CNN, Clarissa Ward Work With Nusra Terrorist To Create Propaganda, Try To Cover Tracks After The Fact

By Brandon Turbeville

Fresh on the heels of resignations of several CNN reporters due to their exaggerations, breach of ethics, and outright lies regarding the Trump-Russia story as well as the fact that a CNN in producer was caught on camera saying that the Russia story was “Bullshit” and that the “news organization” was indeed engaged in a witch hunt against Donald Trump, the embattled propaganda organization is now facing scrutiny over its close relationship with terrorists and the manner in which it presented them to the general public.

The particular reporter in question this time is the infamous anti-Assad, pro-terrorist Clarissa Ward who built her career based upon her incessant lie-riddled propaganda regarding the “crimes against humanity” committed by Bashar al-Assad’s government and the “bravery” of the Western-backed terrorists. Ward has long come under fire from informed observers in the alternative media and the poster boy of much of her reporting, Bilal Abdul Kareem, has even been criticized by more independent outlets like AlterNet.

A recent piece by Ben Norton and Max Blumenthal, whose record on Syria has been better than most MSM writers but who also still leaves the path of imperialism open in many of his pieces, brought to light the obvious connection not only between Kareem and Ward but between CNN and the terrorist organizations it has so undyingly supported since the very beginning of the Syrian crisis.

Many of these deeper connections have come to light as a result of Kareem’s anger at CNN for leaving him out of the credits for its propaganda series against the Syrian government. Kareem’s irritation is the result of the fact that the Undercover In Syria documentary, which both he and Clarissa Ward played a major role in, won the Peabody Award. However, while CNN and Clarissa Ward were showered with praise and Ward given the opportunity to give speeches about human rights to rooms full of bow-tie-wearing propagandists, Kareem was not only left out of the spotlight, his name was reduced to a mere mention in the fine print (literally) of the Peabody press release and CNN apparently didn’t even mention his name at all. The reason for slighting Kareem was not fully addressed by the organization but it is abundantly clear that CNN did not want to draw any more attention to the fact that their documentary was produced with the help and in concert with a known terrorist.

Kareem spoke out about being slighted on his Twitter feed. “Piece I filmed w/CNN (Undercover in Syria) won Overseas Press Club & Peabody awards but CNN “forgot” to mention me. But I’m smiling!,” he tweeted.

“This was with CNN and their correspondent Clarissa Ward, which I have big-time respect for, big-time respect as a journalist, as a person,” he added. “This Undercover in Syria, you can Google it — it won the prestigious Peabody Award, and it won the prestigious Overseas Press Club Award, which are basically the highest awards in journalism for international reporting. Now, [CNN] barely mentioned my name! I’m telling you, somehow CNN must have forgotten that I was the one that filmed it, I guess they forgot that.”

Kareem is mostly correct. CNN didn’t just simply consult with Kareem, interview him, or use his connections to get the inside scoop, they contracted with Kareem and his media organization On The Ground News. After the propaganda film was finished, however, CNN obviously didn’t want the bad PR of having hired a terrorist to film and facilitate their documentary.

Bilal Abdul Kareem

Al-Arabiya reported on June 7 that Kareem had joined al-Nusra officially in 2012. Kareem denied this claim and, in a Facebook video, stated, “I am not, nor have I ever been, nor do I need to be a part of al-Qaeda. I don’t have any need for that.” He also threatened legal action against al-Arabiya.

But the accusations were made by more than al-Arabiya. One of Kareem’s closest associates also accused him of being a member of al-Nusra. Indeed, one of Kareem’s On The Ground News employees, Akif Razaq, was stripped of his British citizenship for his involvement with al-Nusra. According to a notice served by British authorities to Razaq’s family living in Birmingham, Razaq was “aligned with an al-Qaeda-aligned group” and that he “presents a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom.”

It is noteworthy that, in his Facebook video stating that he was not a member of al-Nusra, Kareem was sitting beside Razaq. Even more so, Razaq was a regular co-host of On The Ground News with Kareem.

