Media Analysis 2- It’s Almost Too Easy - 03.14.2006

So this evening I found this gem in the Guardian Unlimited.

Iraqi leaders call for ‘national unity’ after al-Qaida attacks

Iraqi leaders on all sides today blamed al-Qaida for attempting to foment civil war by launching yesterday’s bloody attack on a market that killed at least 58 people.

How can the Guardian run this title when they present ZERO empirical evidence within the article that Al’Qaida is behind these attacks in Sadr City? As I posted earlier today, we desperately need the media to start asking hard questions and doing real investigative journalism.

From examining this article, and another posted on Al’Jazeera, it appears that the mainstream press is taking liberties with Muqtada Al’Sadr’s statement:

Muqtada al-Sadr has said he will not order his militia to strike al-Qaida fighters after Sunday’s bombing of his stronghold in Baghdad because that would mean civil war.

“I could order the Mahdi Army to root out the terrorists and fundamentalists but this would lead us into civil war and we don’t want that,” the Shia cleric told a news conference in the city of Najaf on Monday.

In al’Jazeera’s article they at least do not make a direct connection between Al’Qaida and the Sadr City bombings over the weekend.

In another translation of Sadr’s comments in adnkronos international, it appears Sadr makes a more clear connection to the occupation’s responsibility for these attacks, which appears more in line with Sadr’s general trend:

“We consider the attack was carried out by groups of Takfir [a derogatory term used to describe terrorists literally meaning ‘those who have put themselves outside Islam’] thanks to the cover of American spy aircraft” he said.

Back to the Guardian article, however, there is only one more reference to Al’Qaida in the entire article:

Abdel Karim al-Bahadli, 42, wept as he hobbled on crutches to survey the devastation at one of the stricken markets.

He blamed the extremist Sunni Takfiri sect of terror boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.

“This is not resistance [to foreign occupation] because there were no US troops in the markets yesterday,” he said. “The Takfiris are only after Shias. We will not be silent any more.”

The article discusses the contention of various Iraqi politicians that the attacks in Sadr City were conducted by the vague group known as “terrorists.”

Given that today President Bush alleged Iran was responsible for at least some portion of the equipment used to build IEDs in Iraq, it seems at least worth asking whether the Iranian government, or its proxies inside Iraq, may be responsible for the bombings for which no responsibility has been claimed.

As I have previously stated, Muqtada Al’Sadr is not allied with Iran, and any steps taken to lessen his influence in Iraq and increase the influence of other Shi’is, such as SCIRI and Badr who do have direct ties to Iran, can be understood to strengthen Iran’s influence inside Iraq.

My point in this whole post is just this; It is irresponsible and unprofessional for members of the press to accuse any group of engaging in an attack or other violent act without empirical evidence of that groups’ responsibility.

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