Anti-ISIS Syrian documentary director assassinated in Gaziantep, Turkey
Libyan News and Agencies
Syrian opposition film-maker was gunned down in broad daylight in the Turkish city of Gazientep on Sunday, apparently by Isil supporters.
Friends said that Naji Jerf, 38, was shot twice in the head after being approached by an unknown car outside of a local restaurant.
Mr Jerf was a vocal critic of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) group which seized large swathes of Syria last year, training citizen journalists from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RBSS), an internationally-praised media collective that exposes the terrorist group’s atrocities inside its de facto Syrian capital.
The father-of-two was directing a film about that media effort, and also worked as editor-in-chief of Hentah, a Syrian magazine that reports on the “daily lives of Syrian citizens”, according to its website.
Another activist said Mr Jerf has been due to travel to France on Monday, where he was believed to be seeking treatment for ill-health.
“We believe it was Isil that did this,” said Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi, a spokesman for RBSS. “Either they thought Naji was one of our members, or they simply did it because they knew how much our guys loved him. Nowhere is safe for us now.”
This is the second time that suspected Isil members have targeted RBSS on Turkish soil, with little apparent response from the local police.
In October, another activist, Ibrahim Abdul Qader, was beheaded in the southern city of Urfa. The killers had posed as Isil defectors, friends said, winning his trust before murdering him in his own home.
But Mr Jerf’s death was public, taking place in the middle of a busy street, and in broad daylight. Photographs from the scene show crowds gathering around the ambulance.
As it consolidates its brutal, sharia-inspired rule, Isil wants to establish a monopoly over how life under its rule is portrayed. Reports published by RBSS have often contradicted that carefully crafted message.
Inside Raqqa, membership of the media group is punishable by imprisonment and even death, reflecting its rare position as a thorn in the side of the jihadists.
“We know we are being watched,” said Mr Raqqawi, speaking from an undisclosed location in southern Turkey. “They think that if they kill all of us, we will stop. But we will never stop, not until the last man.”
RBSS was the winner of this year’s International Press Freedom Award, an accolade that the Committee to Protect Journalists described as an acknowledgement for the reliability and scope of its reporting.
“Syrian journalists who have fled to Turkey for their safety are not safe at all,” said Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa programme coordinator, on Sunday. “We call on Turkish authorities to bring the killers of Naji Jerf to justice swiftly and transparently, and to step up measures to protect all Syrian journalists on Turkish soil.”