The United States' largest Arab newspaper was attacked early Friday in Dearborn, Michigan, when two young men tried to break into its offices by smashing through a glass door with a hammer. The staff was working in the Arab American News headquarters when they heard multiple bangs from the back of the building that some feared were gunshots.
At least 11 workers were in the office at the time. “All the lights were on, as you can see, and we heard like four, sounded like shots, ‘Pow! Pow! Pow,'” Publisher Osama Siblani told local reporters. “So I told myself somebody was shooting at us, you know, somebody is trying to hurt us.”
Security footage shows two men tried to break through the back door, which is made of bulletproof glass. After they were unable to get inside, they fled in a black Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Dearborn Police are investigating.
“They’re black males, they’re young, and they have hoodies on,” Siblani said. “Their faces and everything were looking at the cameras, and either they’re gutsy criminals or stupid criminals.”
All our staff members are fine. That's what matters most. We cannot speculate on the motives of the suspects. https://t.co/wmeZrj2OVw
— Arab American News (@theaanews) March 11, 2016
No one was injured, but the staff fears the incident may have been a targeted attack amid growing hate crimes across the nation against Muslims. Arab American News is also the nation's oldest Arab newspaper.
"We don't know why these men came here, but what matters is that everybody is safe," Arab American News reporter Hassan Khalifeh said in a post on the newspaper's website.
Siblani told ABC affiliate station WXYZ-TV in Detroit that the heavily Muslim community was on edge. "The FBI is surveilling, the police are surveilling, there’s lots of issues in this community. We are afraid that some nut may come in and start shooting at us," he said. "I thought somebody might come in and shoot our staff and kill them."
Siblani said the newspaper will continue its work regardless of the motive behind the attack. "We have been here for 31 years," he said. "We have endured many threats in the past, and they have not moved us from continuing to report the truth. We were fortunate that no one was harmed."