Guardian runs comment piece by Al-Qaeda associate

LONDON – The Guardian has been revealed to have run a comment piece by man it describes as a 'Saudi dissident', but who has been classified by the UN as a member or supporter of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.

The article by Sa'ad al-Fagih, and headlined "Give up your freedoms - or change tack", ran on the comment pages of yesterday's Guardian. In it, he attacked Tony Blair's crackdown on terror, saying that the moves were exactly what Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden wanted.

At the foot of the article, The Guardian describes al-Fagih as "a leading exiled Saudi dissident and director of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia", but bloggers at Harry's Place revealed he has been classified by the UN as a supporter or member of Al-Qaeda.

On December 21 2004, the US Treasury Department designated Sa'ad al-Fagih as providing "financial and material support to Al-Qaeda".

"Saad Rashed Mohammad al-Faqih has maintained associations with the al Qaida network since the mid-1990s, including an individual associated with the 1998 East Africa embassy bombings," the US Treasury said. 

On December 23, he was included on the United Nations 1267 Committee consolidated list of individuals belonging to or associated with the Al-Qaeda organisation.

In a letter to The Guardian, David T of Harry's Place accused the paper of failing to check and failing to inform its readers of the identity of al-Fagih.

"My concern is this. If the comments editor of The Guardian did not know that al-Fagih is included on the UN list, he should have known. If he did know, the article should have informed your readers of al-Fagih's status."

He went on to write that without that knowledge, The Guardian's readers have no means of judging the perspective from which al-Fagih is writing, which he categorised as a "propaganda piece for a theocratic and totalitarian terrorist organisation".

"With that knowledge, the article can be read as setting out the position of those who share Al Qaeda's philosophy, on the government's response to the terrorist attacks of the 7th and 21st July," he wrote.

The running of the latest article in The Guardian's comment pages follows the sacking of Muslim journalist Dilpazier Aslam, who was revealed by bloggers to be a member of the anti-Semitic Islamic group Hizb'ut Tahrir.

His sacking came after outrage was caused by an article written on The Guardian comment pages about the 7/7 terror attacks in London in which Aslam called the suicide bombers who killed 52 people "sassy".

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