It would appear that whoever is behind the kidnapping of journalists in Syria doesn’t welcome the press coverage they’ve been getting during the conflict. It’s reasonable to assume that there is some kind of underlying rationale. So given that ISIS is generally believed to be the prime culprit, one has to ask: how does this benefit the al Qaeda group?
After all, for members of al Qaeda in Syria or anywhere else there’s little if any friendly press coverage. Likewise, most of the coverage ISIS gets tends to inflate perceptions of the group’s power, so in a sense all coverage, however grizzly, can be seen to serve the group’s interests.
The overall impact of the spate of kidnappings has been to greatly diminish the number of foreign journalists willing to enter Syria and to amplify the international perception of rebel-controlled Syria as a lawless and hostile environment. Who benefits from both of these factors? The Assad regime. Yet if the regime was believed to have a direct role in the kidnappings, this would seriously undermine the PR campaign that it has been waging with increasing success on the international stage. Much better to outsource the task to a group that has no image to protect.
Press Freedom Now: Syria is currently the most dangerous country for journalists. In fact, all of us at Press Freedom Now have never seen anything like it and have never had so many colleagues go missing before.
For those of us who have worked in Syria, this conflict zone makes previous experiences covering conflict look a bit like walks in the park. At least 30 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria or disappeared since the start of the conflict in 2011.
Early in the Syrian Civil War it appeared that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the kidnappings of journalists. In recent months however, as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) has risen in prominence in Syria, it has become clear that ISIS is responsible for most kidnappings of journalists.[Continue reading…]