PRESS RELASE – U.S. STRIKES TARGET AL-FURQAN MEDIA.
On Friday evening, 01 January 2021, in blatant aggression against journalists and media organization in Somalia, U.S. warplanes bombed our media station in Kuunyo Barrow, Lower Shabeelle region, causing severe damage to the building and equipment.
The reporters and staff members of Al Furqan Media sustained no casualties as they were away from the premises at the time and performing Maghrib prayers in the mosque. Several civilians, however, including an elderly man and a woman who were near the office, suffered critical injuries.
This is the third attack directly targeting our offices and stations in less than two years. In August 2019 our media station in Kuunyo Barrow was deliberately targeted and bombed by U.S. drones. Just less than 10 days ago, on Thursday 24 December 2020, our office in Saakow, Middle Jubba region, was also bombed in an aerial strike, destroying the building.
These recurrent attacks are a brazen attempt by the U.S. forces to silence the truth and suppress – through drone strikes and Hellfire missiles – Al-Furqan’s effort to highlight the reality of the war in Somalia.
It is not the first time the U.S. targeted journalists and media organization in its long wars in Muslim countries. In November 2001, when Al Jazeera uncovered the reality of the U.S. war in Afghanistan,
the U.S. administration at the time responded by targeting Al Jazeera’s office in Kabul, Afghanistan with a missile. Less than two years later, during the invasion of Iraq, U.S. missiles again targeted Al Jazeera’s office in Baghdad, killing a reporter and wounding other staff members. The main reason for the bombings was Al Jazeera’s coverage of the war in both countries.
In the context of the U.S-led war in Somalia, Al-Furqan unveiled the dark side of U.S. involvement in Somalia, including evidence of Trump administration’s indiscriminate aerial bombardment in residential towns and villages, far from the front lines, and the civilians lives lost because of U.S. drone strikes. We investigated and reported on the civilians killed in U.S. drone strikes, whom the U.S. administration claimed were Al-Shabaab fighters, only for the U.S. to back down and admit culpability when international human rights organizations and independent media corroborated our findings that civilians were killed in U.S. drone strikes. The Trump administration responded to our investigative reporting by bombing our offices in Southern Somalia.
This deliberate attack comes in the context of Trump’s war against the media, and at a time when even U.S. media organizations have been labelled as ‘fake’ by the Donald Trump himself, who rallied his supporters against journalists and media organization critical of his policies.
Al-Furqan is an independent media organization that was established in 2009 and has always been the voice of the oppressed people of Somalia, reporting objectively and impartially on the decades-old conflict in Somalia. Since our first broadcast, we have had to endure the challenges of working in a conflict zone and worked under extremely difficult circumstances in order to reveal the harsh realities of the U.S-led war in Somalia to the world.
Our offices in Southern Somalia are well known to the public and are not affiliated with or connected to Al-Shabaab. Our offices do not serve as training camps or headquarters for Al-Shabaab, rather they are public venues, easily accessible to the general public.
One of our core objectives, as a media organization, is to serve the public of Somalia. Al-Furqan spearheaded the awareness campaign for the humanitarian efforts during the 2011 droughts, took part in the relief efforts during the floods, played an important role in the education campaigns to raise literacy rates among Somali children across the country as well as the raising of awareness during the global pandemic of Coronavirus.
Being the only independent media organization operating in Southern Somalia, we have had the advantage of witnessing the atrocities of the U.S-led campaign and AMISOM offensive first hand. This has enabled us to report from the scene promptly and reveal the truth about the conflict in Somalia to the world at a time when there were no other independent media organizations covering it and there was a media blackout in Southern Somalia concerning the activities of U.S. and other foreign forces. We have reported on the Kenyan strafing of civilians and livestock in Southern Somali regions as well as Somali government force’s oppression and crackdown against civilians in Mogadishu. We have released lengthy reports, articles and videos depicting the brutality of the AMISOM invasion of Somalia as well as the indiscriminate U.S. airstrikes in Somalia. That is the main reason why U.S. drone strikes continue to deliberately target our offices.
The U.S. strikes against Al-Furqan clearly invalidate the U.S. claim that it is upholding the freedom of the press. Therefore, we call upon our listeners and supporters to stand by our side in these testing times. We also call upon the reporters and staff members of Al-Furqan to know that in order to report accurately and truthfully, we have to persist in our profession. Know that you are a beacon of hope for the oppressed civilians in Somalia for whom you serve as the only outlet to the rest of the world.
Those who want to silence you want to silence the truth, and the truth is something for which we must be willing to pay the price in order to tell it. So be patient, persevere, and double your efforts in order to highlight the gross injustices that have befallen upon this helpless nation. Our voices must be heard and they will not muzzle us.
Al-Furqan Media will continue to uphold journalistic integrity and report on the reality on the ground in Somalia, without fear or favor, whatever it takes. We will share the burden of with our Somali people whom the U.S. aircraft continue to bomb mercilessly. Bombing our offices and destroying our transmitters will not be able to silence us or weaken our resolve to carry out our duties with journalistic professionalism and a strong emphasis on factual accuracy.
Finally, we send our deepest condolences to the civilians who were near Al-Furqan premises in Kuunyo and who were affected by the U.S. strike our office. We ask Allah to heal their wounds and wish them a speedy recovery.