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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Parallels
10:39 am
Fri June 26, 2015

A Muslim-Jewish Love Story On Egyptian TV Sends Sparks Flying

A still from Haret al Yahood.
Haret al Yahood

Originally published on Fri June 26, 2015 7:20 pm

Ahmed Kardous sets up an establishing shot. He trains the camera on the actors standing on a cliff overlooking a valley of greenery, and someone yells out, "Action."

Kardous is the director of photography for this Ramadan's breakout television show in Egypt. It's called Haret el-Yahood, or The Jewish Quarter.

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Parallels
6:56 am
Fri June 19, 2015

The Business Of Smuggling Migrants Across The Mediterranean

Some 800 migrants from the Middle East arrive at the Greek port of Piraeus on Sunday. Smugglers are charging thousands of dollars to take migrants across the Mediterranean, and prices can vary widely. Children are often allowed to travel for free.
Anadolu Agency Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 19, 2015 9:06 am

The massive wave of people fleeing the Middle East and Africa face dangerous conditions to make the trip across the Mediterranean Sea, crowded onto rickety boats and overloaded ships. An estimated 2,000 migrants have died so far this year alone.

But, despite the danger, the burgeoning business of smuggling migrants has taken on some retail features.

Smugglers sending desperate migrants from Egypt to Europe are looking to make money — but they do offer discounts. Small children can go for free; migrants who organize a group can go free, as a sort of referral bonus.

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Parallels
1:43 pm
Thu June 11, 2015

As Egyptian Activists Vanish, Suspicion Falls On The Security Forces

Egyptian security forces take up positions during anti-government demonstrations in Cairo last November. Egyptian activists have been disappearing in growing numbers, and human rights groups say they believe the security forces are responsible.
Amr Sayed APA\Landov

Originally published on Thu June 11, 2015 4:49 pm

It happens suddenly. One day, without warning, someone goes out to run an errand or go to class, and they don't come home.

Forced disappearances by Egypt's security forces aren't a new tactic in Egypt, but they're on the rise, human rights groups and activists say. And a cross section of activists, human rights defenders and journalists are being targeted.

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Middle East
3:18 pm
Mon June 8, 2015

Syrian Mother Sends Children Across Mediterranean With Smugglers

Originally published on Mon June 8, 2015 4:56 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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Parallels
4:28 am
Sat May 30, 2015

Mecca Becomes A Mecca For Skyscraper Hotels

An aerial view of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Mecca in October 2014.
Muhammad Hamed Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sat May 30, 2015 9:14 am

At the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the booming call to prayer competes with the racket of construction.

The Grand Mosque is the destination for the most sacred Muslim pilgrimage and it holds the Kaaba, the black cube of a building in the center of the mosque known to Muslims as the House of God.

But skyscraper hotels increasingly dominate the skyline, dwarfing the Great Mosque where worshippers gather, and angering those who seek to retain the city's history and traditional architecture.

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Middle East
5:37 am
Sat May 9, 2015

Saudi Shiites Fear A Backlash Over War In Yemen

Originally published on Sun May 10, 2015 4:29 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Parallels
2:42 am
Thu April 30, 2015

Saudi King Salman Reshuffles Line Of Succession

Earlier this month, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia's new deputy crown prince, met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi in Cairo.
Egyptian Presidency Handout EPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu April 30, 2015 2:42 pm

Things are changing in Saudi Arabia. The new king made a surprising move this week, choosing his nephew to take over as crown prince and his son to take the position of deputy crown prince.

The decision marks a generational shift. For the first time, a grandson of the founder of the kingdom is heir to the throne. And one young prince, the son of King Salman, is emerging as a war hero for many Saudis as the country continues to carry out airstrikes in Yemen.

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Parallels
2:39 pm
Mon April 20, 2015

Saudi Airstrikes Raise Doubts Abroad, Spark Patriotic Fervor At Home

Saudi Arabia's army fires artillery shells toward Houthi rebels along the Saudi border with Yemen on April 15. Outside Saudi Arabia, many are critical of the military campaign and question whether it will succeed, but it is popular inside the kingdom.
STR Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Tue April 21, 2015 3:34 pm

Saudi airstrikes in Yemen began almost a month ago, targeting rebels who have taken over much of the country.

Internationally, there are concerns about increasing casualties and questions about the strategy in the Saudi operation, which is receiving help from the U.S., among others.

But at home in the kingdom, the war has sparked a patriotic fervor that's noticeable just about everywhere you turn.

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Parallels
2:20 am
Wed March 25, 2015

Couple Spends Millions To Save Migrants In The Mediterranean

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) carries out its first rescue in the Mediterranean in August 2014. The Malta-based private rescue service founded by a wealthy American and his Italian wife has rescued more than 3,000 migrants since its launch in August 2014.
Barcroft Media /Landov

Originally published on Wed March 25, 2015 9:23 am

Christopher Catrambone, a wealthy businessman from Lake Charles, La., docks his boat these days in Malta, the Mediterranean island he now calls home. That boat, called the Phoenix, has been getting outfitted for a series of trips set to begin in May.

But Catrambone and his crew don't intend to use the Phoenix for luxury cruises. He and his Italian wife, Regina, invested about $8 million of their own money to buy the ship and hire a crew for an entirely different purpose: to save lives at sea.

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Parallels
6:25 am
Sat March 14, 2015

Egyptians Fight ISIS Fear-Mongering With Punchlines And Parody

A photo from the wedding of Ahmed Shehata and Shaimaa Daif shows friends of the couple mocking members of the so-called Islamic State. Shehata says he staged the surprise to show his wife that ISIS was "something to laugh at, not to fear."
Courtesy of Ahmed Shehata

Originally published on Sat March 14, 2015 3:20 pm

One of the self-proclaimed Islamic State's biggest weapons has been its terrifying propaganda. Highly-produced videos of brute violence are its hallmark: a man being burned alive in a cage; Christians being beheaded on a beach in Libya; a child being used to execute a suspected traitor.

