Slain in Iraq, the most dangerous place to be a journalist
Atwar Bahjat, correspondent for Al-Arabiya and former reporter for Al-Jazeera, was murdered in Iraq in February along with her freelance cameraman, Khaled Mahmoud al-Falahi, and engineer, Adnan Khairallah. Her bullet-riddled body was found near Samarra a day after the station lost contact with the crew. At the time of her death, Bahjat was on the outskirts of Samarra covering the bombing of the Shiite shrine Askariya, known as the Golden Mosque. A witness said her murderers drove up suddenly and sought out the television “presenter” to be killed.
Bahjat, 30, an Iraqi, was one of the best known war reporters in the Arab world. She had previously worked for Iraqi TV under Saddam Hussein. She was known as a dogged street reporter who knew well the hardships endured by Iraqi reporters. In the course of her work, Bahjat received several death threats and survived a roadside bomb that destroyed her car, none of which deterred her from reporting. “She always liked to be a reporter in the field,” recalled Al-Jazeera news anchor M’hamed Krichene, who worked with her in Baghdad. Colleagues said Bahjat was first to report from the scene of April 2003 looting at the National Museum of Iraq, and she was the only female reporter to cover intense fighting between U.S. and insurgent forces in Najaf in summer 2004.
Bahjat’s colleagues laud her professionalism and commitment to accuracy and objectivity, especially in the context of Iraq’s sectarian violence. Bahjat, whose father was Sunni and mother Shiite, was widely known for taking great care to be nonpartisan and accurate.
• • • • • •
Read more about Atwar Bahjat in the Los Angeles Times:
Read a colleague’s tribute to Atwar Bahjat from the Spring 2006 issues of CPJ’s Dangerous Assignments :