Complaint against United States: “threats and discrimination”
I am a journalist, author, I also produce and present two weekly programs in Al-Jazeera space channel. I was a member of Al-Jazeera crew covering directly the latest battles in the city of Falluga in Iraq from the period of the 5th of April to the 11th of April 2004. We were the only channel broadcasting on air from Fallujah , and most of the other media were using our films and pictures of the events.
I was astonished when I found the channel, our crew, and myself coming under attack from the leaders of the United States army forces and their spokespeople.
On the 9th of April, the American army command demanded that our crew had to leave Fallujah as one of their main conditions to a cease fire.
General “Mark Kemit” the deputy army commander and the spokesman issued a statement accusing me (by name) of lying in an on air news interview with Al Jazeera, but he was not able to issue a response to the questions about the coverage from the city.
One hour later after the interview our crew came under fire from heavy tank guns, caused us to stop our broadcast, and we had to change our well known location.
On the 10th of April, the American fighter jets fired around our new location, and they bombed the house, where we had spent the night before; causing the death of the house owner Mr. Hussein Samir. Due to the serious threats we had to stop broadcasting for few days because every time we tried to broadcast the fighter jets spotted us we became under their fire.
On the 12th of April, General John Abi Zaid, the leader of the central headquarters attacked Al Jazeera in his statement said that “ Al Jazeera were always in the events location, but they did not say the truth, and has not been accurate in their broadcast”
On the 15th of April, Mr. Donald Rumsfeld stated in a press conference describing our coverage in Fallujah, “ I can state firmly that what Al Jazeera did was an evil act, and they have no justification”.
On the 7th of April, the Secretary of State Mr. K. Bowell raised the issue of Al Jazeera in his talks with Sh. Hamad bin Jassim Qatar’s foreign minister.
On the 27th of April, Mr. R. Boucher the foreign affairs spokesman mentioned me by name , Ahmed Mansour, accusing me of lying in reporting on the live pictures of women and children casualties in Fallujah, however, he had great difficulty answering some of the attending journalists questions on the issue.
By now, I feel honored to be a member of a team working in a dangerous and threatening ground in order to convey a media message, to a worldwide audience.
I also find it very disturbing to find myself under a campaign of intimidation and discrimination led by a great power! And it is a clear contradiction to its declared goals of propagating freedom and democracy within the Middle East, and elsewhere.
It is our a heavy responsibility to insure the rights and “freedom” of journalists, wherever they may be, and encourage us to carry on in our message, despite the tragic loss of life to our colleagues and friends in the media profession.