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Posts Tagged ‘Richard Engel’

NBC’s Ghazi Balkiz Recalls Syria Kidnapping

NBC News producer Ghazi Balkiz was kidnapped in Syria in December, alongside NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel and a few of their colleagues. Following Engel’s recollection of the kidnapping for Vanity Fair, Balkiz writes about the experience for NBCNews.com:

When we as journalists go into the field, we know the risks we are taking. But I guess we, or at least I, always thought, “It is not going to happen to us.” But this time, it did happen to us. This does not stem from an unrealistic approach to things, events and life, because trust me: What I see in the field is very real. We cover war and conflict zones and in those situations, bad things happen and people die. The way I go about it is to plan for the worst but hope for the best.

How Exactly Did NBC News Correspondent Richard Engel Escape From Captivity in Syria?

We decided to grab the latest issue of Vanity Fair in which NBC’s chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel recounts his kidnapping and escape from captivity in Syria late last year. Engel writes about the mental torture he and his team were put through, including not being given food or water for more than a day. He also expressed gratitude at the media blackout NBC News had imposed on the matter.

The rescue took place when Engel and his team were being transported to a Hezbollah stronghold in Foua.

We didn’t know how long it would take to get to Foua. But seven minutes into the trip–we were counting minutes to keep track of distances–the driver slammed on his brakes. “Checkpoint! Checkpoint!” he yelled. Through the corner of my blindfold I could see the headlights of a vehicle facing us in the road ahead.

The two gunmen exited the car and opened fire on the guards at the checkpoint. They were killed. The trail car fled.
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NBC’s Richard Engel Recounts Syria Kidnapping In ‘Vanity Fair’

In a gripping excerpt, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel writes in Vanity Fair about his kidnapping in Syria last year.

Engel wrote the article in a diary format, recounting to the minute what happened. Subscribers can read the full account, but the excerpt focuses on the kidnapping itself, as well as the murder of one of their bodyguards, and the psychological torture that ensued:

“Get going!” a gunman yelled at me in Arabic, pointing his weapon at my chest.

I looked at him blankly, pretending not to understand. Foreigners who speak Arabic in the Middle East are often assumed to be working for the C.I.A. or Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. The gunman took me by the finger, holding on to it by the very tip. I could have pulled it away with the smallest tug.

But then what? Then go where?

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Pope Benedict Coverage: NBC

Savannah Guthrie will be live from Rome tomorrow morning for NBC’s coverage of Pope Benedict’s final day as head of the Roman Catholic church. Guthrie will anchor special reports at 5amET and 6amET before co-anchoring “Today” from Rome and another 45-minute special beginning at 10:45amET.

NBC News’ anchors and correspondents, including Richard Engel, Anne Thompson, Claudio Lavanga and NBC News Vatican consultant George Weigel, have been on the ground covering Pope Benedict XVI’s final days.

Who’s Going to Rome to Cover the Pope?

Fox News’s Shepard Smith will soon be on his way to Rome, reporting from the Vatican on the resignation of Benedict XVI and upcoming Conclave and election. Senior Foreign Affairs Correspondent Greg Palkot will be there tomorrow while Amy Kellogg should be on the ground by this afternoon. Smith, Palkot and Kellogg all covered the death of Pope John Paul II and election of Benedict in 2005.

NBC News correspondent/MSNBC anchor Chris Jansing, who also covered the last Papal transition will be leaving this afternoon for several days of reporting/anchoring and will also cover the election of the next pope. In a Media Beat interview, Jansing told us covering the death of John Paul II and election of Benedict was the most fulfilling assignment of her career: “It was just an extraordinary global event and also had some personal meaning to me.” Jansing will join NBC Rome correspondent Claudio Lavagna already on scene. Richard Engel will also report.

CBS has Allen Pizzey in Rome and London correspondent Mark Phillips will be joining him.

“GMA” Weekend Anchor Dan Harris, along with David Wright, Jeffrey Kofman, and Nick Schifrin will be reporting from the Vatican. Wright covered the 2005 transition. ABC’s Cokie Roberts, whose mother served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, will provide a historical perspective.

CNN’s Rome-based correspondent Ben Wedeman will cover and will be joined by Jim Bitterman, Max Foster and Jose Levy for CNN en Español are all en route.

Clarissa Ward Accepts duPont Award: ‘I Felt Humbled and Tremendously Honored’

CBS News foreign correspondent Clarissa Ward traveled to New York this week to accept the Alfred I. duPont Columbia University Award for her series of “Inside Syria” reports.

“I was the last person to accept my award, and by the time it came around I was feeling pretty humbled because I was just awestruck but what incredibly compelling and diverse reports had been honored,” Ward told TVNewser. “I felt humbled and tremendously honored and very excited.”

