BBC sparks outrage after using anti-Israel journalist from Iranian news agency for report

BBC sparks outrage after using anti-Israel journalist from Iranian news agency for report

Charlie Rowley said Iran, whose army-funded media employee formed the basis of a BBC report, is having a direct impact on the West

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 05/03/2024

- 11:31

Mahmoud Awadeyah was found to have dined with senior jihadists as the BBC was branded ‘disgraceful’

The BBC has been criticised for “failing in the most basic of journalistic practices” after it emerged it used an Iranian army-backed reporter as an eyewitness source in its reporting on Gaza.

In a ‘BBC Verify’ segment on Saturday, the corporation ‘fact-checked’ video and eyewitness accounts of a crowd rush incident at an aid convoy in Gaza in which the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says over 100 people died.

The segment included a report from Mahmoud Awadeyah, described as a “journalist at the scene”, who alleged that Israeli troops deliberately shot at people attempting to approach trucks of flour in the convoy.

Awadeyah told the BBC: “Israelis purposefully fired at the men... they were trying to get near the trucks that had the flour… They were fired at directly and prevented people to come near those killed.”

Mahmoud Awadeyah and BBC logo

The BBC Verify report relied on an eyewitness account from IRGC-funded media employee Mahmoud Awadeyah

PA/David Collier

David Collier, a self-described “investigative journalist exposing extremism and antisemitism”, undertook a damning investigation into the Iranian journalist which found a slew of “pro-terrorist messaging” and associations with figures like Khalil Al-Bahtini, a senior member of paramilitary group Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Collier shared posts by Awadeyah which appeared to praise a terrorist attack in 2023 which killed seven Israelis, accusing him of “danc[ing] when Jewish civilians are murdered”.

And he found that Awadeyah works for Al Quds Today and the Tasnim News Agency, the latter of which is owned by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with the stated goal of defending Iran “against negative media propaganda campaigns and provide our readers with realities on the ground about Iran and Islam”.

He said: “The BBC anti-Israel drumbeat helps to spread anti-Semitism and it is all funded by the taxpayer. This is absolutely disgraceful.”


Awadeyah with PIJ member and Facebook posts

Awadeyah was found to have dined with Palestinian Islamic Jihad members and was seen celebrating after terrorist attacks online

X/David Collier

Collier said the BBC Verify report was “a profound journalistic failure for the BBC”, whose reporting was “contributing to an atmosphere in the UK in which Jewish people feel unsafe” and “adding fuel to the fire of antisemitism”.

Former BBC Television director Danny Cohen said the BBC’s failure to background check Awadeyah amounted to “failing in the most basic of journalistic practices”, accusing the corporation of inherent bias when reporting on the conflict.

“The BBC has a habit of accepting at face value what they are told by people who present as Palestinian civilians or officials from civic authorities and either don’t understand or don’t care that they are representatives of terrorist organisations,” he said, writing in the Telegraph.

“Our publicly-funded broadcaster seems to believe that ‘balance’ and objectivity means treating a genocidal terrorist group and a democratically-elected government in the same way.”

IRGC troops

Troops from the IRGC, who own Awadeyah's employer Tasnim

Wikimedia Commons

A BBC spokesperson said: “We stand by our journalism and reject the allegations in [Collier’s blog post].

“The BBC is not allowed access into Gaza, but we use a range of accounts from eyewitnesses and cross reference these against official statements and footage, including from the IDF.

“The fact that someone has expressed an opinion on social media doesn’t automatically disqualify them from giving eye-witness testimony.

“It is simply wrong to claim an agenda on our part – and ignores much of the journalism we have done, including BBC Verify accounts of the Supernova festival massacre.”

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