Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post. In her role as Cairo Bureau Chief she reported on a wave of revolts and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria.

Prior to her position as Cairo Bureau Chief for the Post, she covered the Iraq war for nearly five years with Knight Ridder, McClatchy Newspapers and later the Washington Post. Her foreign coverage of the devastating human toll of the Iraq war earned her the George. R. Polk award in 2007.

Leila Fadel is a Lebanese-American journalist who speaks conversational Arabic and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

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7:53am

Sat December 20, 2014
Middle East

Youth Who Led Tunisia's Uprising Frustrated With Pace Of Change

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 11:39 am

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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5:04pm

Fri December 19, 2014
Parallels

With A Presidential Vote, Tunisia Seeks A Peaceful Transition

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 8:32 pm

A woman votes in the first round of the Tunisian presidential election on Nov. 23. The election went smoothly, but no candidate won 50 percent of a vote, forcing a runoff between the top two on Sunday.
Hassene Dridi AP

The main boulevard in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, is alive with political debate about the two candidates for president in this Sunday's election.

In one tent, campaign workers play music and hand out fliers for Beji Caid Essebsi, an 88-year-old candidate who held posts in the old regime and then served as an interim prime minister after the country's revolution in 2011.

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3:47am

Tue December 16, 2014
Parallels

Kurdish Officials Worry About Kurds Joining The Islamic State

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 6:15 pm

The Iraqi town of Halabja is dominated by Kurds, the group that has been fighting the Islamic State in northern Iraq. However, some Kurdish residents have been slipping away to join the Islamic State.
Yahya Ahmad Reuters/Landov

In the northern Iraqi city of Halabja, near the border with Iran, we knock on the door of a 16-year-old boy who disappeared. His family says he lied to them, saying he was going on a picnic with a teenage friend. But they never came home.

"He disappeared in May," says the boy's older sister. "A few days later a letter arrived in his handwriting. It said, 'I'm in Syria. Don't look for me.' "

The boy, like most everyone in this city, is a Kurd, most of whom are Sunni Muslim. He joined the so-called Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim extremist group also known as ISIS.

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2:51pm

Wed December 10, 2014
Parallels

For Yazidi Women, Escaping ISIS Doesn't Mean The Ordeal Is Over

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 9:38 am

Many Yazidis, like the ones shown here, managed to flee the onslaught of the so-called Islamic State and made their way to relative safety, like this camp near the northern Iraqi border crossing of Zakho. However, some 5,000 Yazidis, many of them women, are still being held hostage by the Islamic State.
EPA/Landov

Barzan is a young Yazidi man, with sad blue eyes. His mother, five of his sisters and his niece are being held by the so-called Islamic State, taken when the extremist group swept through the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in August.

They are seven of some 5,000 Yazidis still being held by the extremist Sunni group. The Iraqi women are enslaved and sold for sex.

His sixth sister is home with him now. She is just 15 and she was raped. To protect her identity we're only using Barzan's first name.

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4:00pm

Tue November 18, 2014
Parallels

With Cash And Cachet, The Islamic State Expands Its Empire

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 8:02 pm

The Islamic Youth Council in Derna, in eastern Libya, is among the local militant groups from Egypt to Libya that have reportedly pledged allegiance to the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Reuters/Landov

Islamist militant groups from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt to the coast of eastern Libya are pledging allegiance to the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS.

The Sunni extremist group primarily operates in the chaos of Iraq and Syria but is using chameleon-like branding and the draw of cash to get militants who focused on local issues to join their brutal empire.

In an audio recording posted online last week, the head of the self-declared Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced that his group is going global.

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3:34am

Tue November 18, 2014
Parallels

Near The Front Lines In Iraq, An Homage To The White House

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 9:21 am

Construction workers in Irbil, in the Kurdish north of Iraq, work on Kurdish business tycoon Shihab Shihab's version of the White House.
Leila Fadel NPR

There are a lot of American knockoffs in the Kurdish parts of northern Iraq: Burger Queen is Burger King's twin, and instead of Papa John's, people get their pizza at PJ's.

The latest knockoff comes courtesy of Kurdish businessman Shihab Shihab after he decided he'd like to live in the White House. So he's building one for himself, his wife and his child — a mere 50 miles or so from a raging war against the Sunni extremist group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS.

