Did BBC team responsible for faked footage of Syrian chemical attack travel under terrorist protection?

OffGuardian

by Catte

Most of our readers are now more than familiar with the bizarre events surrounding the BBC Panorama program Saving Syria’s Children. We’ve already returned to this story several times. The possibility that this program presented faked footage of a non-existent chemical attack by government troops on a school in Syria has been meticulously documented by independent researcher Robert Stuart over several years.

But a further twist to the story seems to show that the crew who filmed this questionable footage were being…

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BBC cheek by jowl with ISIS: email to Emily Thornberry MP

From: Robert Stuart
Sent: Sun 17/12/2017 14:10
Toemily.thornberry.mp@parliament.uk
Subject: BBC cheek by jowl with ISIS

Dear Emily

I was disappointed by your response to my concerns about BBC reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway’s having apparently entered into a business relationship with al-Qaeda and ISIS linked jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham during the production of the 2013 Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children.

I felt that Jeremy Hayes’ reply to you evaded this matter by diverting into separate concerns I have previously raised with the BBC over this programme.

In the absence of your support, I have reported Pannell and Conway to the National Counter Terrorism Security Office.

I now wish to make you aware of evidence that Pannell and Conway were working in close proximity to members of ISIS during the filming of Saving Syria’s Children.

As detailed here, an ambulance plainly displaying the ISIS flag was among vehicles which transported the alleged victims of an alleged incendiary attack to Atareb Hospital, Aleppo on 26 August 2013. The ambulance and two militarily attired and armed occupants were filmed at close quarters by Conway.

The ambulance was carrying a female alleged victim of the alleged incendiary attack. Conway filmed this woman being transported from the rear of the vehicle by five men, including the two men in combat fatigues who had travelled with her.

One of the “stars” of Saving Syria’s Children, Dr Saleyha Ahsan (who has more recently presented the BBC series “Trust Me I’m a Doctor”), has stated on Twitter that she carried the woman through the hospital. If so, this would appear to indicate that Dr Ahsan was in direct contact with the ISIS militants.

There are clearly very many troubling questions surrounding Saving Syria’s Children. How did Pannell and Conway come to be cheek by jowl, not only with al-Qaeda linked jihadis Ahrar al-Sham, but also with ISIS? Were western government agencies involved in the programme’s production and funding? If so, to what end? Were all the scenes transmitted genuine?

Award-winning US online magazine Paste has described Saving Syria’s Children as “a sham”. Tellingly, despite being informed of this the BBC has not, to my knowledge, chosen to pursue legal action against the publication.

A public enquiry into Saving Syria’s Children is now essential.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stuart

Address and telephone number supplied

BBC Panorama: on location with ISIS

The below information was submitted to Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry on 17 December 2017 – see BBC cheek by jowl with ISIS: email to Emily Thornberry MP


Scenes filmed by BBC cameraman Darren Conway for the 2013 Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children purporting to show incendiary bomb victims arriving at an Aleppo hospital feature an ambulance displaying the ISIS flag. [1]

The proximity of Conway and Panorama reporter Ian Pannell to the ISIS vehicle and its armed occupants at Atareb Hospital on 26 August 2013 contrasts markedly with an ostensibly tense scene shot earlier the same day in which the two-man BBC team passes through an ISIS checkpoint in apparent fear for their lives.

The ambulance was transporting a female alleged victim of an alleged napalm or thermite attack on the town of Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo. As discussed here, while the woman walked into the ambulance with composure and took an upright seat, following a 13 kilometre journey to Atareb she was filmed by Conway being ostentatiously carried out of the vehicle by five men, apparently screaming in agony.

Ambulance bearing ISIS flag at 13 seconds in You Tube video shot in Urm al-Kubra, Aleppo, dated 26 August 2013 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iteLr_0Qjkw


Ambulance sets off for Atareb https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXAFUehpE94


Ambulance arrives at Atareb Hospital where it is filmed by BBC Panorama cameraman Darren Conway (36:34 in Saving Syria’s Children https://vimeo.com/140567469). Two men in combat fatigues can be seen emerging from the vehicle, at least one of whom is armed (see http://bit.ly/2gpL1vx)


Ambulance departs hospital courtyard at 32:42 in Saving Syria’s Children https://vimeo.com/140567469


Pannell and Conway have recently been reported to the UK National Counter Terrorism Security Office over concerns that they entered into a business relationship with salafist jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham during the production of Saving Syria’s Children.

