Commissioned by Channel 4 News
“This is a group that we don’t normally see up close and personal, and this gave us a glimpse into how they operate. The story overall just had enormous amount of nuance and context and was very beautifully shot, really well done.”
-News Features Award Jury
Jamal Osman gained unprecedented access to Mahad Karat, leader of a resurgent al-Shabaab and the group itself, in Somalia earlier this year. In a brave and ground-breaking film he was able to hold Karate to account in a way that no journalist has done before. Despite the buzzing of American drones, as the interview took place Jamal calmly interrogated the man with a 5 million dollar bounty on his head. His answers were illuminating and chilling, especially when the viewer saw the most recent class of graduates from Shabaab’s own training school, fully armed and ready to continue the deadly attacks which are the group’s signature, both inside and outside Somalia. Throughout the film Jamal maintained a critical distance, questioning those he spoke to sensitively and respectfully, but never letting anyone off the hook.
What emerged in the film was a portrait that no other journalist could have produced of a society in development which had submitted a brutal regime.
Jamal Osman has been a freelance journalist since 2008. He was worked on stories in Europe and the United States as well as in the UK. His speciality has become telling stories from Africa by gaining access to regions and figures that others have not been able to. In the past 2 years Jamal has filed a succession of important reports from Ethiopia chronicling the countries descent in civil and inter-ethnic war. As ever he has been able to use local contacts to gain access to some of the worst effected areas to tell stories that viewers would not get from any other journalist. He has returned time and time again to his native Somalia to tell stories ranging from the challenges facing disabled athletes, to drought and conflict. Elsewhere he has covered the boom in cobalt mining in the southern DRC and the journeys of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa on the perilous trail to Europe in search of new lives. The stories he tells have a huge audience in the countries that he reports from, countries in which reliable information is often at a premium, but what really sets him apart is his bravery, the access he manages to secure and the trust he has among his audience to tell stories that really matter to them.