The Independent & Syria: Direct & Raqqa RBSS & RT News – 2016-01-07 00:06:09
ISIS Executes First Female Journalist in Syria
Kate Ng / The Independent
Some of her last words were: ‘When ISIS arrest and kill me it’s ok because. . . it’s better than [living] in humiliation with ISIS’
(January 6, 2016) — ISIS has executed what is believed to be the first female citizen journalist for reporting inside its territory, Syrian media has reported.
The execution of Ruqia Hassan marks the fifth journalist who reported on ISIS to be killed since October, according to Syrian journalism organisation Syria Direct.
Ms Hassan, who also went by the pseudonym Nisan Ibrahim on social media, was a independent reporter. Her death was confirmed by Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), a group exposing human rights abuses from within Syria.
Abu Mohammed, founder of RBSS, tweeted on Saturday that Ms Hassan’s last words were: “I’m in Raqqa and I received death threats, and when Isis [arrests] me and kills me it’s ok because they will cut my head and I have dignity its better than I live in humiliation with Isis [sic].”
Abu Mohammed @Raqqa_sl1
1-the last words from Nissan Ibrahim Syrian activist who got executed by â€ª#ISIS was ” im in Raqqa and I received
12:09 PM – 2 Jan 2016
Abu Mohammed @Raqqa_sl1
â€ª#Raqqaâ€ª 2-“Death threats and when #ISIS will Arrest me and kill me its ok Because they will cut my head and i have Dignity its better than”â€¬
12:10 PM – 2 Jan 2016â€¬
One of her final posts on Facebook mocks Isis, also known as Islamic State, for banning Wi-Fi hotspots in the city of Raqqa. Her post, translated by Syria Direct, reads: “Go ahead and cut off our internet, our messenger pigeons won’t complain.”
The exact date of Ms Hassan’s execution is unknown, but her presence on social media stopped abruptly on July 21, 2015.
Arab news channel Al-Aan TV reported ISIS informed Ms Hassan’s family of her execution three days ago on charges of “espionage”.
An independent journalist who was formerly with RBSS, Furat al-Wafaa, told Syria Direct that Ms Hassan frequently participated in “all of the revolution’s protests”.
He is quoted as saying: “Ruqia continuously challenged IS and often reported on air strikes on Raqqa as they happened.
“IS always wants to keep the sword hovering over the people’s necks,” he said, when asked what ISIS seeks to achieve by executing journalists accused of working with foreign media.
He added: “They want their fighters and supporters to know that the Islamic State is capable of taking revenge against those who speak against them.”
In December, Isis executed RBSS activist Naji Jerf, whose last work, “Islamic State in Aleppo,” was a documentary exposing human rights violations committed in the city.
Islamic State Executes Female Journalist in Raqqa
(January 4, 2016) — The Islamic State executed independent citizen journalist Ruqia Hassan in what is believed to be the group’s first capital punishment of a woman for reporting inside its territory, posted citizen journalists from Raqqa on Facebook over the weekend.
Better known by her pseudonym “Nisan Ibrahim,” Hassan wrote about life under IS rule on her personal Facebook page and “often reported on airstrikes in Raqqa as they happened,” Furat al-Wafaa, an independent citizen journalist formerly with the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign, tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hammou.
Although the exact date of the execution is unknown, Hassan’s social media reporting abruptly stopped on July 21, 2015. At some point between July and December, Hassan disappeared from Raqqa city.
IS informed Hassan’s family of her execution on charges of “espionage” only three days ago, reported Syrian opposition Arabic-language media on Monday.
In one of her last posts, which was a response to an IS decision to ban Wi-Fi hotspots in Raqqa city, Ruqia showed a capacity for joking about the conditions citizen journalists work under in IS-held territories: “Go ahead and cut off the internet, our messenger pigeons won’t complain,” reads her post from July 20.
Ruqia Hassan’s execution marks the fifth journalist who had covered the Islamic State reported killed since October.
“IS always wants to keep the sword hovering over the people’s necks.”
