Journalists take US to court over Trump's 'kill list'

Journalists take US to court over Trump's 'kill list'
Two journalists reporting from Syrian opposition areas and Pakistan have taken the US to court, believing their names are on a hit list.
3 min read
01 April, 2017
The two journalists allege that Trump has eased rules on assassinations [Getty]

Two journalists are taking President Donald Trump to court, believing the US government has put them on a hit list due to their media work in Islamist-held territories.

US citizen Bilal Abdul Kareem works as a journalist in the Syrian-rebel stronghold of Idlib, where former al-Qaeda affiliate Fatah al-Sham is present.

Al-Jazeera reporter Ahmad Zaidan was forced to leave Pakistan when his name was mentioned in files leaked by Edward Snowden and published in The Intercept.

In the report, US officials allegedly accused the Pakistani-Syrian journalist of being a member of al-Qaeda.

The pair took the government to court through the human rights group Reprieve, claiming they were both placed on a kill list during Barack Obama's presidency.

Since then, they say Donald Trump had illegally eased rules of engagement for US forces said to be hunting down the journalists. 

Kareem says he narrowly escaped with his life in five air strikes, which he believed were aimed at killing him.

In the law suit, the pair claim to have no links to al-Qaeda or the Taliban. They also say that their alleged inclusion in the list goes against "long-standing presidential executive orders" forbidding planned assassinations, according to Politico.

Kareem confirmed on his Facebook page and Twitter that he was pursuing a court case against the US government and said he was on a kill list.

"I'm giving the world access to the unheard narratives in Syria - do I deserve to be killed for that?" he asked on his Facebook page and Twitter.

Kareem is a former actor and comedian who converted to Islam while living in New York. He moved to the Middle East and lived in Egypt where Kareem studied Islam and began work as a journalist.

He went to Syria in 2012 to document the civil war which broke out a year earlier after wide-scale protests were brutally suppressed by the Syrian regime.

Since then he has covered the war from rebel lines and is based in Idlib, the only province fully controlled by Syrian rebel groups including some with links to al-Qaeda.

Ahmad Zaidan was al-Jazeera's Pakistan bureau chief and famously interviewed Osama bin Laden.

He was provided tapes of the al-Qaeda founder when bin Laden was on the run from US forces, and became an important conduit for tapes of the elusive jihadi after the 9/11 attacks.

He too insists he has no links with the terror group and that his connections with bin Laden and al-Qaeda were purely in a professional capacity as a journalist.

Yet in a leaked report, the National Security Agency alleged Zaidan was a member of al-Qaeda, a claim he vehemently denies.