BBC airbrushes Hizballah, Iran from feature on 1983 Beirut bombings

On October 23rd 2013 the ‘Features & Analysis’ section of the BBC News website’s Middle East page included an article titled “Thirty years later, a bombing in Lebanon still echoes” which also appeared on the site’s US & Canada page.

The article includes short interviews with four American survivors of the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombings. Its introduction reads as follows:

“On 23 October 1983, bombs exploded in Beirut, killing 241 US service members and 58 French paratroopers. Survivors describe what happened on that day – and afterwards.

The multinational force of American, French, British and Italian soldiers was deployed to Lebanon following the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by militiamen.

Their mission: to back the Lebanese Armed Forces and help them establish and maintain sovereignty over war-torn Beirut.

The operation was intended to be brief. But in April 1983, the US embassy in Beirut was destroyed, and the situation for the multinational force deteriorated from there.

Then the US marines and the French paratroops were attacked – in two separate suicide bombings, occurring at about the same time.

Soon afterwards US troops and other members of the multinational force pulled out of Lebanon. And the survivors of the attacks tried to get on with their lives.”

1983 Beirut bombing

“…bombs exploded in Beirut”. “…the US embassy in Beirut was destroyed”. “… were attacked – in two separate suicide bombings”.

Readers will no doubt notice that these sterile descriptions in which bombs explode of their own accord and a building is mysteriously “destroyed” have two crucial words missing from them: Hizballah and Iran

This article was written for the BBC by freelance journalist Alasdair Soussi. Readers can get more of an idea of the political inclinations behind the omission of information regarding the perpetrators of the Beirut bombings by reading Soussi’s article on the same subject titled “Beirut suicide bomb reminds us of the folly of intervention” which appeared the previous day in the Abu Dhabi-based ‘The National’.  

It would appear that the BBC News website’s editors need reminding that commissioned output is subject to the same editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality as BBC-produced content and that one of the constitutional foundations of the BBC is the obligation to “[b]uild a global understanding of international issues“. That purpose cannot be achieved by airbrushing terror organisations and their sponsors out of the picture, thus concealing the contemporary implications of historic events. 

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