Ali Shabaan and Assaf Abu Rahhal

Al-Akhbar is currently going through a transitional phase whereby the English website is available for Archival purposes only. All new content will be published in Arabic on the main website (

Al-Akhbar Management

Ali Shabaan is a familiar name. Assaf Abu Rahhal is an unfamiliar name. Shabaan was killed by Syrian troops days ago and the story was covered in the international media. Abu Rahhal was killed by Israeli occupation troops in 2010, and his story was not covered by international (or even Arab) media.

Shabaan was a TV camera man for New TV. New TV is an independent Arab nationalist-leaning secular station in Lebanon. It was one of the most courageous stations during the years of Syrian political domination in Lebanon. It suffered from repression and harassment by the agents of the Syrian regime, when Rafik Hariri and his media were serving as cheap propagandists for Hafez Assad and his son.

New TV is also distinguished by its secularism: in its coverage of Lebanon and in the composition of its staff. Its owner, Tahsin Khayyat, has been close to the Qatari government but he has succeeded in preserving journalistic professionalism in its coverage of the Syrian crisis. In fact, New TV (Al-Jadeed in Arabic) is probably one of the best sources on the Syrian crisis in the last few months. Both sides are not thrilled with its coverage. Also, it has sent teams into Syria to cover the uprising.

There is no question that Syrian troops killed Shabaan. Syrian regime media and pro-Hezbollah media in Lebanon are stressing that Shabaan was a supporter of the Syrian regime, as if this softens the impact of the crime. It is true that the work station of Shabaan at New TV sported posters of Bashar Assad and Hassan Nasrallah (it was shown on New TV news broadcast).

Yet, Syrian troops have been accustomed to shooting first and foremost, and never asking questions. The way the car of the New TV was showered with bullets for two hours is an indication of the methods of the Syrian Army – an army that has the worst performance in confrontation with Israeli occupiers. Coverage of the murder of Shabaan should mention the identity of the killers.

But Abu Rahhal is less famous than Shabaan. There were no stories written about the cold blooded murder of this freelance journalist for Al-Akhbar. Abu Rahhal is one of many journalists in Lebanon killed by Israeli occupation troops over the years. None of those stories receive the attention of the Western press. In fact, the murder of Abu Rahhal was barely mentioned in the press.

The Committee to Protect Journalist’s statement about Shabaan should be compared with its statement about Abu Rahhal. Abu Rahhal was a victim of a killer, for sure, but a popular killer. Abu Rahhal’s killer is popular and will receive laudatory coverage in the Western press.

Abu Rahhal and Shabaan are both victims. But the former is a forgotten and ignored victim.


Excellent! I just read Robert Fisk's piece on Shabaan. That led me to search for more information and I found this article. It it weren't for you, I must say, I would have never known Shabaan wasn't the only journalist "martyr." There are many forgotten onces too and Abu Rahhal is one of them. Thank you.

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