Sean Carberry

Sean Carberry is NPR's international correspondent based in Kabul. His work can be heard on all of NPR's award-winning programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Prior to moving into his current role, he was responsible for producing for NPR's foreign correspondents in the Middle East and "fill-in" reporting. Carberry travels extensively across the Middle East to cover a range of stories such as the impact of electricity shortages on the economy in Afghanistan and the experiences of Syrian refugees in Turkish camps.

Carberry has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, and Iceland. In 2010, Carberry won the Gabriel Award Certificate of Merit for America Abroad's "The First Freedom," and in 2011 was awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Award as lead producer and correspondent for America Abroad's series, "The Arab World's Demographic Dilemma."

Since joining NPR, Carberry worked with Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Tripoli for NPR's coverage of the fall of the Libyan capital. He also covered the post-US withdrawal political crisis in Baghdad in December 2011, and recently completed a two month fill-in reporting assignment in Kabul that led to his current role.

Before coming to NPR in 2011, Carberry worked at America Abroad Media where he served as technical director and senior producer in addition to traveling internationally to report and produce radio and multimedia content for America Abroad's monthly radio news documentaries and website. He also worked at NPR Member Station WBUR in Boston as a field and political producer, associate producer/technical director, and reporter, contributing to NPR, newscasts, and WBUR's Here and Now.

In addition to his journalistic accolades, Carberry is a well-rounded individual who has also been an assistant professor of music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music in Boston, received a Gold Record as Recording Engineer for Susan Tedeschi's Grammy-Nominated album "Just Won't Burn," engineered music for the television program "Sex in the City," is a certified SCUBA diver, and is a graduate of the Skip Barber School of Auto Racing.

Carberry earned a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from Lehigh University and a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, with a focus in Politics, National Security, and International Affairs.

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2:57pm

Mon July 1, 2013
Parallels

With A New Emir, Will Qatar Keep Its Outsized Role?

Qatar's former emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is shown last week in the capital, Doha, shortly before he stepped down on June 25 in favor of his 33-year-old son. Such voluntary abdications are exceedingly rare in the Gulf.
Bertrand Langlois AFP/Getty Images

Qatar's capital, Doha, is a post-modern city rising like a mirage out of the hot sands of the Arabian Desert. The ever-growing skyscrapers are stunning, and in some cases, head-scratching works of architecture and engineering. Standing in the city, you almost expect to see the Jetsons fly by.

Qatar is also doing something unusual when it comes to leadership. The 61-year-old emir, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, stepped down last week and handed power to his 33-year-old son, Sheik Tamim.

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4:57am

Sun June 30, 2013
Parallels

Kabul Postcard: Newly Paved Sidewalks, A Lion On The Roof

Originally published on Mon July 1, 2013 12:42 pm

Afghan official inspects wreckage at the site of a suicide attack near Kabul military airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on June 10. After a month outside the country, NPR's Sean Carberry returned to find some things that had changed, but many, like insurgent violence, that remain the same.
Ahmad Jamshid AP

I've just returned to Kabul after a month out of the country. In a place where it sometimes feels like nothing changes, a lot has changed.

First, a few oddities. An Afghan businessman on my street apparently bought a lion cub and has been keeping it on his roof. I'm not sure if that has anything to do with the fact that I have yet to see any of the ubiquitous, dust-caked street dogs in the neighborhood since I returned, but I don't miss them.

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5:41am

Sun May 19, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghans With Disabilities Fight For The Right To Rights

Originally published on Sun May 19, 2013 6:44 pm

A technician shapes a cast mold for a prosthetic limb at the Red Cross orthopedic clinic in Kabul. The clinic produces about 2,000 prosthetic limbs each year.
Sean Carberry NPR

Climbing the rickety metal staircase is precarious enough if you aren't on crutches, but it's simply dangerous if you are. At the top is the office of Janbazan-e-Mayhan, one of many social councils for disabled Afghans. Men missing arms, legs or hands sit around the small room.

Afghanistan isn't an easy place for anyone to make a living. But for those with disabilities, it's a downright hostile environment. Tens of thousands have been maimed and disabled during decades of conflict. Jobs are scarce, and there's almost nothing that's handicapped-accessible.

