Saudi Arabia slams Al Jazeera footage

Qatar-based news channel Al Jazeera is in the spotlight again after an official from Saudi Arabia’s intelligence office accused it of inciting terrorism.

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By  John Irish Published  February 9, 2004

Saudi Arabia’s recently appointed assistant director of intelligence, Prince Abdul Aziz ibn Bandar has launched a scathing attack against the controversial Al Jazeera news channel. The response followed footage released by the network on Friday February 06. The broadcast allegedly shows the suicide bombers of a Riyadh residential compound last November, minutes before they carried out their attack. Speaking to the Saudi Al Okaz newspaper, Prince Abdul slammed the broadcast on grounds that it was “inciting terrorism.” “This is not surprising,” he said. “Since its launch [in 1996], this channel incites terrorism. [It] is not since September 11, 2001, but long before,” he added. Despite this, Jihad Ali Ballout, manager of communications and media relations for Al Jazeera channel, recently told itpbusinesss.net that the channel would not be forced to change its editorial policy because of “the defacto embargo of certain regional governments.” “Al Jazeera has made it clear. We do our job according to a very clear editorial stance of not shying away from issues that might [upset] somebody,” he said. “We do not sanitise news, withhold news or do a PR job for anybody.” Meanwhile, the Dubai-based and Saudi-backed Al Arabiya news network also aired on Friday a 90-minute tape of the same suicide bombers preparing for the Riyadh attacks. The video shows fighters training, making explosives and finalising preparations. Prince Abdul, however, has not yet commented on the Al Arabiya tape.

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