On July 9, 2020 several jihadi groups on Telegram reported that the social media accounts of the Syria-based American journalist Bilal Abdul Kareem had been hacked. Jihadi Telegram channels circulated a video of Kareem in which he rules out the possibility that the hacks were the work of Russian intelligence. Several jihadi channels accused the Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) of hacking Kareem's accounts in retaliation for his expressed support of "British Abu Hussam."
The video circulated on Telegram of Bilal Abdul Kareem addressing the hack
Another jihadi reporter shared on Telegram a statement issued by HTS, in which the group states that it had received a "suspicious" call from someone pretending to be Kareem, saying his accounts were hacked. According to the statement, HTS took no action after the call, believing it to be a scam.
The Telegram post with HTS's response to the allegations
The same day, several HTS-affiliated Telegram channels denied the claims that the group was responsible for the hacks. One HTS religious official criticized those who allege that HTS is responsible, saying that these accusations are designed to sow discord among Muslims.
On July 10, an HTS media operative accused "militias of the Russian occupation" of carrying out the hack, and blamed prominent clerics who have blamed HTS for the hack of unwittingly contributing to the conspiracy to defame the group.
The same day, an HTS religious official similarly denied the group's involvement, saying it had an opportunity in the past to publish compromising photos of ISIS members, but chose not to do so.