News / Africa

Somali Journalists say Islamists are Wiping Out Free Flow of Information

Multimedia

Audio

A Somali media-rights group says fighting between Islamist militants and the country's U.N.-backed government is about to explode in a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of the Somali people.

The secretary general of the National Union of Somali Journalists, Omar Faruk Osman, says three of Mogadishu's 14 radio stations are now under the control of Islamist militants. Osman says there is no question the militants are determined to wipe out independent reporting in the country.

"This is a wider campaign to take over all private radio stations, and our main concern is that this will be used as a tool for hate media that we know there will be a negative effect on society," Osman said.

Radio stations in Mogadishu

On Saturday, armed fighters loyal to extremist al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam groups forcibly took over two private radio stations in the capital.

Al-Shabab fighters raided the offices of HornAfrick in Mogadishu's al-Shabab-controlled Bakara Market.  Separately, Hizbul Islam fighters entered the headquarters of Global Broadcasting Corporation in the Heliwa district of the capital and took over its radio and television studios.  A month ago, al-Shabab took over the management of another privately-owned station, Radio Holy Quran, after delivering a threatening letter.

Islamc Insurgents

Since 2007, al-Shabab has been leading an insurgency to topple the U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu, aiming to create an ultra-conservative Islamic state throughout southern and central Somalia and beyond.  
The al-Qaida-linked group controls much of the south and large areas of the capital. But it has been unable to seize the whole of Mogadishu and key installations such as the airport and seaport, which are protected by more than 7,000 African Union peacekeeping troops.

During the recent Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the group vowed to wage what it described as a "massive" and "final" war against the government and peacekeepers. It sent suicide bombers to attack the airport and a hotel popular with government officials. It bombarded the presidential palace with mortars, managing, at one point, to briefly seize the main road that connects the palace to the airport.

But after weeks of fighting that left hundreds of people dead and wounded, neither side has been able to declare victory over the other.

Spread misinformation

With the ground war at a stalemate, Osman says he believes al-Shabab now wants to control the airwaves and spread false information that could help the militants gain the upper hand.  

"The media will be used to wage war, to inflame hostilities, to instill fear in the hearts of the people," Osman added. "The other concern we also have is [the] increasing attempts to infiltrate media houses. They are knocking on doors of media houses, offering 'I will work for you free of charge.' Or trying to recruit some of the security guards of the media houses. So that is our concern now."  

Osman says there is also a possibility that the Somali Transitional Federal Government will be tempted to counter al-Shabab's propaganda war by trying to manipulate and censor the media just as harshly.  

In June, eight journalists were wounded in Mogadishu by an explosion that ripped through a press conference being held by al-Shabab. Somali and international media watchdogs accused government troops of launching the attack to silence the journalists.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid