Fresh threats to journalists from Islamic State group

New York, June 27, 2016 – Threats made against journalists in a video purportedly showing militants from the Islamic State group murdering five Syrians accused of working with media and nongovernmental organizations underscore the need to protect Syrian and Iraqi journalists fleeing the conflict, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The 15-minute video, entitled “Inspiration of Satan,” is marked as having been produced by the local media branch of the Islamic State group in Deir al-Zour, Syria, and was released on June 25 by pro-Islamic State group social media accounts. The video, which CPJ reviewed, shows five men confessing, apparently under duress, to collaborating with various media outlets and nongovernmental organizations. The men also perform re-enactments of their alleged reporting. Militants kill each of the men, all purportedly residents of Deir al-Zour, separately in the video.

Between the apparent murders, a narrator warns all journalists “warring against Islam and the Islamic State” that “soldiers of the Caliphate will reach” them, regardless of their location. The video displays images of journalists whom the group claims to have murdered in Turkey, including Fares Hamadi, Ibrahim Abd al-Qader, and Zaher al-Shurqat, while the narrator warns journalists, “This will be your fate.” The consultancy SITE, which monitors websites and social media accounts of violent Islamist groups, said on its website that the video was from the Islamic State group.

“Journalists from territories controlled by the Islamic State group are fleeing to escape its lethal censorship, yet too often they remain at grave risk where they have taken shelter,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Governments of countries where these journalists have sought refuge must do more to protect them. It is a matter of life and death.”

CPJ is withholding the names of the apparent victims in the June 25 video until their identities and employment can be independently verified. The Islamic State group has previously accused individuals of working for media outlets, forced them to confess, and murdered them, although the news outlet named denied that the victims had worked for it, according to CPJ research.

Militants associated with the Islamic State group have killed at least 27 journalists and media workers around the world, with at least 11 more missing and feared dead.

Separately, independent Syrian cameraman Khaled Eissa succumbed to his wounds on June 24 in a hospital in Antakya, Turkey, according to his friends and news reports. An improvised explosive device planted in front of his colleague Hadi Abdullah’s house in the Syrian city of Aleppo, where Eissa was also staying, injured the two on June 16. No one has claimed responsibility for that attack. Abdullah is in stable condition, recovering from his injuries.

At least 95 journalists have been killed covering the Syrian conflict, according to CPJ research. Only in Iraq have more journalists–174 in total–been killed in relation to their work since 1992.