Media’s favorite US journalist in Aleppo, Bilal Abdul Kareem, serves as mouthpiece for extremist Syrian rebels

Blog / Friday, December 30th, 2016

I wrote a long profile on Bilal Abdul Kareem, one of the most frequently cited US journalists in Syria, who creates violent hyper-sectarian rebel propaganda and gives platforms to extremists.

What major media outlets and institutions have not disclosed about Abdul Kareem is that he 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 hardline allies. He also appears to have expressed support for extremist preacher Anwar Al-Awlaki and the Fort Hood shooting. (Abdul Kareem did not respond to multiple requests for comment from AlterNet for this article.)

AlterNet reviewed scores of Abdul Kareem’s videos, and in not one did he address the atrocities any of the ultra-sectarian Islamist groups have carried out against civilians, minorities in particular. On the other hand, Abdul Kareem did give a platform to an extremist in which he demonizes Shia Muslims, characterizing them as non-Muslim polytheistic hypocrites, and declaring that the “battle in Sham is based on belief, the fight is between the Sunnis and the Shiites.” In past sermons, this preacher, whom Abdul Kareem recommended to his audience as an expert on “the Shia ideology,” has also called on listeners to “destroy the Alawites.” (Alawites are a minority Shia Muslim group found primarily in Syria.)

Not only has Abdul Kareem consistently facilitated the dissemination of his guests’ extreme views, he even gives them opportunities to call on viewers around the world to join them in their fight in Syria. He opened an interview with the extremist Saudi cleric Abdallah al-Muhaysini with praise for his influence over the rebels and their supporters. Ignoring Muhaysini’s well-documented role in the mass execution of captured Syrian soldiers, Abdul Kareem nodded approvingly as the cleric outlined the reasons why “jihad is obligatory” for Muslims around the world, who he maintains will be rewarded for their fight against Shia in Syria. Abdul Kareem frequently asks al-Muhaysini and other guests leading questions, seemingly coaxing rebel leaders into expressing extreme views that he might not be able to express openly.

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.”

Read more at AlterNet