The AlterNet Investigation – Kareem A Terrorist Videographer, Propagandist

AlterNet managed to contact a terrorist belonging to the group Kataib Thawar al-Sham and was able to ask the member about Kareem’s standing in al-Nusra. As Norton and Blumenthal wrote for their article, “CNN Hired Top al-Qaeda Propagandist For Award-Winning Syria Documentary And Wants To Cover Its Tracks,

AlterNet contacted Abdullah Abu Azzam, an activist affiliated with the rebel group Kataib Thawar al-Sham. Abu Azzam, who asked to be identified by a pseudonym out of fear of retaliation by al-Nusra, is one of many opposition activists who have come into contact with Abdul Kareem and his colleagues. Speaking to AlterNet by Whatsapp, he said Abdul Kareem was not only a propagandist for al-Nusra, but well known as a member of the group.

Fighters in Thawar al-Sham, according to Abu Azzam, refer to Abdul Kareem as the “American mujahid” (mujahid is Arabic for jihadist).

Abu Azzam claimed Abdul Kareem had applied his videography skills to make a series of YouTube videos for the official account of Jaish al-Fatah, the Salafi-jihadist fighting coalition led by al-Nusra. He added that Abdul Kareem worked directly with the late public relations director for Jaish al-Fateh, Ammar Abu al-Majid. For these videos, he said Abdul Kareem used the alias, Abu Osama.

According to Abu Azzam, Abdul Kareem collaborated directly with Salafi cleric Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, a key ideological leader of extremist rebels in Syria. Al-Mahdi, one of the most popular guests on Abdul Kareem’s programs, was a co-founder of Syrian al-Qaeda’s most recent rebranding as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. He later defected to the competing Salafist militia Ahrar al-Sham.

One of the videos Abdul Kareem made, Abu Azzam said, was a segment for the Salafi-jihadist propaganda channel Knowledge Is Key, titled “Islamic Fatwas from the Scholars of Syria.” The video featured Ammar Abu al-Majid as its host.

When asked how he knows Abdul Kareem made the video, Abu Azzam replied, “I was in photography with Ammar.”

AlterNet contacted the senior press manager for CNN International, along with CNN’s Middle East press officer and public relations coordinator, to request comment on Abdul Kareem’s relationship to the network. We asked for details about Abdul Kareem’s contractual obligations with CNN and whether the network felt his well-documented relationship with al-Qaeda compromised the reporting it carried out in Syria.

CNN did not respond.

Kareem, The Man

Norton and Blumenthal sum up Kareem’s personal history in the middle of their article. They write,

Bilal Abdul Kareem is one of the most remarkable characters to emerge from Syria’s six-year civil war. An erstwhile comedian and theater actor from New York City, he has softened his image with a self-effacing charm and friendly temperament that recalls the style of a children’s television show host.

Abdul Kareem arrived in Syria in 2012 after a stint promoting the NATO-backed Islamist rebels in Libya. With his On the Ground News, he quickly established himself as the leading English-language reporter on Salafi groups in Syria, and the only American media figure welcomed as a long-term resident in al-Nusra-controlled territory.

Dozens of other journalists have been kidnapped and even killed in these extremist-held areas. When asked why he had not faced the same dangers from al-Qaeda, Abdul Kareem said in his Facebook video response to Al Arabiya, “I don’t feel threatened by them because I think there’s a mutual respect.”

What is left out is Kareem’s journey to jihadism. According to his own biography, he was not raised Muslim and converted in 1997. He lived in an apartment in Brooklyn near the local mosque and had previously toured with a theatre company that warned young people about the dangers of drug abuse. No one disputes that the man who works so hard for Western-backed terrorists in Syria is a skilled actor and excellent communicator. Some, however, might wonder exactly how close he is to Western intelligence agencies?

