Trump's 'selective' under-reported terror attacks list 'presents a victory to Islamist terrorist groups'

A policeman stands before the lorry used in the Bastille Day attack in Nice. Credit: PA

When I flew to Nice last July to report on the Bastille Day attack, I wasn’t alone. My cramped flight from London City Airport was packed with many other journalists. Their camera gear and television equipment could barely fit into the overhead lockers.

Then I arrived. Alongside me on the packed seafront where an IS inspired attacker had ploughed into bystanders, was around ten percent of the entire global workforce of ITV News. And, as always, I was stunned to see the resources committed by the American networks.

That night, as news of a coup in Turkey filtered through, as well as major developments in the US presidential campaign, our American partners NBC anchored their flagship programme from the seafront. On a busy news-day, they re-named ‘Nightly News with Lester Holt’ as ‘Nightly News: Terror in France’.

The Nice Bastille Day attack was heavily reported by media around the world. Credit: PA

So I was surprised to hear Donald Trump’s overnight claim that the media is not reporting terrorist attacks in Europe and elsewhere (I have done little else this past year). He appeared to blame some mysterious bias.

He said: “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many, many cases the very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it”

  • Go to the bottom of this article for details of terror attacks on Mr Trump's list that ITV News has covered online

Sad. Because that’s just not correct. And more often, we are accused of giving terrorist attacks too much coverage - not too little.

The White House’s list of apparently under-reported attacks appears to be comprehensive - even though the spelling mistakes suggest it might have been put together in a rush (Copenhagen is in Denmark, not ‘Denmakr’). It includes a stabbing at a Tube station in east London in December 2015, when a schizophrenic knifeman targeted strangers at random in the ticket hall at Leytonstone station.

The murder of MP Jo Cox was not on the White House list of terrorist attacks. Credit: PA

However, there are many exclusions, such as the murder of Jo Cox MP by a white supremacist last year. And, perhaps most notably, the terrorist attack against Muslims in Quebec last month in which six worshippers were killed. The 27-year old suspect is reportedly a supporter of Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, the far-right French presidential candidate.

Trump’s comments appear to be the sequel to claims by Kellyanne Conway, a senior Trump aide, that the media has chosen not to cover ‘the Bowling Green massacre’. She’s right because, of course, there was no massacre. It was a fictitious claim that has left observers arguing about whether this was a slip of the tongue or something more sinister.

Thirty-eight people were killed on the beach in Tunisa by gunman Seifeddine Rezgui Credit: PA

The kindest interpretation of Trump’s approach to terrorism, and the White House’s ludicrous list of under-reported terror attacks, is that his analysis of this issue has been selective. Others will claim that in a flurry of conspiracy theories, he has failed to notice that terrorists come from all religions.

Either interpretation presents a victory to Islamist terrorist groups, which claim that the US is engaged in a religious war against Islam and sees Muslims as their dispensable enemy. It is also a victory for far-right terror groups, which might conclude that they’re off the radar of the US executive.

Meanwhile, journalists who report on major terrorist atrocities will keep covering them. It’s not for politicians to decide how stories should be reported.

Below are links to ITV News' online coverage of attacks which were on President Trump's list of 78 'ignored' incidents:

  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016