Somali Journalist Executed For Al Shabaab Ties

| by Zara Zhi
Al Shabaab fighters disengage and lay down armsAl Shabaab fighters disengage and lay down arms

A Somali journalist who assisted al Shabaab in killing five fellow reporters has been executed by firing squad after he was sentenced to death in March by a military court in Mogadishu.

Hassan Hanafi Haji, 30, was once a well-respected broadcaster, but between 2007 and 2011 he helped the militant group identify possible targets among journalists. In 2008, he joined the armed wing of the terrorist organization after working for Radio Andalus, al Shabaab’s mouthpiece in Somalia.

While he was working as a liaison officer for al Shabaab, Haji would call reporters and threaten them with death if they declined to join the militant group, says BBC Somali's Mohammud Ali.

He was promoted to commander in 2009. In 2015, Haji was detained in Kenya and extradited to Somalia for a trial.

“Al Shabaab killed many journalists but personally I killed only one," Haji said after the sentence was announced. "But I am indifferent if you kill me. You will see if killings will stop even after my death."

Haji was one of the few people prosecuted by the government after years of condemnation from rights groups urging authorities to end the murders of journalists and establish rule of law.

Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries for media workers, as journalists are frequently targeted, according to ABC News. More than 18 journalists were killed last year, the Committee to Protect Journalists says.

The extremist, al Qaeda-linked group regularly stages attacks in Mogadishu, among other cities, and still holds power in many rural areas of southern Somalia.

Al Shabaab, whose name means “The Youth,” strives to enforce its strict version of Sharia law in Somalia, according to The Star, Kenya.

In the early 1990s, Somalia was thrown into anarchy after the deposing of military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and has been struggling to rebuild ever since.

The terrorist organization was pushed out of Mogadishu by African Union peacekeeping forces in 2011, but has persisted as an influential adversary in Somalia.

Sources: The Star, Kenya, ABC News / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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