The White House has listed five Australian “terror” attacks that Donald Trump says the media ignored.
But the mother of the young backpacker allegedly killed by a fellow resident at a Townsville hostel last year has hit back, telling the US president in an open letter that her daughter’s death and that of a fellow British backpacker Tom Jackson was nothing to do with terrorism.
“The possibility of Mia and Tom’s deaths being consequent to an Islamic terror attack was discounted by police in the early stages of the investigation,” Rosie Ayliffe writes.
Speaking to troops in Florida on Monday, Trump claimed that terror attacks where happening “all over Europe,” adding that “it’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported” by what he called a “very, very dishonest press.”
Trump repeated the claims at a meeting with sheriffs in Texas on Tuesday, saying he “had to know” how dishonest the media was, because he was personally reported on so frequently.
To back the president’s statement, the White House followed up with a list of what it said were 78 terror attacks committed between September 2014 and December 2016 that it felt were under-reported, although it did not say why these dates were chosen.
The list includes events that dominated global media coverage for days, such as the January 2015 attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the November 2015 attacks on a Parisian stadium, concert venue and restaurant, the San Bernardino mass shooting in December 2015, the Nice truck attack of July 2016, as well as many other killings and attempted killings that received heavy press attention.
Five Australian attacks are on the list of events that didn’t “receive adequate attention from Western media sources,” according to the White House. Although the list does not make clear in some cases which event it was referring to, the ABC linked the dates on the list to the Lindt Café siege in December 2014, the shooting of Curtis Cheng in October 2015, the stabbing of a man in Sydney in September 2015, the stabbings of two police officers in Melbourne in September 2014, and the stabbing of British backpacker Mia Ayliffe-Chung in Townsville in August 2016.
Smail Ayad, a French man who was staying at the hostel at the same time as the 20-year-old, was charged with her murder and that of Jackson, who tried to stop the attack.
Although Ayad reportedly shouted “allahu akbar” during the attack, police quickly discounted the possibility of a terror attack. The Guardian reported police as saying at the time that there was “no indication whatsoever that any radicalisation or any political motives existed to cause him to attack the people that he did.”
Ayliffe-Chung’s mother last night blasted the White House’s attempt to link her daughter’s death with terror attacks and the related ban on travel to the US by people from some Muslim-majority countries.
“Any fool can shout Allahu Akbar as they commit a crime,” she wrote.
— Rosie Ayliffe (@RosieAyliffe) February 7, 2017
Media organisations around the world also responded to the White House accusation by publishing extensive logs of coverage of the events on the list.
The White House has not yet responded to claims that its list included attacks unrelated to terror, and those that were heavily covered in the press.
CNN’s White House producer Kevin Liptak tweeted the full list.
Here's the list the White House sent of attacks they feel "did not receive adequate attention from Western media sources." pic.twitter.com/lj8eOZQfnY
— Kevin Liptak (@Kevinliptakcnn) February 7, 2017