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5:45am

Sun November 16, 2014
Parallels

In A Back-And-Forth Battle, An Iraqi Town Splits On Ethnic Lines

Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 12:25 pm

Iraqi Kurdish soldiers, or peshmerga, patrol an area in the recently recaptured town of Zumar, near Mosul in northern Iraq on Oct. 29. When the Islamic State captured the town in August, the Kurds fled. Now that the Kurds are in control, the Arabs are all gone.
STR EPA /LANDOV

The mixed Arab and Kurdish city of Zumar in northern Iraq is a window into the fierce battles for territory between the Kurds and the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State, or ISIS.

The mountainous landscape is pockmarked with destruction. ISIS took control of the area in August and held it until late October. Then Kurdish forces, with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes, forced the militants back.

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12:24pm

Sun November 9, 2014
Iraq

Ill-Equipped And Underpaid, Kurdish Fighters Hold ISIS At Bay

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 8:44 am

An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter hold his position in the mountains east of Mosul.
Jim Lopez AFP/Getty Images

Brig. Gen. Mohammad Ali Mughdeed sits in a pickup truck equipped with an anti-aircraft weapon as he and his men wind through steep roads to their base in the rocky Zartik Mountains.

Mughdeed's Iraqi Kurdish forces are members of the Peshmerga, a key U.S. ally in the fight against the so-called Islamic State. Also known as ISIS, the Sunni extremists have taken control of about a third of Iraq. In October, Mughdeed's men retook this area east of Mosul from ISIS occupation.

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8:11am

Sat November 1, 2014
Africa

Press Freedom Dwindles In Egypt

Originally published on Sat November 1, 2014 2:25 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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1:59pm

Mon October 20, 2014
Parallels

The Artificial Boundary That Divides Iraq

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 6:03 pm

A family passes through Maktab Khaled in northern Iraq, the last Kurdish checkpoint before they make their way to Kirkuk. ISIS-controlled territory lies less than a mile away.
Leila Fadel NPR

Standing at the top of a dirt and gravel hill, past the sand-filled barriers that enclose a small base of Kurdish forces, a soldier looks through binoculars. One bridge and a body of water separate them from the so-called Islamic State or ISIS.

"Just across the river, under the bridge there is the checkpoint of ISIS," the soldier says.

We're at a checkpoint called Maktab Khaled about 12 miles south of Kirkuk, the disputed and oil-rich city in northern Iraq.

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5:08pm

Sat October 18, 2014
Middle East

Saudi Cleric's Death Sentence Focuses Shia Anger On Ruling Family

Originally published on Sun October 19, 2014 9:23 am

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a leading voice during protests in 2011 and 2012 by the minority Shiite Muslim community.
AP

Protests broke out in Saudi Arabia this week over the death sentence of a leading Shiite cleric. Human rights activists call his sentencing political and warn that by killing him, the country may deepen sectarian discord and spur more violence.

Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was a leading voice during protests in 2011 and 2012 by the minority Shiite Muslim community.

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10:30am

Sun October 12, 2014
Iraq

Iraqis Displaced By ISIS Face Another Threat: Winter

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 4:54 pm

The dirt and gravel at the Baharka displacement camp in northern Iraq will turn to a sea of freezing mud in the winter rain. Aid workers say they don't have enough blankets and winter clothing for all those displaced by the advance of ISIS.
Safin Hamed AFP/Getty Images

Leeza Guerges sits on the concrete floor of the unfinished building where she lives now.

She calls for her two kids, husband and in-laws to eat the eggs, meat and rice she's prepared. The meat was donated, a rare treat for the family displaced from their home near the northern city of Mosul when ISIS took it about two months ago.

They gather together on the floor and for a moment try to forget that they can't go home, and everything they once had is lost.

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3:37am

Fri October 3, 2014
Parallels

ISIS Captives Tell Of Rapes And Beatings, Plead For Help

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 8:57 am

Displaced demonstrators from the minority Yazidi sect demonstrate outside the United Nations offices in Irbil, Iraq, on Aug. 4 in support of those held captive by the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
Azad Lashkari Reuters/Landov

When militants from the self-proclaimed Islamic State swept through the Sinjar area of northern Iraq in August, they killed hundreds and kidnapped unknown numbers of men, women and children.

The fate of most of them is still unknown, but activists and those who have escaped recount horror stories of rapes and beatings. They're trying to focus international attention on those still being held.

