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Bombing Aljazeera: Silly Joke - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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With the year drawing to an end, I can say that the tale of a US strike against Aljazeera is the most ridiculous story I have heard all year. The claim simply does not hold true, even if the US President did indeed utter it. Of course, it is plausible the statement might have been a joke between Bush and Blair, similar to the humorous gaffe Reagan uttered during a weekly radio address unaware that the microphone was on.

&#34My fellow Americans, I”m pleased to tell you today that I”ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.&#34

Discerning people still remember this as a joke but many in our Arab world do not.

Of course, I am not troubled by the pronouncements of Abu Adas’ channel. What concerns me, however, is its repetition of self-serving news in an attempt to convince the viewers the tale is indeed true, by using the air strike on Serbian TV television as proof. Is the Qatari channel equivalent to Milosevic’s mouthpiece? Surely not!

Milosevic was at war against the Americans while Doha hosts a large US military base from where the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime was planned and from whose territory the US army began its invasion of Iraq.

If the men in Washington really wanted to silence Aljazeera, all they would need to do is to dispatch a single US soldier to order the channel to keep its house in order! What saddens me is not what Aljezeera broadcasts but how it seeks to galvanize the viewers when it reminds them of the death of the journalist Tariq Ayoub. Do readers realize that all the ensuing uproar and confusion created by Abu Adas’ channel have to do with only two deaths since the fall of the Iraqi dictator, while Al Arabiyah have lost seven members of staff in Iraq and al Iraqiyah five? How many more lies and deception does one need?

Doesn’t Aljazeera give the Americans videotapes by al Qaeda”s leaders before it broadcasts them, as State Department has admitted and Qatar silently sanctioned? Why would Washington need to bomb a channel entirely funded by the government of Qatar?

I do not know where the Americans were meant to target Aljazeera. In Qatar? Or in Fallujah? As far as we know, the channel was not present in Fallujah so what they refer to as the resistance would have struggled to take pictures and send the tapes back to Qatar, unless al Zarqawi”s supporters were part of staff, but this is an entirely different story!

This silly anecdote on the bombing of Aljazeera is similar to the lie about the channel’s offices being targeted in Afghanistan during the war against the Taliban. I base my information not on western sources but on an interview I conducted with the journalist Tayseer Allouni before his imprisonment in Spain for links to al Qaeda. At the time, he spoke to me from Doha, in Qatar. He said, and this is well documented, that the channel”s offices were not hit in Kabul but that the office, at the time, was open for business as usual.

As a matter of fact, it is easy for those seeking fame to escalate opposition against the Americans. Otherwise, why did the Qatari satellite channel refrain from targeting those responsible for assaulting its correspondent in Egypt a few days ago, by his own admission?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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