Somalia orders media blackout on al Shabaab

Saturday October 15 2022

Al-Shabaab militants train at a camp in Somalia's lower Shabelle region on October 20, 2009. PHOTO | FILE


The government of Somalia has banned coverage of al Shabaab propaganda, limiting journalists from reporting on the terror groups’ threats or plans.

The decision published this week includes a list of 10 news sites and one TV channel. This was shorter than a list the government had earlier stated of sources that included 40 websites.

The statement instructed companies handling communication services to take part in promoting Somalia security.

“This order (stopping the sites employed by the terrorists) is based on Article 10 of Somalia’s (provisional) constitution that safeguards the social stability and integrity,” the statement issued October 6th affirmed, underlining that it emphasises respect for human rights.

On Monday, the Ministry of Information issued a directive that “dissemination of extremism ideology messages both from traditional media broadcasts and social media are forbidden.”

Within days, al Shabaab strongly reacted, warning the media not to side with the government. Bayaan (a declaration) issued by the al Qaeda-linked movement stated, “We are hereby warning all the media houses (operating) inside Somalia joining the war against the Islamic Sharia (Islamic laws).”


“Any media that intentionally sides with the (Somali) government will be considered as part of the aggression (against us – al Shabaab),” it added, insisting that the journalists should do their job in a neutral manner.

“You are trustees and must discharge your jobs in full fairness.”

A day after the government order addressed to the media and al Shabaab responded targeting the same addressees.

Journalists are often caught in between the government and Al Shabaab’s wars.

In 2015, then Director of NISA General Abdirahman Mohamud Turyare ordered the media to call al Shabaab by an abbreviation UGUS (Ururka Gumaadka Ummada Soomaaliyeed), which translates into the “Organisation that exists for annihilation of the Somali Nation.”

Days later, al Shabaab messaged journalists to call the government using a similar abbreviation but with different meaning: UGUS (Ururka Gumaynta Ummada Soomaaliyeed), which translates into the “Organisation that exists for the enslavement of Somali Nation.”