by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Associated Press instructs reporters and organizations that rely on its style guide to avoid referring to Hamas as a terrorist organization, a Washington Free Beacon review of the organization’s standards found.
The news outlet states in its “Israel-Hamas Topical Guide” that because “terrorism and terrorist have become politicized, and often are applied inconsistently … the AP is not using the terms for specific actions or groups, other than in direct quotations.” The guidance will affect how dozens of regional newspapers and national outlets like Politico report on the ongoing war in Gaza.
Hamas, an Islamist militant group dedicated to the annihilation of Israel and Jews around the world, is classified as a terrorist organization by dozens of countries, including the United States and the European Union. Hamas has undertaken hundreds of terrorist attacks against civilians since 1993, according to the Jewish Virtual Library.
Instead of referring to Hamas—which earlier this month killed hundreds of innocent civilians, including children in an unprompted attack on Israel—as a terrorist group, the outlet says journalists should call its members “militants.”
“Terms such as Hamas fighters, attackers or combatants are also acceptable depending on the context,” the Associated Press style guide states.
The Associated Press did not respond to a request for comment.
Bucking the “terrorist” label is one in a series of strange decisions by the Associated Press, which include once sharing office space in Gaza with Hamas. That office, which the AP used for 15 years, was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes in May 2021. The Israeli Defense Force stated the building contained Hamas operatives and weapons, as well as an office for Islamic Jihad, another terrorist organization based in Gaza.
“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza,” AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement at the time.