Monday, September 24, 2007

Relay NATO propaganda, win a journalism prize!

The Conference of Defense Associations gives out a media award every year - last year it went to Christie Blatchford. This year, the esteemed winner is Matthew Fisher, Middle East correspondent for CanWest. Here's the most recent example of his work:

Matthew Fisher - The Ottawa Citizen, Monday, Sept 24, 2007
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - The toughest fighters confronting Canada's Van Doos in Afghanistan are not Afghans, but guerrillas from the volatile Russian republic of Chechnya. ... (link)
We covered this ground on this blog before (here) when the Globe and Mail's Graeme Smith made similar silly statements about Chechens amongst the Taliban:
Toronto-based security consultant (and Chechnya expert) Andrew McGregor ... points out that various media continue to parrot charges of Chechen fighters active in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Pakistan, and Somalia despite the fact that Russian intelligence estimates that Chechen resistance fighters number only a few hundred in Chechnya itself. He attributes these erroneous assertions to several factors, including "a tendency for local Pashtuns to confuse Uzbeks of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (who are active in the area) with 'Chechens,' and the common practice by Afghan clans to settle disputes by telling NATO of 'Chechens' or Arabs", in order to have their enemies bombed by Western forces.
For a more comprehensive rebuttal to the Chechen charge, see this excellent entry in the Afghanistanica blog. And we'll leave the last word to the respected author of the book Taliban, Ahmed Rashid:
Rashid says he does not believe that Mullah Omar and other members of the Taliban leadership would agree to allow non-Afghans to guide their movement -- even though Al-Qaeda has a clear behind-the-scenes role in supporting the Taliban.

"I think there's a huge disinformation campaign -- probably being carried out by NATO and the Americans -- in order to present Mullah Omar in a light in which he is seen as being just a tool of Al-Qaeda and foreigners". (link)

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