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Afghanistan, Aston Villa Tattoo and News manipulation

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Gromit | 11:40 Mon 15th Jun 2009 | News
8 Answers
Today, it is reported on a Dispatches TV programme that a massacre of 91 Afghan villagers by US forces happened because the US were acting on dodgy information.

"US soldiers entered the village in the early hours of August 22 last year following reports of Taliban sheltering there. They said they called in a heavily armed AC130 gunship after coming under fire, however villager told the programme US troops opened fire without provocation.

Gul Ahmad, a villager, said: "The women and children tried to run away from it. They killed everything, everyone, the elderly, anything that moved."


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia /afghanistan/5534787/Alleged-US-massacre-in-Af ghanistan-provoked-by-false-information.html

What is strange though, is that the newspapers are more interested in a story that has surfaced that a dead Taleban fighter has been found to have an Aston Villa tattoo.

The story is low on detail. A unnamed brummie fighter, a unnamed military source, at an unspecified place and at an unspecified time, has been found to have a AV tattoo. The articles refer to "A Government official, who asked to remain anonymous". And the Ministry of Defence apparently have no more information as they are trying to corroborate the story.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-119296 0/Soldiers-Brummie-Afghan-fighter-theyd-shot-A ston-Villa-tattoo.html

Which story will get talked about the most?
Why has this tattoo story surfaced today?
Why has a story with no attributable

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Why has a story with no attributable sources been printed by respected newspapers today?
I think the story about the Aston Villa tattoo and the Brummie accents heard on radios is an important one because it shows the Taleban are using British Muslims on the battlefield. This could have a devastating effect on community relations here if the practise is more widespread than admitted previously.

The deaths of the civilians shows that not all tip offs are reliable and should never be taken as truthful without corroborating evidence. In a region that has experienced local feuds for centuries, army commanders on the ground should be more aware of such petty rivalries between villages. A lack of understanding of the local communities has plagued the American presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan, In my opinion.
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Julnar

The Brummie Taliban has known for some time and the press have reported it several times. Here is the Mail from Feb 08.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-513598 /RAF-surveillance-planes-hear-Taliban-fighters -talking-Brummie-Yorkshire-accents.html
It like when a plane crashes - we always get reported how many British people were on board. Media all over the world can often be insular like that.
Sounds like the poor sod had a really horrendous life.

Aston Villa??? you wouldn't wish that on your worst enemy.
Another posting from our anti Daily Mail correspondent Gromit.

Gul Ahmad, a villager, said: "The women and children tried to run away from it. They killed everything, everyone, the elderly, anything that moved."

Everyone except Gul Ahmad it would seem.

The story is low on detail. A unnamed brummie fighter, a unnamed military source,

And of course we all know good old Gul?
Question Author
You are totally missing the point as usual AOG.

If you read my post, twice I say newspapers, I was not singling out the Mail, I even classed it as respected. The Times, Telegraph, Express also ran with the same story that is attributed to no one today.

I have no idea who Gul Ahmad is, but he is a real person prepared to tell his story on Dispatches on Channel 4 tonight. Whether he or what he says is credible, we can judge for ourselves.

The same cannot be said of the anonymous Military source, or the anonymous Government official which the tattoo story is based on.
AOG, your lack of knowledge about journalism, for someone of your advanced years, astonishes me sometimes.

It's called making a story stand up. If you can attribute quotes to an identifiable person (whether you know them or not), it can be corroborated. If you can't, well it could all be made up, couldn't it?

Quotes attributed to 'a close friend of the star' or 'a party insider' or 'an unnamed Stamford Bridge source' always carry less weight than 'Tony Grantham from Edgware' or 'Gul Ahmed from XYZ'.

That's why newspapers, from broadsheets to tabloids, try to avoid using them. It's one of the most basic of editorial standards.

I know because I was told by a senior figure at a unnamed news outlet. :-)

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