Jamal Farah Adan

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In the evening of March 1, 2021, two unidentified men shot and killed Jamal Farah Adan, a Somali journalist, while he was seated outside a shop he ran in the northern part of the city of Galkayo, in the semiautonomous state of Puntland, according to media reports and separate statements published by two local press rights groups, the Media Association of Puntland and the Mogadishu-based Somali Journalists Syndicate.

Jamal had posted on his Facebook account, where he published commentary and reporting, that he had received threats from the militant group Al-Shabaab. On that group’s broadcaster, Radio Andalus, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for Jamal’s killing, according to news reports and a recording of the broadcast, which CPJ reviewed.

Jamal, who was in his fifties, had worked as a journalist since the 1990s, variously as a radio reporter, editor, and media manager, at outlets including the privately owned stations Radio Daljir, Radio Garowe, and Radio Galkayo; more recently he had published commentary and reports on two separate Facebook pages that have about 5,300 and 14,500 followers respectively, according to CPJ’s review of the pages, the rights groups’ statements, and Abadir Abdulkadir Elmi, president of the media rights group the Federation of Somali Journalists (FESOJ), who knew Jamal personally and spoke to CPJ via messaging app.

Jamal’s recent posts included commentary about Somalia’s electoral crisis, in which he was critical of federal President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, and interviews with local taxi drivers upset about the depreciation of the local currency.

Jamal was also critical of Al-Shabaab; in a December 28 video, he urged residents of Galkayo to rise against the militant group and claimed that local officials had conspired to help some militants escape justice; in that video he also said that an unidentified militant had threatened him in a phone call, and vowed to avenge himself against any member of the group who tried to kill him.

In a January 2 Facebook video, Jamal claimed to have survived an assassination attempt by a member of Al-Shabaab, saying that he had captured the attacker and handed him over to the police. He also said he would find Al-Shabaab’s operatives in Galkayo, and urged local residents to assist police in stopping attacks. 

In the Radio Andalus clip reviewed by CPJ, a presenter accused Jamal of being an apostate, of spying on the Muslim community, and of inciting residents of Galkayo against Al-Shabaab. The presenter’s allegations were interspersed with recordings said to be of Jamal, in which he spoke out against the group.

In a statement issued following Jamal’s killing, Puntland’s regional president, Said Abdullahi Deni, whose government controls the northern part of Galkayo, condemned the killing and directed security personnel to arrest the perpetrators.

Mumin Abdi Shire, a police commander in the region who spoke to CPJ via messaging app, said that police had identified three suspects as of March 12, and shared that information with a commission appointed by the president to investigate the case. On March 24, Mumin said that arrests had been made and that details would be provided at a later date.

Puntland presidential spokesperson Jama Deperani did not answer CPJ’s repeated calls or respond to multiple WhatsApp messages. CPJ emailed Puntland’s state house for comment but did not receive any response.