Amid a volatile exchange over whether Hamas is a terrorist organization, the leftist British lawmaker George Galloway abruptly booted WND’s Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein and radio talk-host Rusty Humphries from his London office and handed them over to Parliament police, claiming the two were Zionist operatives who had breached security by falsely presenting themselves as reporters.
The entire fiasco, which occurred in June, was recorded on audio tape.
Klein, author of the recently released book “Schmoozing with Terrorists,” said he and Humphries had refrained from releasing the tape until after the publication of “Schmoozing” for fear Klein would lose some Hamas sources. In the book, Klein conducts interviews with the chiefs of most major Palestinian terror organizations, including Hamas.
Klein interviewed Galloway on June 25 for Humphries’ national radio show. The two said they traveled to London as part of an investigative series on Islamic extremism in Europe. While in the UK, they attended demonstrations by Al-Ghurabaa, formerly known as Al-Muhajiroun, a Muslim globalist organization, and went to Friday evening prayers at London’s Central Mosque.
During their interview with Galloway, Klein called Hamas a terror group, to which the Scottish politician responded, “I don’t think Hamas is a terror organization, and it’s a very foolish conflation that you make, because Hamas are a national liberation movement with specific goals to liberate their own country, which has been taken from them by others.”
Hear the audio of the Galloway interview
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Galloway explained Osama bin Laden is a terrorist since the al-Qaida chieftain, whom Galloway claimed was “armed and financed by the U.S.” in the 1970s and 1980s, is a “pan-Islamic, nihilistic leader leading a nihilistic organization which seeks to bring about the collapse of national states and re-emergence of the caliphate.”
Galloway stated Hamas, by contrast, is not a terror group:
“[Hamas] wants to liberate their country, which has been illegally occupied, and to reassemble their nation, which has been scattered to the four winds. That’s an entirely legitimate goal,” he said.
Interjecting, Klein stated Hamas’ suicide bombings and rocket attacks target civilians.
But Galloway cut Klein off, shouting, “Let me finish, please, because you’re here obviously with an agenda, right down to the way you’re holding the microphone as a kind of gun at my head.”
Galloway argued that when it comes to determining who is a terrorist “what counts is not the firepower involved.”
“You’re not a terrorist because you’ve got X kind of weapons … you’re a terrorist if your goals are illegitimate,” he said. “And the goals of the national liberation movements of Palestine are entirely legitimate. And, I’ve got news for you, are widely supported around the world.”
The issue in defining terrorism, Galloway said, is who is the target and what is the purpose of a “military action.”
“A suicide bombing of a group of Israeli soldiers in illegal occupation of Palestinian lands is an entirely legitimate military act,” Galloway said. “A suicide bombing of a group of Israeli settlers illegally occupying Palestinian land is an entirely justifiable military action. A suicide bombing of a falafel stall in Tel Aviv is not. A bombing of a nightclub in Haifa is not. So there’s your answer.”
But Klein once again called Hamas a terror group at which point Galloway declared he had enough.
“Is this an interview or a political broadcast on behalf of the Zionist movement?” asked Galloway. “I didn’t even know that you were coming here; you’ve actually got this interview under false pretenses.”
Klein protested, insisting he had told Galloway assistant Kevin Ovenden, who arranged the interview, exactly who he and Humphries represented. At the beginning of the recorded interview, Humphries can be heard clearly identifying himself and Klein as working for Talk Radio Network and WND, respectively.
Klein said he coordinated the interview with Ovenden two weeks in advance, even providing Ovenden with the focus of the scheduled conversation.
The exchange then went like this:
GALLOWAY: I think that we should conclude this interview now. I told you at the beginning, before we started, I don’t speak to the Israeli media.
KLEIN: I’m not the Israeli media.
GALLOWAY: Well you might as well be. I have no intention of talking to either of you any further. So, good afternoon gentlemen.
Galloway told the journalists to leave or he would call the police. When Klein, obviously taken aback, invited him to go ahead, Galloway said, “I think I’m going to do exactly that before you leave.”
“You are not a journalist, you are a political partisan for Zionism,” Galloway thundered at Klein, “Now please leave my office.”
On the audio, Ovenden can be heard escorting Klein and Humphries into the elevator and down to the first floor lobby, where security is stationed. Ovenden told the two, “Because you came in under false pretenses you won’t set foot” in Westminster again.
Security guards for the parliament office building were waiting in the lobby for Klein and Humphries, who were detained until the London police arrived, the two said.
Upon police interrogation – which also was recorded – Klein asked an officer what he did wrong.
The officer replied that according to Ovenden, a few minutes into the interview with Galloway, the exchange came to a “question that wasn’t something that perhaps they were expecting.”
“But that isn’t illegal,” replied Klein.
“I’m not disagreeing with you, alright,” the officer said, “but I know for a fact that somebody like Mr. Galloway, if he doesn’t think the interview is going to be to his advantage, probably, is not going to want to speak to you.”
The two reporters were released but also were told London police had prepared an “intelligence report” on the incident. However, the officers explained to Klein and Humphries this didn’t necessarily mean trouble for them, just that the information on their encounter with Galloway would be available in association with any future visit to Parliament.
‘George Galloway stole my laptop’
After departing the parliamentary building, Klein said he realized he had left his laptop in Galloway’s office.
He phoned Galloway to request the return of his equipment. A female assistant who had witnessed the entire ordeal answered, said Klein. She replied, “Ha. I don’t think so,” and then abruptly ended the call.
Klein and Humphries said they returned to the parliamentary building and asked the security station to file a criminal complaint against Galloway for stealing Klein’s laptop. After a guard called the politician’s office, Galloway assistant Ovenden brought down the computer.
Asked for comment by WND, Ovenden denied Galloway’s office refused to return Klein’s laptop.
He said Klein and Humphries coordinated the interview “under false pretenses,” claiming the two told him they worked for ABC Radio Network.
Klein previously served as an analyst and occasional co-host of the John Batchelor Show, which was a national radio program syndicated through ABC Radio. He said he sent Ovenden his bio – which mentioned ABC Radio – along with Humphries’ information, but that he was clear the interview was for Humphries show and WND.
“Besides, in the audio file, you can hear Rusty and me introducing ourselves to Galloway, stating exactly who we are,” said Klein.
Humphries, who noted Galloway’s office was decorated with pictures of communist revolutionaries Fidel Castro and Che Guevara – along with dolls resembling Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez – told WND the incident was “a perfect example of what the left does.”
“When they don’t get their way they want to shut down the conversation,” Humphries said. “This is the exact reason why talk radio needs to exist.”
The radio talker, though, joked he was disappointed he didn’t get to interview Galloway.
“I let Aaron start the interview because I thought he’d be nice,” quipped Humphries.