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Our Story is Telling

Since its founding in 1996, Al Jazeera's history has been inextricably tied to the world’s major events.

In our work you can find it all, from the heights of the indomitability of the human spirit to the lows of dictatorship, repression and the abuse of power.

Al Jazeera's newsrooms and bureaus around the world are full of intrepid men and women with stories to tell.

What other news organization has had one of its journalists detained in Guantánamo? Or face depraved torture in Abu Ghraib? Or had its satellite signals scrambled - and digital platforms blocked - to make sure that people couldn't watch, read or listen?

For decades we have been pushing the boundaries of free access to information, free thought and free expression in one of the most uncompromising parts of the world. Eleven of us have paid the ultimate price. They were some of the finest and fearless war correspondents you could ever meet, killed for doing their job: shedding light on dark corners.

Countless others in our storied halls have been detained, prosecuted on trumped-up charges, intimidated, banned, forced to leave their home countries forever - even sentenced to death. Some countries have publicly demanded that Al Jazeera itself be shut down.

We'll keep on telling the stories that need to be told.

Our History

1996 - 2001

1996 - A Phenomenon is Born

In early June 1996, Al Jazeera’s small building started to come to life as dozens of producers, journalists and technicians gathered inside.
Piloting sessions started. Each member of the cramped newsroom was looking forward to the day when they could present the news as it happened, the day when differing opinions would be aired and given time, and when peoples’ intelligence would be respected.
After five months of piloting, Al Jazeera went live on November 1, 1996.
The first news bulletin was not like any other seen by Arab viewers. It started with the most important news of the day, rather than the activities of a king, emir or president. For the first time, the gates of the media had been opened for experts, viewers and thought leaders to say whatever they needed to say, with no fear.

1996 - The Power of Honest Discussion

In late November 1996, Al Jazeera broadcast its first live talk show, “Shariah and Life”, presented by Ahmed al-Shaikh. Its consistent guest was Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi. The programme was not a pure religious one. It tackled various life issues from a free, objective perspective.

It was later followed by “The Opposite Direction” programme, presented by Faisal al-Qassem. The first episode was an honest debate on the performance of the GCC.

The two programmes were an unprecedented step in an Arab media that had imposed very strict restrictions on debates related to religion and politics despite the vastness of these two fields.

A few months after its launch, Arabs started to question: How did this change in Arab media happen? Who caused it and why? Al Jazeera became popular among Arabs. Al Jazeera enforced its regional presence as the only free media platform in the Arab world.

From day one, Al Jazeera represented a distinct phenomenon in time and place. It was a new voice that addressed people in a different way and reached out to their minds rather than inciting their emotions, at a time when Arab regimes had closed all doors in the face of diversity and multiplicity of viewpoints and sanctified their speeches and orders, banning any arguments about them. The location of Al Jazeera was also distinctive because it was born in a small Gulf country that many people thought would not be able to bear the consequences of a free media voice breaking taboos in the Arab media landscape.

1998 - Change in Format

In the first year of broadcast, Al Jazeera's news bulletins were always on the half-hour. That changed on May 16, 1998, when Pakistan announced it would carry out its first nuclear tests in response to India's nuclear tests. At the time, Al Jazeera was not a 24/7 news channel. The news broadcasts started at 4:30pm Doha time. The prime minister of Pakistan at the time, Nawaz Sharif, was expected to announce the new experiment in a national speech at 4pm Doha time. Al Jazeera changed its broadcast schedule to begin at 4pm local time from that day onward.

1998 - A Regional Powerhouse

One of Al Jazeera's first international bureaus was in Baghdad. For years, the United States and Europe had imposed sanctions on Iraq, and relations were consistently hitting new lows. On December 16, 1998, "Operation Desert Fox" was launched. US and British aircrafts and ships bombed Iraq for four consecutive days. For the world's media, Al Jazeera was a major source of video footage and information about what was happening, and that was one of Al Jazeera’s first introductions to a non-Arab audience.

1999 - From Startup to 24/7 News Channel

On January 1, 1999, Al Jazeera started to broadcast 24 hours a day. It took 2 years and 2 months after launch to reach this moment, with incremental expansion along the way.

Clamping Down on Al Jazeera - Part I

Kuwait was the first country in the world to take overt punitive measures against Al Jazeera. In June of 1999, the Al Jazeera bureau in Kuwait was shut down temporarily, after an Iraqi caller insulted the Emir of Kuwait in a live, call-in show.

In March 2001, the Palestinian Authority shut down the Al Jazeera bureau in Ramallah. Al Jazeera had just aired a promo for an upcoming documentary about the Lebanese Civil War, and it was deemed as an affront to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.

In August of 2001, Mauritanian authorities made a formal request to Qatar to stop broadcasting Al Jazeera to its citizens, which was ignored. Elections were set for October, and the campaigning was becoming heated. Nouakchott accused Al Jazeera of provoking public disorder.

 

 

 

2000 - Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine

Al Jazeera was uniquely placed to cover some of the most important stories of the year.

As Israel withdrew from most of southern Lebanon in May, Al Jazeera's teams were on both sides of the border, with up-to-date coverage around the clock.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban government had given permission for three international media organisations to open bureaus in the capital. Al Jazeera was one of them. The decision to open the Kabul bureau in May was a significant step forward for the international role that Al Jazeera would play in the years to come.

In Palestine, the Second Intifada erupted following the visit of a former Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to Al Aqsa Mosque on September 28.

Clashes began to spread throughout the occupied Palestinian territories. Israel began assassinating Palestinian leaders, and launching air and ground attacks on Palestinian cities, including missile strikes against Palestinian Authority offices in Ramallah on October 12.

