Jamal Osman obtained rare access to film in Al Shabaab territory ( Image: Internet Unknown)
The Daily Mirror
By Susan Knox
Channel 4 News has been hit with over 100 Ofcom complaints over Jamal Osman’s ‘Inside Al- Shabaab’ segment.
A petition to pull the segment, which aired on June 15, has accumulated over 100 signatures from ‘horrified’ fans claiming the broadcast was ‘not only damaging to the image of Somalia, but the people who have and are currently suffering from the terrorist acts of Al-Shabaab’.
For more than fifteen years the extremist group has been fighting a bloody insurgency in Somalia.
Formed in 2002, by 2008 the group controlled much of southern Somalia and they soon pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda and began conducting attacks at home and abroad. In the years that have followed, the group’s attacks have become routine with them often killing dozens of civilians a month, as they battle the African Union troops there to try and keep them at bay.
The group are cementing control of their territory, with the aim to take the whole country and implement strict Sharia law.
In last week’s segment for Channel 4 News, Jamal Osman obtained rare access to film in Al Shabaab territory and travelled to their de facto capital Jilib.
Following the release of the footage, some viewers are outraged by Osman’s segment as they believe the correspondent has ‘misrepresented the image of Somalia by falsely stating that one third of the country is under the control of Al- Shabaab’.
The petition to remove the segment from Channel 4 News states: “The Al Shabaab is a world recognised terrorist organisation, who in the past decade have carried out multiple suicide bombings and terrorist attacks that have took the lives of thousands of Somalis. They have also carried out multiple assassinations on many public figures and leaders who have opposed their actions.
“Osman’s segment has misrepresented the image of Somalia by falsely stating that one third of the country is under the control of Al- Shabaab, a terrorist organisation.”
It also claims: “Osman has been painting Al-Shabaab in a positive image, endorsing their agenda and promoting their regime. Osman, on multiple segments, has attempted to depict Al-Shabaab as saviors, heroes, and as a humanitarian organisation that is aiding those who are undergoing famines and droughts. Osman praises their military training and expresses admiration for their leadership.
“On one of his segments, he visits a barber shop where he interviews the owner, a man named Abdirahman, who moved to Jilib – an Al-Shabaab controlled territory. During the interview, he includes clips of Abdirahman listing all the ‘positive’ aspects of living under the control of Al-Shabaab, one of them being that he was able to overcome his drug addiction due to their banning of drugs.”
The petition goes on to suggest that Osman appears to express ‘admiration’ for the terrorist organisation.
“He expresses admiration for Al-Shabaab by claiming they are opening dozens of schools and ‘educating the future generations’ by teaching them subjects such as math, computer science and English. He states they are encouraging ‘women to work, girls to go to school and that they don’t force women to cover their faces.’
“In another one of his segments, he praises Al-Shabaab for building a hospital stating it is because they are ‘worried about the health and safety of the community.
“These segments are glamorising Al-Shabaab and promoting terrorist ideologies to younger audiences. With your help, we would like to put an end to this false depiction of the impact Al-Shabaab has had on Somalia.”
However, others have praised the segment, suggesting that Osman’s work has shed light on an important topic.
“Excellent reporting, thank you. All this is very important to watch,” one Twitter user shared.
“This is such a birds-eye look into a really tough situation for those living in Somalia and surrounding areas,” another addd.
The Mirror has reached out to a spokesperson for Channel 4 for comment on this story.