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February 26, 2008

Baltimore Sun 'Martyrs' Terrorist Mughniyeh

A small headline over a short wire service article nevertheless was a major blunder in The Baltimore Sun’s February 15 edition. For a McClatchy-Tribune news service dispatch covering both the funeral of Imad Mughniyeh, assassinated arch-terrorist of Hezbollah, and a three-year anniversary memorial for murdered former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, The Sun wrote:

“Lebanese honor 2 martyrs; Hezbollah officer led anti-U.S. attacks; Hariri remembered.�?

Two martyrs? A more obscene equivalence is hard to imagine.

Hariri, a billionaire businessman with Saudi connections, rebuilt much of Beirut after the 1975 - 1990 Lebanese civil wars, and reportedly tried to distance himself from Lebanon’s Syrian overlords. He was murdered, along with 16 others, in a massive Feb. 14, 2005 car-bombing. U.N. investigators suspect Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s associates.

Mughniyeh was a sociopathic leader of the Iranian-trained and funded, Syrian-armed Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shi’ite “Party of God,�? prior to al Qaeda’s Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, had murdered more Americans than any other terrorist organization. It’s also murdered hundreds more non-Americans.

But for The Sun’s headline writer, and any other wire and copy editors who handled the story, both men were “martyrs.�? A martyr, it apparently needs to be repeated, is an individual who dies for his faith, not one who by it justifies murder.

The article said that “Mughniyeh is blamed for the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and the Marine headquarters at Beirut airport, the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight and other attacks.�? Like the secondary description of him as an “officer,�? this omits too much, including:

The 1983 bombing of the French military barracks in Lebanon; the beating, torture and murder of U.S. Navy SEAL Robert D. Stethem during the 1985 hijacking; Mughniyeh’s oversight or participation in the kidnapping and torture of CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley, who eventually died in Iran; kidnapping, torture and murder of U.S. Col. Richard Higgins; the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires; 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires; kidnappings of numerous Westerners in Beirut in the 1980s and early ‘90s; and reportedly serving as a link between al Qaeda’s 9/11 “musclemen�? and Iran, and between Hezbollah and al Qaeda in Iraq.

Some martyr.

The Sun once operated bureaus in Beirut, Cairo and other major foreign cities. It closed the sole remaining overseas office — Jerusalem — last year. Like other big daily newspapers, it continues to suffer declines in circulation and advertising revenue. And, apparently, editorial judgment.

Posted by ER at February 26, 2008 03:14 PM


I am reminded of the BBC's paean to Sheikh Ahmed Yassin upon his demise: “He inspired [Palestinians] to offer up their lives, promising that suicide bombers who were willing to die for the sake of the dignity of Palestinians and in the service of a longer-term victory would achieve martyrdom.�? Sanctifying murderers as dignified, martyred, or inspiring is now standard fare in the western media.

Posted by: Ben at February 28, 2008 04:43 PM

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