Several Georgetown University Medical School students recently enlisted a personal injury attorney to threaten a lawsuit against the Washington Free Beacon if it does not remove a December report detailing the students’ defense of Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel.
Their attorney, Sofian Solomon Dawood, wrote in a Jan. 4 letter that the Free Beacon had violated "state and federal privacy and data laws" by quoting the students' social media posts. By quoting and providing examples of the information the students themselves posted to social media, Dawood argued, the Free Beacon "leaked personal information of some of my clients, including their social media accounts, LinkedIn profiles, and photographs from private accounts."
The Georgetown Med students also appear to accuse the Free Beacon, through their lawyer, of "defamation, slander, negligence, and libel."
"The Free Beacon has placed my clients in a false light with malicious intent," Dawood said in the letter, which he sent on behalf of Georgetown Med students Nicole Olakkengil, Yusra Rafeeqi, Niyat Esaias, Badr Abdullah, Rhea Shetty, and Mominah Subhan.
Dawood's work defending the students appears to be the attorney's first foray into data privacy and defamation claims. On his website, Dawood touts his experience handling personal injury and immigration cases with a particular focus on "auto accidents," "construction accidents," and green card claims. He has enthusiastically advertised such services on his YouTube page.
In a video titled, "What To Do After A Car Accident," Dawood details how to "get compensated" following an auto crash. Potential claims for damages, Dawood says, include "loss of sleep." In another video, "How is the value of compensation for personal injury determined," Dawood notes that a jury—not a judge—determines the amount of compensation in a car accident case.
"It's essential to pick a jury instead of a judge in any car accident case," Dawood says in the video as messages such as, "How Much $$$ For Personal Injury!" and "The Jury Decides The Amount of Compensation" flash across the screen.
Dawood told the Free Beacon he could not provide a comment until he received an advanced copy of this piece. "While I am waiting for that," he said, "you can always include that 'I am a family man and teach my children to be civilized citizens, love this country, respect the elders, be kind to the young, work hard in school, and help the poor.' And that 'I am leaning to vote for Donald Trump next time.'"
In his letter to the Free Beacon, Dawood argues that his clients "never endorsed Hamas's terror attacks."
The medical students' Instagram posts tell a different story. Olakkengil, for example, reposted an image denouncing those who condemn Hamas.
"Supporting Palestinians but not supporting Hamas," the image says, "is supporting Palestinians as helpless victims who must remain caged in silence and greatful [sic] their coloniser hadn't cut their water supply or even worse bombed them to death." Olakkengil underneath the image wrote her own message, arguing that Hamas and the "Palestinian people" represent the same "interests."
"Violent retribution is inevitable in the struggle for resistance," Olakkengil wrote.
Rafeeqi similarly took to Instagram to post an image stating, "No more condemning Palestinian resistance. Radical change requires radical moves." The first-year Georgetown Med student argued that all Israelis are "complicit in genocide and ethnic cleansing."
"If the home you live in was acquired through bloodshed and forceful expulsion, and if you continually witness the erasure of a people ancestral to the land you live on, you're a colonizer complicit in genocide and ethnic cleansing—not an innocent bystander."
Esaias espoused similar rhetoric, questioning in an Instagram post whether it's "fair" to refer to Hamas as "terrorists."
"Call Palestinians whatever you want in the moment but without a doubt history will always show that they are the oppressed battling against their oppressors," she wrote.
Subhan, meanwhile, shared a post calling on her followers to "never equate the violence of the oppressed with that of the oppressor."
"If you support Palestine understand that necessitates supporting our right to defend ourselves and liberate our homeland by any means necessary," the post said. "You cannot claim to stand with Palestine if you'd prefer us to be slaughtered without fighting back."
The Free Beacon's report on the Georgetown Med students' posts remains live and can be read here.