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Female activist killed by the Islamic State posted this final defiant message
The Islamic State summarily executed a female citizen journalist who served as a source of news and information about life in the organization's de facto capital, according to activists.
News of Ruqia Hassan's death emerged this week, but she's believed to have been detained by the Islamic State six months ago and killed three months ago, according to a Syrian activist hiding in Turkey who did not want to be named because of safety concerns. Hassan's family still lived in Raqqa, Syria, at the time of her death, but they have since escaped to another part of the country, the activist said.
Hassan, 30, was known as "Nissan Ibrahim" online. While Hassan didn't work with any specific group, she supplied information to other activists in exile about the conditions and latest news in Raqqa, the activist said.
An activist monitoring group, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, posted a screenshot of what it describes as Hassan's last public Facebook comment from July. She wrote that she was in Raqqa and had received death threats, including when the Islamic State will "arrest me and kill me."
"It's okay because they will cut my head," she wrote. "And I have dignity, it's better than I live in humiliation" under the Islamic State.
Hassan had attended Aleppo University, where she studied philosophy, and she later joined the opposition in Raqqa to President Bashar al-Assad, the Guardian reported. She refused to leave the city after the Islamic State took control of the area, according to the Guardian.
Activists who live in Islamic State-controlled territory face great peril for documenting atrocities committed by the radical al-Qaeda offshoot, which is also known as ISIS and ISIL. A prominent member of Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently and an activist friend were found dead, shot and beheaded, in southern Turkey over the summer.
While some believe Hassan may be the first female citizen journalist to be killed by the Islamic State, she isn't the first female activist to suffer such a fate, according to the Raqqa organization.
Hassan operated independently of any known group, and she maintained a lively Facebook presence, posting messages laden with dry humor, daily musings and earnest hopes for the future. She mocked an Islamic State crackdown on WiFi hotspots, writing "Go ahead and cut off the internet, our messenger pigeons won't complain," according to CNN.
Her last public message was posted on July 21. Some activists wondered whether militants then took control of her social media accounts in order to get information about her contacts. But her profile is now locked under Facebook's remembering setting, used for those who have died.
In July — days before Hassan's Facebook profile went dark — she offered a prayer as coalition aircraft came to Raqqa. "May God protect the civilians and take the rest," she wrote. Days later, she wrote that "after each hardship comes good things," according to the Guardian.
[Source: By Elahe Izadi and Liz Sly, The Washington Post, 07Jan16]
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