Al Jazeera was the channel of record on the crisis for the next four years.

 

The Rocky Road of Relations with Morocco

In October 2000, officials from the Moroccan Interior Ministry ordered Al Jazeera correspondent Iqbal Ilhami to stop working with Al Jazeera temporarily. She was allowed to continue working eventually, but over the years she and other Al Jazeera journalists would have their accreditation revoked by Moroccan authorities from time to time.

In July 2005, Moroccan authorities temporarily revoked the accreditation of Al Jazeera Rabat correspondent Abdul Salam Razaq after airing an interview with a Western Sahara activist.

In November 2006, on Al Jazeera's 10th birthday, the Channel began broadcasting from Morocco a nightly news show, focusing on North African issues: Al-Hasad al-Magharibi (The Maghreb Bulletin). Morocco was the ideal location for Al Jazeera's huge production facility, as it enjoyed greater press freedom than its neighbors.

By May 6, 2008, the permission to broadcast from the country was cancelled.

On June 7, 2008, the bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Morocco, Hassan Rachidi, was arrested for the coverage of protests in Sidi Ifni, in southern Morocco. People had demonstrated over poor living conditions and joblessness, and there were reports of a security crackdown. Rachidi's accreditation was cancelled, and he was fined $6,000 for "disseminating false information in bad faith."

By January 2009 he left the country. He later served in several leading roles in the newsroom of Al Jazeera Arabic, and management of bureaus in the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2009, Morocco revoked the accreditation of two more Al Jazeera journalists, Anas Ben Salah and Mohamed Bakkali. The two were reassigned by Al Jazeera in other countries.

In October 2010, Moroccan authorities revoked the accreditation of all of the remaining Al Jazeera correspondents in Morocco.

On October 29, the government announced that it had suspended Al Jazeera's operations in the country. Morocco's Information Minister Khalid Nasseri said that Al Jazeera's reporting in the country "was a daily insult to Moroccans." Al Jazeera issued a statement reiterating its commitment to "an editorial policy based on the principal of providing alternate opinions," adding that its "coverage of Moroccan issues has always been professional, balanced and accurate."

The five Al Jazeera correspondents who lost their accreditation were:

  • Mohamed Fadel
  • Iqbal al-Hami
  • Mohamed Faqih
  • Abdelhak Esshaseh
  • Abdelkader Kharoubi

Eventually, the government allowed Al Jazeera journalists to resume reporting in Morocco.

2001 – Going Digital

On January 1, 2001, Al Jazeera launched the first Arabic-language news website on the Internet. It was one of the first major websites in the Arabic language, and continues to be the go-to source of information for millions of people worldwide.

 

Al Jazeera's Sami Al Hajj Becomes Only Journalist Held in Guantanamo

After the US launched a war on Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Al Jazeera's bureau in Kabul was one of the busiest news bureaus in the world.

Sami Al Hajj, a native of Sudan, had signed up to be a cameraman for Al Jazeera, and was heading to his job on December 15, 2001, when he was arrested in Pakistan and handed over to US forces, who deemed him an "enemy combatant."

Sami was transferred to Guantanamo Bay internment camp, and endured horrendous conditions for years. To protest the treatment, he and several other prisoners went on a hunger strike starting in January 2007. He remained on hunger strike for 438 days, until he was released, on May 1, 2008.

On the 10th anniversary of his release, Al Jazeera published his memoirs, Prisoner 345: My Six Years in Guantanamo.

Sami is currently the Director of the Public Liberties & Human Rights Centre at Al Jazeera.

 

2001 - 2006

9/11 and the New World Order

September 11, 2001, was a turning point in the history of the entire world - and the Middle East in particular.

After the attacks of 9/11 in the United States, the whole world was wondering, “Who did this?”

The answer came from Kabul via Al Jazeera, in a tape on which Osama bin Laden announced al-Qaeda’s responsibility for the attacks.

Since then, Al Jazeera became the focus of attention of the entire world and the main source of news coming from Afghanistan.

On October 7, the US declared war on Afghanistan and soon occupied Kabul. Bin Laden disappeared for years. He was killed by US forces in Pakistan almost 10 years later, on May 2, 2011.

9/11 and Al Jazeera's Tayseer Allouni

US officials claimed that Al Jazeera was wrong to broadcast the Bin Laden tapes, and accused Al Jazeera of endangering the lives of US soldiers in Afghanistan.

Before seizing full control of Kabul, US forces shelled Al Jazeera’s Kabul bureau on November 13, 2001.

Al Jazeera’s Kabul Bureau Chief Tayseer Allouni, a Spanish citizen of Syrian descent, was evacuated from Afghanistan.

On a visit to see his family in Grenada, Spain, in September 2003, he was arrested and sentenced to seven years imprisonment on 26 September 2005. Al Jazeera launched a campaign to fight for freedom of the press, and the unfettered right to interview newsmakers and access sources of information.

Allouni was released from jail on October 6, 2006, but served the rest of the term under house arrest.

Upon regaining his freedom, he has taken up residence in Doha since March 11, 2012.

Clamping Down on Al Jazeera - Part II

In December 2001, Jordanian security forces detained Al Jazeera correspondent Yasir Abu Hilala for 24 hours. He had been covering a demonstration in support of Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden in the southern town of Ma'an. Security forces also detained another one of Al Jazeera's correspondents in the Amman buruea, Sowsan Abu Hamda, for questioning.

Yasir Abu Hilala went on to become the Jordan bureau chief for Al Jazeera, and later the Managing Director of Al Jazeera Arabic, from July 24, 2014, to May 10, 2018.

In March 2002, Egyptian security forces arrested the Al Jazeera crew covering a pro-Palestine demonstration at Alexandria University. Al Jazeera was the only media organization covering the event.

In November 2002, Kuwait shut down the Al Jazeera bureau again, after the Channel reported that the entire northwestern part of the country was shut down for US-Kuwaiti war exercises.

In March 2003, the New York Stock Exchange suspended the accreditation of Al Jazeera's financial reporters - Ammar Sankary and Ramzy Shibr - who used to report from the floor of NYSE.

Al Jazeera in China

Al Jazeera established a bureau in Beijing in 2002. It opened a fascinating window into China for the Arab world, and vice versa. Our reporters covered the events of Tibet in 2008, providing exclusive footage of the clashes between monks and security forces inside the Dharamsala monastery. The bureau covers all aspects of life in China, including the situation of the Muslim communities in East Turkestan, and provides access to neighboring countries, including North Korea and Myanmar.

In 2017, Al Jazeera expanded its China operation to launch a digital presence in Mandarin. Al Jazeera content is also available on Weibo.

A Bureau in Somalia

Al Jazeera's bureau in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, opened in 2003.

2003 – Serving the English-speaking world

Globally, Al Jazeera had become a household name at the turn of the century. But up until 2002, it was accessible only in Arabic. That changed in early 2003, when Al Jazeera launched its English website, just weeks before the United States declared war on Iraq, on March 20. The site was hacked in the first weeks of its existence, on March 24.

 

2003 - Iraq War Brings Al Jazeera to the Forefront

On March 20, 2003, the United States and its allies launched their land invasion of Iraq.

Al Jazeera had crews in all major population centers in Iraq, and went to great lengths to cover the destruction and unraveling of the country. Some described the coverage thus: "All other media will show you where the rockets take off from, and Al Jazeera will show you where they land."

US forces bombed Al Jazeera's bureau in Baghdad on April 8, 2003, killing war correspondent Tarek Ayoub. Al Jazeera's former Kabul bureau chief, Tayseer Aloni, had just finished an overnight shift reporting from the rooftop of the building.

Aloni then went to visit friends in the Palestine Hotel, where foreign journalists were based. US forces bombed the hotel, killing José Couso, a Spanish cameraman for Telecinco, and Taras Protsyuk, a Ukranian cameraman working for Reuters.

The following day, US-led forces announced they had occupied Baghdad.

Entry Into the World of Sports

On November 1, 2003, Al Jazeera Sports Channel was launched. This channel was spun off in 2012 and merged into a new and independent company, beIN Media Group.

 

 

Al Jazeera Journalist Tortured in Abu Ghraib

Salah Hassan El-Ejaili was a cameraman for Al Jazeera in Baghdad. On November 3, 2003, he was filming the aftermath of a roadside bomb attack on a US military convoy in Dialah. US forces arrested him, and repeated a popular refrain of US forces and politicians in Afghanistan and Iraq: the false claim that Al Jazeera has advance knowledge of attacks.

After a few days, US forces transferred Salah to Abu Ghraib prison, which was built by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to hold about 13,000 prisoners.

Salah was made to endure horrendous torture in Abu Ghraib, as was one of his colleagues in the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau, Suheib Badr Darwish, who was arrested on November 18, 2003.

Salah was released on December 18. Darwish was released on January 25.

Salah is party to a lawsuit against the US sub-contractor that was managing Abu Ghraib at the time, CACI Premier Technology, Inc. The lawsuit was still ongoing as of late 2018.

 

Paying the Price for Truth in Darfur, Sudan

Al Jazeera provided extensive coverage to the massacres that were taking place in Darfur, Sudan.

In December 2003, security forces in Khartoum arrested Al Jazeera correspondent Islam Saleh on charges of "airing news containing false information and biased analysis aimed at smearing Sudan's image."

By January 2004, Sudanese officials were considering the suspension of Al Jazeera's license to operate in Sudan. Security forces requested the suspension, but it was not carried out by Sudan's Press & Publications Council.

In February 2004, Saleh was accused of "defaming Sudan by spreading fake news." He was sentenced to one month in jail and a fine of one million Sudanese pounds ($400).

 

Iraq War - Reporting with Integrity in the Face of Intimidation

In the first year of US occupation of Iraq, 21 Al Jazeera staffers were arrested. They were all released without charge, but the continuous stream of run-ins with the new authorities was indicative of the uncomfortable sitation.

The Iraqi Transitional Government Council ordered a two-week suspension of activities for Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau in September 2003.

Also in September, US forces detained an Al Jazeera crew in Baghdad headed by Atwar Bahjat. (Atwar was one of Iraq's best-known journalists. She left Al Jazeera in February 2006, and was assassinated three weeks later, while reporting in Samarra.)

On April 5, 2004, US forces attempted to enter the Iraqi city of Fallujah, but were confronted by fierce resistance and suffered human and material losses. Al Jazeera provided rolling coverage from Fallujah, which was subjected to the wrath of the US military after four American mercenaries working for Blackwater were killed there in March.

US official condemnations of Al Jazeera escalated. As the quagmire in Iraq broadened, media sources reported on supposed unpublished minutes of a discussion between Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair dated April 16, 2004, where the two allegedly discussed a US air raid on Al Jazeera's headquarters in Doha.

On May 21, 2004, Al Jazeera cameraman Rashid Hamid Wali was killed by US sniper fire in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala as he was filming clashes.

In August 2004, the interim Iraqi government ordered a one-month closure of Al Jazeera's Baghdad bureau.

