In a recent interview with US pubic television, Al Jazeera Director General Wadah Khanfar (aka) denies that Al Jazeera reflects the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. According to a transcript of the interview:
AMY GOODMAN: The Egyptian foreign minister says that Al Jazeera reflects the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.
WADAH KHANFAR: Luckily, he didn’t say they reflect the ideology of al-Qaeda. You know, you can expect anything from our—unfortunately, from our ministers and from intelligence agencies in the region and from governments. They have been, for a long time, you know, criticizing Al Jazeera. One day we are pro-Saddam Hussein, the other day we are pro-al-Qaeda, the third day—and that is important—we are pro-Mossad and we are created by CIA. And officially, I can tell you that some intelligence agencies in the region requested from journalists and newspapers that they have say over to publish articles declaring Al Jazeera as enemy of the Arabs and Muslims because it has been created by the CIA and the Zionists, you know? Now, the same governments sometimes come out and if—in the West, they say, no, it is pro-Muslim Brotherhood or pro-al-Qaeda or pro-Saddam Hussein.
There is nothing like that. Al Jazeera is a representation of, you know, diversity in the Arab world. In our newsroom, we have every single nationality, we have every single, you know, ideology, we have every single background. However, when it comes to the screen, we have one code of ethics and one code of conduct. All of us are proud of our commitment to our audience, and we will never betray them. We can never be, you know, an out—you know, we cannot be representing single view or ideology or party, or whatever like that. We cannot afford to do so. We are in a region that’s undergoing transformation. How could we be pro-Muslim Brotherhood or pro-Arab nationalists or pro-whoever, since the Arabs have not yet discovered what kind of path they’re going to go?
According to a report in a Mideast business publication, Wadah Khanfar was born and educated in Jordan where, consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background, he was educated as an engineer. The same report indicates that he also was a student activist, organizing a student union an activity also consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background. In a TV interview, Khanfar stated that started his career as a journalist as an analyst on African affairs, mainly on Al Jazeera, while living in South Africa where is was doing graduate study in international politics and African studies at the time. He also described himself in the interview as “a researcher and consultant in Middle Eastern economics and political affairs.” In 1997, Khanfar became the Al Jazeera correspondent in South Africa. However, while living in South Africa, Khanfar was also was the Director of Human Resource Development for the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO), an organization closely tied to the global Muslim Brotherhood. A memo purporting to be a 1998 briefing document prepared for the South African President Thabo Mbeki has long been posted on the Internet and describes the IIFSO as working closely with Hamas:
According to information HAMAS members in South Africa does not recognise the MUSLIM YOUTH MOVEMENT (MYM) as the official organ representing the Muslim youth in South Africa. HAMAS is of the opinion that the MYM have lost their control of the youths representation. Based upon this situation HAMAS, with the help of the INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC FEDERATION OF STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS (IIFSO) are busy to establish institutions for the Muslim youth in South Africa to take over the role of the MYM. These youth centres are implemented in Pretoria and Cape Town.
The memo also identifies an individual called Wahdan Abu Ahmed KHUNFUR who it says was a Trustee of the Al Aqsa Foundation in South Africa as well as a Hamas contact. The Al Aqsa Foundation is one of the organizations comprising the Union of Good, the worldwide coalition of charities collecting money for Hamas and directed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. The memo appears to be genuine, containing substantial detail and matching the time that Khanfar was known to be living in South Africa, but cannot be verified as genuine or that these are the same individuals. It should be noted, however, that a Jordanian newspaper reported recently that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave Qatari officials a file demonstrating Khanfar’s Hamas/Brotherhood connections.
In 2003, Khanfar became head of the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau and shortly thereafter station General Manager. A recent report in Nation Magazine attributes the support by the Al Jazeera television station for Islamic movements to Khanfar’s influence. According to the Nation report, Al Jazeera coverage changed dramatically to a far more “populist/Islamist approach.”when Khanfar took over in March 2003. An analysis posted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs traces Mr. Khanfar’s connections to the Muslim Brotherhood:
The meteoric rise of the network and its increasing popularity have led many political and media commentators in the Arab world to wonder exactly who or what was behind what appears to be its main purpose: encouraging opposition and promoting incitement against Arab regimes, exposing the corruption of their leaders and their entourage, while holding to an extreme Arab nationalist attitude against the US and Israel and extolling the values of conservative – and sometimes extremist – Islam. It did not take long for one name to emerge: the Muslim Brotherhood. This hypotheisis is supported by a number of facts. The director-general of the network, Wadah Khanfar, was a member of the organization in Jordan, where he was arrested. Today he is one of the closest advisers of the emir. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is also a member of the inner circle of the emir and is known to work closely with Khanfar. Both support Hamas. Arab researchers have succeeded in uncovering a number of other Brothers working for the network, but it is surmised that there are many more. The general consensus is that Qaradawi is the visible tip of the iceberg. In an article published in 2003 in the London-based Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat, Maamun Fendi, a well-known Egyptian liberal thinker today living in the US, wrote that some 50 percent of the network’s personnel belong to the Muslim Brotherhood. He added that their influence in Qatar was rising both in the network and among government circles. According to him, the Brotherhood had intended to hold its world summit in Qatar in 2003 but had to scuttle its plan when it became known. These summits are usually held in a European capital far from Arab countries, in conditions of the utmost discretion, if not secrecy. Fendi believes that Qatar, by embracing the Brotherhood, an extremist Islamic organization quite popular in the Arab world, while hosting American bases, has found the perfect formula against retaliation by Arab leaders and attacks by all other Arab and Islamic extremists including al-Qaida.
In July 2009, Al Jazeera’s opened a bureau in Washington DC, representing the station’s first entry into a major U.S. commercial market.