Reporters on the Job
• Interview With a Convicted Terrorist: Reporter Marc Perelman is the first journalist that would-be suicide bomber Imane Laghriss has spoken to since getting out of prison (see story). She and her twin sister were 14 years old when they were arrested, and later convicted for plotting to blow up the Moroccan parliament.
How did Marc persuade her to talk to him?
"I had the names of the social workers who are working with the sisters since their release from prison. I contacted them and they acted as my go-between. I explained that I wanted to tell their story, in their own voices," he says. Ms. Laghriss agreed to speak to him, but her sister did not.
Marc, who worked in Paris for two years for Jeune Afrique, a French weekly covering African affairs, spoke French. But she did not. She spoke Arabic. So, with the help of a local journalist, he conducted a two-hour interview . "We picked her up from her work in a gritty neighborhood in Casablanca. She directed us to a trendy coffee shop in a better part of the city. The setting was a little surreal. She was dressed in traditional head scarf, surrounded by Westernized, well-off kids. I was surprised at how at ease she was and by her sense of humor.
"She looked me in the eye, which is not so common among 18-year-old Muslim women in Morocco. She was self assured, almost cocky," says Marc.
But, he adds, there were moments when she seemed emotionally fragile. "I asked her how it was to work and live in a place where everyone knows she tried to blow herself up. She said sometimes it weighs on her. She cries sometimes because she feels her life is defined by what she tried to do, rather than what she's become. She talked about having a family. But she also talked about going to Iraq and blowing herself up in front of a Humvee."
– David Clark Scott