By: Somali journalists
SOMALIA—Oct. 28— We mourn the death of yet another of our colleague at the hands of merciless murders as the killing campaigns bring the number of Somali journalists to 16 this year, the deadliest for far.
Ahmed ‘Saakin’ Farah Ilyas, 25, who worked with local Universal TV, was killed on Tuesday in Las Anod coming just a day after another reporter, Mohamed M. Turyare of Shabelle Radio, was seriously injured by assailants in the capital Mogadishu.
The attacks come amid storm of media campaign to discredit local Somali journalists and dubiously link their brutal murder to alleged “corruption, clan loyalty and unprofessionalism”, a media drive aimed primarily at giving cover for the real motive behind the political violence directed at Somali journalists which is to silence only voice of truth from the war torn country.
The publication of Jamal Osman’s infamous article earlier in the month on the website of the British Guardian Newspaper set the scene and tone for the systematic media war against local journalists.
In his piece, Jamal waged an unprecedented take-no-prisoner attack on Somali media branding them as corrupt, clanistic and part to the Somali conflict and explained away the prosecution against journalists as a result of these factors and not in attempt to silence their voice, as is widely accepted.
Jamal’s article was therefore an attempt to discredit Somali journalism and paint them as simply either a collateral damage in the on-going conflict or those killed because of graft involvement or being “soldiers” for the Somali government thus giving implicit justification and cover for those engaged in murder of Somali journalist.
Since that fateful article by Jamal Osman, the media campaign to mislead the world about what is truly happening to Somali journalists haven’t abated but a number of Jamal’s inner circle mostly naïve Diaspora boys took up from where the leader left off.
The cohorts tried clumsily to advance Jamal’s attempt to justify the killings of journalists by linking them to other than the systematic political violence targeting of members of Somali journalism with the aim of silencing the only voice of truth out of this country.
Why this campaign? Why this time? And why Jamal and cohorts? In order to answer these questions one needs to know about Jamal as the director of this media onslaught and his relationship with Somali journalists and the non-state armed groups in Somalia.
As a new comer to the Somalia media landscape, Jamal, a Somali-British and is based in London, works for a number of British news outlets as a junior reporter but started coming to Somalia back in 2008 and cover mainly the activities of the radical Islamist group of al Shabaab who surprisingly considers journalists as spies and treat westerners of Somali decent with suspicion.
But Jamal Osman, a British citizen who claims to be journalist was able to gain dubious exclusive access to areas under the Al Qaeda-linked terror group of Al Shabaab where he goes to meet the radical group’s leaders every time he comes to southern Somalia and cover their activities in a positive light while demonizing the legitimate Somali government and the UN-backed African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The Al Qaeda’s Somalia affiliate, the Al Shabaab, wage terror attacks on both internationally legitimate entities; the Somali government and AMISOM and the militant group consider journalists as spies and have killed journalists, driven out others and shut down media houses in areas under their control.
So the dubious cozy relationship between the Somali terror group Al Shabaab and by extension Al Qaeda and Jamal created mistrust between him and other local Somali journalists who often refused any contacts with the man who they saw, to say the least, as “close friend”” to the terror group whom they attribute most of the killing of journalists in Somalia.
Somali journalists have shunned Jamal who remained an isolated figure every time he came to southern Somalia. He stayed at the top hotels in during his brief stays in Mogadishu before moving on to areas under the Somali terror group’s control where he spent most of his time during his stays in southern Somalia from 2008 to the present.
Looking at the headlines of some of Jamal’s stories from Al Shabaab-controlled parts of Somalia one does not require even a high school certificate to spot the dangerous slant in the reportage in favour of the terror groups:
These cleverly one-sided stories give the wrong impression that Al Qaeda is more of humanitarian organization than brutal international terror network.
The article Al-Qaida and the politics of aid in Somalia, just like the others above, was written at the height of deadly famine in Somalia back in 201,1 opens with the statement; “Al-Qaida operatives distributing aid to drought-affected Somalis may shock people – but for the displaced, al-Qaida is as good as anyone else giving them something to eat”, and continues to shower praise on the terror group and paint positive picture of the terror networks’ activities in Somalia.
If one wonder to the blog Jamal uses to market his work, one sees that on all the coverage he made on the radical Islamist groups he gives prominence to Al Shabaab’s stances and casts favorable light on them.
Here are some of the stories he made about the militant Al Shabaab group’s stance towards the UN backed peacekeeping troops in Somalia:“ Al -Shabaab: Your peace depends on us being left alone”.
During last year’s devastating famine which came after the Al Shabaab terror group chased away all international humanitarian organizations and levied heavy taxes on poor Somali famers. In defense of their brutal actions in Somalia that led to the worst famine in more than half a century used Jamal: “There is drought not a famine, claims Al Shabaab”, was the propaganda he spread for the militant group.
That cozy relationship and largely apparent positive coverage given to the Somali terror group of Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda by Jamal Osman’s Somali reportage has merely widened the wall of mistrust between Jamal and Somali journalists and given the impression that there could be more at play here.
Many in the Somali journalist circles maintain that Jamal was not merely a desperate reporter wanting more cash and accolades by compromising his journalist integrity to give favaourable and slanted coverage for terrorist groups in exchange for safe access to the areas under Al Shabaab’s control and reclusive leaders of the group but some said that Jamal is, at least, an informal apologist for the in Somalia terrorist group.
Other in Somali journalist community have gone as far as to say is not only a member of Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda by extension but the secret leader of the groups’ media arm Kataaib and the secret handler of Al Shabaab’s twitter account @HSMPress thus making him more isolated.
Following the emergency of the news of the publication of Jamal Osman’s article reactions from Somali journalists was one of anger and shock. Journalists held protests and wrote articles responding to the unfounded claims made by Jamal. http://www.jowhar.com/news.php?readmore=2796
In a show of their support for Jamal’s assertions and provisions of implicit cover for the murder of journalists, pro-Alshabab republished Jamal’s article in its entirety. http://somalimemo.net/index.php/component/content/article/1-warar/3130-somali-journalists-are-dying-from-corruption-as-much-as-conflict
While others hailed it as “reasonable explanation for killing of journalists. http://www.amiirnuur.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7806:todobaad-kadib-warbixintii-jamaal-waa-sidee-shacuurta-wariyaasha-qore-cfitaax-filibiin&catid=59:maqaallo&Itemid=86
Jamal’s media campaign against Somali journalists is seen as a way to first to get back at local Somali journalists for isolating him and second give cover for the murderous spree the Al Shabaab militants carry out against Somali journalists who they view as spies for western states and organizations.
This is a dangerous media assault by dubious individuals aimed at justifying and misleading the world about the killing of journalists by the terror Al Shabaab group who are responsible for the majority of the killings.
Somali journalists who suffered so much from the political violence waged by terrorist group of al Shabaab are now facing a relentless media campaign spearheaded by Jamal Osman as much deadly as physical one carried by the militants.
We, the Somali journalists affected by Jamal Osman’s media drive, therefore call on Somali and British governments as well as the United Nations and the wider international community to investigate the activities of Jamal Osman, his motives and who he really works for.
By: Somalia Journalists