MOGADISHU, Somalia — A former journalist who joined the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab was executed in Somalia’s capital for the killings of five Somali journalists.

Hassan Hanafi Haji, who was extradited from Kenya last year on the request of the Somali government, was killed by firing squad at a police academy in Mogadishu on Monday. Firing squad is the only execution method in Somalia.
journalist kiiledHe often urged journalists to report according to al-Shabab’s media rules, which included avoiding stories related to the group’s military setbacks.In his role as a liaison officer with al-Shabab, Haji was known to threaten journalists and radio stations for any reporting not in favor of the Islamic extremist rebels, forcing many media outlets to practice self-censorship for security reasons. Haji later led al-Shabab’s media unit, inviting journalists to press conferences and giving them tours of battlefields.

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Haji was one of the few suspects prosecuted by the Somali government following years of criticism by rights groups who urged authorities to do more to establish the rule of law and end the killings of journalists.

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The killings of media workers often happened in government-controlled areas that journalists generally consider safe.

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Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries for media workers. At least 18 Somali journalists were killed last year, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

It’s not entirely clear who has been killing journalists. Al-Shabab rebels, warlords, criminals, and even government agents all could have reasons to see journalists killed in Somalia.


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