Somalia: Al-Shabaab Killer Journalist Executed


A former media officer of terrorist group Al-Shabaab has been executed by firing squad in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.

Hassan Hanafi Haji was sentenced to death last month after being found guilty of organising the killings of journalists in Somalia. He was executed on Monday by firing squad – the only form of capital punishment in the country – at General Kahiye Police Academy.


Guilty of orchestrating murders

Haji, who became a prominent media figure in Somalia before joining Al-Shabaab, was accused of plotting the killings of five journalists before fleeing to Kenya. During his trial, judge Hassan Ali said the evidence proved Haji “had key roles in the masterminding and execution of the murder of several journalists”.

Haji contacted and threatened to kill several journalists who didn’t pledge their allegiance to Al-Shabaab. In 2010, the killing of senior journalist Sheikh Noor Mohamed became the highest-profile murder attributed to Haji. A total of five journalists were killed with the help of Haji the court ruled.


Failed appeal

The defendant was sentenced to death by a lower army court in Mogadishu on March 3. Haji appealed the sentence, but his punishment was confirmed on March 26 when an Army Appeal Court ruled his sentence would be fulfilled.

Haji was unapologetic at his initial trial after being given the opportunity to speak once his sentence had been announced.

“Al-Shabaab killed many journalists but personally I killed only one,” he protested. “But I am indifferent if you kill me. You will see if killings will stop even after my death.”

Haji remains one of few people to be convicted for the killing of journalists in Somalia. Media personnel have called on the government to take stronger action to prevent further killings of journalists in the country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says a total of 59 journalists have been killed in Somalia – one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media personnel in the world – since 1992.