NBC Gives Platform to Palestinian Terrorist Calling Trump a ‘Thug President’

On Friday, NBC’s Today show aired an exclusive interview with Khaled Al-Batsh, one of the leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organization Islamic Jihad. During that exchange, Al-Batsh was provided with a media megaphone to smear President Trump as a “thug” and denounce the “Israeli occupation” of the Gaza Strip.

“An NBC News exclusive. An inside look at Gaza and a rare interview this morning with the leader of an armed militant group there and he has a direct message for the President,” co-host Savannah Guthrie proclaimed as she teased the upcoming report. Introducing the segment minutes later, senior international correspondent Keir Simmons touted: “On this trip into Gaza, we were able to secure a rare interview with the leader of a group called Islamic Jihad.”

 

 

Simmons was frank in his description of the group:

Now, it was not without risks, Islamic Jihad is described by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. It wants to wipe out Israel. And just this month, a militant in Gaza was killed by the Israelis, accused of trying to funnel money from Iran to groups like Islamic Jihad.

Turning to Al-Batsh early in the story, Simmons declared: “The armed militant group Islamic Jihad has been supported by the Iranians for decades. One of its leader agreeing to an interview, and he has a message for President Trump.” In the exchange that followed, the terrorist leader delivered his message:

KHALED AL-BATSH [PALESTINIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD]: I am sorry to say that he’s a thug man.

SIMMONS: A thug?

AL-BATSH: A thug president.

SIMMONS: A thug president?

AL-BATSH: A thug President of the United States of America.  

To his credit, Simmons pushed back: “President Trump, America, many European countries, many countries around the world, would say that you are a thug, describe you as a terrorist.” Al-Batsh replied: “I am Palestinian people under occupation, Israeli occupation.”

While it was good that the reporter challenged the extremist, one wonders why NBC thought it was appropriate to give a terrorist like Al-Batsh such a prominent media platform to begin with.

Here is a full transcript of the May 24 report:

7:19 AM ET TEASE

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: Then, an NBC News exclusive. An inside look at Gaza and a rare interview this morning with the leader of an armed militant group there and he has a direct message for the President.

7:41 AM ET SEGMENT

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: This morning on In-Depth Today, an inside look at Gaza and its role as a flashpoint in the Middle East.

CRAIG MELVIN: It is a place that Israelis and Palestinians have fought over off and on for decades now. It is also an area of great interest to the United States at a time of escalating tensions with Iran. Today senior international correspondent Keir Simmons traveled there this week. Keir, good morning.

KEIR SIMMONS: Hey, Craig, good morning. On this trip into Gaza, we were able to secure a rare interview with the leader of a group called Islamic Jihad. Now, it was not without risks, Islamic Jihad is described by the U.S. as a terrorist organization. It wants to wipe out Israel. And just this month, a militant in Gaza was killed by the Israelis, accused of trying to funnel money from Iran to groups like Islamic Jihad. But we wanted to know if there was a conflict with Iran, would it set light to places like Gaza?

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: A Message to the U.S.; Inside Look at Islamic Jihad Militant Group]

This is one of only two ways in and out of heavily guarded Gaza, a barrier separating the two million Palestinians living there from Israel. Been through multiple document checks, metal gates, barbed wire, and walls. You don’t just walk into Gaza.

If America’s tensions with Iran ever escalate to armed conflict, Gaza could be a flashpoint. At least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis died in days of violence just this month. The armed militant group Islamic Jihad has been supported by the Iranians for decades. One of its leader agreeing to an interview, and he has a message for President Trump.

KHALED AL-BATSH [PALESTINIAN ISLAMIC JIHAD]: I am sorry to say that he’s a thug man.

SIMMONS: A thug?

AL-BATSH: A thug president.

SIMMONS: A thug president?

AL-BATSH: A thug President of the United States of America. 

SIMMONS: President Trump, America, many European countries, many countries around the world, would say that you are a thug, describe you as a terrorist.

AL-BATSH: I am Palestinian people under occupation, Israeli occupation.

SIMMONS: A cause Islamic Jihad is fighting with missiles, like these from a recent propaganda video. Yet we found them careful not to threaten a wider war with America.

If the Iranians ask you to fire missiles on Israel, would you do it?

AL-BATSH: Our mission is to keep our rights in Palestine. The Israelis would like to delete our history in this land.

SIMMONS: They say you want to delete them.

AL-BATSH: No. Because we are the owners of this land.

SIMMONS: Extremism here is fed by a hand-to-mouth existence. We find the 2-year-old Ebe and Nama without shoes, while this 5-year-old Mara collects free soup for her grandmother.

Do you carry it to your grandmother every day?

TRANSLATOR: Yes.

SIMMONS: Gaza’s young people, like these students, fear for their future.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We’re living in an open jail actually.

SIMMONS: Since they were children, thousands of Palestinians have died in Gaza’s wars.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We have seen four wars in less than 10 years.

SIMMONS: Four wars in 10 years?

MAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN B: We have lost the right to get scared, we are so used to it that even when we hear rockets, it’s like just like the normal.

SIMMONS: Who’s to blame?

WOMAN: People in power, all of them.

SIMMONS: They do not see President Trump’s proposal this week of massive investment as an answer, without a political solution. A view we encountered everywhere here.

AL-BATSH: Our land is not for sale. Gaza not for sale.

SIMMONS: In this poverty-stricken strip of land, politics comes first. No matter what the cost.

Meanwhile, the Israelis say that, that barrier that you saw there around Gaza is there to prevent groups like Islamic Jihad from killing Israelis and that if Gaza feels like an open jail, as that young women suggested, that is the responsibility of groups like Islamic Jihad.

MELVIN: Fascinating look there. Keir, how extensive is Iran’s influence in Gaza? What do we know about that?

SIMMONS: Well, look, experts suggest that tens of millions of dollars are fed to Islamic Jihad from Iran. What the Israelis say is that basically Islamic Jihad and other groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, are proxies of Iran and that their ambition is to provoke Israel into a war. Of course, stuck in the middle of this are the young people that you saw, young people here in Israel, who I have been speaking to this week. You know, I think it was significant that, that leader was not prepared to threaten war. I think that indicates just how worried everybody is in this region.

MELVIN: Keir Simmons there in Tel Aviv. Keir, thank you.

GUTHRIE: A very telling interview. Keir, thank you so much.

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