Iran's Ties to the 'Palestine Chronicle'

Abdullah Aljamal, who held Israeli hostages, worked as journalist for an organization registered as a U.S. nonprofit. Here's what we know.

Ayatollah Khamenei (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)
June 10, 2024

An American nonprofit that published the writings of a Hamas affiliate who held three Israelis hostage has ties to the Iranian regime and Al Jazeera, the Qatari-funded outlet that has served as a leading mouthpiece for Hamas, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis.

Israeli authorities confirmed over the weekend that three of their hostages were held in the home of Abdallah Aljamal, an Al Jazeera contributor who most frequently wrote for a little-known U.S.-based website called the Palestine Chronicle. Aljamal's writings were featured extensively on the site, which is registered as a nonprofit in Washington State. Aljamal even filed dispatches during the time he is alleged to have housed the Israeli captives.

While little is known about the Palestine Chronicle's donors and financial status—the group's IRS tax records do not list detailed information—its founder and editor in chief, Ramzy Baroud, formerly served as an editor and executive for Al Jazeera, which was recently outlawed in Israel for providing support to Hamas.

Baroud defended Hamas's Oct. 7 terror strike on Israel and has written for Kayhan International, an outlet funded by Iran's supreme leader. At least six of the outlet's published writers have also appeared on Iranian state-controlled propaganda sites that the U.S. government seized in 2020 for being part of an influence operation run by Tehran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC). Government documents also show that the Palestine Liberation Organization, which has engaged in terrorism, conducted an interview with the Palestine Chronicle in 2006.

The Palestine Chronicle's links to a foreign network of anti-Israel and pro-terrorism outlets shine new light on how a supposed journalist ended up housing hostages for Hamas. While the terror group is known to employ regional reporters who disseminate their propaganda, hostage-taker Aljamal's connection to an American site registered as a nonprofit raises questions about how pro-jihadi propaganda outlets are steadily feeding information to an English-speaking audience.

A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to the Free Beacon on Monday that "the hostages were held captive by Abdallah Aljamal and members of his family in their home. This is further evidence of the deliberate use of civilian homes and buildings by the Hamas terrorist organization to hold Israeli hostages captive in the Gaza Strip."

The Palestine Chronicle, based and registered as a nonprofit group in Olympia, Washington, received its tax-exempt status in 2012, IRS records show. The group is only required to file a shortened tax form because it claims to receive less than $50,000 dollars in contributions per year. Records filed with the State of Washington show, however, that the website's parent company, the People Media Project, took in $91,107 in 2022, $59,230 in 2021, and $92,036 in 2020. The outlet claims to be entirely funded by its readers.

After news broke about Aljamal, House Ways and Means Committee chairman Jason Smith (R., Mo.) called for the revocation of the People Media Project's tax-exempt status, Fox News's Chad Pergram reported.

The National Jewish Advocacy Center, a legal group, requested on Monday that the FBI and Justice Department open an investigation into the Palestine Chronicle, alleging that the publication provided material support to Hamas by paying Aljamal.

Palestine Chronicle editor in chief Baroud is affiliated with foreign think tanks, including the Istanbul-based Center for Islam and Global Affairs, which is run by Sami Al-Arian, a vocal Israel critic who pleaded guilty in 2006 to providing material support to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated terror group.

In 2022, Baroud published an article with the Iran state-controlled Kayhan International outlet. The article, "Zionists Prophesying Their Imminent Doom," claimed that Israeli leaders "exaggerate and manipulate facts to instill fear and rile up their political camps."

Baroud also had bylines on two websites—the American Herald Tribune and Critical Studies—that the Justice Department seized in 2020 for being part of an influence operation run by Iran's IRGC. The websites published Iranian propaganda and sought to influence American audiences.

At least six other Palestine Chronicle writers and contributors also are affiliated with the Iranian propaganda sites.

Robert Inlakesh, who has bylines on the Palestine Chronicle, had an author page listed on the American Herald Tribune. Some of Inlakesh's articles were also aggregated onto PressTV, another Iranian state-controlled propaganda outlet.

Jeremy Salt, another Palestine Chronicle writer and onetime advisory board member, also had an author page on the American Herald Tribune and wrote at least eight pieces for the site.

A third Palestine Chronicle contributor, Jamal Kanj, also had work published at the American Herald Tribune, as did Palestine Chronicle contributor Yves Engler.

Richard Falk, the former U.N. special rapporteur for the Palestinian territories, has been published by the Palestine Chronicle and granted an interview to the American Herald Tribune.

In 2020, Baroud wrote a poem dedicated to Afzal Guru, who was convicted in 2001 of carrying out a terror attack on India's parliament, killing nine people.

Baroud's Facebook page additionally contains photographs of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terror group.

The Palestine Chronicle's parent group, the People Media Project, is run by John Harvey, an Olympia, Wash., resident who reportedly spearheaded a campaign in 2007 to establish the Gaza Strip's Rafah neighborhood—a Hamas stronghold—as Olympia's sister city.

An archived webpage detailing members of the Palestine Chronicle's advisory board listed Daud Abdullah, director of the Middle East Monitor, a nonprofit news outlet that focuses on regional issues.

Abdullah, who served as the Muslim Council of Britain's deputy director-general, in 2009 faced calls to resign his post after he signed a public declaration supporting Hamas's military operations. Abdullah also led the group's boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Another onetime Palestine Chronicle advisory board member, Salman Abu Sitta, penned a piece in the virulently anti-Zionist blog Mondoweiss claiming that Hamas did not rape Israelis or behead babies, though empirical evidence produced by the Israelis shows otherwise.

Other writers published at the Palestine Chronicle, including Iqbal Jassatpraised Hamas's slaughter of Israelis and defended the terror group's "right to armed struggle." Jassat serves as an executive member of the South Africa-based Media Review Network, which has also defended Hamas's terror attacks and published its propaganda materials.

An email request for comment sent to the Palestine Chronicle's listed address was not returned by press time.