Kareem, The Star Of Terrorist Media

Norton and Blumenthal continue their description of Kareem’s rise to fame within the terrorist community and the Western-backed terrorist destabilization brigades. They write,

Abdul Kareem arrived in Syria in 2012 after a stint promoting the NATO-backed Islamist rebels in Libya. With his On the Ground News, he quickly established himself as the leading English-language reporter on Salafi groups in Syria, and the only American media figure welcomed as a long-term resident in al-Nusra-controlled territory.

Dozens of other journalists have been kidnapped and even killed in these extremist-held areas. When asked why he had not faced the same dangers from al-Qaeda, Abdul Kareem said in his Facebook video response to Al Arabiya, “I don’t feel threatened by them because I think there’s a mutual respect.”

Abdul Kareem demonstrated his influence — and mutual respect — when a British woman named Shukee Begum traveled to ISIS-controlled territory to reunite with her jihadist husband, Jamal al-Harith, who had been released from Guantanamo Bay after intensive lobbying by the British government. When Begum decided she wanted to escape from ISIS, Abdul Kareem stepped in to facilitate her release to al Qaeda-controlled territory in northern Syria.

Last December, AlterNet’s Grayzone Project exposed Bilal Abdul Kareem’s involvement with some of Syria’s most notorious jihadist figures and his open propagation of their sectarian ideology. Most prominent among the clerics granted a friendly audience by Abdul Kareem was Abdullah al-Muhaysini, the Saudi Arabian hate preacher and warlord praised by Abdul Kareem as “probably the most loved cleric in the Syrian territories today.”

Muhaysini is indeed popular among the Al Qaeda-allied rebels of Syria, and holds considerable sway over the entire region of Idlib. He has appeared in refugee camps to recruit child soldiers, raised millions of dollars for jihadist offensives and granted his blessing to the mass executions of captured Syrian soldiers on the grounds that the captives were kuffar, or blasphemers. The cleric’s goal, like that of ISIS, has been to establish an exclusively Sunni state purged of Shia, Druze and Christian citizens of Syria, and run according to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

This June, Abdul Kareem appeared as a guest on a special Ramadan program on Muhaysini’s Jihad’s Callers Center. Introduced by co-host Khattab al-Otaibi as “an American in Syria who is with the rebels and mujahideen,” Abdul Kareem was welcomed by Muhaysini. “Greetings to our media man, the great innovator, Bilal Abdul Kareem!” the rotund cleric said with a grin.

Clearly pleased with the promotion he was granted, Muhaysini has promoted his interviews with Abdul Kareem to followers of his WhatsApp channel.

Today, Salafi-jihadist leaders refer to Abdul Kareem as their “media man.” But there also was a time when Abdul Kareem was CNN’s media man, as well. It was when Clarissa Ward, the network’s Middle East correspondent, contracted Abdul Kareem to help lead her and her crew into eastern Aleppo and Idlib, both areas under the control of al-Nusra and extremist groups like Ahrar al-Sham that have been responsible for well-documented atrocities. She was on her way to meet the rebels she would later describe as “heroes on the ground.”

The Clarissa Ward-Bilal Kareem Love Affair

Clarissa Ward first entered Syria under the cover of being a tourist but, in reality, she was on a mission that was anything but sightseeing. She acted as a wing of the Western-backed destabilization providing deceptive coverage and propaganda pieces for the Western proxies fighting on the ground.

Ward says, “Then, I sort of slipped off into an alleyway in the old city, put a headscarf on, and went and lived with some activists for a week.” When she got back, she had created what amounts to a campaign commercial for the terrorists in Syria, notably the Free Syrian Army. She described the FSA as fighters who “pledge to defend the Syrian people against the Assad regime.”

Of course, Ward didn’t “sort of slip off” anywhere. Had she slipped off to the terrorist held areas, she would have been beheaded for being Western, female, or not being a visible Neanderthal. Interestingly enough, why would Ward need to don a headscarf for “rebel” held territory but not for government-held territory? Nevertheless, Ward managed to establish a working relationship with the terrorists at the very beginning of the crisis that she would maintain throughout the war.Ward was no doubt aware of Kareem’s presence in Syria since at least 2014. It was shortly before this time since he burst upon the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, to become a terrorist media superstar. Ward began immediately promoting Kareem’s work as “must read” and his “extraordinary brave reporting.”

