Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE - IN DUBAI

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The brouhaha over the death of Hamas operative Mahmoud Mabhouh has produced numerous contradictory reports, all purporting to be authentic. Whether or not Israel is in fact responsible, the media are glaringly ignoring their responsibility to distinguish between fact and opinion and to report events based on all, rather than carefully selected bits, of available evidence.
 
The unreliability of media reports about this event is evidenced starkly by the many different speculative versions that have been presented as factual.

To the observant reader, it is obvious that disproportionately huge amounts of media space are filled with pure speculation. The only firm fact that has emerged is that Mabhouh is dead. It is even doubtful that he was murdered as one must ask how supposed perpetrators left the door locked and secured with a latch and chain from inside.

This intriguing, but overlooked information was supplied by the Dubai Government Media Office. I quote precisely, "On Wednesday the 20th January 2010 at 1.30 pm, Al Bustan Hotel's administration opened the door to the victim's hotel room, which was locked from the inside with the latch and chain in place, (the emphasis is mine) after several repeated attempts to reach him on the telephone. Initial medical reports stated that the cause of death was due to an increase in blood pressure on the brain.
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWxjxTaWytE&feature=channel

The likelihood of suicide is strengthened by the fact that Mabhouh had changed his routine, dispensing with his customary security detail and booking his ticket under his real name. According to a report in The National, "He has five passports, one of them with his real name the others with different names, and this time he travelled under his actual identity."
http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100131/FOREIGN/701309828/1133

Although various reports of the cause of death contradict each other, all are nevertheless presented as factual.

According to Winnipeg Free Press Mabhouh was carrying an Iraqi passport with a false name, issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. When he left the hotel to attend a meeting, the hit team entered his room using a sophisticated electronic device. They overpowered him on his return and "he was dead within 10 minutes..with the same electronic device, they relocked the door from the interior". No mention of the latch and chain.

A local autopsy detected burns from a stun gun on his chest, under his ear and in his groin and blood was found on the pillow.
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/westview/assassination-shows-skilful-planning-85024967.html

Contradicting the Winnipeg story, Timesonline reported there were no suspicious signs and that local doctors diagnosed a heart attack, induced by a drug injected by the hit squad. It reported further that not until nine days after the body was found and blood samples sent to Paris for analysis showed signs of poison, did Hamas announce his death and blame Mossad.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article7009625.ece

Mahmoud's brother  told AFP by telephone,  that an investigation showed Mahmoud  was killed by an electrical appliance held to his head. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3841395,00.html

On January 31, Emirati Law reported that the Dubai Police Chief said that forensic examination showed Mabhouh was suffocated with a pillow by a professional criminal group. He made no mention of electrocution nor blood.
http://www.emiratilaw.com/default.aspx?action=DisplayNews&type=2&id=5250&Year=31/01/2010

Doubts that Mabhouh was murdered are reinforced by a news item published by Ma'an, the Palestine News Agency announcing that Mabhouh died of cancer in a hospital in the United Arab Emirates. Strangely, this report was published on the date of Mabhouh's death despite the fact that the official announcement was made only nine days later as reported by Timesonline.
http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=255640
 
Assuming that Mabhouh was indeed murdered, it is interesting that contrary to the kneejerk reaction of Western media in accusing only Israel, the Dubai Police chief pointed a finger at Hamas. The Indian Siasat Daily reported that the Dubai Police Chief told Gulf News that a Hamas member had played a significant role in the killing.
http://www.siasat.com/english/news/dubai-police-chief-calls-internal-hamas-probe

Al Asharq Alawsat  carried the headline "Palestinian Dubai Murder Suspects are Hamas Members - Palestinian Security Official"

The PA police spokesman said, ".. they work for the security apparatus of Hamas, and one of them holds the rank of major.."
"..I ask Hamas to reconsider and open investigations into all previous assassinations, and inform us how Hamas Interior Minister Said Seyam was assassinated, as well as Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi, and senior Hamas member Ismail Abu Shanab, and many others."
http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=1&id=19905

A dispassionate observer cannot help but observe the zealous focus on Israel while all other suspicious avenues are ignored, though intellectual honesty would require they be examined with equal diligence.

In-depth reporting would give readers some background to Mabhouh and the purpose of his visit to Dubai. Readers would be interested to know he was a founder of Hamas' military wing and that he was responsible for arms supplies from Iran to Gaza, that he was a confessed murderer and terrorist and that he had been on the wanted list in Jordan and Egypt had where he had been imprisoned in 2003.

Details of forged passports used by the supposed assailants have been widely publicized, but one must ask why no information at all has been provided about the five fake passports used by Mabhouh.

The Mabhouh incident exposes the hysterical hyperbole the media eagerly adopts whenever an opportunity occurs to lambast Israel, but it will be difficult to beat the drivel that BBC host Eddie Mair allowed an interviewee to spout in a broadcast on Radio 4's PM program on February 17.  Interviewee, Gordon Thomas, author of Gideon's Spies allowed his creative imagination to go wild, creating a new fiction that one million Jews worldwide are part of Mossad and stand ready to assist in executions. It troubles all who understand the distinction between free and inflammatory speech that the BBC allows mendacious, irresponsible nonsense of this nature, without calling the interviewee to order.

The wide discrepancies in "information" provided by different media indicate a worrying tendency among journalists to present conjecture as fact in blatant violation of journalistic ethics.

Yes, there is certainly much more than meets the eye, in reports about the death of Mabhouh in Dubai, not least, the mystery of the door, securely locked and chained on the inside when the body was found.

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