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updated 5/12/2004 11:56:32 AM ET 2004-05-12T15:56:32
COMMENTARY

The terrorists say they were avenging the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. I don’t buy it and neither should the media.

A group of five masked terrorists read a statement talking about the shame in the Abu Ghraib pictures and then in the name of their god slowly sliced off Nick Berg’s head with a knife, then held the head up to the camera. A radical Islamic Web site posted the video of Berg’s gruesome death. It included threats of more attacks to come.

They claim that bin Laden ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was responsible. But to believe that these terrorists would not have killed but for Abu Ghraib is to ignore reality. Terrorists, and al Qaeda in particular, are constantly searching for excuses to kill. Al Qaeda will not give up until all Western countries have Islamic fundamentalist governments in place.

First their excuse was the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia. Then it was the Palestinians. Then it was Iraq, and now it’s Abu Ghraib. They will attach themselves to any perceived indignity to Arabs in an effort to recruit more terrorists and to rationalize their murderous ways. Unfortunately, some members of the media allow that rationale to seep into their coverage.

Today Reuter’s News Service released a story about the beheading laying out the facts of what happened—that Zarqawi was named and Berg’s body has been found. That he was a private citizen. That the ritual resembled the murder of “Wall Street Journal” reporter Daniel Pearl. And then the next paragraph says the photos “have provoked international anger and become a serious setback to U.S. efforts to stabilize Iraq.”

What does that have to do with the story about the beheading?  Are they implying that the terrorists really did act in response to Abu Ghraib?  That they’re just part of the angry international community?  I don’t believe it. Al Qaeda does not have a goal or a mission short of international mayhem. And while it’s true the photos from Abu Ghraib have instilled anger in the Arab world and may provide a recruiting tool for terror, they can also be a ruse, an excuse to kill. I’m not suggesting that “Reuters” or others are doing it intentionally, but we all need to make sure we don’t allow the terrorists to win even a P.R. war.

Dan Abrams is the host of 'The Abrams Report.' The show airs weeknights, 6 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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