Ward was not the only one who praised and promoted Kareem, however. Channel 4 in the U.K., which has made itself look almost as foolish as CNN in its incessant promotion of Western-backed terrorists and hit pieces on the Syrian government was a part of the chorus as well as the BBC and Sky News. Al Jazeera named Kareem its “Personality of the Week” and CNN’s Hala Gorani perpetuated the lie that Kareem was an “independent journalist.”

Even Ben Hubbard of The New York Times wrote a profile piece on Kareem, painting him as an “American with a point of view and a message.” Ironically, the thumbnail used of Kareem was taken from a video where Kareem rationalizes suicide bombings. The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain also wrote a positive profile piece of Kareem and praised him for his “unique perspective” on the Syrian conflict. Of course, Kareem’s perspective is not unique. It can be found within any collection of terrorists infesting Syria today.

Norton and Blumenthal write,

Abdul Kareem never attempted to conceal his sectarian agenda. As AlterNet documented, he once praised the late al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and openly questioned whether Shia are actually Muslim. In his friendly sit-down with Abdul Razzaq al-Mahdi, Abdul Kareem introduced the extremist preacher who has called for the genocide of Syria’s minority sects as a religious expert who “specializes in understanding the Shia ideology.”

Clarissa’s Day Out – Kareem Acts As Ward’s Guide With Al-Nusra

Norton and Blumenthal summarized, in a nutshell, the relationship between Ward and Kareem. In other words, they describe they way Kareem acted as Ward’s personal tour guide during her stay with his friends. According to Norton and Blumenthal,

Ward’s coverage for the Undercover in Syria CNN special took place in rebel-held eastern Aleppo and Idlib. In these areas, she appeared in a full black niqab to comport with the dress code imposed by al-Nusra, whose legal apparatus had forbidden the wearing of colorful hijab and even outlawed smoking cigarettes and playing music.

Working alongside Abdul Kareem, Ward documented the aftermath of bombings by the Syrian and Russian militaries and the cruelty they visited on the civilian population. She framed the Syrian government’s battle to oust the jihadist-led rebels from eastern Aleppo as “a war on normalcy.”

At the time, Ward was possibly the only Western reporter welcomed into al-Nusra-controlled territory. Kidnappings and the gruesome killing of journalists like James Foley had become the order of the day in areas of Syria controlled by rebel militias and ISIS. Lindsey Snell, one of the last Western journalists to report from Idlib, reported on her kidnapping by al-Nusra. “The group fully acknowledged that I’d been granted permission to report,” Snell wrote, “but said they suspected me of being a spy, an accusation they’ve made against every journalist they’ve kidnapped in Syria.”

Ward had no such problems in the area, and that may have been thanks to Abdul Kareem and the cozy relationship he enjoyed with the Salafi-jihadist militias that dominated eastern Aleppo and Idlib.

Her safety was also ensured by “Abu Youssef,” the bodyguard CNN hired to protect Ward and her producer. It is unclear if he was from a rebel group.

Ward closed an Undercover in Syria report with a bittersweet reflection on her bodyguard:

We hand over a bag full of British chocolates to our security guards. Abu Youssef thanks us and quietly hands each of us a folded piece of white paper with our initials on it.

“Promise me you won’t read these until you get back home to London,” he says.

Two flights and 72 hours later, we open the letters.

“I hope you have a good idea of us,” they read. “Please tell the world the truth about Syria.”

How nice. Ward gives Kareem a box of chocolates and Kareem returns the favor with a card. Meanwhile, both are participating in the fraud of the American propaganda war against the Assad government; a volley of propaganda that has resulted in the death of nearly 500,000 people.

