Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 17, 2012

Anthony Shadid Was A Fine Reporter

Anthony Shadid died yesterday of asthma triggered by an allergy against horses while traveling on a smuggling route between Syria and Turkey. Shadid was one of the most objective reporter on the Middle East in the western media. I read every piece I stumbled upon that carried his byline.

Shadid was nearly killed some 10 years ago. But not by an allergy. The American Journalism Review wrote about it back in 2002 and the story captures Shadid's human qualities quite well:

On a gray Sunday, Boston Globe reporter Anthony Shadid made his way to the epicenter of one of the world's hottest stories--the Israeli assault on Yasser Arafat's compound in the West Bank town of Ramallah. Shadid wore a white flak jacket emblazoned with "TV" in bold red letters, the universal symbol for the press in conflict zones.
Around 5 p.m., Shadid tucked away his notebook and began the trek back to the hotel.
Shadid felt pleased with his day's work, particularly making it past Israeli Defense Forces troops dug in around Palestinian Authority headquarters. He was walking down the middle of a deserted street, talking with a colleague, as someone in the shadows took aim. The high-velocity bullet tore through his left shoulder, missing his spine by a centimeter.

The reporter crumpled into a heap, unable to move his arms or legs. "At first I thought I was hit by a stun grenade because my whole body locked up," recalls Shadid, 33, a veteran Middle East reporter. Suddenly, the white flak jacket was soaked with blood. The bullet entered at the edge of the protective gear and exited through his right shoulder, leaving two gaping wounds.

Israeli medics administered morphine and stopped the bleeding. They put Shadid on a stretcher and wheeled him across the street to the Arab Care Hospital. His ordeal was far from over.

That same evening, Israeli soldiers raided the Arab Care Hospital where Shadid had been taken. In a stupor from painkillers, he focused on heavily armed soldiers standing in his room, barking questions in Hebrew. "I said, 'Hold on, I'm a journalist.' One of them said in English, 'Put your hands up.' " It was two hours before he would see a doctor again.

The next morning, the IDF arranged a military escort out of the war zone for the wounded journalist, who had spent five years reporting for the Associated Press in Cairo before signing on with the Globe. Shadid insisted that his Palestinian colleague be allowed to leave with him. "The Israeli military was not keen about the idea," he says. "I knew if Said didn't come with me, he would never get out."

The two drove off in an ambulance headed toward Ramallah's main square. Suddenly Shadid was told by the army that he was being transferred to an armored personnel carrier and that his colleague could not go. "I said, 'Forget it. We'll go back to the hospital,' " the reporter recalls. During the return trip the ambulance driver and Ghazali decided to head straight for a checkpoint. For the second time in less than 24 hours, Shadid faced Israeli gunfire.

"We didn't run into any problems until we got to the checkpoint. At first, we thought they were shooting at us," says Shadid. "We could actually hear the bullets ricocheting off the pavement. I was lying on a stretcher helpless. I remember thinking, 'This could be a bad ending.' I felt more fear than when I was shot." Instead, the Israelis were firing at Palestinians hurling rocks.
The wounds have healed, but 12 razor-sharp pieces of shrapnel remain embedded in his body. Still, Shadid has one goal in mind: "I will go back. It's not like a cowboy thing. I don't get high on an adrenaline rush. This is an important story, one that I have been involved with for a long time."

There were more stories he deemed important and wrote about The families of people who vanished in Iraq, the death people in Lebanon during the 2006 war and the revolutions in the Middle East. Here is a good piece that captures some aspects of the situation in Syria: “In Assad’s Syria, There Is No Imagination” and his most recent piece from Libya: Libya Struggles to Curb Militias as Chaos Grows.

The world needs more reporters like Shadid.

Posted by b on February 17, 2012 at 18:28 UTC | Permalink


Right on target, b. A big loss for everyone. My first thought upon hearing he had died of an asthma attack was to wonder if it was some kind of foul play.

Maybe, maybe not. But a powerful, true journalistic voice is gone at a critical time.

Posted by: Maxcrat | Feb 17 2012 22:10 utc | 1

Good job, b.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 18 2012 4:24 utc | 2

bizarre. wouldnt he have been prepared w/ asthma meds knowing he was to travel on horseback? couldnt have been a complete surprise. something not quite right here.

Posted by: blue beam | Feb 18 2012 6:10 utc | 3

R.I.P. Anthony Shadid, and my sincere condolences for his wife and Kids...! Mahalo, b, for the great eulogy...!

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 18 2012 8:57 utc | 4

Shadid in Ramallah as he himself reported it: Unholy war into the heart of darkness

And a tribute by Rajiv Chandrasekaran with a very interesting detail about Iraq, Bremer and Sistani:
Anthony Shadid, the ‘most gifted foreign correspondent in a generation’

His cultivation of the Shiite clergy yielded not just long, lyrical tales on the front page. He also nabbed scoops, the greatest of which occurred in November 2003. Ambassador Paul Bremer had proposed that a transitional Iraqi government be selected through caucuses instead of direct elections, which the Americans deemed too difficult and risky to hold. Although a group of Iraqi politicians who had been handpicked by Bremer had approved the plan, Anthony knew that the ultimate arbiter of whether most Shiites would go along with the caucuses was not Bremer’s council but Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most influential and revered Shiite leader. Anthony had painstakingly cultivated sources in Sistani’s office and managed to get a letter with a few questions into the grand ayatollah’s hands.

A few days later, Sistani issued his response. He rejected Bremer’s plan out of hand. But what was most remarkable was how Sistani conveyed it: scrawled on a large banner that was hung in central Najaf. It began with the words, “In response to the questions of Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post.”

Posted by: b | Feb 18 2012 9:09 utc | 5

Quite moving and personal by Thanassis Cambanis: The Things That Anthony Shadid Taught Me

Posted by: b | Feb 18 2012 17:46 utc | 6

Weird. I can access any part of this blog....EXCEPT.....the "How The Profit Margin...." thread.

What's up with that, b? I suspect it has something to do with your efforts to exterminate the vermin.

Ya gotta be careful when poisoning the rats, man. Sometimes the occassional house cat will accidentally get into of the bait.

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 18 2012 17:46 utc | 7

Just wanted to say that I read Anthony Shadid`s article posted in the NYT today, about the Islamists taking power in Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt, and it was more informative than most of the stuff I´ve been reading the last months.

And BTW: Hi POA, good to see that you're still around. I've been in Morocco for the last three months, and intend to stay in that country for another two months. Cheers!

Posted by: Paul Norheim | Feb 19 2012 1:28 utc | 8

PAUL!!!! Damn, man, I've missed ya!

Posted by: PissedOffAmerican | Feb 20 2012 3:51 utc | 9

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