An Al Jazeera reporter and a Syria-based freelance journalist are suing President Trump and other U.S. officials for allegedly maintaining a drone-strike "kill list" with their names erroneously included, Politico reports.
Ahmad Zaidan served as the Al Jazeera Islamabad bureau chief and conducted a series of interviews with Osama bin Laden; files leaked by Edward Snowden show U.S. officials claim Zaidan is a member of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. Bilal Kareem is a U.S. citizen reporting from Syria, and he alleges he has "narrowly avoided being killed by five separate air strikes" in the past year.
The suit "[contends] that [Zaidan and Kareem] were erroneously placed on the 'kill list' during the Obama administration and that Trump has illegally maintained that designation," Politico writes. "The suit also alleges that Trump has loosened some of the safeguards the previous administration placed on the program."
Both men deny association with terrorist groups in their suit and claim they are not legal targets under the Authorization for Use of Military Force. "This is a very deliberate process that needs to give some access to people who deny they should be included," the journalist's lawyer, Jeffrey Robinson, told Politico.
A similar case in 2010 did not have promising results. The father of alleged al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Anwar Al-Awlaki brought a case challenging Al-Awlaki's placement on a kill list only to have it dismissed. Al-Awlaki was killed in a CIA drone strike the next year, and his 16-year-old son was killed two weeks later in another drone strike, although the U.S. claimed the son was not the intended target. Al-Awlaki's 8-year-old daughter was later killed in a January raid in Yemen ordered by President Trump.