Ahrar al-Sham – described by the BBC as a “hardline Islamist group” [2]worked with ISIS until January 2014. In light of the then partnership between the two groups it would seem reasonable to question whether the safe passage of Pannell and Conway’s Ahrar al-Sham convoy through an ISIS checkpoint (from 10:47 to 11:40 in Saving Syria’s Children) was not, at least to some degree, orchestrated. [3]

Award-winning US online magazine Paste has described Saving Syria’s Children as “a sham”. In October I gave this presentation outlining some of the concerns surrounding the authenticity of the programme:

Notes

[1] Credit for this observation to @matija75 :

[2] As discussed here, Ahrar al-Sham was co-founded by “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers”. According to Human Rights Watch, just 19 days before filming for Saving Syria’s Children began the group worked alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra as one of “the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of attacks in which at least 190 civilians, including women, children and elderly men were killed and over 200 mostly women and children were kidnapped.

[3] Pannell’s words during this sequence are as follows:

Travelling around Syria has never really been more dangerous, both foreign journalists and foreign aid workers have been targeted, some have been killed. We’re just going through a checkpoint now, put the camera down a bit.

[Narration] Rival rebel factions now fight each other as well as the government. Lawlessness prevails and areas that were once safe can become dangerous almost overnight.

This is an ISIS group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This is a group that’s affiliated with Al Qaeda. Increasing numbers of jihadis have come into Syria, they’re setting up checkpoints so it means that any foreigners in particular traveling around the country run the gauntlet of these checkpoints every few miles or so. And the worst thing about driving around is that you’re never sure what lies behind the next corner.

Pannell and Conway’s convoy approaches an ISIS checkpoint in Saving Syria’s Children

Saving Syria’s Children: Was BBC license fee money used to support an Islamist terror group protection-racket?

Road To Somewhere Else

By Daniel Margrain

  In Saving Syria’s Children the logo of Salafist terror group, Ahrar al-Sham, is visible on the front of one the vehicles in Pannell and Conway’s security convoy (Source: Robert Stuart).

For many years I have been following Robert Stuart’s exhaustive and detailed exposition of the possible fabrications behind the infamous BBC Panorama documentary ‘Saving Syria’s Children’. The documentary was made in response to the alleged dropping of an incendiary bomb containing a “napalm-type” substance on the playground of the Urm al-Kubra school near Aleppo.

The BBC team comprising reporter, Ian Pannell and cameraman, Darren Conway were inside Syria when the alleged attack happened. They reported on, and filmed, the incoming casualties arriving at the Atareb hospital on 26 August 2013. The footage formed the basis of the documentary.

Stuart contends that the filmed sequences were largely, if not entirely, staged. Scenes from the documentary were…

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Ian Pannell and Darren Conway reported to National Counter Terrorism Security Office

From: Robert Stuart
Sent: 22 November 2017 12:13
To: NaCTSO@cpni.gsi.gov.uk
Subject: Former BBC reporter Ian Pannell and BBC cameraman Darren Conway

To Whom It May Concern

I wish to inform you that the above named individuals apparently established a business relationship with members of a jihadi group with links to al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria in August 2013.

At 10 minutes 18 seconds in the 2013 BBC Panorama programme Saving Syria’s Children Mr Pannell states: “Western journalists have been targeted in Syria, so I have to travel with my own security.”

From 10 minutes 28 seconds to 10 minutes 38 seconds in the programme the logo of Ahrar al-Sham is visible on the front of one the vehicles in Pannell and Conway’s security convoy (see image below).

Wikipedia categorises Ahrar al-Sham’s ideology as ‘Salafist jihadism’ and states that the group:

aims to create an Islamic state under Sharia law, and in the past has cooperated with the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda.

Ahrar al-Sham was co-founded by “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers” Abu Khalid al-Suri, real name Mohamed Bahaiah. Bahaiah, now deceased, was al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s representative in the Levant. Bahaiah is suspected by Spanish investigators of delivering surveillance tapes of the World Trade Centre to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership in Afghanistan in 1998.

