Somalia: Death Sentence for Al-Shabaab Media Officer Found Guilty Of Killing Journalists


A former Al-Shabaab media officer accused of organising the killing of several Somali journalist has been sentenced to death.

Hassan Hanafi Haji was sentenced at a Mogadishu military court on Thursday after he was found guilty of helping the militant group identify and kill five journalists between 2007 and 2011.


‘Key roles’ in executions

Judge Hassan Ali said the evidence proved Hanafi “had key roles in the masterminding and execution of the murder of several journalists,” according to AFP reports. “He will be put to death as soon as possible,” the judge said.

Hanafi’s affiliation with Al-Shabaab became apparent in 2008 and the following year he was promoted to commander. His new role didn’t last long, however, coming to an end after he was seriously hurt in fighting. Hanafi was arrested late last year by police in neighbouring country Kenya.

After his sentence was announced, Hanafi was given his chance to speak. “Al-Shabaab killed many journalists but personally I killed only one,” he said. “But I am indifferent if you kill me. You will see if killings will stop even after my death.”


Household name turned terrorist

Hanafi was born in the central Hiran region of Somalia during the early ’80s, but he became a household name in 2003 when he joined radio station Quran FM in the capital Mogadishu. In 2006 he became a writer for one of the country’s leading online magazines, but signs of his affiliation to Al-Shabaab soon began to emerge.

It was around this time he started contacting fellow journalists and telling them they would be killed if they didn’t pledge their allegiance to the Islamist militants. In 2010, the killing of senior journalist Sheikh Noor Mohamed shocked the public and media. Hanafi later admitted to planning the execution, claiming the journalist was killed because of his affiliation with the government.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says more than 25 journalists have been murdered in Somalia since 2007.


Featured image: Public domain.