Islamic State’s violent campaign against journalists worsens

Reporters Without Borders Digs Deep into Islamist Terror Group Attacks on Reporters
By Ryan Connelly Holmes

WASHINGTON — Islamist terror groups’ violent relationship with media goes beyond the killings they have shown the world on YouTube, a Reporters Without Borders study has found.

The report ( released on Jan. 4 by the advocacy organization shows a direct targeting of journalists from groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida, as well as the strict rules and regulations these terror organizations have for theirs own media.

Modern terror groups rely heavily on intimidation—which they try to achieve by capturing and ransoming or murdering journalists—and the wide dissemination of their messages through social media as well as through reports on video channels and magazines that they control.

“IS exists above all on – and thanks to – the Internet, via which it wages most of its information war,” the report said.

Public targeting of reporters, which al-Qaida did in 2013 on the cover of one of its magazines, is part of that war.

So is controlling the media.

Islamic State controls more than five television stations, a radio station and a magazine, the report says. In Somalia, al-Qaida affiliate Al-Shabaab took over 10 radio stations in 2010, censoring their content along religious lines. Al-Qaida publishes multiple magazines in multiple languages.

In 2015, 54 journalists were captured, according to the report. Local journalists are particularly vulnerable if they do not comply with Islamic State rules and can be “arrested” and executed, the report indicated.

Abducting journalists is as much a hope for ransom money as it is a display of power.

In 2014 Islamic State released a list of 11 “commandments” that itemize how journalists function under its authority, the first of which requires swearing allegiance to leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Journalists are allowed to work with Islamic State, but under last-word censorship.

Conversely, journalists who report on these terror groups or in areas that the groups control can be victims of government suspicion.

VICE News journalist Mohammed Ismael Rasool was one of those captured. He was released on bail from a Turkish prison last week. The Iraqi journalist was held for 131 days on terrorism charges while reporting.

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