Bilal Abdul Kareem is an American journalist, reporter, and documentary filmmaker. He is known for reporting from the Syrian rebel-controlled territory near Aleppo since 2012. He was born in 1970 in the US state of New York. His career as a host of video programs did not begin in Syria. Before traveling to Syria, he made a film in Libya, whose government was overthrown in a 2011 NATO bombing campaign. In Libya, Abdul Kareem wrote on his website, “I met many respectable Islamic fighters calling for Islamic law.
He traveled to Syria for the first time in 2012 to document resistance fighter’s activities who were fighting against the rule of Bashar Assad. He has been documenting foreign fighters in Syria and has produced reports with Channel 4, BBC, Sky News, and the Dutch program Newseur. CNN’s Hala Gorani has branded him an “independent journalist” and praised him for his courage. He was named Al Jazeera’s “Personality of the Week” and hailed as a profile in courage by the British human rights activist Clive Stafford Smith.
In 2015, Abdul Kareem supplemented his interview program “Face the Truth” by launching On the Ground News, an outlet that features more traditional journalistic reports from inside rebel-held areas in Syria. His video interview program “Face the Truth” has consistently served as a mouthpiece for extremist groups in Syria. One of the first videos Abdul Kareem released on his Facebook page is an interview with a fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s arm of al-Qaeda. It was filmed in early August 2015 at the frontline of fighting between the extremist group and secular, leftist Kurdish fighters.
In the Q&A section of his website, Abdul Kareem defends the extremist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham and website is not the only place where he airs open anti-democratic sentiments and calls for a theocratic form of government. In his discussion with the hawkish Syria analyst Charles Lister at the Brookings Doha Center, Abdul Kareem called for more support for Islamist rebels in Syria, declaring, “there needs to be an Islamic solution to this issue or it will fail” In an interview posted in May.
On The Ground News saw a marked increase in production quality, with videos accompanied by slick animations and graphic design. In some, Abdul Kareem could be seen seated in front of a green screen, declaring that he was broadcasting from “our studios.” On the Ground News also has a polished website. His closeness to insurgent groups he covers has been criticized. The only criticisms Abdul Kareem levied at the al-Qaeda leader in his interview were from the perspective of those who were even more radical. “Your group now controls large territories,” Abdul Kareem noted, “but some criticize you saying that you don’t apply the Islamic Sharia.” He pointed out that ISIS imposes very strict Sharia law in areas it controls.
His reporting wet viral on December 12th, 2016, after he professed on Facebook that it could be his last broadcasting. In a Skype Q& A moments before bombardment he confessed that he came too close to the frontline for having interviewed rebel leaders in an attempt to report the facts. He confessed that he may be killed. He lived with the Syrian rebels for two years, documenting their political and military developments as they fought to topple Bashar al Assad. Abdul Kareem similarly has portrayed the conflict in Syria as a sectarian religious war and injects anti-democratic sentiment into his work. In the Q& A section of his personal website, Abdul Kareem makes it clear that he opposes democracy in Syria, claiming such a system is “alien” to the Syrian people whereas “a governing style of Islam is something that is familiar to them.
Abdul Kareem has a long and established record of creating what is essentially propaganda for extremist groups in Syria. Abdul Kareem has conducted dozens of glowing interviews with militants from extremist groups, including Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and its hard-line allies. In 2017 he also reported the Myanmar massacre where Muslim Minorities were killed and forced to leave Burma. He Also Interviewed the Kashmiri activist in one of his programs to know about the Kashmir conflict. Likewise he tried to cover all the conflict zones like Iran, Afghanistan, Palestine and many more.
Abdul Kareem is one of the last Western journalists covering the conflict in Syria from rebel-controlled territory. For reporting the conflict there and give an all-important on the ground perspective to an international audience through his interviews with rebels. For this, the US Government wants to kill him. In 2016, He narrowly escaped being killed by drone strikes on five separate occasions, including two strikes on cars he was traveling in and a further two strikes on the headquarters of his news agency, On the Ground News, while he was present. The US Government has placed him on their ‘Kill List’, for the ‘crime’ of interviewing individuals in Syria, a vital part of his journalistic work. We believe that the US program Skynet has used metadata, including his social media posts and travel patterns, to incorrectly identify him as ‘suspicious’.
Bilal poses no risk to the US, does not support any terrorist group, and has not committed any crime. Despite this, the US has already attempted to kill him on multiple occasions. He has been given no opportunity to present evidence of his innocence, and with Trump at the helm of the drone program, this journalist’s life is in grave danger. He is simply asking for the right what every American citizen is entitled – the right to defend himself and prove his innocence in a court of law.
His recent update from Syria,
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