Wikipedia indicates that Ahrar al-Sham was working in partnership with ISIS at the time Pannell and Conway were travelling with them in August 2013:

Ahrar al-Sham had worked with ISIS until the two groups began their present-day hostilities with one another in January 2014

The partnership between Ahrar al-Sham and ISIS would seem to be borne out by the section of Saving Syria’s Children from 10 minutes 47 seconds to 11 minutes 40 seconds, in which Pannell and Conway’s convoy passes unmolested through an ISIS checkpoint (see image below).

According to Human Rights Watch, less than three weeks before Pannell and Conway began filming on Saving Syria’s Children Ahrar al-Sham was, along with ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, among “the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of attacks in which at least 190 civilians, including women, children and elderly men, were killed and over 200 mostly women and children were kidnapped.

The BBC’s own news reports describe Ahrar al-Sham as a “hardline Islamist” group.

I have written further about this matter here:

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has written to the BBC on my behalf on the matter as documented here:

Mr Pannell is currently resident in London. He may be contacted through his current employers, ABC News. Mr Conway is an Australian citizen and may be contacted through his production company IFA Media.

I would also like to make you aware of related concerns regarding the UK registered charity Hand in Hand for Syria, which was featured in Saving Syria’s Children. In particular, an employee of Hand in Hand for Syria, Iessa Obied, has been photographed posing with an array of weapons including an anti-aircraft gun and a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (see images below).

Iessa Obied is the younger brother of Abdulrahman Obied, who has described himself as the Medical Director of Atareb Hospital, which featured in Saving Syria’s Children and which Hand in Hand for Syria has previously described as its “flagship medical facility”. Hand in Hand for Syria’s Medical Director, British-Syrian medic Dr Rola Hallam, was filmed in conversation with Abdulrahman Obied at Atareb Hospital in the programme (see image below).

Further information regarding Hand in Hand for Syria is here:

Yours faithfully

Robert Stuart

Shadow Foreign Secretary backs down over BBC Panorama links to al-Qaeda and ISIS

See also this follow up BBC cheek by jowl with ISIS: email to Emily Thornberry MP 

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has retreated from pursuing concerns that BBC licence fee revenue may have been paid to al-Qaeda and ISIS linked jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham.

On 19 August I emailed Ms Thornberry observing that BBC reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway had apparently employed Ahrar al-Sham militants as security during the filming of the 2013 Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children.

As noted in my recent presentation for Frome Stop War (from 15:18 below), Ahrar al-Sham was co-founded by “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers”, Mohamed Bahaiah. Bahaiah, now deceased, is suspected by Spanish investigators of delivering surveillance tapes of the World Trade Centre to al-Qaeda’s senior leadership in Afghanistan in 1998.

Less than three weeks before filming on Saving Syria’s Children began Ahrar al-Sham was, along with ISIS and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, among “the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of attacks in which at least 190 civilians were killed and over 200 mostly women and children were kidnapped. The BBC’s own news reports describe Ahrar al-Sham as a “hardline Islamist” group.

On 3 October Thornberry responded stating:

Making programmes in a war-zone such as Syria is a very difficult task, but I agree that the BBC must be vigilant to ensure that licence fee payer money is never used to inadvertently fund the members of any Jihadi groups.

I hope that the Editor of Panorama will be able to shed further light on this issue and explain what action the BBC has taken to look into this matter and learn lessons for future programmes.

However, in her latest reply (reproduced below) Thornberry’s ardour to discover whether BBC license fee payer money was paid to the “hardline Islamist” Ahrar al-Sham has vanished:

I was unaware of your longstanding correspondence with the BBC when I first raised your complaint but after reading their response I am confident that they have investigated your complaint extensively and I now consider this matter to be closed.

The response referred to by Thornberry, from BBC News Senior Editorial Adviser Jeremy Hayes (also reproduced below), dwells almost entirely on the 2013/14 correspondence between myself and the corporation over the possible fabrication of scenes in the documentary. The fresh observations about Pannell and Conway’s association with the ISIS and al-Qaeda linked Ahrar al-Sham are waved away in the final paragraph:

I doubt that the detail supplied by Mr Stuart in his letter to you about the alleged presence in a convoy of a vehicle marked ‘Ahrar al-Sham’ would have a significant bearing on the accuracy of this programme but in any case the BBC is only obliged to consider complaints about its broadcast output within thirty days of transmission unless there are exceptional circumstances. Bearing in mind the considerable resources which have been expended by the BBC in considering and investigating Mr Stuart’s many other allegations about this programme , BBC News will not be examining this claim.

