Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

2012 Predators of Press Freedom: Somalia - Al-Shabaab, armed Islamist militia

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 4 May 2012
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, 2012 Predators of Press Freedom: Somalia - Al-Shabaab, armed Islamist militia, 4 May 2012, available at: [accessed 26 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

There is no sign of any respite for Somalia after more than 20 years of war. Islamist insurgents, previously united against Ethiopia's troops and now embroiled in internal rivalry and conflicts, have contributed to the chaos since 2009 by waging a war of harassment against the fragile transitional government.

The bearers of a strict version of Islam, they ban cinema, video games and radio music. Al-Shabaab (The Youth) has emerged as the biggest and best organized of these groups. It wages a campaign of terror, bomb attacks and targeted murders against leading members of Somali civil society who are, it says, guilty of serving the interests of the "Crusaders" of the West. Dozens of teachers, academics and politicians have been killed.

The victims include journalists, who are regarded almost by definition as enemies. Twenty-nine of them have been killed since 2007, either caught in crossfire or directly targeted by the various militia factions. Radio Shabelle has paid a particularly heavy price, losing three directors and four of its reporters.

Other Radio Shabelle employees fled the country. Al-Shabaab withdrew from Mogadishu in summer of 2011 but still controls a large area of the country, has its own prisons, carries out arrests and executes sentences. The militia also issues directives to journalists about how to cover the news and, in 2010, seized control of about 10 radio stations, which now broadcast its political and religious propaganda.

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