In April 2016, Iraqi authorities shut down Al Jazeera's presence in Baghdad, and the ban was lifted more than a year later.

2004: Al Jazeera Appoints an Ombudsman

Following the publication of our Code of Ethics, Al Jazeera established a Quality Assurance Department, defining and monitoring our output to make sure it adheres with Al Jazeera’s editorial policies and the highest international technical and journalistic standards. The Department released its first report on July 16, 2004.

In 2012, the Department expanded to become a Directorate - investigating matters of accuracy, fairness, balance and taste in our coverage, and making recommendations for continual improvement.

2004: Investing in Journalist Development

Al Jazeera Media Training Centre was established in 2004, with the dual mission of providing continual development for Al Jazeera journalists, and training journalists from all across the world. It provides courses in all facets of journalism, media-related technology, the management of news organizations, and public communication. Beginning and mid-career journalists hone their skills with some of the best trainers in the world here.

A decade after its establishment, the center changed its name to Al Jazeera Media Training Institute.

2004-End of an Era in Palestine

For the first half of the decade, the Palestinian Intifada, Afghanistan and Iraq were the dominant headlines on Al Jazeera.

On November 11, 2004, Al Jazeera was the first media organization to report the death of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. He had fallen ill a few weeks prior, amidst a campaign by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to assassinate Palestinian leaders of all political backgrounds. His body was transported back home from France, where he was being treated, and he was buried in Palestine.

About a year later, on August 15, 2005, Sharon implemented his plan to withdraw from Gaza, while retaining control of the occupied territory from sea, air and land.

2004 – Human-Centered Coverage of the Tsunami

Al Jazeera was one of the first media organisations to broadcast footage of the tsunami that wreaked havoc on Asia on December 26, 2004. The channel covered the disaster in all afflicted countries, but focused on particularly remote areas in Indonesia, drawing humanitarian attention to the human suffering in those areas.

2005 - Al Jazeera Mubasher (Live)

Al Jazeera Mubasher was launched in early 2005 to broadcast live events taking place across the globe.

A branch of Mubasher focused on Egypt (Mubasher Misr) was launched during the Arab revolts against dictatorship in 2011. The channel was moved from Cairo to Doha after the coup d'état led by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013. Amidst a relentless clampdown on the channel's journalists, Mubasher Misr was suspended on December 23, 2014.

 

Al Jazeera Film Festival

On April 18, 2005, Al Jazeera held its first International Documentary Film Festival in Doha, headed by film director Abbas Arnaout.

For 11 years, the Festival and annual awards ceremony would celebrate the best in global documentary filmmaking, connecting difference cultures, fostering an exchange of experiences and knowledge, and creating a foundation of respect and understanding. The Festival was a place where filmmakers from different countries could meet and celebrate their creative talents.

The last Festival was held from November 26-29, 2015.

 

2005 - Shedding Light on Dark Corners

In May 2005, Al Jazeera was able to film extensively in the Arab-majority area of Iran known as Ahvaz province. Upon broadcast of the reports (seven in total), protests erupted throughout the province.

Iranian authorities shut down Al Jazeera's bureau in Tehran for several months.

2005 - Focus on Under-reported Areas

In the spring of 2005, Al Jazeera was one of the first media organisations to provide extensive reporting on the depth of the famine in Niger. Tens of thousands of people in central Africa were on the verge of starving to death. After the crisis received global attention - due to the reporting of several media organizations, and a concerted diplomatic effort - aid trickled into the region.

Harassment of Al Jazeera Journalists in Pre-Revolution Egypt

In November 2005, an unidentified assasilant attacked Ahmed Mansour, one of Al Jazeera's star talk-show hosts in Egypt.

In April 2006, security forces questioned Hussein Abdul Ghani, the bureau chief of Al Jazeera in Cairo at the time, about Al Jazeera's coverage of bomb blasts in the Sinai peninsula.

On January 28, 2008, Egyptian police detained Al Jazeera journalist Howadya Taha and her documentary crew. Security forces confiscated her tapes and charged her with tarnishing the country's reputation. Taha produced a documentary on the torture of citizens in Egyptian police stations.

 

2006 - 2011

Covering the Game-changing Palestinian Election

One of the first free and fair elections in the Arab world took place in the occupied Palestinian territories on January 25, 2006. Al Jazeera provided blanket coverage of the vote for a legislature, and was the first to report that Hamas had won while other media organizations were waffling. After it became clear that the two major Palestinian parties would not be able to create a government of national unity, and the world community moved to nullify the results of the elections, Al Jazeera named the Hamas government in Gaza, "the deposed government," much to the ire of the Palestinian Authority, based in Ramallah.

 

Israel Attacks Lebanon

Al Jazeera had a significant role in reporting the July 2006 war from both sides of the borders. Its correspondents covered the loss of life - more than 1,000 Lebanese and 165 Israelis - and the severe damage to Lebanon's civilian infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced on both sides of the conflict.

2006 - Global Think Tank Launched

The Al Jazeera Center for Studies was founded in 2006 to provide deep research and data to Al Jazeera's journalists, and provide public platforms for the global exchange of ideas.

The Center is home to world-class researchers and authors. The Center hosts ad hoc seminars and background briefings by opinion leaders and decision makers, and publishes policy briefs and analysis throughout the year.

The Center organizes the annual Al Jazeera Forum, bringing politicians, academics and journalists together to debate international affairs.

The University of Pennsylvania's Global Go-To Think Tank Index ranks the Center in the Top 5 (out of 480) public policy research institutions in the Middle East and North Africa. (The Index is the result of an international survey of over 1,950 scholars, public and private donors, policy makers, and journalists who help rank more than 6,500 think tanks using a set of criteria developed at the University.)

