Hassan Osman Abdi, also known as Hassan Fantastic, head of Radio Shabelle, was shot and killed outside his home; the third director to be gunned down. The threats to Somalia journalists extend beyond Radio Shabelle’s uncensored editorial policies.
On Saturday, January 28, 2012, 29-year-old father of three and uncensored radio journalist Hassan Osman Abdi was shot several times in the head and shoulders as he returned home. The gunman have yet to be identified, although it is highly suspected that al-Shabab is responsible, according to statements made by Mohamed Ibrahim, NUSOJ secretary-general, to Al Jazeera.
Hassan Osman Abdi’s assassination is not the first of its kind among journalists for Shabelle Media Network. Radio Shabelle has lost five journalists, including three directors, since 2007. The uncensored radio station often speaks out against government corruption, extortion and al-Shabab militants. Mohamed Amiin Adow, a representative for the station, told Al Jazeera:
“We have been targeted because of our uncensored editorial policy … We focus on the government, especially for corruption. Sometimes we find threats from them. The government threatens to arrest our journalists.”
Threats to the station’s journalists occur on a daily basis. Station editor Muhyadin Hassan told the Associated Press they fear returning home because their homes and families are being watched; they often sleep at the radio station.
Shabelle Media Network journalists are not the only target. Since 2007, approximately 25 Somalia journalists were murdered, with nine occurring in 2009 alone. Hassan Osman Abdi’s murder is the first journalist assassination to occur in 2012, however, Somalia journalists feel there is an increased risk with this being the second death in less than 2 months.
The Community to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported the death of 38-year-old Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan, a broadcast journalist for Horn Cable TV, was shot in the head December 18 on his way to a press conference.
As was the case with Hassan Osman Abdi, Abdisalan Sheikh Hassan received several death threats and phone messages prior to the assassination.