Al Jazeera journalist slams NSA for listing him on terror watch list

Ahmed Zaidan, Al-Jazeera bureau chief in Islamabad says listing was an attempt to murder his professionalism


Web Desk May 16, 2015
PHOTO: REUTERS

Nearly a week after it emerged that journalist Ahmad Zaidan had been put on a terror watch list by the US owing to his contacts with members of al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood as part of his professional duties, he denied that he was associated with any militant group. 

Zaidan, Al Jazeera's bureau chief in Islamabad, said that accounts contained in a leaked document of the National Security Agency (NSA) about him were a threat to journalism as a whole.

Former CIA contractor Edward Snowden had last week released a set of documents which showed that by tracking Zaidan's metadata, the NSA and software he had deployed for the purpose had concluded that he should be put on a terror watch list. Zaidan has long reported on al Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden.

"The allegations against me put my life in clear and immediate danger," argued Zaidan in an opinion piece on Al-Jazeersa.  “Such inaccuracies expose how weak and shallow the work is of those who prepare such documents for the agency (NSA)- that is the real danger the agency faces.”

Zaidan gives an account of his meeting with bin Laden back in 2001- but before 9/11. The journalist called himself a “mediator of sorts, especially when there is a meltdown in communication and conflicting parties are resorting to everything but dialogue to resolve their differences.”

Meetings with ‘important people’ have been accounted for by him before 9/11 with Afghan and Pakistani national.

“It was clear that the NSA neglected to consider the obvious; my own announcements about my repeated travels throughout Pakistan, as well as Kandahar, Kabul, and the tribal areas. It also ignored my taped reports on Al-Jazeera television that showed where I was and with whom I was meeting between 2001 and 2011. Instead the NSA went on to track and analyze my every movement.”

The Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda are considered to be sworn enemies he says, “The document contained glaring contradictions, such as alleging that I am simultaneously a member of al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. I obviously cannot be a member of both.”

Zaidan said that his listing on a terror watch list was an attempt to murder his professionalism and that it has transcribed from  the deception created by Syrian intelligence.

This article originally appeared on Al Jazeera

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