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Prominent American journalist in Syria on US ‘kill list’

Image of American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem [EA WorldView/Twitter]
Image of American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem [EA WorldView/Twitter]

Lawyers for American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem and a former Al Jazeera bureau chief have filed a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump and other senior officials who they say have placed them on an alleged US “Kill List”.

Human rights group Reprieve filed the case on behalf of Abdul Kareem and Ahmad Zaidan, a former Islamabad bureau chief for Al Jazeera Arabic, in the US District Court in Washington yesterday.

The lawsuit states that the defendants placed the pair on a “Kill List” which has “resulted in their being targeted for death”.

Read: Syria says US action on Daesh-held Raqqa ‘illegitimate’

Abdul Kareem came to prominence for his reports from the ground in Syria, especially in the last days of the Aleppo siege. His work has also been used internationally and accredited by CNN, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 News.

In a statement published through advocacy group CAGE, Abdul Kareem said:

What does the US government have to fear from me? They fear the truths that we have been revealing about their ‘war on terror’ in Syria… This is why they want me dead.

Files leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by the Intercept in 2015 indicate that US officials claimed, in a private presentation, that Zaidan, a dual Pakistani-Syrian citizen who has conducted a series of interviews with top Al-Qaeda figures, was a member of Al-Qaeda and of the Muslim Brotherhood and appeared on a terror watch list.

In the suit, both men deny any association with Al-Qaeda or the Taliban. The suit says the Intercept report led to Zaidan being forced to leave Pakistan, where he’d worked for Al Jazeera for 20 years, and take a new post in Qatar. Abdul Kareem is still reporting from Syria.

Abdul Kareem and his team have narrowly escaped several attempts on their lives, having had both their car and media offices targeted by drones and airstrikes.

Meanwhile, CAGE has called for Abdul Kareem’s name to be removed from the “Kill List” immediately.

Moazzam Begg, CAGE outreach director, said:

Abdul Kareem provides valuable insight into the conflict in Syria, being one of the only accredited journalists there reporting in English from the ground. His material has been widely used by mainstream media and he has become a powerful voice in the Syrian war.

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