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2:08pm

Sat September 27, 2014
Parallels

Kidnapped By ISIS, One Woman Tells How She Saved Her Sisters

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 11:13 am

In English, the 22-year-old woman's name means life. She's afraid to let us use it for the safety of the hostages that ISIS still holds. She was taken with thousands of other women and children, but she escaped, and now they're searching for her. Her nickname is Dudu.

We meet her and her four younger sisters inside a shipping container that's propped up on cinder blocks and fashioned into a makeshift shelter. It's where her extended family lives now, just outside the northern Kurdish city of Dohuk.

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5:00pm

Tue August 26, 2014
Parallels

Libya's Crisis: A Shattered Airport, Two Parliaments, Many Factions

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 10:03 pm

Islamist fighters in the Libya Dawn coalition guard the entrance of the Tripoli International Airport on Sunday. After days of battles, they captured it from forces aligned with rogue general Khalifa Hifter.
Mahmud Turkia AFP/Getty Images

As Libya has descended into chaos, it has split into two broad camps. On one side is Libya Dawn, an Islamist-backed umbrella group; on the other is a renegade general, Khalifa Hifter, who is based in the eastern part of the country along with his allies.

As this power struggle has escalated, it is no longer just an internal Libyan conflict. It is now being fought regionally, with parallels to other battles playing out in North Africa and the Middle East.

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4:53pm

Mon August 4, 2014
Africa

Foreigners Flee As Violence Worsens In Libya

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 7:09 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

1:14pm

Sat July 26, 2014
Parallels

Barrel Bomb Attacks Devastate Iraqi Families

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 1:44 pm

Smoke rises from buildings in May after shelling on the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is currently held by anti-government fighters. Rights workers say civilians are being killed by government attacks with so-called barrel bombs.
Sadam el-Mehmedy AFP/Getty Images

Human rights groups are accusing the Iraqi government of indiscriminate bombing. Baghdad officials deny that and note they're fighting a Sunni insurgency that commits mass executions and suicide bombings.

Yet rights workers say civilians are being killed by government attacks with so-called barrel bombs — the crude weapons made famous in Syria's current conflict. Barrel bombs are illegal and indiscriminate explosives, packed in things like oil drums or gas cylinders.

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5:14pm

Wed July 23, 2014
Parallels

Common Ground Between Iraq's Rebels May Be Crumbling

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 10:36 pm

People walk by a damaged police station in Mosul on July 15. The militants of the Islamic State are in control of the key city and have acted against former members of Saddam Hussein's regime who helped them drive out the Iraqi army last month.
AP

Abu Wissam speaks to us by phone from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. He asks us to use his nickname to protect him, his family and his missing father before he recounts his father's kidnapping.

The men came on evening of July 3, just before Abu Wissam's family was preparing to break their day-long fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

"There were seven of them and before I knew it they were in our kitchen," he says.

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4:28pm

Mon July 21, 2014
Iraq

Life Under 'The Islamic State': Order In The Shadow Of Terror

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 6:35 pm

Transcript

: This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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5:27am

Mon July 21, 2014
Middle East

After An Ultimatum, Christians Flee Iraqi City

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 8:30 am

For the first time since the first century, there are basically no Christians left in the historic Iraqi city of Mosul.

12:12pm

Sat July 19, 2014
Iraq

Extremists Leave A Violent Message In A Small Iraqi Town

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 10:49 am

Thousands of Iraqis fleeing Sunni extremists fled to the Kurdish city of Erbil, where they lined up here on June 12 at a checkpoint before entering.
EPA /LANDOV

A small Sunni Arab town north of Baghdad put up a fight when Sunni Muslim extremists from the so-called Islamic State tried to impose their rule on the town.

The residents lost, and now the town, Zowiya, just outside of Tikrit, is destroyed. More than 200 of its homes have been blown up, and the residents have fled.

The Islamic State leveled the town as a warning to anybody else that dares to fight them.

"My town is gone," says Abu Saad, a businessman in his sixties. "They bombed all our houses. Everything we have is gone."

