Al-Baher, a producer and technician for the privately owned channel Nineveh al-Ghad, was taken by Islamic State militants in April 2015 and his body was returned to his family the following month, several of his colleagues told CPJ. The militants said the pretext for his murder was “treason,” the colleagues said.
Al-Baher, also known as Firas Yasin al-Jabouri, worked for five years as a video producer and technician for Al-Mosuliya TV, a local channel established by the U.S. in 2007 that was forced to close when Islamic State seized Mosul in June 2014. In early 2014, al-Baher joined the Nineveh al-Ghad station as a coordinator of news output and a technician, an employee at the station, who asked not to be named due to security concerns, told CPJ. Nineveh al-Ghad was established by former Mosul governor Atheel Nujaifi, who also funds the channel. Both channels have been critical of Islamic State in their reporting.
On April 17, 2015, al-Baher’s home was raided by Islamic State fighters, another former al-Mosuliya TV employee, who has not been named to protect his identity, said. The men looked through the contacts on al-Baher’s computer and phone and found the numbers of police chiefs and other security officials, which the militants said showed he was collaborating with the previous government, the colleague said. Al-Baher was brought to an unofficial court Islamic State had set up in the headquarters of the anti-terrorism police in Mosul, where he was accused of treason. He was murdered on the banks of the Tigris, the colleague said.
A friend of al-Baher who was also employed at Nineveh al-Ghad, told CPJ how after hearing rumours in May 2015 that al-Baher had been killed, he spoke to the journalist’s parents. They told him that on May 17, 2015 the family received a call to go to the coroner’s office and identify the body of their son which, when they got there, appeared to have been shot several times. Al-Baher was killed at some point during his month-long incarceration, but CPJ was unable to determine the precise date.
Ahmad al-Rubaie, who works for the Iraqi monitoring group Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, told CPJ that al-Baher previously worked for the police, but added that journalists were being directly targeted by Islamic State.