ISIS executes citizen journalist

ISIS Executes Female Citizen Journalist

Activist group “Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered” (RBSS) is reporting that citizen journalist Ruqia Hassani, who wrote under the pen name Nissan Ibrahim, has been executed by the militant group ISIS.

Ruqia Hassani was a resident of Raqqa, ISIS’ de facto capital in Syria. She was one of a handful of people who took heroic action to expose the plight of her people and her city under ISIS occupation. Ruqia would regularly report on ISIS executions, and human rights abuses. As well as this, she would often report on airstrikes as they happened. This kind of reporting is of some assistance to the coalition fighting ISIS, as the city is effectively sealed to outsiders. Real time reports of strikes provide vital targeting information, and also assist with a process known as “Battle Damage Assessment” (BDA), which is an important step in any attack.

Military analysts and journalists have frequently pointed to the difficulty of getting information out of Raqqa. Only a handful of professional journalists have been anywhere near the city since ISIS took over the city in a bloodless coup in 2013. Rebel group the Al Nasra front had liberated Raqqa from Syrian government forces under Assad in May, 2013. A combination of disunity and cells of youth activists supporting ISIS meant that a few months later, the rebels were forced to retreat to a neighboring town, and ISIS moved in.

ISIS executes journalist
The ISIS occupation of parts of Syria has caused wave after wave of refugees.
[Photo by Getty Images/John Moore]
While this would indicate significant levels of local support for the militant group, many who had been resident within the town itself were dismayed. Some fled the area, but others opted to stay and resist the extremists in any way they could. Ruqia Hassani was one of these brave souls. Twitter, as well as other social media platforms, are a key tool in the dissemination of ISIS propaganda. Citizen journalists like Ruqia made use of the fact that the occupiers of her city were thus unable to completely cut the city off from the internet.

Ruqia’s reporting was not only functional — she had gained quite a following due to her wry sense of humor, as well. When ISIS outlawed public wifi hotspots in the city, she posted on Facebook in response to the ban. “Go ahead and cut off our internet, our messenger pigeons won’t complain.” Because of the confusion surrounding Raqqa, Ruqia Hassani was frequently mistaken for a member of activist group RBSS, who conduct similar acts of civil disobedience through citizen reporting. Abu Mohammed, the war name used by a prominent RBSS reporter, was at pains to point out that Ruqia was completely independent, even as he posted tributes to her bravery on Twitter. Abu Mohammed also posted her reported last words.

The exact date of her execution is unknown, but Ruqia’s online activity, through which she did most of her reporting, abruptly stopped on July 21 last year, according to media organisation Syria: Direct. It is believed that she is the fifth citizen journalist to be murdered for reporting on ISIS.

Sources inside the city of Raqqa are rare, but it is thought that this is the city in which ISIS has its most fully realized form of “government.” Syria Untold reports that as well as the organization’s usual crimes against humanity, ISIS enforced dress codes, segregated (but continued) public education, and took over law enforcement operations, though many claim that this was merely a front for a protection-style racket. Some refugees have variously reported that civic functions, such as garbage collection and the public celebration of holy days and festivals, continue under ISIS. All witnesses, however, attest to the numerous executions, rapes, and murders committed by the extremist group.

[Image via Twitter]