But in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East, people are responding by laughing rather than cowering.

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The Two-Way
7:45 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Egyptian Court Orders Prominent Activist Jailed For 5 Years

Relatives and supporters of Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel Fattah react after Monday's verdict in a trial over an illegal protest.
Khaled Desouki AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 5:56 pm

A Cairo criminal court has sentenced prominent Egyptian blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah to five years in jail for violating a controversial law that bans unlicensed protests.

Another activist, Ahmed Abdul Rahman, was also sentenced to five years on Monday. Eighteen other people were given three years, and several tried in absentia got 15 years.

As the judge read out his verdict, the courtroom erupted in protest.

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Parallels
4:16 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

ISIS Beheadings In Libya Devastate An Egyptian Village

Relatives of Egyptian Coptic Christians purportedly murdered in Libya by self-proclaimed Islamic State militants mourn for those killed.
Mohamed el-Shahed AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed February 18, 2015 7:09 am

Over the weekend a video emerged apparently showing the Libya branch of the self-proclaimed Islamic State beheading 21 men. All but one were confirmed to be Christian laborers from Egypt.

While this new variation on brutality shocked people around the world, the horror — and sorrow — hit hardest in a small, poor Egyptian town: Residents say 13 of the men were from El-Aour, a hamlet on the Nile River that is a mix of Christians and Muslims.

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Middle East
2:00 pm
Mon February 16, 2015

Egypt Urges The World To Back Its Retaliation To ISIS Killings

Originally published on Mon February 16, 2015 5:35 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

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Africa
10:49 am
Sun February 15, 2015

With Oil Fields Under Attack, Libya's Economic Future Looks Bleak

Libya's oil terminals — like the Brega refinery and oil terminal, pictured in March 11, 2014 — are being fought over by militias and by the nation's two rival governments. The conflict is drying up production, and may have a devastating impact on the nation's battered economy.
Abdullah Doma AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue February 17, 2015 7:57 am

The headquarters of the National Oil Corporation in Tripoli are gleaming, the floors marble, the offices decked out with black leather chairs and fake flowers. It seems far from the fighting going on over oil terminals around the country.

But the man in charge looks at production and knows the future is bleak.

"We cannot produce. We are losing 80 percent of our production," says Mustapha Sanallah, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corporation.

He looks like a typical executive, decked out in a suit and glasses. But beneath his calm veneer, he's worried.

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Middle East
2:57 pm
Sat February 14, 2015

After Over A Year In Egyptian Prison, Freed Journalist Recalls His Nightmare

Originally published on Sun February 15, 2015 10:33 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARUN RATH, HOST:

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News
7:09 am
Thu February 12, 2015

After More Than 400 Days In Egyptian Jail, Journalists Released — For Now

Originally published on Thu February 12, 2015 8:45 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

World
2:47 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Putin Receives Warm Royal Welcome In Egypt

Originally published on Tue February 10, 2015 6:53 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Parallels
11:59 am
Fri February 6, 2015

Libya Today: 2 Governments, Many Militias, Infinite Chaos

Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni arrives for a dinner hosted by President Obama last August in Washington. Thinni heads Libya's internationally recognized government, but due to the fighting among rival factions, he is operating from the eastern city of Bayda, hundreds of miles east of the capital, Tripoli.
Susan Walsh AP

Originally published on Sat February 7, 2015 12:24 pm

At a recent protest, Libyans in the eastern city of Bayda chanted: "There's no gas, there's no electricity, you've brought us nothing, Thinni."

The protesters were referring to Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, the head of one of Libya's two rival governments. His government is relegated to Bayda, a city of just 250,000 people because it doesn't control the capital in far-away Tripoli, hundreds of miles to the west.

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Europe
2:16 pm
Wed January 14, 2015

New 'Charlie Hebdo' Cover Met With Condemnation, Albeit Measured

Originally published on Wed January 14, 2015 4:33 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Middle East
3:02 am
Mon January 5, 2015

Tunisian Craftsman Worries Oud Making Will Die Out

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 5:57 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Middle East
2:51 pm
Fri January 2, 2015

After Uprising, A Struggle To Restore Tunisia's Ancient Emblems

Originally published on Fri January 2, 2015 4:23 pm

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

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Middle East
3:05 am
Thu January 1, 2015

Egyptian Court Orders Al-Jazeera Journalists To Be Retried

Originally published on Thu January 1, 2015 5:48 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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Middle East
5:42 am
Sat December 20, 2014

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

Originally published on Sat December 20, 2014 9:39 am

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

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Parallels
2:43 pm
Fri December 19, 2014

With A Presidential Vote, Tunisia Seeks A Peaceful Transition

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

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 6:32 pm

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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Parallels
1:47 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Kurdish Officials Worry About Kurds Joining The Islamic State

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

Originally published on Tue December 16, 2014 4:15 pm

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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Parallels
12:44 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Thu December 11, 2014 7:38 am

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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Parallels
2:00 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

With Cash And Cachet, The Islamic State Expands Its Empire

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

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 6:02 pm

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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Parallels
1:34 am
Tue November 18, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue November 18, 2014 7:21 am

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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Parallels
3:45 am
Sun November 16, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Sun November 16, 2014 10:25 am

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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Iraq
10:24 am
Sun November 9, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Mon November 10, 2014 6:44 am

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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