"Every year, just before Thanksgiving, hundreds of reporters, editors, and producers gather at a ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel to raise money for The Committee to Project Journalists and to honor a handful of exemplary men and women who have been imprisoned, flayed, beaten, harassed, censored, or, in some other way, oppressed for the sin of doing their jobs— the application of pressure on power,"David Remnick reported Friday for the New Yorker. "We lift our heads from our salmon and our table gossip and applaud those who have suffered most deeply for daring the truth.
"This year, we chose to honor, among others, a collective of underground truth-tellers called Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently (R.B.S.S.) — a band of activist-reporters in Raqqa, a Syrian city on the north bank of the Euphrates, which, since January, 2014, has been the capital of the Islamic State, or ISIS. It is, for now at least, the center of a would-be caliphate.
"A few months after ISIS overran Raqqa, around seventeen young people started secretly gathering and posting evidence of the Islamic State’s bloodiest deprivations: beheadings, crucifixions, stonings, and other horrors. Using Twitter, Facebook, and their own Web site, members of R.B.S.S. have risked their lives to pose a counternarrative to the sophisticated and sickly self-admiring media campaign of the Islamic State.
"As Liz Sly, a correspondent for the Washington Post, put it, writing from Gaziantep, a Turkish city on the Syrian border, 'The word "silently" in the group's name attests to the sense of abandonment felt by many Syrians who watched in horror as their revolution for democratic change was hijacked by brutal jihadists.' . . .
Remnick also wrote, "Today came news of the Islamic State’s reach and taste for vengeance. An R.B.S.S. spokesman said on Twitter, 'One of our member called "Ibrahim" and another friend called "Fares" was found slaughtered in their house in Urfa,' in southeastern Turkey. The 'member' was Ibrahim Abd al Qader, a founder and executive director of R.B.S.S., who had been arrested and tortured by ISIS and who later fled to Turkey; his friend was Fares Hamadi, a journalist with a Syrian media collective called Eye on Homeland. . . ."