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4:58pm

Tue July 15, 2014
Iraq

A Few New Faces Aren't Likely To Satisfy Iraqi Government's Critics

Originally published on Tue July 15, 2014 7:23 pm

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

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5:10am

Sat June 28, 2014
Parallels

A Rogue Libyan General Tries To Impose Order With An Iron Fist

Originally published on Sat June 28, 2014 12:43 pm

Libya's Gen. Khalifa Hifter speaks at a news conference in Abyar, a small town to the east of Benghazi, on May 31. Hifter, a former military officer in Moammar Gadhafi's army, has has launched a self-declared campaign against Muslim extremists. This has won him both supporters and enemies.
Esam Omran Al-Fetori Reuters/Landov

No one is safe in Libya these days. Judges, activists, human rights defenders and former officers in Moammar's Gadhafi's army are being silenced with bullets and knives.

There are no formal security forces, weapons remain unsecured and the economy is foundering because rebels seized oil ports in the east.

For all these reasons, a rogue general with a checkered past has found support in large swaths of the country as he vows to fight what he calls terrorist groups.

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4:20pm

Thu June 26, 2014
Africa

Remembering Salwa Bugaighis, The Libyan Advocate Who Took On Ghadafi

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 7:10 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Audie Cornish.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And I'm Melissa Block. Now, sobering news out of Libya - a prominent rights activist was shot and stabbed to death in her home last night. Salwa Bugaighis was a lawyer from Benghazi who had opposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Today, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice issued a statement lauding her courage and leadership. NPR's Leila Fadel had visited Bugaighis just recently, and has this report.

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4:07pm

Mon June 23, 2014
Middle East

Guilty Verdicts Claim 3 More Reporters, As Egyptian Courts Roll On

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 8:07 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It's a case that's drawn international condemnation. Today, an Egyptian court sentenced two journalists to seven years in jail, and a third to 10 years. They all work for the Al Jazeera English news network and were convicted of being or aiding terrorists and tarnishing Egypt's image. No evidence of their alleged crimes were present - was presented in court. NPR's Leila Fadel has more.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Arabic spoken).

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5:22am

Mon June 23, 2014
Middle East

Egyptian Court Sentences Al Jazeera Reporters To Prison

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:11 am

Two journalists in Cairo got seven years in prison and third received 10 years. Egypt's government accused them of helping the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

5:42pm

Thu June 19, 2014
Parallels

Saddam's Ex-Officer: We've Played Key Role In Helping Militants

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 3:00 pm

Kurdish peshmerga forces look at a checkpoint held by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in Iraq's second city, Mosul, on Monday.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

As they steamrolled across northern Iraq, Sunni militants had important help from an old power in the country — former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and his army.

One retired air force colonel said he is a member of a newly formed military council overseeing Mosul, the large city captured last week by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and its allies from Sunni Arab armed factions.

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4:07pm

Mon June 16, 2014
Iraq

Calm Or Violent Chaos, Life Under ISIS Depends On The City

Originally published on Mon June 16, 2014 9:20 pm

Demonstrators chant in support of the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as they wave the group's flag in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, Iraq, on Monday, after the Sunni militants captured Tal Afar, another northern Iraqi town.
STR AP

People in northern Iraq are getting their first taste of life under ISIS — the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that captured the large Iraqi city of Mosul last week with shocking speed.

The Sunni extremist group holds much of the mainly Sunni areas of northern and western Iraq.

Over the weekend it launched a bloody takeover of Tal Afar, an ethnically and religiously mixed Iraqi city near the Syrian border.

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4:06pm

Mon June 9, 2014
Africa

One Week A Prime Minister: The Short Story Of Libya's Former Leader

Originally published on Mon June 9, 2014 10:46 pm

New Libyan Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteg meets with his ministers for the first time, on June 2 in Tripoli. A week later, he was out of office.
Mahmud Turkia AFP/Getty Images

In Libya, you never know from one week to the next who's going to be prime minister. And when I met with the man in the job last week, it was clear no one is really in charge.

Ahmed Maiteg had only been prime minister a couple of days. He took office under the apparent protection of a militia that supports him, even as another man still claimed the job.

Maiteg, a 41-year-old businessman, was so new in the building that his staff was getting lost.

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6:07am

Fri May 30, 2014
Africa

Political Chaos Reigns 3 Years After Moammar Gadhafi's Ouster

Originally published on Wed July 16, 2014 3:16 pm

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And I'm David Greene. We are reminded this morning of how difficult the transitions have been in the countries of the Arab Spring. Egypt has had a coup. Serious bloody civil war carries on. And in Libya, two men now claim to be the rightful prime minister. One is a businessman elected by parliament earlier this month with the backing of Islamists.

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