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5:13am

Sat May 18, 2013
Parallels

Afghan Mineral Treasures Stay Buried, Hostages To Uncertainty

Originally published on Sat May 18, 2013 7:23 am

An Afghan worker helps excavate part of the mountaintop copper works above the ancient city at Mes Aynak in February. Afghanistan is believed to be sitting on massive mineral and metal deposits. But many obstacles have prevented large-scale mining from getting underway.
Matthew C. Rains MCT/Landov

For years, reports have suggested that Afghanistan is sitting on massive deposits of copper, gold, iron and rare earth minerals valued up to $3 trillion. This provides hope for a future economy that would not have to rely so heavily on foreign donations.

But with an uncertain political, regulatory and security environment, international investors are hesitant. And it could be many years before Afghanistan begins extracting its mineral wealth.

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3:02am

Thu May 16, 2013
Parallels

U.S. Hands Over Nation-Building Projects To Afghans

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 4:24 am

Afghan and U.S. officials attend the closing ceremony for the Paktia provincial reconstruction team on April 9 in eastern Afghanistan. NATO created more than 20 teams to help the Afghans rebuild. But now the U.S. teams are winding down their activities.
Sean Carberry NPR

On a sunny spring day in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province, Afghan officials and U.S. troops and civilians gather inside the ancient mud fort in the center of Forward Operating Base Gardez. They're attending a ceremony marking the formal end of the work of the provincial reconstruction team, or PRT.

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4:20pm

Wed May 15, 2013
Parallels

Heavy Metal In Kabul? It's The Music, Not The Munitions

Originally published on Thu May 16, 2013 9:35 am

Solomon "Sully" Omar performs with the Afghan metal band District Unknown at the third annual Sound Central Festival in Kabul earlier this month.
Courtesy of Ellie Kealey

When 23-year-old Solomon "Sully" Omar felt the music scene in his native Denver wasn't giving him what he was looking for, he made a radical move. He headed for Kabul, capital of the war-torn country his parents had fled decades ago.

"I came here to continue my education and at the same time see what's in the music scene here and bring some of the skills and abilities that I have to the music scene," says Omar.

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2:55am

Wed May 8, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghans Confront Senstive Issue Of Ethnicity

Originally published on Thu May 9, 2013 11:43 am

Saifulzul Husseini (right) works in Dashti Barchi, a Hazara neighborhood of Kabul. He believes that ethnicity should be listed on the new identity card.
Sean Carberry NPR

In Afghanistan, where most people are illiterate and live in areas without paved roads or regular electricity, a state-of-the-art smart-chip ID card may seem extravagant. But the government believes it can help with everything from census data to voter registration to health care.

The format of the proposed card, however, is fueling debate over ethnicity and identity at a time when anxiety is already high over the drawdown of NATO troops.

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5:11am

Tue May 7, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghan-Pakistani Forces Exchange Fire Along Shared Border

Originally published on Tue May 7, 2013 11:04 am

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Some other news. For the second time in less than a week, Afghan and Pakistani forces have exchanged fire along their shared border. The countries clashed again yesterday over a gate that Pakistani forces have been building on what Afghans say is their side of the line. The roots of this problem run much deeper.

But as NPR's Sean Carberry reports,.

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3:16pm

Wed May 1, 2013
Afghanistan

Secret Cash To Afghan Leader: Corruption Or Just Foreign Aid?

Originally published on Wed May 1, 2013 7:48 pm

Afghan President Hamid Karzai acknowledged a report this week that the CIA has regularly been sending him money. Afghans seem to have mixed feelings. The president is shown here speaking at an event in Kabul on March 10.
S. SABAWOON EPA/Landov

After a report in The New York Times this week, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has acknowledged that the CIA has been secretly delivering bags of money to his office since the beginning of the war more than a decade ago.

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9:24am

Sun April 28, 2013
The Two-Way

For Afghan Policewomen, Danger Often Comes From Colleagues

Afghan policewomen take part in a training exercise in the western province of Herat in 2011. Policewomen face frequent sexual harassment and assaults, often carried out by policemen, human rights groups say.
Sardar Xinhua/Landov

It seems almost trivial at first: the latest Human Rights Watch report on Afghanistan says female police officers need their own toilets. Sure, who's going to argue with that. But why is it a big deal?

Here's how it unfolds.

Female police officers are experiencing high levels of harassment, sexual assault and rape — often at the hands of their male colleagues. Where is most of this activity taking place? In police station bathrooms and changing rooms.

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8:47am

Sat April 27, 2013
The Two-Way

Taliban Says It Will Begin Spring Offensive Sunday

Originally published on Sun April 28, 2013 3:06 am

The Taliban will launch their annual spring offensive on Sun., April 28, the group said Saturday.

