Islamic State group militants executed five Syrian media activists in December 2015, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The five are identified as Samer Mohamad al-Aboud, Mahmoud Shaaban al-Haj Kheder, Mohamad Abdulkader al-Essa, Mostafa Haj Hasa and Sami Jodat al-Rabah. They were captured by the group in October 2015 and killed for their coverage of events in Deir el-Zor, in eastern Syria, which was partially held by the group, the Observatory said. It also indicated that news of the killings was delayed until June 2016, when a graphic video purporting to depict the five deaths was released, because no bodies had surfaced and relatives feared retribution.
The Observatory said that the five had been executed on charges of “acting against” the Islamic State group, “communicating with outside parties and receiving funds”, as well as other charges. The video included narration indicating that the Islamic State group is facing a media war and it threatened that journalists who report for the “crusaders” or “enemies of God” – including those in Europe – may be targeted. According to the Observatory, the video shows one activist being “executed by cutting his throat with a knife”; a second is killed “by tying him to his laptop then tying his laptop to explosives and detonating it inside his house”. The third activist “was executed by tying him to a metal door and choking him using an iron chain [and] the fourth one was executed by slaughtering him using a sharp object”. The fifth activist was executed “by hanging his camera to his neck and detonating it after tying him it to the balcony of his house [sic]”.