Q: On January 2, the Islamic State (IS) reportedly executed a female citizen journalist from Raqqa following her arrest and detainment. Is this the first time that IS has executed a woman for involvement in media activity and can you give us background on her story?
Ruqia Hassan was an independent Kurdish journalist from Raqqa known by the pseudonym “Nisan Ibrahim.” She participated in all of the revolution’s protests, from the earliest street demonstrations against the regime up until recent protests against IS. Ruqia continuously challenged IS and often reported on airstrikes on Raqqa as they happened. Her execution is the first time IS has carried out the death penalty against a female citizen journalist.
Q: What does IS seek to achieve from executing citizens and journalists who they accuse of working with foreign media?
IS always wants to keep the sword hovering over the people’s necks. They want their fighters and supporters to know that the Islamic State is capable of taking revenge against those who speak against them.
Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011.
Orion Wilcox was a 2014-2015 CASA fellow in Amman, Jordan where he interned with the UNRWA Jordan Field Office. He received his BA in Economics and Arabic language from the University of Mississippi. His undergraduate Arabic studies included time at Yarmouk University in Irbid, Jordan and at AMIDEAST in Rabat, Morocco. Following the CASA program, Orion worked as a freelance translator and interpreter completing projects for IndustryArabic, Protranslating, Kaiser Consultants, 7iber.com and the International Refugee Assistance Project.
It’s ‘Hell’: How ISIS Prevents
People from Fleeing its ‘Caliphate’
Abu Mohammed / Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently
ISIS has been tightening security along the borders of its “caliphate” to prevent people from fleeing, according to locals familiar with the terrorist group’s territory.
And ISIS — aka the Islamic State — seems to be keeping a closer watch over its populace.
People who live in Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto capital of the group’s territory, which it calls its “caliphate,” are now reportedly forced to register with the militant government.
There are restrictions on what people can take in and out of ISIS-held cities. And women aren’t allowed to go anywhere without a male relative escort.
“Leaving the city is now really hard,” Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, an activist with the group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, told Business Insider recently. “The problem is not going to Raqqa, it’s how to get out.”
Raqqa is the center of ISIS’s operations in the Middle East. Raqqawi — who uses a pseudonym — still travels back and forth from the city with the help of smugglers, he said. His family remains there.
Raqqawi said ISIS confiscates passports to make it more difficult to travel and forces people in the city to register so the militants can keep tabs on everyone.
“They are not allowing women to leave the city if they are not over 45 years old, and they are not allowing boys to leave the city if they are not over 19,” Raqqawi said. “After the statement that, ‘We want to register every boy in the city over 14,’ people are very afraid of the recruiting and want to leave.”
A Syrian man from Deir Ezzor, who goes by the name Fikram, told Business Insider that even some government areas “are surrounded by ISIS so civilians can’t get out except under certain conditions.”
“The area that is controlled by the terrorist organization has one road that civilians can go out from, and they open it in specific dates and times,” Fikram said. “Also, the civilians cannot move their personal items like home furnishings from the city.”
ISIS has also been enforcing rules around who can leave its territory. Ali Leili, a who runs the Syrian activist group D’Arezzo, described to Business Insider rules in place in Deir Ezzor, Syria.
“Sometimes people are allowed to leave to [go to] Damascus in order to [get] medical treatment, but not before they write a written undertaking that they will return to Deir Ezzor in the completion of treatment,” Leili told Business Insider.
Residents of other cities have talked of similar rules.
In Mosul, ISIS requires anyone leaving the city to provide the militants with the names of relatives who can vouch for their return, The New York Times reported in June. If the person does not return, their relatives may be arrested.
These restrictions have led to people relying on unconventional means to leave their homes.
“Hundreds of residents of Deir Ezzor and especially young people have left the province in secret smuggling routes to Turkey and then to Europe, [although] some of them are still in Turkey,” Leili said. “Everyone fled because of the hell experienced in the province because of the violations of [ISIS] and tightening the grip on the people there.”
The New York Times reported in a November story that a “cottage industry” of smugglers have cropped up to extricate people from ISIS territory. The newspaper reported that “until relatively recently, the routes into and out of Raqqa were mostly open.”
