Islamist militants in Somalia have taken control of major independent radio stations in their bid to infiltrate the Somali public with extreme Islamic propaganda and overthrow the transitional government backed by the United Nations and the United States.
Militants of the al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam rebellion stormed and seized the stations Horn Afrik and GBC, the country’s best known independent broadcasters.
Security guards at the stations were blindfolded and beaten by the militiamen, who then moved through the building seizing radio equipment and electronic gadgets. The staffs were chased out of the building.
Somalia’s Mogadishu residents often rely on radio information to be updated on which areas are unsafe, or where the next violent attacks may occur.
But following the recent militant takeover of Horn Afrik and GBC, residents can expect extreme Islamist propaganda as other stations captured by the militants have been used to broadcast their propaganda.
Rebels of the al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam movement have targeted media by killing journalists and prohibiting music from the airwaves.
In May, al-Shabab gunmen shot and killed a journalist from the state-run Radio Mogadishu as he was heading home. In August, the manager of Radio Hurma was killed by a stray bullet.
Al-Shabab has links to al-Qaeda and controls much of southern and central Somalia while the UN and U.S backed government is confined to a few areas in Mogadishu despite the over 6000 strong African Union forces present.
Al-Shabab is fighting to take over the Somali government and install its own radical interpretation of Islamic law.