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Radio 1 rapped over Isis interview

BBC Radio 1's Newsbeat bulletin has been rapped for breaching broadcasting rules after airing an interview with Isis (Islamic State) fighter Kabir Ahmed, in which he boasted that waging in the Middle East was "fun" and better than playing the violent video game Call Of Duty.

Ahmed, who used the name Abu Sumayyah after heading to Syria, is believed to have killed himself and eight police officers in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq on Friday in Beiji, north of Baghdad.

Broadcasting regulator Ofcom and the BBC Trust have ruled that the interview - aired in June - fell foul of regulations after his upbeat views were left unchallenged.

During the interview - said to have been conducted from a cafe near his training camp in north west Syria - he told how he walked around carrying a Kalashnikov automatic weapon and a rocket propelled grenade launcher, enjoying "freedom" and "the good life".

He went on to say: "It's actually quite fun, better than, how you would say what's that game called, 'Call of Duty'? It's like that, but really, you know, 3D, you know. You can see everything's happening in front of you, you know, it's real, you know what I mean?"

Following today's ruling, an Ofcom spokesman said: "Ofcom's rules require broadcasters to protect audiences, and in particular children, from harmful and offensive content.

"After a thorough investigation, Ofcom found the BBC breached rules by failing to challenge the positive descriptions an Isis fighter provided of his experiences in an interview."

Three days after the June 13 broadcast Isis became a proscribed terrorist group in the UK.

The BBC Trust said today that the programme breached editorial guidelines about protecting young people from unsuitable content "including material that condones or glamorises violence, dangerous or seriously anti-social behaviour".

And it said that failing to challenge views that were aired and to include sufficient context amounted to a breach of impartiality rules.

A BBC spokeswoman said today: "Newsbeat accepts the findings of the Ofcom and BBC Trust reports - appropriate measures have already been introduced to prevent similar breaches in the future."

The broadcast of his comments - which were not given directly to the BBC, but to two freelance journalists for an online report - came straight after a light-hearted item about the World Cup.

Ofcom said listeners would have been unprepared for the content and tone of the report due to inadequate "signposting" and the context which did feature in the report was mainly around jihad and Isis generally, without challenging or rebutting Sumayyah's "positive and personal description" of his experiences.

In its finding, Ofcom said: "Broadcasters should be able to report on terrorist groups that pose threats internationally and domestically. This is clearly in the public interest and expected by viewers and listeners.

"However, where highly controversial individuals or organisations are given the opportunity to articulate their views on television or radio, broadcasters must always ensure that they place those views in context by, for example, providing appropriate challenge to those views and giving warnings as appropriate."

In its submission to Ofcom, the BBC said all Newsbeat staff are being sent to workshops which would emphasise the "legal and editorial obligations" to its youth audience.

The duty editor and the reporter responsible for the story have been "reminded" of the importance of ensuring the bulletins comply with guidelines and should consult a lawyer where necessary.

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