December 31, 2015 | The Jerusalem Post

Report: Islamist Terrorism Responsible for 40% of Journalists’ Deaths in 2015

Islamist-animated terrorism caused the largest number of journalists’ deaths in 2015, according to a Tuesday report from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which executed eight journalists at the headquarters of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, along with Islamic State killings of journalists, contributed a death toll of 28 from a total of 69 murdered reporters.

In 2014, the CPJ registered the deaths of 61 journalists.

According to the 2015 report tallying the killings of journalists, “40 percent died at the hands of Islamic militant groups such as al-Qaida and Islamic State.”

Syria earned the No. 1 ranking for the most dangerous location for journalists; it was Syria’s fourth year in the top spot. A total of 13 journalists died in Syria. The report said the number of murdered journalists declined in 2015 in Syria, because fewer journalists are willing to work in the war-ravaged country.

Additional journalists paid the ultimate price for their work in Iraq, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Sudan, and Yemen. In a startling designation, a Western European country – France – was listed as the second most dangerous work environment for reporters. The deaths of eight Charlie Hebdo journalists in January, coupled with a journalist killed in November while reporting on Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan Theater, explained the CPJ listing of France.

Islamic State terrorists killed 130 people in spree of terrorist attacks in November, which included the Bataclan Theater.

CPJ editorial director Elana Beiser, who wrote the report, noted that, “Worldwide, more than two thirds of the journalists killed in 2015 were singled out for murder in reprisal for their work – in line with the historical average but a greater percentage than CPJ has recorded over the past five years.”

She wrote, “ Islamic State in October murdered two Syrian journalists, Fares Hamadi and Ibrahim Abd al-Qader, who were living in exile in Turkey.

Abd al-Qader was an early member of Raqaa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a Syrian citizen journalist group honored with CPJ’s 2015 International Press Freedom Award.”

According to Beiser’s report, “In Bangladesh, members of an al-Qaida affiliate or another local extremist group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, were suspected in the hacking or stabbing murders of a publisher and four bloggers, including US-Bangladeshi writer Avijit Roy, who was attending a book fair when he was killed.”

She wrote that, ”In Pakistan, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the shooting of Zaman Mehsud, president and secretary- general of the Tribal Union of Journalists’ South Waziristan chapter and reporter for the Urdu-language Daily Ummat and Daily Nai Baat newspapers.

“ Islamist terrorism reached Somalia in 2015. Hindia Haji Muhammad, a journalist for state-run broadcasters, was blown up in the bombing of her car in an attack claimed by the Islamic group al-Shabaab.

The New York-based CPJ report did not included the murder of Syrian journalist Naji Jerf in Gaziantep, Turkey on Sunday. Jerf worked as a documentary filmmaker covering the war crimes of the Islamic State. CPJ is still investigation Jerf’s killing.

“South Sudan, Poland and Ghana appeared on CPJ’s killed database for the first time, “said the author Beiser.

According to a list compiled by CPJ of the 10 countries where the press is most censored, Saudi Arabia was listed as No.

3 and Iran as No. 7. Eritrea and North Korea are the first and second most censored countries worldwide, the report said.

A total of 1,175 journalists have been killed since 1992, according to CPJ’s documentation.

Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow him on Twitter @BenWeinthal