Ward said she was particularly proud to accept the award from ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, who she called “a heroine and a role model.”

Ward and producer Ben Plesser were the first American journalists to report live from Syria with the rebels. In the past year, she has traveled to the war-torn country six times for reports that have aired on “CBS Evening News” and “60 Minutes.” Ward called reporting from Syria “extremely challenging,” noting the fractured nature of the conflict.

“In conventional warfare you might embed with an army, but this is a completely different kettle of fish,” she said. “You’re embedding with rebel forces and each group has its own ways and its own rules and its own methods.”

Because of this, Ward said she anticipates seeing less reporting from Syria this year.

“I think you’ll see fewer journalists spending time with the rebels, partially because of safety concerns, which are very legitimate,” Ward said. “I really want to go in only when I feel like I have a story that furthers the bigger picture.”

Ward cited the recent experience of NBC’s Richard Engel, who was held captive for several days in Syria last month. Read more

Richard Engel And His Team Thought They Would Die In Syria

In their interview with “Rock Center” last night, NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel, along with his production team, said that they believed they would die in Syria.

Engel, cameraman John Kooistra , producers Ghazi Balkiz, Aziz Akyavas and Ammar Cheikh Omar arrived in the U.S. late yesterday, and Savannah Guthrie conducted the interview not long after they landed.

Guthrie asked them to raise their hands if they thought that “this is it,” that they would die in Syria. Every man raised their hand.

“There was no doubt that these were violent people and that they could have executed us at any stage,” Engel said.

WATCH:


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‘Rock Center’ To Talk To Richard Engel, As ‘Meet The Press Talks To The NRA

NBC News has announced a pair of notable interviews, with “Rock Center” to feature a discussion with Richard Engel and his crew, and “Meet the Press” securing the first interview with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre since the awful shooting in Newtown, CT last week.

On “Rock Center” tonight Brian Williams will sit down with Engel, as well as producers Ghazi Balkiz and Aziz Akyavas, and cameraman John Kooistra “to hear their story first-hand.” Other stories include an Ann Curry piece on Sandy Hook and the latest from Chelsea Clinton.

On “Meet the Press” Sunday, David Gregory will sit with LaPierre in his first interview since the Newtown shooting. The NRA is slated to hold a press conference today, so whatever they announce there will surely come up in the interview.

Final NBC News Crew Member Escapes Syria

The final member of the NBC News production team that had been kidnapped in Syria has escaped the country, NBC News says. In the firefight that resulted in NBC News correspondent Richard Engel and his team being freed, technician Ian Rivers was separated from his colleagues. His whereabouts were not known until today, and he has since crossed the border into Turkey where he will receive a medical evaluation.

NBC News president Steve Capus released his first statement on the incident:

“Now that Ian Rivers has been reunited with Richard Engel’s entire production team, all of us at NBC News can breathe a huge sigh of relief and express our deep appreciation to all who helped secure their freedom. At the same time, our thoughts and concerns are with those who remain missing inside Syria and we hope for their swift and safe release.”

Engel and two of his colleagues appeared on “Today,” yesterday morning.

A Brief Timeline Of American TV Correspondent Kidnappings, Injuries and Deaths

NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is safe, after being kidnapped in Syria late last week and released overnight. Unfortunately, kidnappings, injuries and death are part of the job of the foreign correspondent and their crew. With stories out of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Libya in the last few years, just about every news outlet has had at least a handful of staffers affected by violence or misfortune.

In April, 2003, NBC News correspondent David Bloom died in Iraq due to a blood clot.

In June, 2003, NBC News Soundman Jeremy Little was mortally wounded in a grenade attack in Iraq. He was treated in Landstuhl, Germany but succumbed a few days later to a post-operative infection.

In January, 2006, ABC anchor Bob Woodruff and camera operator Doug Vogt were badly injured in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded next to the vehicle they were traveling in.

In May, 2006 CBS camera operator Paul Douglas and sound technician James Brolan were killed in Iraq when the U.S. Army unit they were embedded with came under attack. CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier was seriously wounded in the attack and survived.

In August, 2006 Fox News Channel correspondent Steve Centanni and camera operator Olaf Wiig were kidnapped while reporting in Gaza. Centanni’s family would make a televised plea for their safe return, and they were eventually freed. Wiig would see another incident in Egypt in 2011 (see below).

In May, 2007 ABC News camera operator Alaa Uldeen Aziz and sound technician Saif Laith Yousuf were killed in Iraq when the car they were traveling in was ambushed.

In August, 2008 Fox News camera operator Chris Jackson was injured in Afghanistan while traveling with Oliver North.

In August, 2009 CBS News correspondent Cami McCormick was injured in Afghanistan when the vehicle she was traveling in was hit by an IED.

February 2011 saw a number of incidents, particularly in Egypt:
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