FIRST ON FOX: More than a dozen state attorneys general signed a letter to media outlets such as the New York Times and Reuters, putting them ‘on notice’ that providing material support to terrorist organizations such as Hamas is illegal, Fox News Digital exclusively learned.
‘We will continue to follow your reporting to ensure that your organizations do not violate any federal or State laws by giving material support to terrorists abroad. Now your organizations are on notice. Follow the law,’ 14 state attorneys general stated in a letter to the chiefs of CNN, The New York Times, Reuters and The Associated Press on Monday afternoon.
Republican Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird spearheaded the letter, which detailed concerns that journalists embedded with Hamas may actually have deep connections with the terrorist organization ‘and may have participated in the October 7 attack.’
‘Reporting credibly alleges that some of the individuals that your outlets hire have deep and troubling ties to Hamas—and may have participated in the October 7 attack. In the wake of those alarming reports, some of you have cut ties with these so-called journalists whose connections to terror groups have become too obvious to hide. Good. But one factor in determining whether an organization has provided material support for terrorism is that it be ‘knowing,’’ the letter states.
The attorneys general said the four outlets have a responsibility to fully vet potential hires and ensure they have no connections to terrorist organizations before putting them on the payroll and embedding them during armed conflicts.
‘If your outlet’s current hiring practices led you to give material support to terrorists, you must change these policies going forward. Otherwise, we must assume any future support of terrorist organizations by your stringers, correspondents, contractors, and similar employees is knowing behavior,’ they wrote.
The state AGs pointed to a recent letter sent by a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Reuters asking ‘how its journalist knew to be available for the October 7 attack,’ and called on the outlet to address whether it had prior knowledge of the attack or if one of the organization’s journalists had been in contact with Hamas before the attack.
Israel was catapulted into chaos on Oct. 7 when Hamas terrorists launched surprise attacks on the nation that quickly escalated to war between Israel and Palestine. At least 1,400 Israeli civilians and soldiers have since been killed, another estimated 5,000 Israelis injured and 13,300 Palestinians and Hamas terrorists killed.
The letter went on to argue that the issue of providing material support to terrorist organizations is not new, pointing to a watchdog group telling the AP five years ago that ‘one of its journalists worked for the Hamas-affiliated Quds TV.’ While The New York Times, the AGs continued, published an op-ed in 2020 penned by Taliban deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani.
‘Mr. Haqqani himself is on the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control Sanctions List. Did the Times pay for that piece? If so, whom did it pay? Was that payment consistent with federal and State laws? These questions are still unanswered,’ the letter stated.
The letter details that material support statutes recognize that terrorist organizations, such as Hamas, ‘are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that [criminal] conduct.’
The federal government ‘defines material support to include ‘any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments . . . expert advice or assistance . . . communications equipment, facilities . . . and transportation, except medicine or religious materials,’’ the AGs continued.
The letter notes that material support statutes ‘have survived First Amendment scrutiny’ and that a law ‘distinguishes material support for terrorism from protected speech.’
‘The First Amendment and core free-speech principles protect the right to hold even disgusting views. For example, this letter does not call for any action regarding the New York Times’s decision to hire a reporter to cover the ongoing war in Israel–despite that reporter’s praise for Adolf Hitler and the ‘state of harmony’ Hitler achieved while perpetrating the Holocaust’ the AGs wrote.
Republican Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton also sent a letter last month to Attorney General Merrick Garland, CNN, The Associated Press, Thomson Reuters and The New York Times, inquiring for details surrounding reporters embedded with Hamas.
‘I write regarding reports that so-called ‘journalists’ employed by the Associated Press, CNN, New York Times, and Reuters accompanied Hamas terrorists into Israel during the October 7 terror attack. These individuals almost certainly knew about the attack in advance, and even participated by accompanying Hamas terrorists during the attack and filming the heinous acts. In at least one case, one of the individuals affiliated with these media outlets even took a selfie while being kissed on the cheek by a Hamas leader who helped mastermind the attack,’ Cotton wrote in his letter.
The AGs’ letter cited Cotton and argued The New York Times ‘avoided giving Senator Tom Cotton a meaningful response to his legitimate concerns that the newspaper had provided material support for terrorists.’
‘It instead stated that ‘[n]o employee’ was embedded with Hamas or had advance knowledge of the October 7 attacks. Notably absent from that defense are non-employees—freelancers, stringers, or other payees. Even more conspicuous is the absence of an acknowledgment that Times-paid photographers accompanied Hamas terrorists during the attacks,’ the AGs wrote.
Reuters, AP, CNN and The New York Times have all previously issued statements denying any prior knowledge of the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel. CNN and the AP previously reported they cut ties with a freelance photographer who was reportedly with Hamas terrorists when the war was launched.
Reuters told Fox News Digital later Monday that it ‘categorically denies that it had prior knowledge of the attack or that we embedded journalists with or otherwise accompanied Hamas on October 7.’
‘Reuters acquired photographs from two Gaza-based freelance photographers who were at the border on the morning of October 7. We had no prior relationship with either journalist. The photographs published by Reuters were taken two hours after Hamas fired rockets across southern Israel and more than 45 minutes after Israel said gunmen had crossed the border. Reuters staff journalists were not on the ground at the locations referred to in the claims published on social media,’ a spokesperson for the outlet continued.
The spokesperson added that no evidence of alleged ‘coordination with Hamas by the two freelance journalists whose images we published.’
‘To reiterate, Reuters had no employees embedded with or otherwise accompanying Hamas during the October 7 attack or since. Reuters at no time has provided funding to Hamas or its affiliates.’
The AGs’ letter continued that Reuters and the AP hired an individual accused of ‘posting a video showing that he was carrying a grenade on a motorcycle during the conflict’ and that The New York Times had suggested there were ‘red flags’ concerning the journalist, including posing for a photo showing a Hamas leader kissing the individual on the cheek.
‘That type of close relationship with a well-known terrorist mastermind should raise concerns for organizations worried about providing material support for terrorists—all the more because that journalist was identified to AP in 2018 for his relationship with Hamas,’ they said.
The letter was signed by Republican attorneys general in Iowa, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, Utah, Montana, Virginia, South Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee.
‘We reiterate: material support of terrorist organizations is illegal. You should ensure that you are taking all necessary steps to prevent your organizations from contracting with members of terror organizations. We urge you in the strongest terms to take care that your hiring practices conform to the laws forbidding material support for terror organizations,’ the letter continued.