Islamic State executes female journalist in Raqqa

The Islamic State executed independent citizen journalist Ruqia Hassan in what is believed to be the group’s first capital punishment of a woman for reporting inside its territory, posted citizen journalists from Raqqa on Facebook over the weekend.

Better known by her pseudonym “Nisan Ibrahim,” Hassan wrote about life under IS rule on her personal Facebook page and “often reported on airstrikes in Raqqa as they happened,” Furat al-Wafaa, an independent citizen journalist formerly with the Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign, tells Syria Direct’s Ammar Hammou.

Although the exact date of the execution is unknown, Hassan’s social media reporting abruptly stopped on July 21, 2015. At some point between July and December, Hassan disappeared from Raqqa city.

IS informed Hassan’s family of her execution on charges of “espionage” only three days ago, reported Syrian opposition Arabic-language media on Monday.

In one of her last posts, which was a response to an IS decision to ban Wi-Fi hotspots in Raqqa city, Ruqia showed a capacity for joking about the conditions citizen journalists work under in IS-held territories: “Go ahead and cut off the internet, our messenger pigeons won’t complain,” reads her post from July 20.

Ruqia Hassan’s execution marks the fifth journalist who had covered the Islamic State reported killed since October.

“IS always wants to keep the sword hovering over the people’s necks.”

Q: On January 2, the Islamic State (IS) reportedly executed a female citizen journalist from Raqqa following her arrest and detainment. Is this the first time that IS has executed a woman for involvement in media activity and can you give us background on her story?

Ruqia Hassan was an independent Kurdish journalist from Raqqa known by the pseudonym “Nisan Ibrahim.” She participated in all of the revolution’s protests, from the earliest street demonstrations against the regime up until recent protests against IS. Ruqia continuously challenged IS and often reported on airstrikes on Raqqa as they happened. Her execution is the first time IS has carried out the death penalty against a female citizen journalist.

Q: What does IS seek to achieve from executing citizens and journalists who they accuse of working with foreign media?

IS always wants to keep the sword hovering over the people’s necks. They want their fighters and supporters to know that the Islamic State is capable of taking revenge against those who speak against them.

Ammar Hamou

Ammar Hammou is from Douma city in outer Damascus. He studied journalism at Damascus University and left Syria in 2011.

Orion Wilcox

Orion Wilcox was a 2014-2015 CASA fellow in Amman, Jordan where he interned with the UNRWA Jordan Field Office. He received his BA in Economics and Arabic language from the University of Mississippi. Following the CASA program, Orion worked as a freelance translator and interpreter in Amman.