Ward and Kareem – Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder

When Ward returned to the United States, the propaganda really kicked into high gear. In addition to continuing her propaganda and outright lies on the television screen, Ward was predictably invited to the United Nations Security Council where she was scheduled to testify to what she had witnessed in Syria. Ward was always nothing more than a harpy for war and a spokesman for the U.S. State Department that was, at the time, wetting itself with glee at the thought of an invasion of Syria. She was, after all, the guest of Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. who threw such a pro-war fit at the U.N. that America’s goal of destroying Syria could not even attempt to be hidden any longer.

Norton and Blumenthal describe American war session at the United Nations by writing,

Six months later, in August 2016, Ward appeared at the United Nations Security Council to testify to her version of the truth. She was there as a guest of then-U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, who was described by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg as “the most dispositionally interventionist among Obama’s senior advisers.” The U.N. session Power arranged appeared to be consistent with her interventionist crusade.

Besides Ward, Power had solicited testimony from Zaher Sahloul and Samer Attar, the directors of the Syrian American Medical Society. SAMS assistance coordination units have set up hospitals in refugee camps and within Syrian territories exclusively held by Syria’s rebels, including in al-Qaeda-run Idlib. From 2013 to 2015, SAMS received over $5.8 million in support for its activities from the U.S. Agency for Aid and International Development (USAID). In 2015, according to the Washington Post, Chase Bank closed SAMS’ bank account without explanation.

Sahloul, for his part, is the American ringleader of the Syrian opposition. After unsuccessfully lobbying Barack Obama for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone over opposition-held areas of Syria, Sahloul accused the president of having “allowed a genocide in Syria.”

On Sept. 20, 2016, Sahloul was a participant in a rally in New York dedicated to ramping up conflict with Iran. The rally was organized by the exiled Iranian People’s MEK, a militant cult of personality dedicated to regime change in Iran that has paid handsome fees to prominent former U.S. officials to shill on its behalf. After the rally, the neoconservative columnist Eli Lake hailed Sahloul and his colleagues as “Syrian-Americans who stood up to Iran.”

At the U.N., Ward was seated beside Sahloul and Attar, and repeatedly heaped praise on the two opposition activists. She lashed out at the “international community” for “wringing their hands on the sidelines while homes, hospitals and bakeries and schools were bombed,” an apparent plea for military intervention against the Syrian government.

Her jeremiad might have been straightforward advocacy, but its content was well in line with her network’s editorial agenda, which has encouraged primetime personalities like Jake Tapper and Arwa Damon to also make the case for attacking Syria.

Ward’s speech crested with a tribute to Salafi-jihadist insurgent groups like al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.

“The only ones who have emerged as heroes on the ground, along with brave doctors like Dr. Sahloul and Dr. Attar, alongside the White Helmets,” Ward declared, “are the Islamist factions — even to those who hate fundamentalists. Even to those who see that the rebels themselves are carrying out atrocities, and not because the people there are all terrorists, but because the Islamists are the ones who have stepped in to fill the void.”

Having been to the Middle East and interviewed a number of Syrian refugees myself, I can personally attest to the fact that Ward’s claims are so untrue that they border being absurd. The overwhelming majority of Syrians (and I stress overwhelming) hate and detest the “fundamentalists” as well as fundamentalism. In addition, I would strongly recommend the work done by Vanessa Beeley (The Wall Will Fall and 21st Century Wire) and Eva Bartlett (In Gaza) and the interviews they have conducted with Syrians inside Syria as well as the work of Afraa Dagher, an actual Syrian living in Syria who has a much different view of Ward’s terrorists than Ward does.

Clarissa Ward Whitewashes Terrorist Crimes

During her testimony to the U.N., Ward launched a number nonsensical claims designed to provide a negative view of the Syrian government and provide justification for a U.S. strike on Syria. One of the claims was that the famous green buses used by the Syrian government to transport terrorists to Idlib as part of the “population swap” agreements were being bombed by the SAA and that the terrorist inhabitants were being killed in contradiction to the agreements. This is emphatically untrue but that never stopped Ward from reporting it. When her terrorist friends lured starving children to a suicide truck with potato chips, however, she dismissed the incident, labeling it a “hiccup.”

