May 11, 2005, - 9:14 pm

Jihad Journalism: Detroit News’ Fabricated Terrorism “Reporting”

By Debbie Schlussel

“Former Terrorism Suspect is Deported:  Moroccan  . . . Was Forced to Leave,” screamed a sympathetic headline in Gannett’s Detroit News, last week.

Problem is, the deportation of alleged Detroit terror cell member Ahmed Hannan never happened.  Hannan is still here.

And other details in the apocryphal article by Detroit News reporter David Shepardson were also wrong or made-up.  The May 3, 2005 article claimed that Hannan—who planned to blow up U.S. tourist sites and a U.S. Air Force Base in Turkey—was deported two weeks before the article ran.  Yet, he’s still here.  The article also reported that Hannan’s teeth were knocked out in a jailhouse fight, “last month.”  But the fight happened on February 10, 2005, three months ago.

Had Shepardson done the least amount of real reporting –ie., fact-checking with the jail and the federal government, in whose custody Hannan remains—he would have discovered the truth.  But Shepardson relied exclusively on alleged terrorist Hannan’s lawyer, Jim Thomas, for the entire story, and never checked a thing.  (By the way, the sob-story Detroit News headline about Hannan being “Forced to Leave”?  Hannan pled guilty to a federal crime.  Should he be allowed to stay?)

Why is David Shepardson’s phony story cause for concern?  Because Shepardson is The Detroit News’ primary reporter on the domestic War on Islamic Terror, in the heart of Islamic America.  He is the News’ primary reporter on Federal law enforcement, the Justice Department, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit.  His stories get picked up and run all over America via the Gannett News Service wire.

Yet, neither Shepardson, nor his editors, did even the most basic fact-checking or research for this and, we can assume, most of his articles.  We can also assume that countless other stories written by Shepardson—and probably those by other Detroit News reporters with the same “editors” as Shepardson—are simply phony, fabricated, flat-out apocryphal.

Incredibly, just last month, Shepardson and the Detroit News earned a First Place in Investigative Reporting for this phony coverage from the parent Gannett Company.  And it garnered Detroit News Publisher and Editor Mark Silverman a Gold Medal from Gannett, honoring The Detroit News as one of the company’s seven best newspapers, and a President’s Ring, as one of Gannett’s best editors.  (Ironically, Gannett considered Silverman for Editor in Chief of USA Today, to clean things up from that paper’s Jack Kelley fabrication scandal, but wisely didn’t choose him.)

“The Detroit News can be counted on for authoritative, compelling and significant coverage in its community and  . . . of issues that had impact far beyond,” the Gannett award judges proclaimed.  No, at this point, The Detroit News can be counted on for fabrication, however compelling it may be, and that’s about it.  Unfortunately, the issues it covers—the issues David Shepardson covers—do have impact far beyond.

And that’s the problem.  Unfortunately, this fake story by David Shepardson and The Detroit News, is emblematic of the paper’s slanted—and, we now know, phony— award-winning coverage of terrorism and the paper’s gymnastics in bending over backward to radical Islamists—a policy instituted by Editor Silverman (more in a future column).

Shepardson’s stories are ruled by that agenda.

Shepardson—when not apparently fabricating stories out of whole-cloth—repeatedly trumpeted the party line of terrorists’ lawyers and a jealous U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit that never wanted star prosecutor Rick Convertino to win the terrorism convictions of four men tied to Bin Laden.  The men possessed over 100 Wahhabi’ist tapes preaching the murder of innocent Americans, Christians, and Jews and lived at the apartment of Nabil Al-Marabh—on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Convertino’s Justice Dept. colleagues never wanted him to win because then-U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Collins, had political aspirations and was building his base with the most radical elements of the Islamic community, who paid for the terror suspects’ commercial driving lessons—with OUR tax money!  Collins, his office, and even the U.S. Attorney General’s office in Washington—after sabotaging Convertino’s trial throughout—sought to overturn his convictions.

With Shepardson’s help, they ultimately succeeded.

Shepardson’s agenda governed not only how he covered (and fabricated) stories, but also, how he deliberately ignored major stories.  Shepardson knew about, but chose not to report that:

  • Terrorist lawyers, Richard Helfrick and Miriam Siefer, stole official stationery of then-Chief Federal Judge Lawrence Zatkoff, forging his signature on an accusatory letter to another attorney;
  • Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm (former Michigan Attorney General), when she was Assistant U.S. Attorney, stole official stationery of terror trial Judge Gerald Rosen, forging his signature on a letter;
  • Terror Judge Rosen recently allowed terror suspect Karim Koubriti, under indictment, freed to attend a National Lawyers Guild dinner honoring his lawyer, Siefer.

I know that Shepardson knew of the first two stories because I learned of them from a third party, to whom Shepardson told them.  I know they are true because Judge Rosen confirmed their veracity to me in a lengthy telephone conversation, while delivering veiled threats to me not to report the stories.

Shepardson is friends with Judge Rosen, who is believed to be an unnamed source in many of Shepardson’s stories during and about the terror trial,  all of which are negative regarding Convertino.  That’s probably the reason he chose not to cover these stories.  It might be the reason why Shepardson has failed to cover the glaring improprieties of Judge Rosen’s behavior during the trial and afterward, a time during which he lunched with Shepardson and improperly discussed the case with him and many media sources (including myself, U.S. News & World Report, and AP).

When Gannett’s jewel, USA Today, fell victim to reporter Jack Kelley’s fabrication, the paper’s top officials were fired along with Kelley.  What’s good for the goose is good for the  . . . Detroit News.

(Read more about The Detroit News phony terror trial coverage, here and here.)

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