update deskIsrael at War

CNN fires pro-Hamas freelancer after watchdog exposé

Abdel Qader Sabbah photographed himself with a senior Hamas leader and served in a Hamas-run body to which he also provided video work.

Journalists during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City amid the conflict with Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Aug. 6, 2022. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images.
Journalists during an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City amid the conflict with Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Aug. 6, 2022. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images.

CNN will no longer accept work from a Gaza-based freelance journalist who was previously employed by Hamas and boasted about his ties to the U.S.-designated terrorist organization on Facebook, according to the HonestReporting media watchdog.

Abdel Qader Sabbah “provided material used in stories for us and other outlets over the past nine months, during which time our own journalists have been barred from entering Gaza independently,” a spokesperson for CNN said on Wednesday, in a statement cited by the pro-Israel NGO.

“We have reviewed this material carefully and are comfortable that it meets our standards,” the spokesman continued. “We were not aware of this individual’s historical social posts and recognize that they are highly offensive,” he added, saying that CNN would no longer use his work.

On Tuesday, HonestReporting published an investigation that showed Sabbah photographed himself with a senior Hamas leader, served in a Hamas-run body to which he also provided video work, praised murderous terrorists and shared anti-Israel propaganda.

The report noted that, in 2018, the freelance “journalist” posted a selfie taken with Hamas leader and co-founder Mahmoud A-Zahar, whom he referred to as “commander Abu Khaled Al-Zahar, literature teacher.”

Al-Zahar wrote a book titled “The End of the Jews,” which glorifies historic violence against Jews and praises the Holocaust and Nazi Germany.

Sabbah—whose Facebook profile mentions “military service” in 2013— shared a picture of himself wearing the uniform of the General Training Directorate, which trains Hamas’s “security” apparatuses in Gaza.

He later produced a promotional video for the Hamas-run body, which was shared on the official page of the terrorist group’s Interior Ministry.

Sabbah in 2014 also commemorated “hero” suicide bomber Izz al-Din al-Masri, who during the Second Intifada blew himself up in a Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem, murdering 16 innocents, including two U.S. citizens.

During the May 2021 Hamas rocket war (“Operation Guardian of the Walls”) against Israel, the Sabbah shared the terrorist organization’s press censorship guidelines. One of the Hamas instructions he shared read, “Not filming the sites of the fighters, and the places where rockets and mortar shells are launched.”

Six months before Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, he posted a propaganda video by the group’s “military” wing, titled “Ready.”

HonestReporting noted that Sabbah’s work has also been featured by the Associated Press wire agency, which distributed his photos from the Gaza Strip to its thousands of clients in October- November 2023. AP did not immediately respond to questions from the NGO.

“What’s clear is that someone like Abdel Qader Sabbah cannot be considered an objective journalist. His posts expose him as a Hamas mouthpiece, at best, or a serviceman affiliated with a proscribed terror group, at worst,” the Jerusalem-based media watchdog said in an article.

In November, HonestReporting raised questions about how much six freelance photojournalists working for AP and The New York Times knew about the Hamas-led terrorist massacre ahead of time.

“Is it conceivable to assume that ‘journalists’ just happened to appear early in the morning at the border without prior coordination with the terrorists? Or were they part of the plan?” asked the group.

In February, the National Jewish Advocacy Center filed a lawsuit against AP due to its payments to the reporters who joined Hamas on Oct. 7.

The suit states: “There is no doubt that AP‘s photographers participated in the October 7th massacre, and that AP knew, or at the very least should have known, through simple due diligence, that the people they were paying were longstanding Hamas affiliates and full participants in the terrorist attack that they were also documenting.”

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