outside the country yields martyrdom. That’s a red flag to me. Wouldn’t any Muslim know that is just plain BS and realize that perhaps this man is making up what he says and putting in that comment specifically as a red flag to highlight that he is being coerced in one way or another?

  15. Linda,
    Journalism in Jordan is in a very bad shape. Would you believe me if I tell you that many journalists in Jordan don’t even know how to use the computer! They write their articles by hand and then they give them to “typers” to type them out for them. Outrageous no?
    Lots of efforts should be exerted on the media in Jordan in order to improve it and the first thing that should be done is training journalists many of whom did not go to journalism schools, but just stumbled upon this career by chance or through some sort of an “inside” connection. It is a very depressing situation.
    Also, al-Ghad is a fairly new paper. It is only 6 months old. So they lack the experience. But I guess this scandal gave them a lesson of a life time.

  16. Hubby, no no perhaps u misunderstood the hadith, because thats what it is: من مات غريبا مات شهيدا. what he’s saying is that he recieved information in that telephone call saying his son had died in mosul and was burried there. he then says whomever dies in such a matter is a martyr.
    now the hadith is refering to those who left their home or homeland and died elsewhere in the name of islam. i.e. there are many types of martyrs and they are not strictly contained to the typical media stereotype. the prophet pbuh in this hadith was indicating one such type of martyr.

  17. I understand the hadith just fine. It’s quite explicit and clear. I’m referring to the father’s comments about how anyone who dies outside of his country is considered a martyr, which is not correct. That’s what I’m pointing to. If you are suggesting that he means by “dying” that they are killed then that’s a possibility if the condition you state is met. But he doesn’t clear up anywhere what he knows about his son’s death.
    If he is using “dying” to suggest being killed then why isn’t he telling us how he was killed. I mean, as you note and is clear in that hadith, the person must die in the name of Islam. Even thought the story has changed, the father has not retracted his statement that his son died a martr. The father, if he is saying he was in fact killed would have to be saying that his son was killed in the name of Islam. But he doesn’t say how he would know this.
    I wouldn’t just assume because my son was killed that he’d been killed in the name of Islam. The father, on the one hand, says he doesn’t really know what was going on, only that his son was killed. But then, on the other hand, he seems clear that his son was a martyr, which we’d have to assume because of the definition set forth in this hadith means he died in the name of Islam. If the father is saying that, then he’s also saying something else isn’t he?
    Additionally, there seems to be a lack of information on where the body is. There are strict rules of burial in place here, sa7? So what has become of the body. Obviously, if he was the bomber, there would be nothing to bury. But if he was not, as is being put forth now, I would think that there would be a body and a burial place that could be determined with some research.
    I think the al-Ghad report got some things right. I think they are being altered now because no one realized what kind of backlash would result after their release. Someone wasn’t thinking when they made that decision. I think the family knows a lot more than they are saying now; now they aren’t going to say a word.

  18. Whether the story was fabricated or not, that’s another issue. The imprisonment should be for those who supported the martyrdom in the story, and argued about it.

  19. More on the Al-Ghad Article and anti-Jordanian Protetests

    Natasha Tynes has more about the al-Ghad article that helped spark anti-Jordanian protests in Iraq:Al-Ghad said Raed al-Banna was not the car bomber of al Hilla and apologized for publishing information without checking it. Al-Ghad apologized as well t…

  20. hubby, lol im sorry i think u may have lost somewhere there but i think i got the just of what your saying. the father in that paragraph says he recieved a phone call that told him his son had died in mosul and was burried there. so this is the information he has about his son. based on this he made the “logical” conclusion (1+1=2) that his son died in Iraq and therefore died a martyr based on the hadith he quoted.
    I don’t know how far this is applicable, considering the prophet pbuh was refering to people like Ja3far ra and others who died far from home while spreading the message.
    As far as the father knew, his son was out looking for a job. If he ended up dying in mosul the conclusion would be he had lied to him and had gone off to fight in iraq and died in a “natural” battle i.e. not self-sacrafice as specified by the article, but rather combat which required his “burial”. This conclusion i can see happening but at this point theres know way of knowing till the smoke clears
    wa allahu a3lam

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