Bilal Sharaf al-Deen

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Sharaf al-Deen, a cameraman for the Houthi-owned Al-Masirah TV, was killed while covering airstrikes launched by a Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebel forces, his outlet and colleagues told CPJ. Al-Masirah’s news director, Najeeb al-Ashmory, told CPJ that Sharaf al-Deen had gone to cover an airstrike in the northern Sana’a neighborhood of al-Jeraf when he was killed by a second airstrike.

Reuters reported that the airstrikes were targeting a Houthi leader who was not in his house at the time. But Al-Arabiya said the bombing had targeted secret weapon caches. The bombs that night killed at least nine people, including women and children, and injured several more, the Reuters report said.

Sharaf al-Deen was the sixth journalist or media worker to be killed by Saudi-coalition bombings in three separate incidents in 2015, according to CPJ research. As of September 21, 2015, the Saudi embassy in Washington, D.C. failed to respond to multiple requests for comment via phone and email about journalists killed by coalition bombing.

Houthi rebels took control of the capital, Sana’a, and other cities in September 2014, eventually forcing the government to resign, according to news reports. On March 25, 2015, a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of 10 countries began launching air strikes, targeting territory controlled by the Houthi militia, in an attempt to restore the exiled president who fled Yemen later that month as the Houthis increased their control over the country. Around the time that the air strikes began, outlets critical of the Houthis or affiliated with coalition governments were raided by Houthi forces and their staff temporarily detained, according to CPJ research.

Al-Ashmory told CPJ that Sharaf al-Deen began working for Al-Masirah TV in 2012. A video broadcast by the station said he reported on the conflict from all over Yemen and that he had also worked as a producer.

Sharaf al-Deen had posted many pictures of himself on Facebook in which he was wielding guns and wearing military-style clothing; in some of the posts, he wrote that he stood guard at neighborhood checkpoints and that it was people’s duty to defend their country against internal and external threats.

Al-Ashmory told CPJ Sharaf al-Deen was not a fighter and had posted the pictures to support the army. Another journalist, Assad al-Emad, editor-in-chief of the website Yemen News Gate who studied at Sana’a University with Sharaf al-Deen, told CPJ that Sharaf al-Deen did not participate in fighting and was a supporter of Houthi forces.

On the day he died, there was no fighting in Sana’a, with the exception of the coalition airstrikes, according to news reports.

Sharaf al-Deen, 25, was buried on September 18, 2015.