In a press release, the Taliban said that the offensive will target "America, NATO and their backers for the gratification of Allah Almighty, independence of Afghanistan and establishing in it an Islamic government while we humbly raise our hands towards Allah Almighty for its success and hope for a favorable and triumphant end."

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5:01am

Mon April 8, 2013
NPR Story

Foreign Service Officer Died Doing What She Loved

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 10:09 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Over the weekend in Afghanistan, a suicide bomber took the life of five Americans. They were on a mission to deliver books to an Afghan school. They were military personnel, a Defense Department civilian, and the first State Department Foreign Service officer to be killed in Afghanistan.

She was 25-year-old Anne Smedinghoff. NPR's Sean Carberry, in Kabul, sent this remembrance.

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12:33pm

Sun April 7, 2013
The Two-Way

Young Staffer's Death Binds U.S. Embassy, Journalists

Originally published on Mon April 8, 2013 10:50 am

An Afghan police officer stands guard near the site where a suicide bomb attack took the life of five Americans, including 25-year-old Foreign Service officer Anne Smedinghoff, in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Arghand Xinhua /Landov

Death comes with the territory when you work in conflict zones. On sometimes a daily basis, those of us who have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular have filed stories with headlines like, "Four troops killed during insurgent attack," or "IED kills 10 civilians and wounds six."

It's a blur of numbers and uniforms. When we get word of an incident, we scramble to determine what happened, the nationality of the victims and any other pertinent details. But it's all very anonymous and impersonal, most of the time. It's reporting. It's work.

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3:27am

Tue April 2, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Pakistan Struggle To Find Common Ground

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 8:05 am

Afghanistan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, earlier this year.
Ahmad Nazar AP

Much has changed since last November, when Afghans were praising Pakistan for saying it would no longer support the Taliban and would instead work for peace.

"We believe that relations between the two countries are deteriorating," says Aimal Faizi, spokesman for President Hamid Karzai.

Faizi says the downward slide started last month. The two countries had agreed to convene a conference of religious scholars, or ulema, to denounce suicide bombing. But the conference fell apart at the last minute, with each country blaming the other for undermining the effort.

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3:25am

Mon March 18, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Forests A Casualty Of Timber Smuggling

Originally published on Mon March 18, 2013 2:34 pm

An Afghan laborer works in a firewood yard at a market in Herat on Dec. 11, 2011.
Aref Karimi AFP/Getty Images

Despite Afghanistan's fierce winter, it's rare to find a house with insulation or a modern heating system. So Afghans rely on bukharis, stoves that look like an oil drum with a big rusty pipe growing out of the top that bends off into a hole in the wall.

That fact keeps the hundreds of wood vendors around Kabul quite happy. This winter, NPR staff fed several tons of firewood into their bukhari — and that's just one house in a city of about 5 million people.

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11:36am

Mon March 11, 2013
Afghanistan

With Withdrawal Looming, U.S. Troops Shift Their Aim

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 5:36 pm

An Afghan policeman stands guard near the scene of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 27
Musadeq Sadeq AP

The NATO campaign is now in a new phase. After years of fighting the Taliban and bolstering anemic local governance, NATO troops are handing those responsibilities over to the Afghans. NPR's Sean Carberry recently embedded with U.S. troops in the southern province of Kandahar as they worked on this new mission.

The fertile Arghandab Valley in Kandahar province is considered one of Afghanistan's breadbaskets. For years it was also a valley of death for NATO troops.

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5:39am

Sun March 10, 2013
Afghanistan

Sniffing Out Bombs In Afghanistan: A Job That's Gone To The Dogs

Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 12:42 pm

Military Police Sgt. Joshua Hancock and Nero, his Dutch shepherd, play at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan. Nero is trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and to attack.
Sean Carberry NPR

Lucy is a stereotypically giddy black labradoodle. She's not what you picture when you think of a military dog serving on the front lines in Afghanistan. She wiggles around the room chasing her tennis ball and thinks my microphone cover is a chew toy.

But her handler, Spc. Heath Garcia, says when Lucy is on a mission, she's all business. She's highly trained to sniff out improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, which are the No. 1 killer of civilians and troops in Afghanistan.

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2:59am

Fri March 1, 2013
Afghanistan

New Afghan Challenge For U.S.: Shipping Stuff Out

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:12 am

A pair of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles are lined up for a convoy to Kandahar Airfield. One of the trucks broke down before leaving Forward Operating Base Frontenac. The unit has to move out 50 vehicles from the compound.
Sean Carberry/NPR

In addition to training and equipping Afghan soldiers, U.S. forces in Afghanistan have another critical mission: packing up more than 11 years worth of equipment and sending it home. The number of containers to move out is in the six figures, and some question whether everything can be shipped out by the end of 2014.

