January 5, 2005 | Press Release

New Footage Links Al-Jazeera, Media Figures to Saddam’s Regime

Washington, D.C. (January 5, 2005)—New footage aired by Alhurra on Thursday shows that Saddam Hussein's corruption extended to the Arabic satellite network Al-Jazeera and certain Arab media figures. The newly discovered video tapes have been reviewed by Dr. Walid Phares, a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies and a well known expert on the Middle East, who is available to discuss their contents.


“This new footage is explosive,” says Phares.  “It pulls back the curtain on the hidden relationship between the Saddam regime and its media beneficiaries and collaborators.  The same media that opposed Iraq's liberation and continues to broadcast malicious reports about the situation there was, in fact, in Saddam's back pocket for years.”


The footage shows Saddam Hussein's son and designated successor Udai meeting in Baghdad with Al-Jazeera's former news director, Mohammed Jassim al Ali.  Udai praises Al-Jazeera for several appointments to its editorial staff, including Ahmad Mansour, a prominent reporter who has since been criticized for providing greatly exaggerated reports of civilian deaths during U.S. counterinsurgency operations in Fallujah.  Ali in return thanks Udai: “Without our collaboration with you personally, we wouldn't have succeeded.”


The new tapes show Al-Jazeera's anchor Dr. Faysal Qassem meeting with Iraqi officials, including Iraqi intelligence officers in Doha.


Alhurra also examines financial relations between Saddam Hussein and journalist Hamida Nahnah, who received oil vouchers from the Iraqi regime estimated to be worth millions of dollars under the U.N.'s Oil for Food program. Ms. Nahnah, a Syrian based in Paris and publisher of “al Wifaq al Arabi” (The Arab Accord), is shown embracing Udai and thanking him for his generosity.  She says to him, “The campaign to defend Saddam's regime is about to start worldwide, thanks to the support.”


“This is another example of how the removal of the Ba'ath regime in Iraq is going to generate unprecedented debate in the Arab world,” Phares said.  “The propaganda machines that shielded Saddam and the Jihadists will feel immense pressure to answer these charges.  The question now is, how will Al-Jazeera and the Arab media cover itself and its own complicity in Saddam's brutality and oppression?”


On Feb. 15, 2003, a few months before the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, Phares predicted: “Wait until the Ba'ath will be removed from power in Baghdad. We will be showered with endless information about the vast net of collaboration between Saddam's regime on the one hand and regimes and media organizations on the other hand. We will then realize that many among those who opposed the regime change in Iraq were groups and institutions who had a direct interest in the survival of the dictatorship.”


“This is just the tip of a giant iceberg,” Phares said, “Just as the Nazis did, the Ba'athists documented most of Udai's meetings, especially with figures who collaborated with the regime.  There will be much more to come.”


Alhurra obtained the footage from Iraqi sources. Its special program on the tapes will be aired on Thursday, Jan. 6. (The network does not air within the United States.) Alhurra will run an additional report showing Udai threatening to kill the family of Raid abdel Amir, an Iraqi athlete who defected to the U.S. during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.