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November 09, 2006

Charming Terrorist's Omitted Admission

Zakaria Zubeidi, leader of the Fatah-affiliated Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Jenin, was a widely-quoted, at times romantically portrayed source and subject for Western news media in 2004 and 2005. He appeared a dozen times in The Washington Post, once virtually lionized by the newspaper's Molly Moore as a Palestinian hybrid of Robin Hood and Judge Roy Bean ("Refuge Is Prison For Hunted Palestinian; De Facto Sheriff Is Wanted by Israelis," Aug. 23, 2004). (See critique of Moore's feature).

When Reuters News Agency's Israel bureau held a going away party for a colleague in the summer of 2005, Zubeidi reportedly appeared in a spoof video, sitting in Reuter's Jenin office, pretending to be bureau chief. The agency issued a statement saying it told the staff involved that it found the video "inappropriate and in bad taste" and "to make it clear that it is not associated with any group or faction in any conflict."

Regardless of journalists' apparent fascination with Zubeida, Israeli officials say that the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (also listed by the United States as a terrorist organization) is responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in which more than 80 Israelis have been killed and close to 700 wounded. The Jerusalem Post reported on July 7, 2006 that Zubeidi escape an Israeli Defense Forces capture attempt in Jenin that led to a shoot-out in which one Palestinian Arab was killed, five wounded. The IDF acted after several terrorist attacks reportedly planned by Zubeidi, including a thwarted suicide bombing at the Jewish settlement of Barkan.

Zubeidi -- his last name is spelled Zbeida by The Washington Post -- still occasionally receives lavish, if not completely uncritical coverage. In "This man's young disciples, trained in the cause of martyrdom, wrap themselves in explosives and blow up innocent Jewish civilians," (Sunday Times of London, June 11, 2006), reporter Christine Toomey, after an attempted psychological review of Zubeidi's troubled childhood, does ask the sort of pointed follow-up questions about murder and "martyrdom" that Moore avoided.

But neither The Washington Post or other major U.S. papers seemed to have covered a revealing admission by Zubeidi to the German publication Welt am Sonntag, which appeared in the March 6, 2006 edition and was reprinted in Kuwait's Al-Rai Al-Amm the same day. As noted by Israel's Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies ( Zubeidi said:

"Without the assistance of our Hezbollah brothers we would not have been able to persist with our struggle ...." Hezbollah, the Iranian-funded, Syrian-armed Lebanese "Party of God," provides "funds, arms, training and support. We coordinate our operations with them."

According to the ITIC, Zubeidi acknowledged that Hezbollah exerts much influence on him.

So, when he can be described as providing law and order in the Jenin "refugee camp" -- a long permanent if comparatively poorer neighborhood of the city of Jenin -- that a corrupt, incompetent Palestinian Authority does not, and an occupying Israel prevents, Zakaria Zubeidi is newsworthy. But when he's a leader of a Palestinian terrorist group, affirming a debt to a major internationial terrorist organization, he's not. Apparently, if the subject is Zakaria Zubeidi, bad news is no news.

Posted by ER at November 9, 2006 02:46 PM


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