OGN founder and chief correspondent Bilal Abdul Kareem and Aljazeera journalist Ahmad Zaidan are suing the Trump administration for placing them on a drone targeting kill list according to a federal litigation suit that was filed in Washington, DC Thursday evening.
Ahmad Zaidan, 54, is the former Aljazeera bureau chief in Islamabad, Pakistan eventually relocated to Doha, Qatar. His interview with former Al Qaida leader, Usamah bin Laden and then Nusra leader Abu Muhammad Jolani gained him world-wide notoriety.
Bilal Abdul Kareem, 46, is the founder of the news outlet OGN (On the Ground News) and a US citizen. Abdul Kareem has interviewed scores of militants in the Syrian conflict including slain Al Qaida council member Abu Firas Suri and others. Abdul Kareem’s news outlet, OGN, recently reported, with unprecedented footage, the aftermath of US attacks in Jina that killed 56 people who were attending a weekly gathering at a local mosque. Video footage filmed by OGN directly challenges the version of events alleged by US authorities.
Defendants in the case are President Donald Trump, the heads of the CIA, and others. The case is spearheaded by UK based human rights organization, Reprieve, wherein it’s founder Clive Stafford Smith outlined that Bilal Abdul Kareem has been targeted several times with at least one of those attacks being drone related.
“I’ve received information as recently as just a few days ago by very well connected people in Turkey who don’t believe that journalism is a crime, that my name has reached the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey for assassination. I was warned to be careful as much as possible,” said Abdul Kareem. The Incirlik airbase is the launching point for drone attacks in Syria.
It should be noted that there is a history of attacks on journalists, particularly those from Aljazeera, by US forces. Aljazeera accused the US of bombing it’s offices in Kabul in November 2001 in spite of their office coordinates being sent to authorities in Washington. In addition to that, US forces also were accused of killing Aljazeera cameraman, Tarek Ayoub, in an air raid attack on their offices in Baghdad in 2003.
Another Aljazeera cameraman, Sami Al Hajj, was arrested in Afghanistan and spent 6 years in Guantanamo bay prison camp. He was released in 2008 without charge.
The two journalists demand that their names be removed from any assassination list. Both men have stated that they have no group affiliation and are simply doing their jobs as journalists.
“Being a journalist in a war zone brings you in contact with all sorts of people. Some you like and some you don’t. However, a journalist’s likes and dislikes are irrelevant. People have a right to hear the views of major players in Syria even if it ruffles the feathers of some. I am committed to those principals,” said Bilal Abdul Kareem.