The Washington Post’s ‘good’ terrorists

by Bassam Tawil
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How would the newspaper’s readers have reacted had it sent its correspondents to spend time with Al-Qaeda or Islamic State terrorists to hear their pride in having committed atrocities against U.S. citizens?

(JNS) On August 21, the Palestinian terror group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed responsibility for the murder of Batsheva Nigri, a 42-year-old Jewish mother of three who taught pre-school. Nigri was gunned down by two terrorists near the West Bank city of Hebron.

The terror group, the armed wing of the Fatah faction headed by Palestinian Authority President—and Fatah chairman—Mahmoud Abbas, said in its statement that it will continue to “adhere to the option of the rifle as a strategic choice.” The “option of the rifle,” as is evident, refers to terrorist attacks against Jewish civilians and soldiers.

Members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades were later filmed handing out sweets to passersby in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the murder of the Jewish woman.

The involvement of Abbas’s group in terrorism against Jews is not new. In the past two years, his loyalists in the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades have claimed responsibility for several terror attacks, especially in the northern West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin. On August 17, the group boasted that one of its members, Mustafa al-Kastouni, 32, was killed during an exchange of gunfire with Israeli troops in Jenin. Kastouni was wanted by Israel for his involvement in shooting attacks against Jewish civilians and soldiers.

Two days later, the same group mourned the death of another one of its members, Mohammed Abu Asab, who was also killed during an armed clash with Israeli soldiers.

The attacks by the Fatah-affiliated terrorists came days after The Washington Post published a story from Balata refugee camp, near Nablus, in which its correspondents romanticized members of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, even documenting them as they visit their barber for a haircut.

Referring to the local commander of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the newspaper’s correspondents wrote:

“The Washington Post spent time with him and some of his 15 fighters, as well as with militants in two other Palestinian refugee camps – Jenin and Askar – over three days in July. The visits, agreed to on condition that full names and specific locations be withheld, afforded a rare window into the lives and actions of fighters on one side of the worst violence to grip the West Bank in decades.”

The “fighters” The Washington Post is referring to are the terrorists responsible for a series of shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Jewish civilians and soldiers in the Nablus area and Israel over the past few months. Notably, these terrorists do not hide their involvement in the wave of attacks. In fact, they often boast of the attacks and post videos and posters documenting their role.

The newspaper goes to lengths to focus on the human aspect of the terrorists’ lives. After being led to a room deep inside Balata camp, the correspondents, in an effort to humanize the terrorists, said they were “welcomed” by several men there who were “eating mana’eesh, a flatbread with za’atar. Weapons rested in their laps or against the walls.”

The correspondents go on to make a stunning revelation: One of the terrorists, identified only as Zoufi, “bought his M16 [rifle] for $20,000 with the money he earned working in construction in Tel Aviv.”

What the newspaper fails to mention is that this terrorist is one of tens of thousands of Palestinians who were granted permits (by Israel) to come and work in Israel as part of an effort to boost the Palestinian economy and improve the living conditions of the Palestinians in the West Bank.

The terrorist did not seek work in the P.A.-controlled territories because he knew he would have earned much less. The newspaper does not mention that many Palestinians prefer to work in Israel rather than in the P.A.-controlled areas. The terrorist was able to save $20,000 through his work in Israel, but instead of using the money to build a new house or improve his living condition, we are told that he chose to establish “the Balata cell of Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.”

The correspondents are apparently impressed by the fact that another terrorist, Ammar, paid 20 shekels ($6) to buy them coffee. Ammar had been shot multiple times by Israeli soldiers while attempting to murder Jews near Nablus in April. He managed to escape, but two of his fellow gunmen were killed.

The correspondents go on to claim, falsely, that “there are no sports teams” in Balata refugee camp.

The truth is that the camp has a soccer club that was established in 1954. It is called the Balata Youth Center and states that it “aspires to be the main supporter of all sports, cultural, social, and scouting activities… It also aspires to have a special playground for all sports, such as football [soccer], basketball, handball, volleyball, table tennis, and other individual and group games.” The local soccer team has even won several championships.

The terrorists could have joined the soccer team, but preferred to form a terror group to attack Jews.

Instead of highlighting that many of the terrorists are involved in intimidation and extortion of the local community, The Washington Post attempts to depict them as honest law-enforcers. We are told that one of the terrorists its correspondents hung out with, Goblin, beat a suspected thief:

“Goblin slapped the boy. ‘You will not steal again’, he yelled, striking him in the forehead with the stock of his rifle.”

Again, the newspaper ignores that many Palestinians are intimidated and terrorized by the gunmen, whom they hold responsible for the anarchy and lawlessness and accuse of living off of protection money.

“The [Balata] Camp has been hijacked by an armed group that is terrorizing and threatening to kill residents who dare to speak out,” the Fatah Office of Information and Culture itself said back in 2015. It accused the gunmen of extorting money from wealthy businessmen from Nablus and running a big market for weapons and drugs.

Sean Durns, a senior research analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, noted:

“[A] recent report by the Post provided what was essentially free advertising for a U.S.-designated terrorist group. Worse still, the Post’s foray is part of an ongoing trend in Western news outlets being used by terrorist organizations to promote their propaganda.”

After the recent murder of the Jewish woman near Hebron, one might wonder whether The Washington Post is planning to send its correspondents back to spend time with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades terrorists to hear, first-hand, how proud they are that they murdered an innocent kindergarten teacher in cold blood.

How would the newspaper’s readers have reacted had it sent its correspondents to spend time with Al-Qaeda or Islamic State terrorists to hear their pride in having committed atrocities against American citizens?

The Post piece leaves one with the distinct impression that there is such a thing as a good terrorist: one who targets Jews.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

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