From Norton and Blumenthal’s article:

During her U.N. testimony, Ward slipped in a bizarre reference to the rebels who had been transferred by bus from territory they lost to other zones of opposition control in accordance with internationally brokered agreements.

“Many of them are loaded onto buses and never see the light of day again,” she claimed, falsely suggesting that the so-called “green buses” common to such transfer deals were a one-way ticket to slaughter.

There was, in fact, one incident where such a gruesome scenario took place during a population transfer agreement. But it did not fit the regime change narrative propagated by CNN, so Ward and her colleagues did their best to gloss over it.

On April 15, a suicide bomber affiliated with the armed opposition attacked a convoy of buses evacuating civilians from Shia-majority villages that had been besieged for years by rebels led by al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. When the bomber arrived, he had reportedly dangled bags of potato chips from his truck to lure hungry children toward him. Over 100 evacuees were killed in the blast, including 80 children.

The massacre in Rashidin was one of the most obscene atrocities of the Syrian civil war. But Assad and his forces were not responsible. Indeed, the killers were the very men Ward had celebrated before the U.N. as “heroes on the ground.”

CNN covered the incident in a single brief report, with correspondent Nick Patton Walsh downplaying the atrocity as a “hiccup.”

Ward, meanwhile, was preparing a special episode on the chemical attack that took place earlier that month in al-Nusra-controlled Idlib. Titled, “Gasping for life: Syria’s merciless war on its children,” the CNN special consisted of footage of child casualties of the alleged sarin gas attack filmed by rebel-affiliated organizations like SAMS and the White Helmets. (Ward’s special aired during CNN host Jake Tapper’s “The Lead.”)

More than 30 people were killed in that attack under circumstances that were shrouded in mystery and which remain hotly debated and subject to critical reporting. The U.S. government’s official narrative holds the Syrian government responsible for the chemical attack, but concrete proof has been hard to come by

Ward dispensed with skepticism in her special and cranked up the regime change rhetoric for maximum emotional potency. Of the high-definition footage of children gasping for breath, she commented, “When you watch these children choking on what were likely their last breaths, you understand what evil is.”

Days after the special aired, Max Abrahms, a national security researcher and professor at Northeastern University, took to Twitter to criticize the flagrant inconsistency between CNN’s coverage of the bus bombing and the chemical attack. His comments sent Ward into a frenzy, prompting her to accuse him of being “way out of line.”

“Show us the special of the bloodier opposition attack,” Abrams countered. “We saw your special on the less lethal Assad attack. CNN should do specials on both.”

“We covered it,” Ward shot back, clearly flustered by the challenge. “I’m going to block you now because I have just spent 20 mins arguing about Syria w/someone who’s never even been to Syria.”

In a previous exchange, Ward had attempted to deflect Abrahms’ criticism of her work by accusing him of “encourag[ing] the death threats.”

Conclusion

Clarissa Ward and Bilal Abdual Kareem are two peas in a pod in much the same way the U.S. State Department, CIA, CNN, and the rest of the Western mainstream press are joined at the hip, unified in presented the same narrative to the Western public. From CNN’s incessant reporting on the fake narrative of “Russian hacks” and its promotion of the WMD lies to its promotion of terrorists and fabrication of “Syria Danny,” the news organization is finding its credibility in shambles. However, CNN is just one organization in an entire system that is designed to control the perception of the world held by hundreds of millions of people. At best, Bilal Kareem is a fanatical convert who is so mentally ill he actually believes he is on the right side of this fight. At worst, he is simply an intelligence asset with no moral qualms about the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people for political purposes.

Likewise, Clarissa Ward may be complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity but it must be remembered that she is simply one in a million in a bullpen full of tools willing to sell out innocent people and even their own people for a chance to nibble on the crumbs of the psychopaths above them.

But while we shouldn’t be shocked. We should be outraged.

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President, and Resisting The Empire: The Plan To Destroy Syria And How The Future Of The World Depends On The Outcome. Turbeville has published over 1000 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.

This article may be freely shared in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

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