A key eyewitness in the formal complaint against Israel filed by Al Jazeera at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the death of Shireen Abu Akleh Tuesday is a terrorist affiliated with the US-designated terrorist group Islamic Jihad, media watchdog HonestReporting reported on Sunday.
Jenin resident Sleem Awwad’s social media profiles reveal that he is a staunch supporter of Islamic Jihad, having posed with the flag of the jihadist terror group. HonestReporting found at least five photos of Awwad brandishing firearms, including military-style rifles with scopes.
“The credibility of the investigations of Al Jazeera in probing Abu Akleh’s death are questionable now that HonestReporting exposed their chief witness as an active member of a murderous terrorist organization,” HonestReporting executive director Gil Hoffman said.
On December 6, Al Jazeera filed a formal complaint against Israel with the International Criminal Court over the death of Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American reporter shot on May 11 during a counter-terrorism operation in Jenin.
An IDF probe previously concluded that Abu Akleh may have been mistakenly shot by an Israeli soldier who failed to identify her as a member of the press. After pinpointing every spot where troops had come under fire, the investigation found that they had strictly complied with the IDF’s rules of engagement.
In July, a report issued by the US State Department similarly said that Israeli forces probably fired the deadly shot, but that there was no indication Israelis intentionally killed Abu Akleh.
Nevertheless, Al Jazeera this week announced it contacted ICC prosecutor Karim Khan in the wake of “new evidence” it uncovered “based on several eyewitness accounts.” Without presenting proof, the Qatar-run broadcaster argued that their correspondent was somehow “targeted” as part of a campaign by “Israeli Occupation Forces [sic]… to silence Al Jazeera.”
The network’s submission under article 15 of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the ICC, followed just days after the airing of “The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” a 40-minute documentary produced by Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines series, which set the stage for Israeli soldiers to be prosecuted in The Hague.
Al Jazeera’s insistence that Israeli security forces deliberately murdered a journalist relies on sources cited in the Fault Lines segment, which relies on claims made by the anti-Israel collective Forensic Architecture, as well as the terror-linked Al-Haq.
Furthermore, research by HonestReporting indicates that at least one of Al Jazeera’s “civilian” eyewitnesses is in fact an armed terrorist, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, who was in the area when Abu Akleh was shot.
About five minutes into “The Killing of Shireen Abu Akleh,” Al Jazeera correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous introduces Awwad as a key witness to the May 11 incident:
"The group of journalists drew a crowd of civilians as well, including Sleem Awwad. He started a live video around 6:24 AM on the social media app TikTok. A few minutes after he started filming, he ran past the journalists to get a glimpse of the Israeli convoy up the street.”
Conspicuously, Awwad deleted the TikTok page @saleemawad1995 — and the live video taken some five minutes before Abu Akleh’s death — this summer. However, HonestReporting managed to track down his Facebook and Instagram accounts, and our findings cast serious doubt on Al Jazeera’s claim that Awwad is merely a civilian.
Indeed, a deep dive into Awwad’s social media profiles revealed his support for Islamic Jihad. The largest and most influential terror organization in Jenin, it reportedly pays its members $300 for every Israeli soldier they shoot and $100 if their attacks do not result in injuries to the troops.
Awwad also mourned multiple terrorists as “martyrs”. In April, he even called on his Facebook followers to donate blood to save the life of Islamic Jihad Jenin Brigade commander Muhammad Ayman al-Saadi.