Video scoop for C5's man in Lahore

A Channel 5 reporter, who was left without a cameraman in Pakistan, fell back on his videojournalism training and got the first footage of British Muslims in Pakistan who were recruiting and training Britons to fight with the Taliban.

Jon Gilbert, who has been in Lahore since September, made contact with what was then a little-known organisation, al-Muhajiroun, through sources in London.

When the cameraman Gilbert worked with had to return to the UK for personal reasons, he decided to take a Sony DV camera to a press conference they invited him to in Raul Pindi last month.

"I thought there would be a mob, but it was deserted," said Gilbert. "Then I was introduced to Abdul Salam from Brick Lane, who was all masked up just with the slits of his eyes showing.

"When he started talking I couldn’t believe what I was hearing."

The story was broken on 5 News and described how more than 200 British Muslims had been smuggled into Afghanistan on 25 October. Gilbert also interviewed Hassan Butt, the leader of al-Muhajiroun, Abdullah from Dagenham, and Mohammad Junaid, a 26-year-old computer programmer from New York who went to join the Taliban a week after his mother escaped the World Trade Center atrocity.

"The story’s everywhere now, but to hear someone saying he would willingly kill British soldiers because they were at war with Muslims was incredible. Everyone’s jaw hit the floor when I sent it back," said Gilbert, who was trained to use the small cameras when he worked for Channel One by New York-based Michael Rosenblum.

The story was picked up by CNN, CBS and NBC, which used Gilbert’s footage and also interviewed him.

"I’m not saying videojournalism is the way forward from now on," said Gilbert, "but it helped me because they thought it was a home video and were more relaxed."

By Julie Tomlin

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