But now people have been relying on smugglers to supply them with false identification and accompany them across the Turkish border.
Others rely on ISIS militants themselves to help them escape ISIS territory. One woman who grew up in Raqqa and was roped into joining ISIS after the group took over the city asked a friend within the group to get her and her cousin out. The militant was able to get them through ISIS checkpoints without raising any suspicion.
Recently released ISIS propaganda suggests that the group is especially concerned about people fleeing and the damage that could do to the group’s brand.
In September, ISIS released a barrage of propaganda videos targeting refugees and telling them to come join the “caliphate” instead of fleeing to “xenophobic” Europe. The videos seek to reinforce the image of the caliphate as an Islamic utopia and capitalize on the dangers refugees face as they flee to European countries.
“They claim to create this Islamic utopia, and Muslims are fleeing in droves,” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a counterterrorism analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider in September. “A legitimate caliphate . . . is supposed to be able to provide services to its citizens.”
Syrian Journalist & Filmmaker Who Exposed
ISIS Aleppo Atrocities Assassinated in Turkey
(December 28, 2015) — A prominent Syrian journalist and filmmaker, who produced anti-Islamic State documentaries was gunned down by unknown assailants in broad daylight in Gaziantep, Turkey. This is the third assassination of a journalist in the country over the last three months.
Naji Jerf, editor-in-chief of the Hentah monthly, known for his documentaries describing violence and abuses on Islamic State-controlled territories (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) was shot and killed near a building housing Syrian independent media outlets in the Turkish city of Gaziantep. His death was originally reported by a group of citizen journalists he was working with.
Jerf recently completed a documentary investigating violence and crime in the IS-held parts of Aleppo for the RBSS group [“Raqa is Being Slaughtered Silently”]. The film won a Committee to Protect Journalists'(CPJ) International Press Freedom Award in November.
According to reports, he was hit by a bullet in the head as he was walking in the street. He was taken to hospital, where he died. The attack happened in front of security cameras nearby, according to Turkish news outlet T24 website.
A friend of Jerf’s has told AFP the journalist was “supposed to arrive in Paris this week after receiving, along with his family, a visa for asylum in France.”
The Brussels-based European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has said in a statement for RT that “the EFJ strongly calls on Turkish authorities to step up measures to protect Syrian journalists and media workers based in Turkey.”
“The EFJ notes that this killing comes after Islamic State claimed responsibility for the deaths of the executive director and the head of the production department for a Syrian media collective, in Urfa, in October. It seems clear to us that Syrian journalists and media workers who have fled to Turkey are not safe at all,” the statement stressed.
CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator Sherif Mansour said “Syrian journalists who have fled to Turkey for their safety are not safe at all,” recalling several Syrian journalists as well as prominent Turkish opposition figures murdered in Turkey over the past months.
“We call on Turkish authorities to bring the killers of Naji Jerf to justice swiftly and transparently, and to step up measures to protect all Syrian journalists on Turkish soil,” he added.
Earlier in November, president of the bar association and a campaigner for Kurdish rights, Tahir Elci was shot dead by unknown gunmen on a street in Diyarbakir in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey. RT’s crew covering Kurdish protests following Elci’s murder was teargassed by the Turkish police while filming on the spot.
In October, two Syrian journalists, Ibrahim Abd al-Qader and Fares Hamadi â€“ also an early member of RBSS group â€“ were found slain in an apartment in the town of Urfa in southeastern Turkey.
Can Erimtan of the Istanbul Gazette has told RT the murderers might be “local supporters of Islamic State, given the fact they knew where to go and how to do their business.”
“As for the reason why this man [Naji Jerf] was targeted, he was working towards exposing the atrocities committed by Islamic State, and for that reason silencing him seemed like a fair option to them,” he said.
Erimtan added “there is a clear link between Islamic State and the Ankara government” and “[there is] a lot of ISIS activity in the country, [while] the authorities are either unwilling to take drastic measures [or are unaware] of what to do.”
ISIL in Aleppo
Naji Jerf (Posted December 15, 2015)
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