View Full Version : Al-Jazeera Demands Probe Of Alleged U.S. Bomb Plot

11-25-2005, 12:54 PM
Al-Jazeera demands probe of alleged U.S. bomb plot


Nov. 27, 2005. 01:00 AM

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) — Staff at Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's best known satellite channel, held protests Thursday demanding an investigation into British reports that U.S. President George W. Bush wanted to bomb their network's headquarters.

Al-Jazeera personnel at the headquarters in Doha, Qatar, and in the channel's foreign bureaus stopped work for 15 minutes in a symbolic protest over this week's report in the Daily Mirror that Bush had to be talked out of bombing the station at a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the White House in April 2004, said the station's editor-in-chief, Ahmed el-Sheik.

The Mirror, which did not identify its sources, said Blair persuaded Bush not to attack the channel, which the United States has frequently accused of anti-American bias.

The British paper quoted one official as saying Bush's threat was ``humorous, not serious," but another said "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair."

The White House called the paper's report "outlandish and inconceivable" and refused to respond.

El-Sheik called on the British government to release a memo on the meeting reportedly leaked to the Mirror.

"Leaving things vague is terrifying," he told The Associated Press. "The British government has to explain was it a serious talk or was it a joke. We also might go to British judiciary to get this document revealed."

Earlier this week, Al-Jazeera published a statement on its website that called on the British and U.S. governments to say whether the report was accurate.

During Thursday's protest, staff at the Doha headquarters stood outside their building holding pictures of Tarek Ayoub, the Al-Jazeera journalist killed in April 2003 when a U.S. missile hit the Al-Jazeera office in Baghdad. The U.S. State Department said the air strike was a mistake.

Staff also held brief protests outside their offices in Beirut and Gaza City, holding a banner at one that read: Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera.

In November 2002, Al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. missile. No staff were in the office at the time. U.S. officials said they believed the target was a terrorist site.

El-Sheik said the newspaper report raised questions whether the strikes in Baghdad and Kabul were intentional.

"It is very terrifying in our era, and from a country known to be leading in terms of promoting human rights, freedom of the press and transparency," he said.