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3:57pm

Wed February 20, 2013
Afghanistan

The Afghan Battle Over A Law To Protect Women

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 6:11 pm

Students in Kabul protest violence against women in Kabul last fall. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 protecting women's rights, but parliament has not passed a law making the decree permanent.
Mohammad Ismail Reuters/Landov

Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree in 2009 banning violence against women. But the parliament, which is currently on its winter recess, has been unable to pass it and give it permanence as a law.

There's major disagreement on key provisions where Islamic and secular law come into conflict. And activists say the gains made in women's rights since the fall of the Taliban in 2001 are slipping away.

Masooda Karokhi, a female member of parliament, has been pushing to get the proposal through the male-dominated legislature.

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5:20am

Sun February 17, 2013
Afghanistan

Searching For Ibrahim

Originally published on Sun February 17, 2013 6:23 am

Ibrahim Gumus was 16 when he ran away from his home in Turkey to join al-Qaida. This is the photo his father — who traveled to Afghanistan to try and find him — carries in his wallet.
Courtesy of Farhettin Gumus

Over the years, al-Qaida has recruited young men in the Arab world, Africa and Central Asia, including Afghanistan. The group has also had some success in luring followers from Turkey.

Last month, Fahrettin Gumus, a retired security guard from Turkey's northwestern province of Bursa, went to Afghanistan in search of his son, who he had last heard from three years earlier.

The small-framed 57-year old says he often worried about his son Ibrahim, but he never through he'd go through with his plan to join al-Qaida.

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1:07pm

Thu February 14, 2013
The Two-Way

Airstrike In Afghanistan Renews Concerns Over Civilian Casualties

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the new U.S. and International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, commander in Afghanistan, has only been in charge for a few days, and already he's been summoned to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office for what looks like a dressing down, according to a press release from the president's office.

Dunford was called in to discuss what was initially reported as an ISAF airstrike in Kunar province that killed 10 civilians late Tuesday night.

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5:09am

Sat February 9, 2013
Afghanistan

Afghanistan, Pakistan Seek A Fatwa Against Suicide Attacks

Originally published on Sat February 9, 2013 10:21 pm

Afghan police and officials visit the site of a suicide attack in Kabul in September. A suicide bomber blew himself up alongside a minivan carrying foreigners on a major highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital, police said, killing at least 10 people, including nine foreigners.
Massoud Hossaini AFP/Getty Images

The Muhammad Mustafa mosque sits in a fairly well-off part of Kabul where government employees and some high-ranking officials live. Muhammad Ehsan Saiqal, a moderate, 54-year-old Muslim who welcomes girls into his Quran classes, is the imam. The slight, gray-bearded cleric preaches against suicide bombings.

"Islam doesn't permit suicide attacks," he says. "If someone kills any Muslim without any cause, under Shariah law [Islamic law] it means that he kills the whole Muslim world."

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12:32pm

Wed February 6, 2013
Afghanistan

U.S., Afghanistan At Odds Over Weapons Wish List

Originally published on Wed February 6, 2013 6:12 pm

Afghan soldiers conduct an artillery training exercise in the northwest province of Badghis in July 2012.
Sean Carberry NPR

The U.S. and the international community have pledged $16 billion to support Afghan security forces after NATO troops complete their drawdown at the end of 2014. That money covers the cost of troops and equipment.

But just what equipment will be provided? Afghan military officials want big-ticket planes, tanks and other conventional weapons.

The U.S., however, says the Afghans need to get their strategic priorities in order, and focus less on prestige hardware and more on weaponry and equipment suitable for counterinsurgency warfare.

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5:21am

Sun February 3, 2013
Afghanistan

From A Land Where Music Was Banned — To Carnegie Hall

Originally published on Sun February 3, 2013 3:49 pm

Afghanistan's youth orchestra performs in Kabul on Jan. 31. The orchestra is coming to the U.S. and will appear at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.
Shah Marai AFP/Getty Images

In Afghanistan, there was no sound of music when the Taliban ruled from 1996 to 2001. The Islamist militants destroyed music CDs and instruments and even jailed musicians.

