3 min read  | Idlib, Interviews, Politics

Nusra raid to avenge Charlie Hebdo alienates Kafr Nabl journalists


January 22, 2015

January 22, 2015

Jabhat a-Nusra fighters stormed pro-opposition Radio Fresh’s office in the Idlib province town of Kafr Nabl last Saturday, acting on false information that the office was a printing station for a revolutionary publication that had stood in solidarity with French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Nusra fighters trained a 23mm machine gun on the office’s front door before entering, and accused Radio Fresh’s employees of “insulting the prophet of God,” then beating activist Hadi al-Abdullah.

In the aftermath of the raid, the local Sharia Court declined to bring charges against the Nusra fighter who beat al-Abdullah, nor against the man who supplied the Al-Qaeda affiliate with false information about Radio Fresh, Ahmed al-Buyush, a spokesman for Radio Fresh who witnessed raid, tells Syria Direct’s Mohammed Al-Haj Ali.

Although Radio Fresh employees had a good opinion of Nusra “because they were fighting the regime,” says al-Buyush, “our view towards them has changed after this incident.”

Q: How did the raid occur? How did Nusra act?

The raid happened following afternoon prayers. Some of the office employees were off praying when Nusra surrounded the building from the outside.

I saw this because I was standing outside the building, and when I approached the front door I saw a 23mm machine gun directed at the door. There were masked men from Jabhat a-Nusra shouting, “whoever isn’t involved move away.”

When I entered the radio compound’s main gate, I saw the activist Hadi al-Abdullah outside the building asking the masked men what was going on. One of the men said: “You are insulting the prophet of God, you disbelievers (kuffar).”

At that point some of the masked men entered the radio building and forced the employees to stand in a corner of the office. They ordered them to put their hands up and turn around.

Of course we thought positively of Jabhat a-Nusra, because they were fighting the regime. But now our view towards them has changed after this incident.

Kafr Nabl Idlib residents protest Charlie Hedbo cartoons/in support of the Prophet Mohammed. Photo courtesy of @alghamdimhd. 

Q: Did they hit any of the radio staff?

No. They only hit the activist Hadi al-Abdullah, under the charge that he had insulted the prophet of God—they punched him, no weapons. They only opened fire at the ground.

Q: Why did Nusra storm the radio office? Did they give you a reason?

They gave a reason after they had stormed the building and treated us badly. It was a false pretext—that we were a headquarters for publishing the newspaper Souriatna, which stood with the journalists who were killed in Paris.

Q: There are reports that Nusra released an official apology for the attack. Is this true?

Hadi al-Abdullah went to present a complaint to the Sharia Court in Maarat a-Nauman against the person who beat him. The court presented him an oral apology, without bringing to account either the person who spread the false news [that Radio Fresh was printing Souriatna] or the Nusra fighters who insulted us.

Q: Media outlets reported that the reason for the raid was that the radio was a printing station for the newspaper Souriatna, is this true?

This indeed was the stated reason for the raid, but it was devoid of any truth.

Q: What about the other raids that Nusra undertook in the same area?

Nusra raided the Union of Revolutionary Bureaus, and the Mazaya Center for the same reason, in the same manner and using the same treatment.

Mazaya is a center for training women, they don’t let any men in the building. Nusra fighters hit the women in the building.

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