Heinous Terrorist Killed, Washington Post Goes Easy on His Crimes

Washington Post reporting on the death of terrorist Samir Kuntar (“Airstrike killed militant active in Syrian conflict,” Dec. 21, 2015) soft-pedaled his violent history—and the praise from some press and Arab leaders he earned for his brutal murder of a 4-year-old child and her father.

The Post reports that Kuntar and at least eight other Hezbollah terrorists were killed late December 19 by an airstrike, allegedly by Israel, outside of Damascus.

The paper says Kuntar “received three life sentences for his part in a deadly attack on April 22, 1979, in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. Israel released him three decades later in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah in 2006…”

However, in their 859-word report on the death of Kuntar, Post reporters Ruth Eglash and Hugh Naylor fail to provide details about the “deadly attack” the terrorist committed in Nahariya. The Post repeatedly refers to Kuntar as a “militant” and U.S.-listed terror groups Hezbollah and Islamic State as “militant organization” or “militant group.” Only in the last paragraph does the paper acknowledge that Kuntar was specifically designated a “global terrorist” by the U.S. State Department.

The paper’s use of the less descriptive “militant” contrasts with recent Post reporting on terror attacks in the California and Paris in which the more precise phrase “terrorist” was used accurately. For example, in covering breaking news events closer to home, The Post wrote of “terrorists” and “terrorist attack” in its own voice (“ISIS paid Md. Man to plan attack, FBI says,” December 15).
Post Omits Heinous Details

The Associated Press (“Notorious Lebanese militant killed in Syria,” December 21) reported the horrific details of Kuntar’s actions that The Post omitted:

“In Israel, he gained notoriety for the kidnapping and grisly killing of a man named Danny Haran and his 4-year-old daughter….He also killed a policeman during the attack and is alleged to have beaten the 4-year-old to death with a rifle butt….As the attack unfolded the girl’s mother hid inside a crawl space inside their home and accidentally smothered their crying 2-year-old daughter, fearing Kantar would find them.” Kuntar took college courses in prison, while temporarily feigning his innocence despite coroner’s evidence that showed the little girl’s brain matter on his rifle.

The Post’s omission is surprising considering that on May 18, 2003 the paper ran an Op-Ed column by Haran’s widow, Smadar Haran Kaiser, detailing the murders (“The World Should Know What He Did to My Family”) According to her, Kuntar brutally murdered Haran’s 4-year-old daughter, Einat, after shooting her father in front of her and then drowning him in the sea to make sure he was dead “so that his death would be the last sight she would ever see.”

Kuntar Praised By Arab Leaders

For his brutality, Kuntar became a celebrated hero in many parts of the Arab world. CAMERA has noted (“Samir Kuntar: Hero to Some,” July 31, 2015) that Kuntar was greeted with a mass rally upon his return to Lebanon in 2008. The Lebanese affiliate of the Qatari-based satellite cable television network Al-Jazeera threw Kuntar an on-air birthday party complete with a cake. The Lebanese government even shut down to celebrate Kuntar’s return. President Emile Lahoud said the event was “dear to my heart. I view Samir Kuntar as one of my sons and I wish the couple a happy life.”

Praise came from other regional leaders, including Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad who presented Kuntar with the Syrian Order of Merit. Assad said Kuntar was a “symbol of the struggle for freedom across the Arab world and the whole world.” In a similar vein, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Kuntar and his family, calling him the “great Samir Kuntar.” Kuntar later met with Abbas at the PA leader’s request.

Anti-Israel Groups Buy His Story, Hawk His Book

During his imprisonment, Kuntar was classified as a “political prisoner” by Cold War-era human rights organization Amnesty International.

Anti-Israel Web site Electronic Intifada similarly called Kuntar a “political prisoner.” Electronic Intifada provided a link to Kuntar’s personal Web site which features pictures of the smiling murderer, personal notes from him and an opportunity to buy his book My Story.

Kuntar remained not only unrepentant but also proud of his crimes. In a 2008 letter to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, he expressed pride in his actions and encouraged other acts of terror.

According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT), Kuntar became an “influential figure” in Hezbollah after his release. He acted on “Iranian orders” to help “create cells to plant bombs at Israel’s border, fire missiles, and conduct cross-border infiltrations.” IPT reports that at the time of Kuntar’s death, Hezbollah had stopped working with him. Nevertheless, he still “continued to plan attacks against Israel through his ethnic-kin Druze connections who supported the Assad regime.”

Kuntar’s death was confirmed by his brother Bassam, who said “With pride we mourn the martyrdom of the leader Samir Kuntar, and we are honored to join the families of the martyrs.” Similar outpourings of grief came from Fatah (the movement which controls the PA) Central Committee member Abbas Zaki. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), an organization that monitors Arab media and communications, Zaki sent a letter of condolence to Hezbollah leader Nasrallah for the death of Kuntar.
MEMRI reports that Kuntar’s ex-wife, Kifah Kayyal, was less downcast. “A murderer should be killed,” she said. 

The details of Kuntar’s bloody deeds were well known and highly acclaimed by those with an anti-Israel agenda, those who in their hatred made a hero out of a child murderer. Yet they were omitted by The Post.

Again, journalism being who, what, when, where, why and how—in context—the paper stopped short instead of fully reporting the war against Israel and those who wage it.

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