Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Las Vegas, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

Most recently, she was NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo and covered the wave of revolts in the Middle East and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond. Her stories brought us to the heart of a state-ordered massacre of pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo in 2013 when police shot into crowds of people to clear them and killed between 1,000 and 2,000 people. She told us the tales of a coup in Egypt and what it is like for a country to go through a military overthrow of an elected government. She covered the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014 and documented the harrowing tales of the Yazidi women who were kidnapped and enslaved by the group. Her coverage also included stories of human smugglers in Egypt and the Syrian families desperate and willing to pay to risk their lives and cross a turbulent ocean for Europe.

She was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club for her coverage of the 2013 coup in Egypt and the toll it took on the country and Egyptian families. In 2017 she earned a Gracie award for the story of a single mother in Tunisia whose two eldest daughters were brainwashed and joined ISIS. The mother was fighting to make sure it didn't happen to her younger girls.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post as the Cairo Bureau Chief. 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. In 2016 she was the Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow fellow.

Leila Fadel is a Lebanese-American journalist who speaks conversational Arabic and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

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Here is just one account of what it was like to be on Florida's Gulf Coast this weekend.

The long lines of early voters outside Cardenas market became a lasting image of the 2016 presidential vote in Nevada. Latinos turned out in force at the Latin American grocery store in Las Vegas, helping deliver the state to Hillary Clinton.

Today, the shoppers at the strip mall are more hesitant, most refusing to talk politics. They're afraid, some say, because they feel like the government is targeting them.

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Marcus Hutchins' Twitter account suddenly went quiet a day ago when the FBI took him into custody in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The 23-year-old British citizen — who was praised earlier this year when he was credited with helping to control a global ransomware attack — was in town attending the Black Hat and DefCon cybersecurity conferences.

Three years ago, Egypt's military carried out a swift and successful coup, ousting a conservative Muslim ruler and party that had been elected. A part of Turkey's armed forces attempted a very similar overthrow on July 15.

In both countries, the two most populous in the region, democracy suffered a setback in the wake of the military actions.

The parallels mostly end there.

Turks survived a chaotic and bloody attempted military takeover on Friday that left more than 260 dead. Since then, the government has suspended thousands of public and private sector employees — everyone from teachers to police officers. Meanwhile, the parliament has ratified a state of emergency that will last up to three months. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says it's necessary to protect democracy. But many Turks are afraid of what's to come.

Turkey's government says it is removing from government institutions anyone it considers loyal to Fethullah Gulen, an elderly Turkish cleric who has been living in eastern Pennsylvania since the late 1990s.

Turkish officials are blaming Gulen, who has a large following inside and outside Turkey, for a failed coup last Friday, an accusation Gulen denies.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting licenses for at least two dozen Turkish radio and TV stations have been canceled for alleged links to Gulen, whose extradition Turkey says it will seek from the United States.

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An electronic billboard hangs on the side of a towering government building in eastern Cairo, the home of Egypt's statistical agency, CAPMAS. In an alarming red, the billboard ticks off the estimated number of Egyptians, and on a recent day it said there were more than 91 million. Or 91,034,024, to be precise.

Monday's bombing in the Saudi city of Medina stands out, even among the wave of terrorist attacks in recent days. It wasn't the death toll. It didn't produce the scenes of carnage like Saturday's bombing in Baghdad that killed nearly 200 people or last week's attack on the airport in Istanbul that left 44 dead.

It was the chosen target — Medina, the site of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's tomb and his house.

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Khaled el-Balshy greets a fellow journalist with two kisses on the cheek and a hearty handshake in his office. He has just been released on bail after being charged with harboring fugitives and publishing false news.

Balshy is the undersecretary of the journalists union in Egypt, also called the Press Syndicate. Balshy; the head of the union, Yehia Qalash; and another board member, Gamal Abdel Raheem, are facing trial on Saturday and the prospect of going to prison, as President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi continues a broad crackdown on critics.

Constantin Ibanda Mola unlocks the door to his small, two-bedroom apartment in a poor suburb of Rabat, Morocco. 


Mola was an economist in his home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. But as a migrant in Morocco who makes just over $300 a month, this apartment is a luxury. He shows me the tiny kitchen, the little balcony that opens near the sink and his bedroom.

"I'm very happy here," he says.

Olfa Hamrouni sits in a café in central Tunis and recounts how she lost her two oldest daughters to ISIS.

Their story starts — as many stories about teenagers do — with a mother's attempt to curb her children's behavior. The older girls were getting a little rebellious, playing wild music and wearing skull-and-bones T-shirts. They'd been acting out, she says, since their father left the family with no money and no support.

"After the divorce, the two girls were lost. They didn't know what to do. My oldest girl, Ghofran, she was looking for a reason to live," she says.

Ben Guerdane is a dusty town in Tunisia's south, just 20 miles from the border with Libya, a roiling nation of militias and guns galore. It's a smuggling town, and it depends on the nearly 300-mile border with Libya to survive.

In more normal times, it's everyday products that get smuggled, but these days something more nefarious is coming across that border — weapons and militants.

The spillover from the conflict in Libya is setting off alarm bells in Tunisia, threatening a fragile democracy in the one place that emerged from the 2011 Arab revolts as a bright spot.

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