 

2006: Launch of Al Jazeera International

Al Jazeera International (later renamed Al Jazeera English) launched on November 15, 2006, at midday GMT.

The channel was a major investment in the future of global media, bringing together some of the best English-speaking journalists from anywhere in the world together, under one roof.

In the channel's newsrooms, people from dozens of different nationalities focused on the concerns of the Global South, providing fresh perspectives on the issues of our times. For years, the channel's motto was, "Voice of the Voiceless."

Within months of launch, the Channel cemented its position as a global presence in the media landscape, attracting audiences of millions in all four corners of the globe.

At launch, the channel broadcast from Kuala Lumpur, London, Washington and Doha, but over time, the major news studios were set in Doha and London.

 

Exclusive Coverage of the Ogaden Issue

In 2007, Al Jazeera was one of the few media organisations that managed to enter Ogaden, a huge region under bitter dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia.

Al Jazeera filed five reports on the conditions of the residents of the province, triggering Ethiopian protest.

Ten years later, Al Jazeera was proud to open a bureau in Addis Ababa, on September 14, 2017.

2007 - Al Jazeera Documentary Channel

On July 1, 2007, Al Jazeera Documentary Channel launched with a mission to help Arab viewers learn about the world around them, in their own language.

Broadcasting films on culture, science, history, politics, literature and art, the Channel has also provided a platform for countless first-time filmmakers across the world, and reinvigorated the Arabic-language documentary field.

2008 - Human Rights Get a New Voice

Steeped in the belief that strong and vocal media can advance the cause of basic human rights, Al Jazeera founded the Public Liberties and Human Rights Centre on November 1, 2008.

The Centre reports on violations of civil liberties everywhere, with a special focus on the Arab world.

It also launches awareness campaigns to entrench international humanitarian law and prevent the erosion of rights. With a special focus on the freedom of the press, the Centre defends journalists who have been oppressed, jailed or tortured.

All year round, the Center organizes workshops and seminars bringing human rights defenders together from different parts of the world.

 

Gaza Wars - Al Jazeera, the Eyes and Ears of the World

Three years after withdrawing from the Gaza Strip, Israel launched a major military offensive there, starting on December 27, 2008. One of the first Israeli bombings was aimed at a graduation ceremony for police cadets, and Al Jazeera provided blanket coverage for the 22 days of war. By the end of the first day, more than 200 Palestinians had been killed, and by the end of the fighting, more than 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis had been killed.

The United Nations later reported that war crimes and crimes against humanity may have been committed in Gaza. The report was headed by South African Justice Richard Goldstone.

The Second Gaza War took place in November 2012, and again Al Jazeera was there, inside the Gaza Strip and on the Israeli side of the border.

In the Third Gaza War of July 2014, more than 2,000 Palestinians and 70 Israelis were killed.

Al Jazeera's bureau in Gaza continues to be the eyes and ears of the world in the embattled Strip.

Tension in Yemen

The years 2009/2010 were tough for journalists in Yemen.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh (resigned in 2012, assassinated in 2017) was waging war on Al Qaeda in Yemen, and a rebellion in the northern provice of Saada.

While covering a protest in Abyan, Al Jazeera journalist Fadhl Mubarak was seriously injured by unknown assailants in June 2009.

In March 2010, security forces broke in to Al Jazeera's bureau in Sana'a and confiscated broadcast equipment.

In November 2010, security forces temporarily detained a four-man Al Jazeera crew: Mubarak, Ahmed Shalafi, Sameer al-Nimri and Abdul Ghani Al-Shimairy.

 

 

Gaza Freedom Flotilla - Al Jazeera Live From the Sea

In May 2010, activists from around the world set out to travel by sea to connect to the people of the Gaza, despite the air, sea and land blockade imposed by Israel on the Palestinians in the Strip. The convoy of boats was called, "Gaza Freedom Flotilla."

Al Jazeera's journalists were on the main ship, the Mavi Marmara, providing live coverage as Israeli foces boarded and attacked on May 31, killing 10 people.

 

Partnering with WikiLeaks, Exposing Abuse in Iraq

In 2010, Al Jazeera teamed up with WikiLeaks to broadcast a series of programmes exposing the operations of US forces in the Iraq war.

Wikileaks had obtained a trove of 400,000 documents dated from 2004-2009, indicating that torture was sanctioned at the highest levels, that hundreds of Iraqi civilians had been killed at US-managed checkpoints in Iraq, listing violations by a major US mercenary firm, Xe (formerly Blackwater, currently Academi). amongst other abuses.

In April, Al Jazeera had covered the WikiLeaks video footage of a US army helicopter attack in Baghdad in which 12 people died, including two Reuters journalists. 

 

Some of the papers showed that the United States attempted to keep a death count throughout the war, in contradiction to the famous pronouncement of US Army Gen (ret) Tommy Ray Franks: "We don't do body counts" (March 23, 2002). Franks was Commander of the US Central Command at the time.

Al Jazeera partnered with WikiLeaks to provide an uncensored view of the war. The coverage was condemned by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Years later, the US Army intelligence analyst who leaked the documents, (born Bradley Manning, now Chelsea Manning), was pardoned from her 35-year jail sentence.

 

Palestine Papers - Al Jazeera Leaks Trove of Information

For four days in 2011, 23-26 January, Al Jazeera revealed to the world the "Palestine Papers."

The special coverage was dedicated to exposing the inner workings of the negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders. The coverage was based on more than 1,600 confidential documents, including memos, e-mails, maps, minutes of meetings, draft agreements, strategy papers and PowerPoint presentations from 1999-2010.

