DUBAI – The Arab TV channel Al Jazeera rejected on Saturday as unfounded Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s accusations that it was encouraging Islamic militant groups by airing beheadings of foreign hostages in Iraq.
“Al Jazeera … has never at any time transmitted pictures of killings or beheadings and … any talk about this is absolutely unfounded,” the television said in a statement.
Al Jazeera, repeatedly accused by Washington of biased reporting on Iraq, has often shown video of hostages pleading at gunpoint for their government to withdraw its troops. But it does not broadcast footage of killings, posted on the Internet by militants.
The channel voiced “deep regret and surprise” over Rumsfeld’s remarks.
Rumsfeld earlier said: “If anyone lived in the Middle East and watched a network like the Al Jazeera day after day after day, even if he was an American, he would start waking up and asking what’s wrong. But America is not wrong.
“It’s the people who are going on television chopping off people’s heads, that is wrong,” he told a security conference in Singapore.
“And television networks that carry it and promote it and jump on the spark every time there is a terrorist act are promoting the acts,” he said.
Give ’em h*** Rummy!
Al Jazeera’s offices in Baghdad and in the Afghan capital, Kabul, have been hit by U.S. fire but Washington said the bombings were accidental and had not targeted the network…
More than 150 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq in the past year. Some have been released, but about one third have been killed.