An American journalist and his driver were reportedly abducted by an Islamic militant group in northern Syria as they left a mosque on Aug. 13, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported.
Bilal Abdul-Kareem, an independent American journalist, and his driver were kidnapped in the Syrian town of Atmeh by armed, masked members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaida group formerly known as al-Nusra Front, the CPJ reported.
“It’s shameful for Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to snatch a journalist and his driver in the middle of the street and take them to an unknown location without explaining why,” Ignacio Miguel Delgado, the CPJ representative for the Middle East and North Africa, said.
“We call on Hayat Tahrir al-Sham to release Bilal Abdul-Kareem and Mohammad al-Homsi immediately and let journalists do their job freely and without fear of reprisal,” Delgado added.
Abdul-Kareem and his driver were reportedly praying at a mosque before they were abducted by the militant group and taken away in two cars.
“Abdul-Kareem tried to flee, but they pointed their guns at him. I ran away and they were unable to arrest me. They beat them severely and handcuffed them,” Abdul-Kareem’s stepson Jihad said.
The incident occurred two days after Abdul-Kareem’s outlet, On the Ground News, published an interview with the wife of a British aid worker who was abducted and tortured by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the CPJ reported.
The day he was abducted, Abdul-Kareem tweeted that the group had tortured the man at a prison in June.
An arrest warrant was issued by the Islamic militant group for Abdul-Kareem citing “a number of allegations,” according to the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham media relations office.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham accused Abdul-Kareem of making “fabrications concerning the judiciary and security forces” in a statement sent to the CPJ.
A decision on Abdul-Kareem’s case will be determined “in the next few days,” according to the statement.
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