Today, there are music schools and young Afghans playing in public. And, this weekend, 48 Afghan boys and girls are traveling to the U.S. to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

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4:00pm

Mon January 28, 2013
Afghanistan

Women In Combat: What Do Troops In Afghanistan Think?

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 8:17 pm

U.S. troops in Afghanistan appear to have mixed feelings about the decision lifting the ban on women in combat positions. Some women already operate in combat zones. Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley is shown here with her Marine Corps team in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, in November 2010.
Paula Bronstein Getty Images

The new U.S. military policy on women serving in combat roles was crafted in Washington, but it will play out in places like Afghanistan.

And sitting outside at the military base at the Kabul airport, male and female troops offered their thoughts on what the new policy might mean.

"I wasn't completely surprised with it. It's not anything we haven't discussed before," said Capt. Monica Paden, a military intelligence officer from San Diego. "We have been slowly being integrated into combat arms and into units in support roles."

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1:48pm

Thu January 10, 2013
Afghanistan

Small Strike Against Corruption: Afghan Governors Chosen On Merit

Originally published on Thu January 10, 2013 6:26 pm

Deputy provincial governors and district governors selected under a new merit-based program are sworn in Tuesday in Kabul. The development is part of an effort to address rampant corruption in Afghanistan.
Sean Carberry NPR

Regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Afghanistan has implemented what for it is a novel new program: selecting provincial and district officials on the basis of their skills, rather than connections.

By all accounts, Afghanistan's corruption is endemic at all levels of government. It's hoped the new effort will begin to curb graft, patronage and nepotism in the country's 34 provinces and roughly 360 districts.

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4:53pm

Mon January 7, 2013
Afghanistan

As Karzai Visits U.S., What Are The Prospects For Afghan Peace?

Originally published on Mon January 7, 2013 7:16 pm

Afghan President Hamid Karzai will meet with President Obama and other senior U.S. officials in Washington this week. Many analysts remain skeptical about the prospects for a negotiated peace in Afghanistan. He's shown here speaking in Kabul last month.
Massoud Hossani AFP/Getty Images

As Afghan President Hamid Karzai comes to Washington to meet with President Obama and other U.S. officials this week, there is renewed discussion in Afghanistan about the possibility of a negotiated end to the country's war.

Recent talks hosted by France have rekindled hopes for some sort of reconciliation between the Taliban and Karzai's government. But given the decades of war in Afghanistan, many think the prospect of a peace deal remains nothing but talk.

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3:32am

Mon December 17, 2012
Afghanistan

Afghan Woman Carves Out An Entrepreneurial Niche

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 9:49 am

Fatima Jafari, owner of Bamboo Wood Industries, listens to a worker in her factory in Kabul, Afghanistan. Jafari is one of the few female entrepreneurs in an industrial trade in the country, despite international efforts to support women in business.
Sultan Faizy NPR

Behind a tall metal gate in a nondescript nook of Kabul sits the Bamboo Wood Industries factory. It's not a place you're likely to stumble across by accident. Inside, a handful of men are cutting, painting and assembling desks and cabinets. The pieces being made are chocolate brown and quite modern looking.

Sitting in a spartan, unheated office above the factory floor is Fatima Jafari, the owner of the company. The 30-something woman started the business a little over a year ago.

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5:10am

Sun December 9, 2012
Afghanistan

Afghan Contractors Feel Pinch Of Drawdown

Originally published on Sun December 9, 2012 3:27 pm

Laborers work on a building in Kabul, Afghanistan. Following the drawdown of U.S. troops and NGOs, many construction companies are without projects and being forced to close offices and downsize.
Musadeq Sadeq AP

The Afghan construction industry has been one of the big winners since the fall of the Taliban. NATO and the international community have pumped billions of dollars into building roads, schools and bases.

With the drawdown of troops and NGOs, however, comes a drawdown in construction spending, and that has Afghan contractors scrambling to find new business.

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5:31pm

Tue December 4, 2012
Afghanistan

Kabul's Roads, Paved With Good Intentions

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 1:00 am

Afghan laborers work on a roads project last month in Kabul. A huge project to fix the city's roads and sewers is causing huge headaches.
Daniel Berehulak Getty Images

Sometimes, you don't have to go far to find a story. For the past few months, just stepping outside NPR's Kabul office has been a drama.

The neighborhood is in the midst of a major road and sewer renovation project. It's just one of many such projects that is badly needed in Kabul and elsewhere in the country.

But as is often the case, the pace and quality of the work has been uneven. And residents aren't so sure whether the final product will be worth the months of gridlock, power outages and business interruption.

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