On February 17, al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) released American journalist and propagandist Bilal Abdul Kareem after detaining him for more than six months.
Abdul Kareem was arrested by HTS’ security forces on August 13 of last year. His outlet, On the Ground News, has been promoting terrorist groups in Syria, including HTS, for several years.
Taqi al-Din al-Omar, HTS public affairs official, told Enab Baladi that Abdul Kareem was released as a result of a plea request submitted by a group of Atimah locals and public figures. The official revealed that Abdul Kareem was sentenced to one year and six months.
“The request was accepted on the condition of respecting the release terms, which are related to public affairs and the journalist’s’ military activities,” al-Omar said.
According to al-Omar, Abdul Kareem was accused of working with outlaw groups, incitement and spreading lies about local authorities in Greater Idlib.
Prior to his arrest, Abdul Kareem launched a harsh media campaign against HTS in response to the arrest of British aid worker Tauqir Sharif. Abul Kareem accused the group’s security forces of mistreating and even torturing Sharif, who was released last July.
Abdul Kareem also hinted that HTS was behind the leakage of scandalous photos of himself and his wife. Many opposition sources said that the group was indeed behind the scandal.
HTS’ decision to release Abul Kareem is likely meant to please jihadists and hardliners in Greater Idlib. Over the last year, the group lost much support from the region’s radicals.
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