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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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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.

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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For the first time since the first century, there are basically no Christians left in the historic Iraqi city of Mosul.

A small Sunni Arab town north of Baghdad put up a fight when Sunni Muslim extremists from the so-called Islamic State tried to impose their rule on the town.

The residents lost, and now the town, Zowiya, just outside of Tikrit, is destroyed. More than 200 of its homes have been blown up, and the residents have fled.

The Islamic State leveled the town as a warning to anybody else that dares to fight them.

"My town is gone," says Abu Saad, a businessman in his sixties. "They bombed all our houses. Everything we have is gone."

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No one is safe in Libya these days. Judges, activists, human rights defenders and former officers in Moammar's Gadhafi's army are being silenced with bullets and knives.

There are no formal security forces, weapons remain unsecured and the economy is foundering because rebels seized oil ports in the east.

For all these reasons, a rogue general with a checkered past has found support in large swaths of the country as he vows to fight what he calls terrorist groups.

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And I'm Melissa Block. Now, sobering news out of Libya - a prominent rights activist was shot and stabbed to death in her home last night. Salwa Bugaighis was a lawyer from Benghazi who had opposed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Today, U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice issued a statement lauding her courage and leadership. NPR's Leila Fadel had visited Bugaighis just recently, and has this report.

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It's a case that's drawn international condemnation. Today, an Egyptian court sentenced two journalists to seven years in jail, and a third to 10 years. They all work for the Al Jazeera English news network and were convicted of being or aiding terrorists and tarnishing Egypt's image. No evidence of their alleged crimes were present - was presented in court. NPR's Leila Fadel has more.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Arabic spoken).

Two journalists in Cairo got seven years in prison and third received 10 years. Egypt's government accused them of helping the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

As they steamrolled across northern Iraq, Sunni militants had important help from an old power in the country — former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party and his army.

One retired air force colonel said he is a member of a newly formed military council overseeing Mosul, the large city captured last week by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and its allies from Sunni Arab armed factions.

People in northern Iraq are getting their first taste of life under ISIS — the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that captured the large Iraqi city of Mosul last week with shocking speed.

The Sunni extremist group holds much of the mainly Sunni areas of northern and western Iraq.

Over the weekend it launched a bloody takeover of Tal Afar, an ethnically and religiously mixed Iraqi city near the Syrian border.

In Libya, you never know from one week to the next who's going to be prime minister. And when I met with the man in the job last week, it was clear no one is really in charge.

Ahmed Maiteg had only been prime minister a couple of days. He took office under the apparent protection of a militia that supports him, even as another man still claimed the job.

Maiteg, a 41-year-old businessman, was so new in the building that his staff was getting lost.

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And I'm David Greene. We are reminded this morning of how difficult the transitions have been in the countries of the Arab Spring. Egypt has had a coup. Serious bloody civil war carries on. And in Libya, two men now claim to be the rightful prime minister. One is a businessman elected by parliament earlier this month with the backing of Islamists.

It was never in doubt, but now it's official. Ex-military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will be Egypt's president after nearly a year of being the nation's de facto leader.

He won by a landslide with more than 93 percent of the vote, according to a preliminary results. His victory was so sweeping that his lone opponent, Hamdeen Sabbahy, came in third with just 3 percent of the vote. People who voided their ballots in protest outnumbered those who voted for Sabbahy.

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Former military chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi is expected to emerge victorious from Egypt's two-day polling, which began Monday. But the country remains divided.

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