The disclosures offered a candid picture of the negotiation process, covering the Palestinian Authority's willingess to:

  1. Concede illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem
  2. Be "creative" about the status of Al Aqsa Mosque
  3. Make compromises on refugees and the right of return

Al Jazeera also exposed the nature of US pressure on Palestinian officials, and details on the extent of "security coordination" between Palestinian officials and their Israeli counterparts.

"The revelations from the heart of the Israel-Palestine peace process are the product of the biggest documentary leak in the history of the Middle East conflict, and the most comprehensive exposure of the inside story of a decade of failed negotiations," reported The Guardian, who partnered with Al Jazeera on this investigative project.

2011 – Introducing Al Jazeera Balkans

On November 11, 2011 (11-11-11), Al Jazeera Balkans was launched in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, with major broadcast centers in Belgrade, Skopje and Zagreb.

The Channel serves - and brings together - one of the most important parts of the world.

With impartial reporting that places people at the centre of the story, Al Jazeera Balkans has become a platform for open-minded journalism, along with serious debate. 

As the first regional news channel, Al Jazeera Balkans delivers programming and analysis in all local languages, providing local context to the topics that impact people at a regional and international level.

Broadcasting to nearly 4 million homes in the region and reaching viewers in more than 30 countries, Al Jazeera Balkans provides our audience with a breadth of coverage previously unavailable in the region. As part of the Al Jazeera Media Network, the Channel has access to more than 70 bureaus around the world, giving the people of the region the global coverage they want, from a local voice they trust.

2011 - 2016

Desperation & Hope From Tunisia

In December 2010, Al Jazeera was among the first global media organisations to report on a story circulating on Arab social media. The story was about a young man, Mohamed Bouazizi, who had set himself on fire after a police officer humiliated him as he was trying to earn his living in the southern Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid.

That incident was a flame that sparked massive people-power revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen, in addition to smaller movements that were contained through the implementation of reforms in Morocco and Oman.

By January 14, 2011, the long-time strongman of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, had fled to Saudi Arabia and resigned.

In Egypt, the protests that began on January 25, 2011, led to the resignation of another decades-long leader, Hosni Mubarak, on February 11, 2011.

Al Jazeera dedicated all of its resouces to covering the Arab revolutions, giving voice to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of millions of people who yearned to live in freedom.

 

Cutting Through the Fog of War

Being the journal of record in the region, Al Jazeera has been on the frontlines in conflict zones since its birth. And its courageous reporters have paid the ultimate price time and again.

Eleven of the Arab world's finest journalists have been killed while reporting for Al Jazeera:

  • Iraq: 2
  • Libya: 1
  • Syria: 7
  • Yemen: 1

In Libya, Al Jazeera Arabic cameraman Ali Hassan al-Jaber was killed as he covered fighting near Benghazi on March 12, 2011. The Qatari father of three was 55 years old. He held a master's degree in cinematography from Egypt, and had started his career in 1979. He was the first foreign journalist killed in the Libyan revolution.

In Yemen, Al Jazeera journalist Mubarak Al-Abadi was killed by a mortar shell while covering clashes between pro-government and rebel forces in Al-Jawf province on August 5, 2016.

(See entry on journalists killed while covering Syria's war.)

Despite the high risks and difficulties of covering the wars in Syria, Yemen and elsewhere in the Arab world, Al Jazeera's journalists strive daily to get the facts straight and present solid information and analysis to the world.

By the end of 2018, Al Jazeera was officially banned from more than a third of Arab countries.

Egypt's Revolution, Counter-revolution and the Crackdown on Al Jazeera

In the final days of the Mubarak regime in January 2011, the Egyptian government cancelled the license of Al Jazeera to operate in Egypt, withdrew all press accreditations for the Network and blocked the satellite transmission of Al Jazeera on Nile Sat, which is owned by the Egyptian government.

Al Jazeera doubled down on its coverage of Egypt. In Tahrir Square in 2011, protesters had installed a huge screen tuned to Al Jazeera around the clock.

In February, Egyptian security forces arrested Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Cairo at the time, Abdul Fattah Fayed, along with Al Jazeera English correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin and journalists Ahmed Yousif and Osama Abdul Aziz Hassan. 

In one of the regime's final acts of desperation, Al Jazeera's offices in Cairo were ransacked in February as well.

When former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak finally stepped down on February 11, 2011 - after ruling the country for three decades - Al Jazeera broadcast the iconic image of hundreds of thousands of cheering Egyptians in Tahrir Square, with no commentary.

Almost immediately, all of the Arab revolutions faced setbacks.

On July 3, 2013, the Egyptian military carried out a coup against the elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and suspended the constitution.

Security forces broke into Al Jazeera's bureau in Cairo and arrested 28 staff members, all from Al Jazeera Mubasher in Egypt, including the head of the Channel, Ayman Jaballah. They were all released, but Jaballah was later sentenced in absentia.

Also in July, Egyptian forces arrested Al Jazeera Mubasher cameraman Mohamed Badr. He would remain in jail for seven months before his acquital and release.

In the summer of 2013, Al Jazeera’s teams were spread across the country. One team was deployed in Rabaa al-Adawiya square, which had been a place for thousands of people to protest the coup peacefully up until August 14, 2013, when the military moved in to destroy it. Al Jazeera provided extensive coverage of the massacre that was committed there, described by Human Rights Watch as "one of the world's largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history." Hundreds of people lost their lives in the square.

