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Did Media Reports Rush to Link the New York Bomb Attack to Jerusalem?

After a man attempted to blow himself up on the New York subway, some media reports quickly alleged a link to the recent decision to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

Experts and world leaders had warned the move, announced by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, could spark violence and feed extremism.

But, in this case, the connection appears to be a distortion of the truth, blurring the narrative to falsely associate the attacker with a cause.

In a headline on their website, British tabloid newspaper the Daily Star declared: "New York terror attack 'for JERUSALEM': Suspect 'reveals motive' for homemade bomb blast"

The phrase "for Jerusalem" is not a quote but rather a conjectural leap by the publication, based on a report by CNN.

The U.S. network had cited law enforcement sources as saying that "the suspect was upset, in his words, with the 'incursion into Gaza.'"

The Daily Star concluded from this that suspect Akayed Ullah "carried out the attack due to Israel's military strikes in Gaza at the weekend which killed two."

Two Palestinian protesters were killed by Israeli fire on Friday. They are just two of hundreds of Palestinians killed in Gaza in recent years, however.

It is a jump, then, to move from "incursion into Gaza" - which CNN admitted was not a clear reference - to definitively blaming the New York attack on the Gaza deaths.

It is an even further stretch to conclude that this means the attempted bombing was "for Jerusalem," a city that is not in Gaza and was not mentioned explictly by Ullah, according to this report.

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The U.K.'s Daily Mirror claimed in a similar headline: "New York terror bombing 'carried out in retaliation to Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital'"

A "pro-ISIS propaganda channel" was given as the source for the suggestion.

The page, which was not named, had shared a photoshopped image of Times Square with the caption: "The recognition of your dog 'Trump' Jerusalem as the capital of Israel will make us recognize explosives as the capital of your country."

The "propaganda channel" does not seem to reference an official ISIS news outlet.

With thousands of ISIS-supporting accounts across the internet, it is misleading to take this as evidence of a link between the New York attempted bombing and anti-Trump protests on Jerusalem.

A further British news site, the Daily Mail Online, also strongly implied a relationship between opposition to the Jerusalem embassy transfer and the subway bomb.

"The bombing attack [...] comes just days after Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, sparking violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip," the third paragraph of a Mail Online article reads.

"Monday's attack was the first terror attack on U.S. soil since that proclamation," it continued. "But only one of many violent demonstrations across the world..."

Other than the fact that the attack was the "first" since Trump's announcement, and came "just days" after it, no further justification for the formation of a connection between the two is given.

It seems that the Mail Online, an outlet that regularly targets Muslims with sensationalist stories, may have sought to discredit justifiable protests on Jerusalem by linking them to this terrorist incident.

In fact, the CNN report about Gaza was just one of a confusing array of apparent motives reported for this failed attack.

The New York Times indicated that "according to several law enforcement officials," Ullah had claimed the bomb was "in retaliation for American airstrikes" against ISIS "in Syria and elsewhere."

It said he may have been inspired by ISIS attacks on Christmas markets in Europe, having chosen "the location because of its Christmas-themed posters."

Meanwhile, The New York Post reported that Ullah had told investigators he "was avenging violence against Muslims around the world." Again, "law enforcement sources" were cited.

No official has made any public statement as to Ullah's motive.

Amid this ambiguity, it seems, sites like the Daily Star, Mirror and Mail were able to present a speculated connection as having its basis in fact.

Palestinian protesters are often dismissed in elements of the Western media and Israeli rhetoric as being irrationally violent, in an attempt to undermine their genuine cause.

For instance, this pro-Israel account refuted the CNN report linking the New York attack to deaths in Gaza by implying that "Muslims" often kill non-Muslims for no reason.

Report: Manhattan bomber says attack motivated by Gaza violence https://t.co/ok65Jdx19z

Oh for f sake. Since when do Muslims need a reason to kill non Muslims. Today its Gaza yesterday it was Jerusalem before that the cartoons. Pfft.

-- Israel Kicks Ass (@Israelkicksass) December 11, 2017

In the hours after the events in New York, it seems that these media outlets exploited the confusion over the attacker's motives to make a conjectural link to anger at Trump's Jerusalem move. In so doing, they sought to discredit legitimate concerns over the latter by linking it to terrorism and violence.

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Publication:Albawaba.com
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Dec 12, 2017
Words:872
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