Frontline Club: Iraq film premiere and debate

How has risk rewritten the rules for Iraqi journalists? The Frontline Club in London premieres A Strange Animal, a short film featuring me and my colleagues in Iraq. The film, directed by Richard Pendry, reveals some of the techniques reporters have developed in a conflict where they are targeted for kidnap and murder.

The screening at the Frontline Club was followed by a debate about the growing role of local journalists in covering conflict. The Frontline website has a short article summarising the debate, as well as video and podcast of the entire proceedings. A short version of A Strange Animal was screened by Newsweek and The Daily Beast.


The Daily Beast: Raid in Kirkuk

Can the thrill of frontline reporting offset the pressure of a desk job?

Richard Pendry interviews me in this five-minute film for The Daily Beast, examining the risks and rewards of embedding with an Iraqi police unit.

Photograph by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

Sunni Militia’s Struggle for Relevance


A bomb attack outside an Iraqi military base has killed scores of Sunni Sahwa militiamen who were queuing for their wages. The manner in which the men died seems to embody their leaders’ concerns: picked out by vengeful enemies at the gates of an institution that remains wary of them. The Sahwa (Awakening) fighters partnered the US against their former allies in al-Qaeda – but now feel betrayed by the Iraqi state.

Full text

Iraqi Interpreter’s Killing Pits Faith Against Law


An Iraqi man who worked as an interpreter for the US military is shot dead for having apparently converted to Christianity. The reaction to his murder illustrates the difficulty of balancing ancient articles of faith against a democratic obligation to guard religious minorities.

Full text

Financial Times: Health care in Iraq

Weakened by sanctions, Iraq’s health care system was brought to its knees by the conflict that followed the US-led invasion. Recent security gains have allowed some hospitals to recover – but the doctors working in them still fear for their lives.

Article for Financial Times’ Special Report on Health, September 2009
(Available free after registering at

Financial Times Weekend magazine: Policing Kirkuk


Kirkuk’s anti-terrorist police ride around in battered pickup trucks, keeping a nervous lookout for the bombers that have killed scores of their colleagues. With the American military eying an exit from Iraq, the force has become a central player in a seemingly intractable conflict over land and oil.

I accompanied the officers as they carried out overnight raids in pursuit of an insurgent cell linked to al-Qaeda.

Photographs by Kamaran Najm/Metrography

Russia’s reach unnerves Chechens

Chechens who fought the Russian army – or simply fled it – cast wistful eyes at their homeland across the border. Report from the Pankisi Gorge for BBC News, January 2008

Shaped bombs magnify Iraq attacks

Armour-piercing weapons have been deployed to devastating effect against British and US forces in Iraq – but the science behind them is more than a century old. Analysis for BBC News, October 2005

Falluja siege interviews

A series of interviews with Fadhil Badrani, an Iraqi journalist in Falluja, led to this diary-style account of the US assault on the city. Badrani was living behind rebel lines. I spoke to him over the phone from London and wrote the English text for the BBC News website. Translation was courtesy of the BBC Arabic service.

Farewell to Falluja, 24 November 2004

Fear remains after assault, 16 November 2004

Ghost city calls for help, 13 November 2004

Smoke and corpses, 11 November 2004

Defiance amid carnage, 10 November 2004

Watching tragedy engulf my city, 9 November 2004

Taking cover in Falluja, 8 November 2004

Prayers and tears in Falluja, 5 November 2004

Inside besieged Falluja, 18 October 2004

Iraq aid workers weigh up the dangers

Aid agencies reconsider their methods after the abduction of four workers in Baghdad. BBC News, September 2004.

Analysis: Iraq’s military landscape

A survey of the armed groups in Iraq, from the US-led coalition to the militias and insurgents. Written on the eve of the handover of power to an interim government, as it was becoming clear that the dissolution of the Iraqi army had swelled the insurgents’ ranks. Analysis for BBC News. June 2004.

British Sikhs salute Indian success

The Sikh community in London welcomes the appointment of Manmohan Singh as Indian PM – but memories of persecution run deep. Report from Southall for BBC News, May 2004.