Omar Younis al-Ghaafiqi, a video journalist and technician, was kidnapped by Islamic State militants on October 12, 2014, al-Ghaafiqi’s wife, who preferred not to disclose her identity, told CPJ via messaging app on July 24, 2020.
Al-Ghaafiqi worked for Sama Mosul, a TV channel established and run under the patronage of former Mosul governor Atheel Nujaifi. On June 10, 2014, the day Islamic State militants seized Mosul, the station closed immediately over fears its staff may be targeted by the militants, Akram Tawfeek, former general director of the local broadcaster Sama Mosul, told CPJ during a series of interviews in the Iraqi city of Irbil in October 2015.
A few weeks after the station closed, al-Ghaafiqi, 22, was kidnapped from his home with his father, who is a government employee, a colleague and friend of al-Ghaafiqi, who asked not to be named out of security concerns, told CPJ in October 2015. However, al-Ghaafiqi’s wife told CPJ in 2020 that he was kidnapped in October 2014.
After the takeover of Mosul in June 2014, Islamic State created a monopoly over information in the territory under its control and accounts of life inside Mosul, including the fate of missing and abducted journalists, became heavily censored and almost impossible to verify, according to CPJ research.
Tawfeek and several other Sama Mosul employees, with whom CPJ spoke and who have not been named to protect their identity, said they believed al-Ghaafiqi was dead because his name appeared on a list of 2,070 people Islamic State claims to have killed. The list was posted in police stations and at coroner’s offices in September 2015. A Sama Mosul employee told CPJ he had seen a copy of the list and that al-Ghaafiqi’s name was on it. CPJ could not independently confirm the details of the list.
Although the journalists with whom CPJ spoke say al-Ghaafiqi was named on the list, no body was returned to his family, Jamal Badrani, a Mosul reporter living in exile, told CPJ.
In a report published in October 2015, the local press freedom group Journalistic Freedom Observatory (JFO) said that al-Ghaafiqi was executed by Islamic State on March 15, 2015, for violating Sharia court orders and leaking information to foreign media.
The same report said that Islamic State did not hand over al-Ghaafiqi’s body to the family.
Al-Ghaafiqi’s friend and former university colleague Osama Omar al-Obady told CPJ via messaging app on July 23, 2020, that no new information has emerged about the journalist’s whereabouts since he was kidnapped by Islamic State in October 2014.
“We (friends and family) have tried hard to know what happened to him, but unfortunately we couldn’t find him. I talked to his wife about a year ago and she told me they have been searching for him, but they found nothing. Omar’s father was also abducted by IS over five years ago and his fate remains also unknown,” al-Obady said.
Al-Ghaafiqi’s wife told CPJ that she had not heard anything about al-Ghaafiqi since his disappearance and that requests for information she addressed to Islamic State went unanswered.
“IS considered him an apostate because of his work for the Sama Mosul channel, so they refused to disclose any information about him,” she said.