Reporters on the Job
• Rebel With a Cause: Staff writer Jill Carroll says that one of the best parts of reporting the story about Americans looking for lessons in the Algerian war (see story) was meeting one of the men who fought the French and listening to his old war stories.
"Mohamed Debbah is balding, a bit paunchy, and spent years as a refined Algerian diplomat. So it was hard to imagine him as a hard-scrabble rebel fighting the French in the desert," says Jill. "But he brought me proof: Photos of himself with a cloth wrapped around his head while in battle. As much as he insisted that the Algerian fighters were 'very different' from insurgents in Iraq, the pictures of him and his comrades in arms certainly reminded me of insurgents in Iraq."
He said that young fighters like himself were key to the "mujahideen" efforts to set up radio communications in the 1960s.
The French had poisoned the wells in the desert. "He told me how they drank fetid water, using their head scarves to filter out the bugs. He said the courageous reputation of the fighters prompted barren women to drink a tea made from mujahideen socks to become pregnant," she says.
"He quit high school at 17 in order to fight, bringing new meaning for me to the term 'rebellious teenager,' " says Jill.
• Kurdish Legal Eagles: Staff writer Scott Peterson hadn't reported on the situation in southeast Turkey for a decade, but going back he found many things changed (see story). Gone was the state of emergency during the height of Turkey's conflict with the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK). Today human rights lawyers taking on Kurdish cases are no longer called, 'terrorist lawyers.' But much of the war zone of the 1990s has simply shifted into the courtroom, says Scott. "The more people I spoke to, the more I heard about the countless court cases now under way in Turkey and the European Court of Human Rights."
– David Clark Scott