Thursday, September 29, 2005

Shadowland: Guilt by Association

A Spanish court has jailed the reporter who interviewed bin Laden after 9/11. What his conviction says about the dangerous ambiguities of pursuing journalistic balance in an age of terror.

WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Christopher Dickey
Newsweek
Updated: 4:10 p.m. ET Sept. 29, 2005
Sept. 29, 2005 - When I asked the waiter for a glass of wine, I saw the man across the table from me recoil ever so slightly, as if I were testing him. Which, in a way, I was. We were ordering lunch in the old Jewish quarter of Granada, Spain, at the Torquato Restaurant (his choice). Across a narrow valley the palace and the paradisiacal gardens of the Alhambra stood as tribute to the glories of the Muslim caliphate that ruled this part of Europe for more than 700 years. But I hadn’t come for historical tourism on that afternoon of Jan. 11, 2001. I had been working to set up a meeting in faraway Afghanistan with a reputed terrorist mastermind named Osama bin Laden. I’d been told that my luncheon guest, Tayseer Alouni, a naturalized Spaniard whose family lived in Granada but who worked for Al-Jazeera television in Kabul, might have the connections to make that happen.
Indeed. On Monday of this week a Spanish court sentenced the Syrian-born Alouni to seven years in prison after convicting him of collaborating with Al Qaeda. At the same trial, 17 other alleged members of an Islamist cell, part of which prosecutors linked to planning for the September 11 attacks on the United States, received sentences ranging up to 27 years. ...
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