That at least one vehicle marked with the Ahrar al-Sham logo formed part of Pannell and Conway’s security convoy is a fact, not an allegation:

Vehicle in convoy transporting BBC reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway in Saving Syria’s Children.


Further, the issues raised by Thornberry on my behalf were not in this instance in respect of the accuracy of the programme’s content. They were:

  • That BBC personnel had seemingly established a business relationship with a murderous jihadi faction which was co-founded by al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri’s then representative in Syria and which, as noted above, had scant weeks earlier co-operated with ISIS and al-Qaeda in the mass killing and kidnap of civilians;
  • The possibility that Ahrar al-Sham may have been paid for its services with BBC licence fee revenue;
  • That Panorama had employed as Saving Syria’s Children’s Fixer/Translator an individual reported as wishing to “help bring down the Syrian regime”, who had been photographed bearing the standard of armed opposition faction the Idlib Martyrs’ Brigade and who had posted numerous gloating images of weaponry on social media. [1]

Despite having asked the Panorama office in October to respond specifically to these three points, one month later the Shadow Foreign Secretary appears mollified by a reply which avoids them all. Embracing Hayes’ obfuscatory conflation of my two separate concerns – that scenes in Saving Syria’s Children may have been staged and that BBC personnel appear to have been ensconced with the “hardline Islamist” Ahrar al-Sham – Thornberry now finds herself “confident” that the BBC has investigated my “complaint” “extensively” and considers “this matter to be closed.” [2]

Thankfully there are others who wish to promote, rather than foreclose, enquiry into both strands of concern.

In April, multi-award winning Paste magazine, whose “8 million unique monthly visitors” are “hungry for authenticity”, declared Saving Syria’s Children a “sham“.

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray has questioned the programme’s production on a number of occasions, while ex-Guardian and Observer journalist Jonathan Cook raised his head a considerable distance above the parapet to state: “It looks suspiciously like one scene in particular, of people with horrific burns, was staged”.

Film, television and radio producer Victor Lewis-Smith’s challenge that the BBC make the documentary’s raw footage available led to his tearing up his own BBC contract and pressured Panorama editor Rachel Jupp into publishing a highly disingenuous defence of Saving Syria’s Children on Facebook. [3] Lewis-Smith now plans a cinema documentary on the subject.

Another quarter which both the BBC and compliant parliamentarians would do well not to disregard is the Mumsnet community, whose members are presently discussing Saving Syria’s Children in terms including “utterly outrageous, beyond anything seen in Russia, North Korea”, “Definitely FAKE and in parts so badly acted” and “Pretty clear they’ve been caught out here”.

The hands that rock the cradle…


Mumsnet poster VivaLeBeaver, departing from topics of prior legitimate concern including “What was that banana medicine I used to have as a kid?” and “What to wear under a cassock if you’re nine !“, pronounced the case for Saving Syria’s Children being a fabrication “worryingly convincing” while Carolinesbeanies asks a question I too have had occasion to ponder:

These are damning accusations against the BBC that if untrue, any credible organisation would have obtained injunctions, financial damages and no end of legal apologies to clear their name?

So in short, in 4 years, why is Robert Stuart in the heart of London presenting his evidence in October 2017, unhindered by any form of injunction or legal redress?


Notes

[1] While the points I raised with Thornberry did not directly relate to the accuracy or authenticity of the content of Saving Syria’s Children, in light of the links which clearly existed between Ahrar al-Sham and ISIS in August 2013 the tensely-rendered scene of Pannell and Conway’s passage through an ISIS checkpoint at 10:46 in the programme perhaps acquires a different complexion.

[2] For Thornberry to be “unaware” of my “longstanding correspondence with the BBC” is a circumstance I have done my utmost to mitigate since 16 December 2015, when I personally handed both her and Jeremy Corbyn copies of a dossier on Saving Syria’s Children. Since 20 January 2016 I have included Thornberry’s parliamentary email address on my circulation list for updates on the topic and between then and 10 July this year have blind copied her into 24 such emails. The next email I sent to Thornberry, on 17 August, was in the capacity of a constituent seeking advocacy and began the exchange outlined above.

[3] For instance, Jupp’s statement in part reads:

A handful of people have raised questions about the programme’s authenticity, including RT in 2014. The BBC complained to Ofcom about the RT report, and Ofcom found that RT had indeed breached rule 2.2 of the Ofcom code – which states that “Factual programmes of items or portrayals of factual matters must not materially mislead the audience.”

Ofcom’s finding clearly states that it “has not undertaken an assessment of the accuracy and/or impartiality of the BBC Programmes in reaching this Decision” and that “it was not possible or appropriate for Ofcom to attempt to prove or disprove the allegations made [by RT] about the BBC in the Programme”. I had pointed this out in an email to Jupp prior to the publication of her statement.

Commenting on Jupp’s statement, Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire observes:

“A handful of people have raised questions…” so is that meant to downplay any wrong doing? How many unruly plebs would be a significant number for the BBC to take an inquiry seriously?


My previous related correspondence with Emily Thornberry is here, here and here

The appended images referred to by the ECU below can be viewed here.  My full correspondence with the BBC over Saving Syria’s Children is here.

Media on Trial, 19 October 2017

All six presentations from Media on Trial, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, 19 October 2017.

Fabrication in Saving Syria’s Children: Media on Trial, 19 October 2017

Presentation at Media on Trial, Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, London, 19 October 2017.

You Tube copy here:

Emily Thornberry: BBC “must be vigilant” to ensure license fee does not fund Jihadi groups

Update: Emily Thornberry has responded further here.

Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry MP has written to BBC Panorama Editor Rachel Jupp over concerns that a Panorama team used members of an al-Qaeda and ISIS linked group as “security”.

Ms Thornberry’s letter to Ms Jupp included a copy of my email of 17 August 2013 [1] in which I pointed out that a vehicle in the convoy transporting reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway in the 2013 Panorama special Saving Syria’s Children bore the logo of jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham.

In her covering response to me Ms Thornberry writes:

Making programmes in a war-zone such as Syria is a very difficult task, but I agree that the BBC must be vigilant to ensure that licence fee payer money is never used to inadvertently fund the members of any Jihadi groups.

I hope that the Editor of Panorama will be able to shed further light on this issue and explain what action the BBC has taken to look into this matter and learn lessons for future programmes.

Ahrar al-Sham was co-founded [2] by Osama bin Laden’s “chief courier between Europe and Afghanistan” [3], who is suspected by Spanish authorities of having “delivered surveillance tapes of the World Trade Center and other American landmarks to al Qaeda’s senior leadership in Afghanistan in early 1998”. [4]

Just three weeks prior to Ian Pannell and Darren Conway’s use of members of the group as security, Ahrar al-Sham had been, along with Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, one “the key fundraisers, organizers, planners, and executors” of attacks in the Latakia countryside in which at least 190 civilians – “including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men” – were killed and over 200 – “the vast majority women and children” – were kidnapped. [5]

In numerous of its own reports the BBC has described Ahrar al-Sham as a “hardline Islamist” group. [6]

Ms Thornberry’s response to me and her letter to Panorama editor Rachel Jupp are reproduced below.


Our Ref: AP/STUA03006/031713320

03 October 2017

Dear Mr Stuart

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the 2013 episode of Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children.’ I was interested to read your thoughts on this important matter and apologise for the delayed response.

I have written to the Editor of BBC Panorama to alert them to your complaint and asked them to investigate this matter. I have included a copy of this letter and will let you know when I receive a response.

I can appreciate why you are concerned about this issue nd [sic] it is clear that you have conducted extensive research to support your compliant [sic]. Making programmes in a war-zone such as Syria is a very difficult task, but I agree that the BBC must be vigilant to ensure that licence fee payer money is never used to inadvertently fund the members of any Jihadi groups.

I hope that the Editor of Panorama will be able to shed further light on this issue and explain what action the BBC has taken to look into this matter and learn lessons for future programmes.

Thank you once again for your email. If there are any further points that you would like to raise please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.