Four Al Jazeera journalists were detained. One of the reporters for Al Jazeera Arabic, Abdullah al-Shami, was detained without charge for 10 months. He went on hunger strike for four months, and was finally released on June 17, 2014.

Al Jazeera Mubasher's license to operate in Egypt was revoked.

And an entire crew from Al Jazeera English were detained for two days: Baher Mohamed, Russ Finn, Adil Bradlow and Wayne Hay.

In September, it was discovered that the Egyptian military was behind a sustained effort to distort the satellite signal of Al Jazeera, which was (and still is) free to air across the Arab world.

Four months later, four journalists with Al Jazeera English - Mohamed Fawzy, Peter Greste, Baher Mohamed and Mohamed Fahmy – were arrested on December 29, 2013. Fawzy was released shortly thereafter, but the rest spent more than a year in jail. In June 2014, an Egyptian court sentenced Fawzy, Greste, Mohamed, Fahmy and five others to prison terms ranging between 7-10 years. The five are:

  • Khalil Bhanasy
  • Alaa Bayoumi
  • Anas Abdul Wahab
  • Dominque Kane
  • Sue Turton

In August 2015, Mohamed, Greste and Fahmy re-sentenced. Their ordeal ended in early 2015. Greste was released on February 1, 2015. Mohamed and Fahmy were released on February 12, 2015.

In May 2014 - taking a cue from Syrian authorities who had confiscated the property of one of Al Jazeera's most prominent talk show hosts, Faisal Alkasim - Egyptian authorities confiscated the personal property of Ahmed Mansour. Mansour was also a star talk show host. By October he had been sentenced in absentia to a 15-year prison term. In response to an Egyptian arrest warrant, Mansour was detained for a short while at the airport in Berlin in June 2015.

In June 2016, Egyptian courts sentenced one of the top editorial leaders of Al Jazeera, Ibrahim Hilal, to death, while putting out an arrest warrant for Ayman Gaballah, the Managing Director of Al Jazeera Mubasher.

In December 2016, one month after Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary on compulsory inscription in Egypt, the authorities in Cairo arrested Mahmoud Hussein, an Egyptian journalist working in the headquarters of Al Jazeera in Doha. Hussein had traveled to Egypt to visit his family. As of mid-2018, Hussein had spent almost two years under interrogation, without charge.

Countless Egyptian journalists - some affiliated with Al Jazeera, others not - have been pursued relentlessly since the media crackdown that began in 2013.

In Syria, Seven Al Jazeera Journalists Pay the Ultimate Price

In the span of four years, Al Jazeera lost seven brave souls who defied everything to tell the world what was going on in the fog of Syria's war. 

Mohamed Al-Massalma was killed on January 18, 2013, by a sniper. He was a correspondent, covering the fighting in Deraa, in southern Syria.

Hussein Abbas was killed on May 1, 2014. He was a citizen journalist on his way home after covering fighting in the outskirts of Idlib, in northern Syria.

Mohamed Al Qasim was killed on September 10, 2014, in an ambush staged by unidentified assailts, while on his way back from covering the fighting in the outskirts of Idlib.

Mahran Al Deery was killed on December 10, 2014. He was a digital correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, en route to cover clashes in Sheikh Miskeen, a suburb of Deraa.

Mohammed al-Asfar was killed on June 26, 2015. He was a cameraman, and was filming clashes in the Manshiya neighborhood of Deraa.

Zakariya Ibrahim was killed on December 7. He was a cameraman, and he was hit by shrapnel while covering the bombardment of a suburb of Homs, in western Syria.

Ibrahim Al Omar was killed on July 11, 2016. He was a reporter for Al Jazeera Mubasher killed in a Russian air strike on Termaneen near Idlib.

 

Hello America

On August 20, 2013, Al Jazeera launched an independent 24/7 news channel based in New York, Al Jazeera America. The channel was lauded for its level-headed coverage of politics, culture and business in North and South America, and brought fresh perspectives from around the world to a US audience.

It was shut down on April 12, 2016.

Digital Expansion

Al Jazeera had been considering entry into the Turkish market for years. On January 23, 2014, Al Jazeera Turk was launched as a digital platform, and it was a fair and trusted voice in the vibrant, but heavily divided, Turkish media landscape. It was shut down on May 3, 2016.

On September 15, 2014, Al Jazeera launched the wildly popular AJ+. This Channel specializes in videos optimized for mobile devices, and it quickly shot to the forefront of the social media news revolution.

With passion, creativity, commitment to bringing new voices into the conversation and willingness to take risks, AJ+ grew from a small San Francisco creative shop in 2013 into an international brand, with millions of viewers across the globe.

Today AJ+ produces world-class storytelling in four languages. AJ+ Español launched in 2015, AJ+ Arabi launched in 2016, and AJ+ français launched in 2017.

On April 12, 2017, Al Jazeera launched its own 360° video platform, Contrast VR. This immersive studio houses all of the Network's Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality storytelling initiatives.

In December 2017, Al Jazeera launched Sadeem, the Arab world's biggest social media influencer competition. Sadeem aims to create a network of young content creators from the Arab world who can realize their potential, while spreading a message of hope and positivity.

After receiving 18,000 entries, a jury of peers selected a young man from Oman, Ali Niadi, as the winner in a gala award ceremony in Beirut on May 13, 2018. First prize was the equivalent of roughly $275,000.

On November 1, 2017, Al Jazeera launched an audio-first media brand, Jetty. The podcast studio specializes in finding diverse voices and developing original news and entertainment for global audiophiles. Jetty debuted with Closer Than They Appear, hosted by Carvell Wallace, who presented a mashup of personal narratives and conversations.

