Abdel Qader Sabbah: a freelancer working for CNN and AP who was linked to Hamas. (X/Twitter: Honest Reporting)

The freelancer was photographed himself with a senior Hamas leader and provided work for Hamas-run bodies.

By Honest Reporting

CNN announced Wednesday that it would no longer use a Gaza freelancer whose ties to Hamas were exposed by HonestReporting.

Abdel Qader Sabbah photographed himself with a senior Hamas leader, served in a Hamas-run body to which he also provided work, praised terrorists, and shared anti-Israeli propaganda online, an HonestReporting investigation revealed.

Throughout the Israel-Hamas war, CNN has given a prominent platform to news reports by Sabbah, who has also worked for the Associated Press, and the exposure of his links to the terror group casts a long shadow over the network’s vetting procedures and journalistic standards.

“This freelance journalist has 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 CNN spokesman told HonestReporting. “We have reviewed this material carefully and are comfortable that it meets our standards. However, we were not aware of this individual’s historical social posts and recognize that they are highly offensive. In light of this, we will no longer be using his material going forward.”

Sabbah is the 11th journalist reassigned, suspended or fired due to HonestReporting since August 2022.

The following details are based on a survey of Sabbah’s social media activity, predominantly on Facebook, where his connections and bias have been hidden in plain sight.

Abdel Qader Sabbah’s Links to Hamas

Sabbah, who describes himself on Facebook as a freelance journalist, director and photographer, has proudly shared posts showing he had connections to Hamas figures and institutions run by the terror group.

In 2018, he posted a selfie taken with none other than senior Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar, who had called for world domination with “no Zionists.”

In the photo, the two men are seen smiling, and the post caption reads in Arabic: “This morning, with commander Abu Khaled Al-Zahar, literature teacher…”


Abdel Qader Al-Sabbah senior Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar

Sabbah — whose Facebook bio mentions “military service” in 2013 — also posted a photo of himself wearing the uniform of the “General Training Directorate,” a body that’s officially under the Palestinian Authority’s police and Interior Ministry. In Gaza, however, these government agencies are de facto run by Hamas.

Abdel Qader Al-Sabbah

In 2013, then Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh paid an official visit to the training directorate, where he scrutinized an honor guard and “praised the role of the General Directorate…in developing and qualifying the cadres of the Ministry of Interior and National Security.”

It appears that Sabbah also provided work to the Hamas-run body. In March 2023, he boasted online about making a promotional video for the Directorate’s academy, which according to MEMRI, trains members of Hamas’ security apparatuses. His video was shared on the official page of the Hamas-run interior ministry.


Anti-Israeli Propaganda

But Sabbah did not just share personal posts and selfies on his social media. He also regularly praised terrorists, shared propaganda videos by Hamas’ armed wing, and expressed anti-Israeli slurs.

In 2014, he praised as a “hero” Hamas’ suicide bomber Izz A-Din Al-Masri, who had blown himself up in a Jerusalem restaurant in 2001, killing 16 people, including children. Sabbah’s praise came as Israel returned the terrorist’s body to the Palestinian Authority 13 years later.



And in 2013, he posted a commemoration photo for Hamas’ “Khan Younis martyrs:”



Sabbah also had no qualms about sharing media censorship instructions during the 2021 conflict with Israel. One of the guidelines he had shared read in Arabic: “Not filming the sites of the fighters, and the places where rockets and mortar shells are launched.”

A few days earlier, he shared a post that read in Arabic: “May God curse the raped Zionists.”



And in April 2023, six months before Hamas’ deadly October 7 massacre in southern Israel, he posted — with green and black heart emojis — a propaganda video by the group’s armed wing, titled “Ready.”

No Due Diligence?

We asked CNN whether it did a background check of Sabbah before hiring him, keeping in mind that there are only two bad answers to this question:

Yes, which means the network knowingly uses biased reporters.
No, which means the network hasn’t done its due diligence.
Their answer indicated the latter.

The network disturbingly said it was “comfortable” with Sabbah’s agenda-driven work, which included faulty reports on the non-existent Gaza “famine” or on the death toll of Gazan journalists, without mentioning that some were affiliated with Hamas and other proscribed terror organizations

We have asked and not yet received answers to the same questions from AP, which according to its database used Sabbah’s photos from Gaza in October-November 2023. These included destroyed buildings and wounded Palestinians in a hospital. It’s unclear whether Sabbah still works for the agency.

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.

A respectable news outlet should not trust his reports, let alone pay him for them.


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