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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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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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

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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

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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

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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

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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/.

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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/.

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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/.

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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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Africa
6:11 am
Sat November 1, 2014

Press Freedom Dwindles In Egypt

Originally published on Sat November 1, 2014 12:25 pm

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

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Parallels
11:59 am
Mon October 20, 2014

The Artificial Boundary That Divides Iraq

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

Originally published on Mon October 20, 2014 4:03 pm

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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Middle East
2:49 pm
Sat October 18, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Sun October 19, 2014 7:23 am

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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Iraq
8:30 am
Sun October 12, 2014

Iraqis Displaced By ISIS Face Another Threat: Winter

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

Originally published on Sun October 12, 2014 2:54 pm

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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Parallels
1:37 am
Fri October 3, 2014

ISIS Captives Tell Of Rapes And Beatings, Plead For Help

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

Originally published on Fri October 3, 2014 6:57 am

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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Parallels
11:52 am
Sat September 27, 2014

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

Originally published on Sun September 28, 2014 9:13 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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Parallels
2:45 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

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

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

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 8:03 pm

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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Africa
2:53 pm
Mon August 4, 2014

Foreigners Flee As Violence Worsens In Libya

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 5:09 pm

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

Parallels
11:14 am
Sat July 26, 2014

Barrel Bomb Attacks Devastate Iraqi Families

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

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 11:44 am

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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Parallels
3:14 pm
Wed July 23, 2014

Common Ground Between Iraq's Rebels May Be Crumbling

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

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 8:36 pm

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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