Globally, 61 journalists were killed in 2014. The Middle East was the deadliest region, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) in the organization’s year-end report. Almost half of the journalists killed last year died in the Middle East, with Syria being the deadliest country for journalists for the third year in a row. At least 17 journalists were killed in Syria as the civil war rages on. A total of seventy-nine journalists have lost their lives in Syria since the conflict began in 2011.
These deaths represent a decrease from 2013, a year in which 70 journalists lost their lives. But, the past three years have been the deadliest worldwide since 1992 when the CPJ began documenting journalists’ killings.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) contributed to 2014 being the deadly year that it was for international correspondents. And, included in this death toll were American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, whose abominable beheadings by ISIL jihadists were published by the terrorist group in online videos back in August and September.
French journalist, Nicolas Henin, who was held hostage by Syrian rebels has given a horrifying account of his captivity at the hands of an Islamic terrorist by the name of Mehdi Nemmouche. Nemmouche, a French citizen of Algerian origin, tortured Henin while also boasting about beheading women and children.
For a while, Henin was held with James Foley. Fortunately, Henin was released last year in April, but recalls how Nemmouche seemed to take perverse pleasure in describing the barbarous acts he had committed while fighting with ISIL. For example, according to Henin, Nemmouche said: “Do you know what happens when I go into a Shi’ite home? First, there’s the grandmother — I only use one bullet on her, she’s not worth more — then the wife. First, I rape her, then I cut her throat.”
Nemmouche goes on: “Then I come to the baby. Ah, a baby! You cannot imagine the pleasure you get from cutting off a baby’s head.” Nemmouche, 29, is described as being the most brutal of the French jihadist guards who monitored the hostages in the basement of a hospital in Aleppo. “The torture went on all night, until prayers at dawn,” Henin wrote in Le Point magazine. “The howls of the prisoners alternated with shouts in French.”
The following are excerpts from a New York Times article, written by Theo Padnos, an American Journalist, on Being Kidnapped, Tortured and Released in Syria:
“In October 2012, however, when I was first kidnapped, I used to sit in my cell — a former consulting room in the Children’s Hospital in Aleppo — in a state of unremitting terror. In those first days, my captors laughed as they beat me. Sometimes they pushed me to the floor, seized hold of a pant leg or the scruff of my jacket and dragged me down the hospital corridor. If someone seemed to take an interest in the scene, I would scream: ‘Sa’adni’ (‘Help me!’) The onlookers would smirk. Sometimes they called out a mocking reply in English: ‘Ooo, helb me! Ooo, my God, helb me!’”
“I’m not sure how long this beating lasted — perhaps an hour, perhaps only 20 minutes. Toward the end, I heard the leader approach and braced myself for another blow. It didn’t come. Instead, he knelt close to me and whispered in my ear: ‘I hate Americans. All of them. I hate you all.’”
“Eventually, one of the more educated guards explained to me that as a Christian and an American, I was his enemy. Islam compelled him to hate me.
‘Does it really?’ I asked.
Yes, he said.”
There are others, who are not part of the media—literally thousands of people, mostly women who continue to be held captive by Islamic terrorist groups, including ISIL, al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate al-Nusra Front and Nigeria-based Boko Haram.
In Saudi Arabia, Raif Badawi, a blogger, has been charged with apostasy. According to the authorities Badawi insulted Islam and was disobedient. The court ended up dismissing the apostasy charge but the case was returned to a lower court in which he faced other charges.
What type of sentence did he receive for the other charges?
He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail. The flogging will be carried out weekly at a rate of 50 lashes per week.
These brave, courageous journalists are heroes. As are those who continue to speak out against the cowardly acts of depravity perpetrated by terrorists.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.