Facebook Ban Brentford Reporter for Posting Afghanistan Photos

John Dale shared historic pictures showing him with the Mujahideen

John Dale (left) in the Hindu Kus with the Mujahideen. Picture: John Dale


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A Brentford-based veteran journalist had his access to Facebook restricted after he posted photos about Afghanistan deemed to be ‘dangerous’ by the social media giant.

John Dale was a reporter for Now Magazine when he went on an assignment in 1979 to Afghanistan. He crossed the border from Pakistan into Nuristan to do a report on the Mujahideen. The Soviet Union had invaded the country that year and the fighters were seeking western support in for their struggle.

He shared some pictures of his journey along with reminiscences of his trip on the Brentford Today and TV Facebook page of which he is the administrator.

Soon afterwards the photos were removed by Facebook and restrictions were placed on the account.

John Dale records and interview with the Afghan rebels
John Dale records and interview with the Afghan rebels. Picture: John Dale

Mr Dale’s post said, “As our horror mounts at scenes from Afghanistan, there are many in Hounslow Borough with a personal link to that beleaguered country – as refugees from their homeland, through family, through military sacrifice and through visits. I visited it in September 1979, walking across the border from Pakistan into Nuristan, in the Hindu Kush. I was reporting on the Mujahideen, the fathers and grandfathers of today's Taliban. At that time the Islamic forces were fighting a Russian takeover and so the West adopted them as an ally. As people and fighters they were impressive – strong and fearless. – and utterly unaware of life beyond their mountains. ‘London?’ one elder said to me, ‘where is London? Does it have a river?’

“They hunted down and shot dead a man who stole my watch. They risked their lives to get me back to Pakistan as a conduit for their news and arms requirement. That was important because they wanted more surface-to-air missiles from America and the UK. They got them. The demonic spell of Russian gunships was broken.

“I left with mixed feelings (as well as typhoid, which was endemic). My report ended: ‘I can only say how much I like the people I met. I respected their pride and their code of honour. They became my friends. But when discussion turned to the religious or the political, there was a mutual incomprehension. Ironically, we Westerners probably have more in common with our strategic opponents in Moscow than with these Moslem revivalists we implicitly support.’

“That was 42 years ago. Have things changed much? As the Taliban take over, we will see.”

Afghan fighters in 1979
Afghan fighters in 1979. Picture: John Dale

There was a very positive response to Mr Dale’s post with some readers saying that the illuminated another dimension to the current crisis. However, shortly afterwards he found his access to Facebook restricted with the content considered to be potentially dangerous. Without access to Facebook he would have been unable to continue to run his Facebook page which is a valuable community resource.

BrentfordTW8.com asked Facebook for a comment on Mr Dale’s suspension on Thursday (19 August) and later that day Mr Dale found that his post and his access to Facebook had been restored. Mr Dale attributed the sudden change of heart to ‘the power of the press’.

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August 20, 2021


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