Carol Malouf to Orient Net English: I was under huge pressure not to broadcast interview with al-Nusra-held Hezbollah members
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Carol Malouf to Orient Net English: I was under huge pressure not to broadcast interview with al-Nusra-held Hezbollah members

Carol Malouf / credit: Sam Karali
Orient Net - Jamal Mamo
Date: 2016-02-12 15:29
Shortly after broadcasting her interview with al-Nusra-held Hezbollah members, Orient Net English met the Lebanese TV reporter Carol Malouf in Istanbul, and asked her some questions.

Malouf spoke openly about the controversial interview. Malouf also said that she has underwent unprecedented pressures in order not to broadcast the video. Pro- Hezbollah’s media outlets launched a witch hunting campaign against Malouf accusing her of being the spokesperson of al-Nusra Front.   

Herein below the interview with Carol Malouf 

What did that flow by the two fighters from Hezbollah you interviewed tell you about Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria?
It was clear that they were misled. They were told things that were not true. And they realized after being in captivity for more than 40 days and interacting with their captors that the reality on the ground was different. They were told that most of the fighters weren’t Syrian and that they were as we call them Mohajeeren coming to occupy Syria. I believe that they were very genuine while telling their story. 

Also I felt that they were volunteering information to protect their lives or because they felt that they were free to speak and express them freely. I honestly can’t tell but what I felt was that they were genuine and they were telling the truth.

There was a third captive but we didn’t see him. Why didn’t he show up or we didn’t hear his voice?
When I started the conversation with them I asked them to present themselves and who they were. One of my questions was about the third person. I personally can’t corporate. I can’t deny or confirm anything about that information because I haven’t seen that person. But I gained some information from the captives who told me in more than one occasion during our conversation that he had serious wounds but he was treated and he is still alive. However, I don’t know much about it and it is really something I can’t answer. 

What sort of relationship you felt there is between Hezbollah and al-Nusra?
I didn’t honestly feel that they are afraid of them. Of course, there is a relationship between the one who is being held against his will and his captors. Personally, I am against holding anybody against his will. However, I didn’t feel strong and negative feelings among them. Even the captives were honest when they said they were beaten the first few hours they were held. Having said that I felt that they were comfortable saying it. They were not trying to put al-Nusra in a positive line. They spoke about the positive points and the negative ones. They were told something and they later changed their mind. 

I would say that there is animosity between them. When you talk to people on both sides as individuals but not as policies you find that what brings them together is much more than what makes them apart. 

What’s your reading of Hezbollah’s reaction to what your interviewees said?
Initially, when the news broke out, that there is going to be an interview with the captives, they knew nothing about it. I think almost nobody knew about it. They were taken by surprise. I think they were scared from the unknown. They were sacred because they didn’t know what was inside those tapes. Their initial reaction in my opinion was wrong because they turned it into something bigger. They spilled oil on fire and that what made it much more interesting to people because they banned it. The pressure that they exerted on the TV stations, on MTV and on the presenter and on the owner. At first they didn’t contact me personally. They were dealing with the station as a station and with the show as a show. 

However, the next day, between Tuesday evening and Wednesday during the day when they knew that it is me who owns the right of the interview not MTV, they started contacting me. 

I would like to be very clear and specific. I didn’t receive direct threats but I was put under a lot of pressure. Pressures by the TV station, the presenter and by Hezbollah. I was told that it will cause problems and will create issues for Hezbollah and for the TV stations. So, there was a lot of exaggeration. 

However, Hezbollah’s mistake was that by not allowing to broadcast the 30 minute video and replacing it by a 10-minute segment of the video and sending someone from their side to clarify the content and why are those people saying that. Instead of that they send a joker who was just shouting and screaming. There was consequently no substance and cut the video to 7 minutes which turned it into an issue of public opinion, of censorship and oppression. In the next five days, there were rumors that I am going to post it myself. 

A newspaper close to them said that I am the spokesperson of al-Nusra and I am getting money for that. So, I think they were taken by surprise when I decided to publish it on YouTube. Allow me to say that in today’s world it is very difficult to stop the flow of information because you have social media. So, because of the ban people were more interested in watching the video. 

What would you say if you are to compare such prisoners with the prisoners of the regime?
I haven’t met any of the regime’s prisoners. I am known to be somebody who can’t talk about something I haven’t experienced myself. I haven’t seen any signs of torture inflicted on those two captives. 

How do you read the impact of what those captives said on the social incubator of Hezbollah? 
I can talk about three different groups. The people who are my audience. The people who are anti-Hezbollah or let me say against Hezbollah. They had a good day because of the video. 

However, on the other side, there are Shiite community who follow Hezbollah blindly. These people don’t listen or watch. You can’t reach them or discuss such things with them. They are some Shiite intellectuals; some of them are against Hezbollah and some who are with Hezbollah but are willing to discuss things. These people are willing to ask questions and know more and learn from the mistakes. 

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