Best wishes,

Rt Hon Emily Thornberry MP
Islington South and Finsbury


Ms Rachel Jupp
Editor
BBC Panorama
Zone D, 4th Floor
BBC Broadcasting House
Portland Place
London
MIA I AA

Our Ref: AP/STUA03006/031713320
03 October 2017

Dear Ms Jupp

Re: Mr Robert Stuart [address provided]

One of my constituents has recently contacted me with their concerns about the BBC Panorama programme ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ which was first broadcast in 2013. I appreciate that this is now four years ago, but I hope that you will still be able to look into this matter for my constituent.

Mr Stuart has told me that he is worried that BBC reporters and their crew were transported in a convoy which included a vehicle that bore the logo of the Salafist Jihadi group ‘Ahrar al-Sham’. Mr Stuart is also concerned that the translator who was helping the BBC team may have been associated with members of this group who were alleged to have participated in an attack on civilians in the Latakia countryside in August 2013.

I have included a copy of my constituent’s email and would be grateful if you would be able to respond to the points that he has raised. Are you already aware of similar complaints against this programme? Have you taken any action to investigate these allegations?

I hope that you will appreciate that my constituent’s concern stems from the possibility that licence fee revenues may have been used to inadvertently fund the members of a Jihadi group in Syria.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Emily Thornberry
MP Islington South and Finsbury



Vehicle in convoy transporting BBC Panorama team of reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway on 26 August 2013 bears the logo of jihadi group Ahrar al-Sham. See this post for further discussion https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/bbc-panorama-team-embedded-with-islamic-state-partner-group/


Notes

[1] I sent a follow up email on 20 September

[2] “Abu Khalid al-Suri (Unknown to February 23, 2014): Suri, also known as Abu Omeir al-Shami, was one of Ahrar al-Sham’s co-founders.” Stanford University, Mapping Militants Project, http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/523

[3] “Mohamed Bahaia: aka Abu Khaled; described by Spanish as bin Laden’s chief courier between Europe and Afghanistan.” USA Today, 17 September 2003, http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2003-09-17-spain-alqaeda_x.htm

[4] Syrian rebel leader was bin Laden’s courier, now Zawahiri’s representative, Foundation for Defense of Democracies Long War Journal, 17 December 2013, https://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2013/12/aq_courier_rebel_leader_zawahiri.php

[5] “You Can Still See Their Blood” – Executions, Indiscriminate Shootings, and Hostage Taking by Opposition Forces in Latakia Countryside, Human Rights Watch, 10 October 2013, https://www.hrw.org/report/2013/10/10/you-can-still-see-their-blood/executions-indiscriminate-shootings-and-hostage

[6] https://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=ahrar+al-sham+%22hardline+islamist%22&sa_f=search-product&scope= also http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-38966601

Numerous BBC News reports describe Ahrar al-Sham as a “hardline Islamist” group.

Follow up email to Emily Thornberry re: BBC Panorama team embedded with jihadist group

From: Robert Stuart
Sent: Wed 20/09/2017 20:50
Toemily.thornberry.mp@parliament.uk
Subject: Re: BBC Panorama team embedded with jihadi group co-founded by senior bin Laden courier

Dear Emily

Please could you confirm receipt of my email of 17 August below and advise me of any action you have taken to date.

I would like to know if Ian Pannell and Darren Conway were aware of the connections between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda*, and of Ahrar al-Sham’s participation, alongside ISIS, in the mass killing and kidnapping of civilians on 5 August 2013, when they travelled with them on 26 August 2013. If they were not, as journalists, why were they not?

Was the BBC Panorama editorial team aware of the arrangements that Pannell and Conway had made with Ahrar al-Sham? If they were not, why not?

Was BBC license fee payers’ money paid to the al-Qaeda affiliated Ahrar al-Sham?

Bearing in mind his links to violent factions in the Syrian conflict and his publicly expressed partisan sentiments, did the BBC’s employment of “Fixer/Translator” Mughira Al Sharif breach the corporation’s Editorial Guidelines?

I look forward to receiving your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Stuart

https://bbcpanoramasavingsyriaschildren.wordpress.com/

* In addition to Ahrar al-Sham’s foundational link to “one of Osama bin Laden’s most trusted couriers”, as noted in my blog post of 9 July 2017 at the time Saving Syria’s Children was produced Ahrar al-Sham was, according to Stanford University, “coordinating operations with its closest ally”, the al-Nusra Front. Wikipedia states that the al-Nusra Front, also known as “al-Qaeda in Syria”, was “the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda until July 2016, when it ostensibly split”.

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