Challenges to Covering the War in Yemen

After Saudi Arabia declared and launched war on Yemen in March 2015, the country became more dangerous than usual for journalists.

In January 2016, Al Jazeera's crew in Taiz - led by correspondent Hamdi Bukary - were abducted at gunpoint. They were later released.

In August, Mubarak Al-Ebadi, a Yemeni journalist freelancing with Al Jazeera, Mubarak Al-Ebadi, was killed while reporting on the fighting in Al Jawf, in the northern part of the country. (See entry on all Al Jazeera journalists killed in the line of duty.)

Al Jazeera Hosts World Media Summit

Al Jazeera hosted more than 350 delegates of media organizations from 100 countries in Doha as part of the World Media Summit.

The two-day summit was themed: "The Future of News and News Organizations."

The WMS Presidium at the time included 10 leading news organizations:

  1. Xinhua News Agency
  2. CNN
  3. Reuters
  4. Associated Press
  5. International Information Agency "Rossiya Segodnya"
  6. Al Jazeera Media Network
  7. TASS Russian News Agency
  8. Kyodo News
  9. MIH Grouo
  10. The Hindu

The World Media Summit was launched by Xinhua, and the first summit was held in Beijing from Oct. 8-10, 2009.

On July 5, 2012, the second World Media Summit was held in Moscow.

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world media summit
Image caption: 
world media summit

2016 - New Lineup in Programming for Al Jazeera Arabic

The year 2016 - on its 20th birthday - Al Jazeera Arabic undertook its biggest shifting of programming in years, with 14 new shows launching on the screen:

1) This Morning - Daily morning show هذا الصباح

2) The Story Never Ends - للقصــة بقيــة

3) Between the Lines خارج النص

4) More Than What Meets the Eye ما خفي أعظم

5) Ground Zero المسافة صفر

6) The Interview (defunct) المقابلة (توقف)

7) Entrepreneurs رواد الأعمال

8) Expatriates مغتربون

9) The Traveller المسافر 

10) Above Authority فوق السلطة 

11) The News Race سباق الأخبار 

12) Eye of Al Jazeera عين الجزيرة

13) Scenarios سيناريوهات

14) Smart Life حياة ذكية

 

Gulf Tensions Spill Over to the Media

Almost immediately after the visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia on May 20, 2018, instability began to rock the Gulf.

Three Gulf countries banned Al Jazeera's websites on May 24, and Egypt followed suit the next day.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia withdrew the license for Al Jazeera to operate in the country, and on the next day, Jordan followed suit.

On June 9, Saudi officials threatened to cancel the license of any hotel in the kingdom that offered Al Jazeera in its guest rooms.

For three hours on June 17, 2017, Twitter suspended the account of Al Jazeera Arabic, which had close to 12 million followers at the time. So far the only 

The timing was dubious, as four Arab countries - Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - had just publicly demanded that Al Jazeera been shut down, and the Gulf crisis was well underway.

One of Twitter's biggest shareholders is a Saudi prince.

On September 13, 2017, Snap Inc. was requested by the Saudi government to block its residents from accessing Al Jazeera on its Snapchat app. Four days later Snapchat complied.

Snap had been in long discussions with Al Jazeera in the run-up to launching Arabic channels in Snapchat Discover, and Al Jazeera had just become available in May of that year.

Later, a Saudi prince invested $250 million in Snap Inc.

 

As Revolutions Turned to Civil Wars...

Throughout the Arab world in 2011, peaceful demands for change were facing brutal repression, and Al Jazeera's journalists were on the front lines of history in the making.

By March the government in Yemen had cancelled accreditation for Al Jazeera to operate there.

In the same month in Libya, the crumbling regime of Muammar Gaddafi detained an entire crew from Al Jazeera: Ahmed Vall Ould Dine, Ammar Hamdan, Lotfi Messaoudi and Kamal Talloua.

In April, Syrian forces arrested Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz. She was held in Syria starting on April 29, and then deported to Iran, before finally returning to headquarters in Doha after the 19-day ordeal.

In June, Al Jazeera journalist Osama Sidahmed was beaten by soldiers of the Sudanese Army while he was reporting in Ad-Damazin, in the Blue Nile state (southeast).

In August, Al Jazeera journalist Samer Allawy was visiting his family in Palestine when he was detained by Israeli forces.

In July 2012, Al Jazeera's Omar Khashram was seriously injured by shrapnel when a bomb went off near where he was reporting in Aleppo, Syria.

In November 2012, a cameraman in the Khartoum bureau - Ali Mustafa - was arrested and held for more than seven months by Sudanese forces. That government accused Al Jazeera of knowledge of a military coup against President Omar Bashir.

Al Jazeera Balkans Launches Film Festival

AJB DOC was held for the first time in Sarajevo from 21-25 September, 2018.

The film festival, targeting TV broadcast documentaries, announced three awards: Grand Prize, Al Jazeera Balkans Programmes Department Jury Award, and the People's Choice Award. More than 300 films from 30 countries competed.

The leadership of Al Jazeera Balkans said the festival is one of the ways the Channel is promoting documentary film and supporting filmmakers in Central Europe.

Dominating the media landscape in the region since 2011, Al Jazeera Balkans has produced more than 400 documentaries, acquired more than 200, and translated more than 1,500 from Al Jazeera's sister channels, according to Edhem Fočo, director of AJB DOC Film Festival.

Members of the international jury are recognized and experienced professionals working in the field of documentary expression: Karin Hayes (New York), Ingrid Falck, (London), Montaser Marai (Doha), Robert Tomić Zuber (Zagreb) and Zoran Galić (Banja Luka).