October 16, 2014 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Confusion about Iraqi journalist’s reported death in Mosul

Contradictory information has been circulating since 13 October about Mohanad Al-Aqidi, an Iraqi journalist thought to be held by the Jihadi group Islamic State in Mosul (in Nineveh province). Many local media reported on 13 October that Islamic State had killed him. But other sources insisted the next day that he was still alive.
The reports of Mohanad Al-Aqidi’s death spread very rapidly in Iraq on 13 October. Several sources in Baghdad and Mosul confirmed his death to Reporters Without Borders and other NGOs and news media, saying Islamic State had shot him several times in the head in Mosul’s Al-Ghazlani camp. The information was also confirmed by a Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesman, a medical centre and a source close to the journalist who does not want to be identified. They said the body had been given to the family, and that the body bore the marks of torture as well as what appeared to be three gunshot wounds to the head. Local media even expressed outrage that Islamic State had forbidden any mourning ceremony by the family. However, the next morning, several local media reported that Al-Aqidi’s family had denied that he had been killed. These media said the family had asked news organizations to stop reporting his death in order to not put him in any further danger, as Islamic State is still apparently holding him. It is currently very hard to get any reliable information from either Iraq or Syria. This example of contradictory information demonstrates the difficulty or even impossibility for journalists to work. These regions are “news black holes” that block the free flow of information and keep the world in the dark about the reality on the ground in territory controlled by Islamic State. Reporters Without Borders is still trying to establish the fate of several journalists in these occupied regions.