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Al-Shabaab member suspected of killing Somali journalists arrested in Kenya

In remembering murdered journalists, the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) welcomes the arrest of former journalist and Al-Shabaab senior member Hassan Hanafi Haji in Nairobi, Kenya. Hassan Hanafi Haji has threatened many journalists to death and is strongly suspected to be the mastermind behind journalists' killings.

11 August 2007 is the particular date when a deadly campaign against Somali journalists and media practitioners started in Mogadishu once the former Director of HornAfrica Radio, Ali Iman Sharmarke, and the former Director of Capital Voice Mahad Ahmed Elmi were cold-bloodedly murdered in Mogadishu.

NUSOJ conducted an investigation into the killings of journalists. Based on evidence, the union concludes that there are strong links between Hassan Hanafi Haji and the murder of 11 journalists in Mogadishu alone, who were killed because of their professional work. Hassan Hanafi Haji telephoned more than 15 journalists and threatened them with death; most of these journalists fled for their lives.

The Kenyan government, who arrested Hassan Hanafi Haji while he was hiding in Nairobi after he was apparently wounded in Somalia, reportedly agreed to extradite the suspected killer and Al-Shabaab senior officer to Mogadishu to finally face the justice he long denied innocent journalists and other civilians.

“We welcome the news that Hassan Hanafi Haji was arrested, however long it has taken, and is being extradited to Mogadishu. It should signal the start of the end to the notion of impunity and should serve as a model for serious investigation of all violent attacks on journalists by Al-Shabaab and other criminal groups,” said Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ Secretary General.

After more than seven years since these gruesome acts against journalists started, NUSOJ calls on the federal government to act swiftly on the case of Hassan Hanafi Haji and ensure justice is meted out, in accordance with the provisions of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which Somalia is a signatory, and which the provisional constitution of Somalia guarantees.

Hassan Hanafi Haji used to work for Radio Holy Quran. After joining Al-Shabaab, he was behind the establishment of Al-Shabaab-owned Radio Al-Furqaan. He was involved in spying on journalists and organising their killings.

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