Categorized | USA, Syria

Syria: Zio-Wahhabi Bilal Abdul Kareem files lawsuit over alleged US ‘kill list’

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journalists Bilal Abdul Kareem files lawsuit over alleged US ‘kill list’

Lawyers for Syria-based MEE contributor and a former Al Jazeera bureau chief say pair were ‘targeted for death’ by US government

Bilal Abdul Kareem has been reporting from rebel-held northern Syria since 2012 (Twitter)

Lawyers for a US journalist and a former Al Jazeera bureau chief based in rebel-held northern Syria have filed a lawsuit against US President Donald Trump and other senior officials who they say have placed them on an alleged “kill list”.

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

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

1/2 My lawyers just filed suit against Trump Admin for placing me & @AJArabic journalist Ahmad Zaidan on a kill list http://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2017/03/journalists-sue-trump-kill-list-236738 
Photo published for 2 journalists sue Trump over 'kill list'
2 journalists sue Trump over ‘kill list’

They say they were placed on the “kill list” during the Obama administration that Trump has illegally maintained.

Abdul Kareem, an occasional Middle East Eye contributor, told MEE on Friday that “well-placed sources have informed me that I have been included on the drone list for flights that take off from the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey”.

Incirlik is used by US forces carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State (IS) group and other Syria-based armed groups.

Abdul Kareem and Zaidan contend that they were erroneously placed on the list by former president Barack Obama’s administration.

But their lawyers said they believed Donald Trump not only planned to pursue existing names on the list but had also “removed certain restrictions and criteria previously employed in the designation of persons to be included on the Kill List”.

Abdul Kareem last year described to MEE how he had walked away from a suspected drone strike which destroyed the vehicle in which he was travelling.

He said he and his crew had been filming outdoors shortly before and were waiting to interview a fighter with the then-al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front when the attack occurred in July 2016.

“As we are sitting there in the car, all of a sudden everything goes black,” Abdul Kareem told MEE in an interview conducted via Skype.

“I thought they had hit the earth and the earth had split and the car was falling into the earth. But what was happening is that when the car was hit, it went airborne, flipped over and it pointed us in the opposite direction on its side.”

Ahmed Zaidan is one of Al Jazeera Arabic’s most prominent journalists. His reporting has focused on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and he has conducted a number of high-profile interviews including with Osama Bin Laden.

Zaidan was included in a top-secret National Security Agency presentation about a programme called “SKYNET”, which was leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. It lists Zaidan as a member of both Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.

SKYNET uses a complex computer algorithm to calculate the threat of certain individuals by looking out for visits to places of interest and regular swapping of phone simcards.

Abdul Kareem has reported from Syria since 2012 and gained widespread recognition for his reporting in December from rebel-held eastern Aleppo as it came under assault from pro-Syrian government forces.

His work has been featured by mainstream media networks including CNN, the UK’s Channel 4 News, and the BBC. Last month he was the subject of a profile in the New York Times newspaper.

His critics claim that he is too close to Islamist rebel groups that control the areas of Idlib and Aleppo provinces where he regularly interviews fighters and military commanders.

But Moazzam Begg, a director at human rights group Cage and a former Guantanamo detainee, said that Abdul Kareem had provided valuable insight into the war in Syria.

See:  Moazzam Begg was in contact with MI5 about his Syria visits, papers

“The killing of an American journalist in the course of his work by its own government would be an unprecedented act in the War on Terror. It would send a deplorable message about the state of independent reporting in the US, which would resonate across nations,” said Begg.

“In a week when the US has accepted responsibility for hundreds of deaths [in Mosul] caused by air strikes on civilians, it comes, unfortunately, as no surprise that it would be prepared to target one of its own nationals.

“Cage calls for Abdul Kareem’s name to be removed from all ‘kill lists’ with immediate effect. In keeping with the rule of law, countries which provide launch-pads for extra-judicial killings risk being complicit in illegal assassinations.”

Little is known in the public domain about the US government’s alleged secret kill list, although media reports suggest it is known in counter-terrorism circles as the “Disposition Matrix”.

A Washington Post article in 2012 reported that the list had first been drawn up in 2010 and consisted of a database of information for tracking, capturing, rendering or killing suspected enemies of the US.

The database is meant to provide a variety of options for ensnaring suspects wherever they are in the world.

“If he’s in Saudi Arabia, pick up with the Saudis,” a former counter-terrorism official told the Washington Post. “If traveling overseas to al-Shabab [in Somalia] we can pick him up by ship. If in Yemen, kill or have the Yemenis pick him up.”

Names for the list are reported to be nominated at a weekly meeting known as “Terror Tuesday” with the president himself agreeing the final schedule of names.

 

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