Mohammed Abdullatif

Mohammed Abdullatif is the supposed eyewitness who appears at 02:55 in the BBC’s 29 August 2013 report. [1] His words are as follows;

(On screen) Dear United Nations, you’re recalling peace, you’re calling for peace, what kind of peace are you calling for?

(Audio only)  Don’t you see this? Don’t you see this?  What do you need to see? We’re just a human beings, we want to live you know, it is our right to live, isn’t it?

Abdullatif’s spoken error only ascribable to his reading from a text

Abdullatif corrects an error as he speaks – “You’re recalling peace, you’re calling for peace”. This can only be an error of reading in which Abdullatif has misread the words “you’re calling” as “you’re recalling“. It would therefore seem clear that Abdullatif is cribbing from a cue card or prepared text of some kind out of sight of the camera.

In this video [2] featuring part of the same interview Abdullatif can clearly be seen continually looking down as he speaks, as if glancing at something out of vision. [3]

BBC offers contradictory accounts of Abdullatif’s “address” to the UN

In its response to my first letter BBC Audience Services stated (my emphasis):

“The team met and interviewed Abdullatif in the corridor of the hospital. He was not reading a statement, he did not have paper or card in his hands. He was visiting some of his relatives [4] who were injured in the attack and was considerably upset. He was speaking a language he is unfamiliar with (English) while being interviewed on TV (something he is also unfamiliar with) and attempted to be formal when he started talking, apparently feeling he should “address” the UN and the world about what is happening around him. What perhaps sounds like a “statement” at the start of this section, (when he looks into the camera) quickly lapses into regular speech and he looks to the right of the camera, at the cameraman”.

This contradicts a response on the same point provided on 1 September 2014 by BBC Complaints Adviser Colin Tregear to another complainant:

“The extract used in the programme was just part of a longer interview during which the contributor addressed the camera directly on a number of occasions as well as talking to the reporting asking questions. At this point he was asked what his message was to the UN and he turned and spoke directly to the camera. There is indication that he is reading from a prepared text”.

In her decision  of 26 September 2014 Senior Editorial Complaints Adviser Leanne Buckle wrote:

It was clear for example from viewing the rushes that the man who it was alleged had been reading from a cue card in his plea to the UN, was responding to a direct question from the reporter who asked him “What is your message to the outside world?”.

According to BBC Audience Services Abdullatif’s decision to address the United Nations was spontaneous and his own; according to Mr Tregear, Abdullatif was directly responding to a request from the Panorama team for him to provide a message “to the UN“; Ms Buckle directly quotes the Panorama reporter as having asked Abdullatif  “What is your message to the outside world?”

Clearly, all three explanations cannot be true.


Abdullatif frequently glances down to the left of camera during his “interview” in this You Tube video (copy here)


Is it in fact the Panorama crew which is filming the “interview” that is being recorded with the green microphone and part of which was broadcast on BBC News on 29 August 2013? (copy here).


[1] Curiously, the Violations Documentation Center In Syria (a regularly cited source in BBC reports and analysis) lists “Muhammad Abdullatif ” as a 15 year-old child killed in the alleged “napalm bomb” attack of 26 August 2013. Other contradictions between the VDC list and the Panorama account abound.

[2] This video was originally posted on You Tube here. At some point prior to 8 April 2015 the You Tube channel (“Aleppo and Idleb”) hosting the video was terminated.

[3]  BBC Audience Services claims that the Panorama team “met and interviewed Abdullatif in the corridor of the hospital”. However there is a question over the identity of the team which is conducting the interview with Abdullatif in the You Tube video, part of the audio from which is used in the BBC’s 29 August report.

The young man at the left of screen at the start of the You Tube video (see second image above) appears to be involved in the filming of Abdullatif; however he is not part of the BBC Panorama crew, which consisted exclusively of reporter Ian Pannell and cameraman Darren Conway.

There is an appreciable change in the sound quality in the BBC’s report at the point where Abdullatif’s words from the You Tube video are included (“What do you need to see? We’re just a human beings, we want to live you know, it is our right to live, isn’t it?”).

Was the interview being recorded in the You Tube video conducted by a third party and a section of audio from it included, unacknowledged, in the BBC’s report?

[4] At 3:25 in this World Service report (also at 5:05 here) Ian Pannell states “Mohammed Abdullatif took the video at the scene before racing to the hospital where one of his relatives was being treated”.

This is the only account I am aware of which identifies Abdullatif as responsible for filming the footage “at the scene”, shown at the start of the BBC News report of 29 August 2013.

About Robert Stuart

Researching the 2013 BBC Panorama documentary Saving Syria's Children and associated BBC News reports.

3 responses to “Mohammed Abdullatif

  1. Pingback: Final appeal to BBC Trust re: fabrication in Panorama ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ | Fabrication in BBC Panorama's 'Saving Syria’s Children'

  2. Pingback: BBC obstinately refuses to admit they used fake footage to blame Assad’s Syria | Uprootedpalestinians's Blog

  3. Pingback: Freedom of Information Request: | Philosophers Stone

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