Saturday, June 21, 2014

Somalia: Journalist, 27, Killed by IED Placed in Vehicle, Detailed Car Search Could Have Saved His Life

According to, Somalian journalist Yusuf Ahmed Abukar, 27, was driving through Mogadishu's Hamarweyne District on his way to work when an IED that had been placed in his private vehicle was detonated via remote control.  
Abukar, a prominent journalist who also used the name, Yusuf Keynan, had worked with the private Mogadishu FM station Mustaqbal and also contributed to the Kenya-based UN humanitarian radio station, Ergo 
COMMENT: Having worked in high-threat nations most of my adult life, I strongly suggest that all journalists, expats, entrepreneurs, AID workers, etc. develop an innate skill in how to conduct a hasty screening of their vehicle that be conducted in less than TEN minutes. 

Without any knowledge of IEDs, this search effort can deter serious injury or death in 70% of the cases.
1. Open the engine well to display the vehicle's engine:

a. Look for anything unusual that may be connected to the engine, particularly stemming from the battery, which is very often used as a power source for IEDs;

b. Remote-control is often used as an initiator, so finding a cell-phone or other initiator connected to the battery is a likely indicator;

c. Look for any wires stemming from the gas-tank opening or the engine well;

d. I urge all possible targets of an IED to keep their trunk [boot] completely empty in order to speed up the search process;

e. Get down on your hands and knees and with a well-charged flashlight, scan the entirety of the undercarriage for any evidence of suspicious devices or material. Very often a pipe-bomb or other initiator may be found during the search;  

f. Many bomb-makers may use infrared or motion-activated IEDs once the vehicle is underway, potentially resulting in a detonation;

g. Now, the important thing to remember! If you denote anything during the search that may be suspicious, STOP what you are doing, DO not turn the engine "on" and call the nearest "Bomb Squad"; and

h. Walk calmly away from the vehicle at least 500 feet and wait for the police to arrive. 

It is a very shocking tragedy," journalist Abdifatah Halane told the German news agency DPA.
Abukar had become relatively well-known for criticizing both the Somali government and al-Shabaab, which has of late launched attacks on the Parliament in the capital and abroad in Kenya.
The downside is that if journalists excel in their profession and tell the truth, in the absence of precautionary efforts, they sadly may become a statistic.

In 2013, Abukar won the United Nations' Somalia Media Ward. "We condemn the heinous murder of our colleague and call for the prompt investigation into [his death], National Union of Somali Journalist Secretary-General Mohamed Ibrahim said.
Global media watchdog groups consider Somalia one of the most dangerous places in the world to work as a journalist.

In 2012, 18 journalists died in the line of duty, followed by seven more in 2013. Counting Abukar, two have died thus far in 2014.
No group has claimed responsibility for killing Abukar, yet al-Shabaab is a reasonable guess.