The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has issued a list of rules that journalists must abide by on penalty of death, Business Insider reported yesterday.
The list of 11 rules are as follows:
1. Correspondents must swear allegiance to the Caliph [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi … they are subjects of the Islamic State and, as subjects, they are obliged to swear loyalty to their imam.
2. Their work will be under the exclusive supervision of the [ISIS] media offices.
3. Journalists can work directly with international news agencies (such as Reuters, AFP and AP), but they are to avoid all international and local satellite TV channels. They are forbidden to provide any exclusive material or have any contact (sound or image) with them in any capacity.
4. Journalists are forbidden to work in any way with the TV channels placed on the blacklist of channels that fight against Islamic countries (such as Al-Arabiya, Al Jazeera and Orient). Violators will be held accountable.
5. Journalists are allowed to cover events in the governorate with either written or still images without having to refer back to the [ISIS] media office. All published pieces and photos must carry the journalist’s and photographer’s names.
6. Journalists are not allowed to publish any reportage (print or broadcast) without referring to the [ISIS] media office first.
7. Journalists may have their own social media accounts and blogs to disseminate news and pictures. However, the ISIS media office must have the addresses and name handles of these accounts and pages.
8. Journalists must abide by the regulations when taking photos within [ISIS territory] and avoid filming locations or security events where taking pictures is prohibited.
9. ISIS media offices will follow up on the work of local journalists within [ISIS territory] and in the state media. Any violation of the rules in place will lead to suspending the journalist from his work, and he will be held accountable.
10. The rules are not final and are subject to change at any time depending on the circumstances and the degree of cooperation between journalists and their commitment to their brothers in the ISIS media offices.
11. Journalists are given a license to practice their work after submitting a license request at the [ISIS] media office.
The news website Syria Deeply, which first uncovered the rules, noted that independent journalists and other activists were threatened with crucifixion if they failed to abide by the rules. Even reporting on the existence of the rules themselves may be grounds for a death sentence. Two journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, have already been beheaded by ISIS.
This is not the first case in which a terrorist organization has attempted to control how the media reports on it. This summer, during Operation Protective Edge, Hamas released “guidelines” for how Palestinians should use social media, demanding that they not post photos of rockets being fired. The Foreign Press Association condemned Hamas for “blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza,” adding:
In several cases, foreign reporters working in Gaza have been harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media.
We are also aware that Hamas is trying to put in place a “vetting” procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists.
In Why Everything Reported from Gaza is Crazy Twisted, which appeared in the August 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, veteran reporter Mark Lavie explored how “[b]rutal intimidation and threats against reporters are so much more effective” than outright censorship. It appears that ISIS is pursuing both methods.
[Photo: VICE News / YouTube]