Abu Musab al-Zarqawi lashed out at al-Jazeera yesterday:
The group of Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's pointman in Iraq, launched a scathing attack on the Al-Jazeera satellite TV network on Thursday. A message posted to several Islamic websites read: "Al-Jazeera television besmirches the image of the mujahadeen in the eyes of its viewers, using the language of the United States." It is signed by Abu Maysira al-Iraqi.
"We have had enough of al-Jazeera's bias - and of the efforts you make to kowtow to the crusaders and the traitor government (of Iraq). Publicise the fact that you sit on the fence, why your channel is the mouthpiece of the Americans, and that you do not transmit the true words of the mujahadeen," the message continued.
"Your systematic distortion of the image of the mujahadeen is nothing more than an attempt to discredit us. Your brothers at al-Qaeda's information division in Iraq will continue to tell the truth and broadcast it," the message said."
This isn't new - Zarqawi has been troubled by al-Jazeera for quite some time. Back in November, most graphically, Zarqawi attacked al-Jazeera's main Islamist figure, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, and other "sultans of the airwaves" for "abandoning the mujahideen" and undermining the insurgency's efforts by condemning hostage takings and beheadings.
It's quite ironic, actually. Al-Jazeera is routinely demonized as "Jihad TV", as actively supporting the Iraqi insurgency, as Zarqawi's greatest friend and America's greatest enemy. But Zarqawi and al-Qaeda know who their real enemies are. In the wider Middle East, people have belatedly begun to recognize al-Jazeera's importance in the struggle for democratic reforms. Is it time to begin realizing the same thing about Iraq?