Palestinian Authority Threatens Cameraman
Prevents Broadcast of Palestinians Celebrating Attack on U.S.

(September 11-13, 2001)

An Associated Press cameraman filmed Palestinians at a rally in Nablus celebrating the terror attacks in the United States September 11, 2001. The report is said to include footage of Palestinian Police firing their assault rifles in the air in celebration as hundreds cheer.

The cameraman was subsequently summoned to a Palestinian Authority security office and told that the material must not be aired. Yasser Arafat's Tanzim also called to threaten his life if he aired the film. An AP still photographer was also at the site of the rally. He was warned not to take pictures and complied.

Several Palestinian Authority officials told AP in Jerusalem not to broadcast the videotape. Ahmed Abdel Rahman, Arafat's Cabinet secretary, said the Palestinian Authority "cannot guarantee the life" of the cameraman if the footage was broadcast.

The cameraman requested that the material not be aired and, AP caved in to the blackmail and refused to release the footage.

AP Bureau Chief Dan Perry protested and sought assurances from the PA that "you will protect our journalists from threats and attempts at intimidation and that no harm would come to our freelance cameraman from distribution of the film."

More than a week later, the Palestinian Authority returned a videotape it confiscated from AP showing a Palestinian rally in the Gaza Strip in which some demonstrators carried posters supporting Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden. Two separate parts of the six-minute tape involving "key elements" were erased by the Palestinians, according to an AP official.

The Foreign Press Association in Israel expressed "deep concern over the harassment of journalists by the Palestinian Authority as police forces and armed gunmen tried to prevent photo and video coverage of Tuesday's rally in Nablus where hundreds of Palestinians celebrated the terror attacks in New York and Washington." The FPA also condemned the threats against videographers and "the attitude of Palestinian officials who made no effort to counter the threats, control the situation, or to guarantee the safety of the journalists and the freedom of the press."

Meanwhile, Israel is demanding that AP release the videotape of the Palestinian celebrations.

Israel Radio reported Septermber 14, 2001, that the Palestinian Authority seized the footage filmed today by cameraman from various international and even Arab news agencies covering celebrations held in cities across the West Bank and Gaza by Hamas of the attacks against America. The celebrants waived photographs of wanted terrorist Osama Bin Laden.

Source: Associated Press and Jerusalem Post, (September 13, 2001), IMRA, (September 13-14, 2001), JTA, (September 20, 2001)