NY Times and WaPo: Islamist terrorists at Algerian gas complex were just 'militants'

Leo Rennert
Here we go again!  After a lengthy standoff in the Sahara desert, the Algerian army claims to have put an end to the takeover of a huge gas field and capture of dozens of hostages by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. 

But that's not the way the New York Times and the Washington Post reported the event on-line.  Both papers immediately cleansed the hostage takers, who terrified their captives by putting explosive belts around their necks, by describing them as just "militants."  The T-for-terrorism word was expunged from their dispatches.

The Times' on-line headline reads:  "Militants Said to Kill 7 Hostages."

Correspondent Adam Nossiter came closest to the T-word, but shied away by putting it between quotation marks to ensure that readers would know that it wasn't his doing.  Nossiter instead wrote that the Algerian army carried out a final assault on the gas field that had been taken over by Islamist "militants," killing 11 of them, but only after the "militants" had killed seven hostages.

The Washington Post similarly rushed to sanitize the jihadist kidnappers, telling readers that Algerian forces stormed an energy compound and ended an operation that left 32 "militants" dead.  The Post article described the attack on the remaining stronghold of "militants" and told readers about reports that the "militants" may have killed their hostages as Algerian forces approached.

Never mind that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the previous day had correctly characterized the brazen attack on the gas field as a "terrorist" act.  The Times and the Post remain determined to dissociate the bloodiest Islamist jihadists from any taint of terrorism.

In this case, however, use of the T-word was absolutely called for.  Terrorism, according to my dictionary, denotes deliberate use of violence against civilians to further a political agenda.  That fits the terrorist capture and treatment of hostages at the gas field to a T.  "Militant" doesn't even begin to fit the bill. 

LEO RENNERT

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers


Here we go again!  After a lengthy standoff in the Sahara desert, the Algerian army claims to have put an end to the takeover of a huge gas field and capture of dozens of hostages by Islamist terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda. 

But that's not the way the New York Times and the Washington Post reported the event on-line.  Both papers immediately cleansed the hostage takers, who terrified their captives by putting explosive belts around their necks, by describing them as just "militants."  The T-for-terrorism word was expunged from their dispatches.

The Times' on-line headline reads:  "Militants Said to Kill 7 Hostages."

Correspondent Adam Nossiter came closest to the T-word, but shied away by putting it between quotation marks to ensure that readers would know that it wasn't his doing.  Nossiter instead wrote that the Algerian army carried out a final assault on the gas field that had been taken over by Islamist "militants," killing 11 of them, but only after the "militants" had killed seven hostages.

The Washington Post similarly rushed to sanitize the jihadist kidnappers, telling readers that Algerian forces stormed an energy compound and ended an operation that left 32 "militants" dead.  The Post article described the attack on the remaining stronghold of "militants" and told readers about reports that the "militants" may have killed their hostages as Algerian forces approached.

Never mind that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the previous day had correctly characterized the brazen attack on the gas field as a "terrorist" act.  The Times and the Post remain determined to dissociate the bloodiest Islamist jihadists from any taint of terrorism.

In this case, however, use of the T-word was absolutely called for.  Terrorism, according to my dictionary, denotes deliberate use of violence against civilians to further a political agenda.  That fits the terrorist capture and treatment of hostages at the gas field to a T.  "Militant" doesn't even begin to fit the bill. 

LEO RENNERT

Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers