Said Tahlil Ahmed

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Masked gunmen repeatedly shot Tahlil, director of the independent broadcaster HornAfrik, as he and several other senior journalists were walking through the Bakara Market area of the capital, according to CPJ interviews and news accounts.

The journalists had been summoned to a meeting with members of Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamist group that was apparently displeased with coverage of the January 31 presidential election won by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamic leader. Al-Shabaab had rejected the election and considered the newly elected leader to be a puppet of the West.

The other journalists escaped without serious injury, but Tahlil died at the scene. In a telephone interview, an Al-Shabaab spokesman denied responsibility for the murder.

However, on March 3, 2016, a military court in Mogadishu found Hassan Hanafi, a former journalist and affiliate of the militant group Al-Shabaab, guilty of direct or indirect involvement in the murder, as well as the killings of four other journalists. According to news reports, the court sentenced him to death by execution, which in Somalia is usually carried out by firing squad.

Tahlil became director of HornAfrik after the company’s founder, Ali Sharmarke, was killed in an August 2007 roadside bomb attack in Mogadishu. The director was best known for his Friday news program in which he discussed the week’s top issues. He was survived by a wife and eight children.