Al Jazeera journalist Tareq Ayoub was killed in a US airstrike during the US-led invasion of Iraq. His daughter Fatima was 14 months old at the time. [GALLO/GETTY]
On April 8, 2003, during the US-led invasion of Iraq, Al Jazeera correspondent Tareq Ayoub was killed when a US warplane bombed Al Jazeera's headquarters in Baghdad.
CPJ research shows that "at least 150 journalists and 54 media support workers were killed in Iraq from the US-led invasion in March 2003 to the declared end of the war in December 2011."
"The media were not welcome by the US military," Soazig Dollet, who runs the Middle East and North Africa desk of Reporters Without Borders told Al Jazeera. "That is really obvious."
Unfortunately for Al Jazeera and Tareq Ayoub, Dollet's statement was all too true.
Journalists "should not be there"
Al Jazeera bore a constant barrage of bellicose verbiage from Bush administration officials during the invasion and occupation. Then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld labeled Al Jazeera Arabic's reportage as "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable."
But the verbal attack had been preceded by bombs in Afghanistan.
The US bombed Al Jazeera's office in Kabul during the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, and attacked the media outlet multiple times during the 2003 Iraq invasion, including the killing of Ayoub, despite the fact that Al Jazeera supplied the Pentagon with their headquarter's coordinates in Baghdad in February 2003.
On the same day Ayoub was killed, a US tank shelled the Palestine Hotel, home and office to more than 100 unembedded international journalists operating in Baghdad at the time. The shell smashed into the Reuters office, killing two cameramen, Reuters' Taras Protsyuk and Jose Couso of Spain's Telecinco. That day there was also an attack on an Abu Dhabi TV office by US forces.
In a chilling statement at the end of that bloody day in Iraq, then-Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke spelled out the Pentagon's policy on journalists who were not embedded with US troops when she warned them that Baghdad "is not a safe place. You should not be there."
By 2010, Reporters Without Borders had recorded the deaths of 230 media professionals, 87 percent of which were Iraqis.
The infamous day when Ayoub was killed along with the two Reuters' cameramen unfortunately became a warning of what was to come for journalists working in Iraq.
As high as both the CPJ and Reporters Without Borders tallies are, another group, the Brussells Tribunal, closely tracked Iraqi media worker deaths in detail, and provides a detailed account of each death, concluding with the current total number of 382 journalist and media worker deaths when combining Iraqi and non-Iraqi.
However, Iraq's impunity rate, or the degree to which perpetrators have escaped prosecution for killing journalists, is the worst in the world at 100 percent. Even today, as Iraq has moved beyond the US conflict, both Iraqi and US governmental authorities have shown no interest in investigating these murders.
Dima Tareq Tahboub, Tareq Ayoub's widow, continues her mourning for her late husband, which she said is extended due to the lack of justice for what happened. "No justice has been achieved to this day after 10 years," she told Al Jazeera.