Militants from the Islamic State group murdered Samer Mohammed Aboud, a radio journalist and writer in Deir al-Zour, Syria, his colleague confirmed to the Committee to Protect Journalists following the release of a graphic video showing his murder. The video also shows the killing of four other Syrian journalists and media workers.
The Islamic State group on June 25, 2016, released a 15-minute video showing the murder of five Syrians accused of working with media and nongovernmental organizations in Deir al-Zour. The 15-minute video, entitled “Inspiration of Satan,” is marked has having been produced by the local media branch of the Islamic State group in Deir al-Zour. The video, which CPJ reviewed, shows the five men confessing, apparently under duress, to collaborating with various media outlets and nongovernmental organizations. The men also perform re-enactments of their alleged reporting.
Aboud was a producer and reporter for Free Deir al-Zour Radio, a radio station opposed to the Syrian government and to the Islamic State group. He had begun working as a journalist in 2011 and had taken up a formal role with Free Deir al-Zour Radio at the beginning of 2012, Abu Abdul Rahman, a producer at the channel, told CPJ. Aboud, who was also known as Abu Jafaar, reported on politics in Deir al-Zour until militants from the Islamic State group overran most of the province in mid-2014. Under the rule of the Islamic State group, Aboud shifted the focus of his reporting to social issues, such as the impact of the war on food prices, and did not directly criticize the Islamic State group, Abu Abdul Rahman said.
Aboud’s colleagues believe he was abducted in early October 2015, shortly after a senior Egyptian figure from the Islamic State group arrived in the city and imposed tighter restrictions on journalists, Abu Abdul Rahman told CPJ.
The exact date of his death is unclear. In December 2015, several Syrian opposition news websites reported that four journalists, including Aboud, had been murdered by the militant group in Deir al-Zour. Some of these reports cited causes of death different than those depicted in the video.
In the video, Aboud confesses — apparently under duress — to working for the Development Interaction Network, a news website. Aboud says he reported on the impact of the war on Deir al-Zour, including on the fluctuation of food prices and on the local police, as well as battlefield developments. A militant from the Islamic State group then stabs Aboud in the neck with a knife in the middle of a street.
The Development Interaction Network has not published any articles or post posts to their social media channels since October 2015, when Aboud is believed to have been kidnapped. CPJ has not been able to reach the outlet for comment.
Abu Abdul Rahman confirmed to CPJ that Aboud was a contributor to the website in addition to his work for Free Deir al-Zour Radio. The radio station has effectively gone underground since the new media regulations and the kidnap of Aboud, Abu Abdul Rahman said. Their reporters continue to collate daily news, but often struggle to broadcast, fearing repercussions from the militant group.