Leila Fadel

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Las Vegas, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

Most recently, she was NPR's international correspondent based in Cairo and covered the wave of revolts in the Middle East and their aftermaths in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and beyond. Her stories brought us to the heart of a state-ordered massacre of pro-Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Cairo in 2013 when police shot into crowds of people to clear them and killed between 1,000 and 2,000 people. She told us the tales of a coup in Egypt and what it is like for a country to go through a military overthrow of an elected government. She covered the fall of Mosul to ISIS in 2014 and documented the harrowing tales of the Yazidi women who were kidnapped and enslaved by the group. Her coverage also included stories of human smugglers in Egypt and the Syrian families desperate and willing to pay to risk their lives and cross a turbulent ocean for Europe.

She was awarded the Lowell Thomas Award from the Overseas Press Club for her coverage of the 2013 coup in Egypt and the toll it took on the country and Egyptian families. In 2017 she earned a Gracie award for the story of a single mother in Tunisia whose two eldest daughters were brainwashed and joined ISIS. The mother was fighting to make sure it didn't happen to her younger girls.

Before joining NPR, she covered the Middle East for The Washington Post as the Cairo Bureau Chief. 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. In 2016 she was the Council on Foreign Relations Edward R. Murrow fellow.

Leila Fadel is a Lebanese-American journalist who speaks conversational Arabic and was raised in Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.

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Not one but two ousted presidents are on trial. In cages. As are a group of journalists from the Al Jazeera satellite channel. Then there are the countless activists facing charges that are widely seen as politically motivated.

If you like courtroom dramas, Egypt is the place to be these days. And while there's no shortage of high-profile trials, analysts say one thing hasn't changed in the three tumultuous years since the overthrow of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak: There's still no guarantee of a fair trial for the accused.

In Libya, disputes are settled by guns.

On a recent day, just west of Tripoli, the Libyan capital, gunfire erupts, a battle between two families. It builds for hours; people run for cover. No one intervenes — even though a Libyan army base is just a mile away.

Inside that military camp in a town called Zawiya are 230 young men from across the North African nation, part of the government effort to address the country's most glaring problem: an almost nonexistent security force.

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In 2011, I crossed the border with other journalists into a country that had been cut off from the world for 42 years. We had no idea what to expect as we entered what the rebels were calling "Free Libya."

Where before there had been oppressive security, instead what greeted us was a motley group of ecstatic young men with guns who welcomed journalists to the land they'd liberated. There was no passport control, no rules and a sense of relief that the world would finally hear their stories.

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Here are three numbers that tell the story of Egypt's security crackdown, its political turmoil and the simmering insurgency.

16,687. It's estimated that at least this many political detainees have been imprisoned since the military ousted the Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, on July 3.

4,482. At least this many people have been killed in clashes since Morsi's ouster, many at the hands of security forces.

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Three years after the start of the 2011 revolution, many of the young secular activists who led the protests are behind bars.

Others have gone silent, afraid to speak out as the military and the ousted Muslim Brotherhood are locked in a battle for Egypt itself.

For most of those revolutionaries, this is a dark and bitter time.

Mohamed Yousef is a tall, handsome practitioner of kung fu. In fact, he's an Egyptian champion who recently won an international competition.

But a month ago, when he collected his gold medal at the championship in Russia, he posed for a picture after putting on a yellow T-shirt with a hand holding up four fingers.

That's the symbol of Rabaa al-Adawiya, the Cairo square where Egyptian security forces opened fire in August on supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hundreds were killed, including seven of Yousef's friends.

For nearly three years Egyptians have battled for a different, and better, future. But the transition has been tumultuous, filled with pitfalls, death and disappointment.

Today, many are ready to settle for a return to the pre-revolution status quo: a strong, military man who can guide Egypt back to stability.

At the Kakao lounge in central Cairo, teenage girls sample chocolates that bear the face of Egyptian military chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The chocolates depict Sissi in sunglasses, Sissi saluting and Sissi's face in ornate chocolate frames.

Gun-toting militiamen man the steel gate that leads into the Tripoli zoo. A sign promises a garden of animals. Inside, there are paths that meander through a maze of cages and animal habitats. Monkeys climb trees; hippos submerge themselves in water and lions lounge in the heat.

Just a few hundred yards away, there's a different kind of cage: Inside there are people — migrants waiting to be deported or to prove they are in Libya legally.

Zintan, a mountain town in northwestern Libya, is a place of gray and brown buildings, with little infrastructure, about 50,000 people and no central government control.

The Libyan government doesn't provide basic services, not even water. People use wells to provide for themselves. The local council runs all of Zintan's affairs out of a building in the center of town.

At the local militia base on the outskirts of town, we meet the keeper of Saif el-Islam Gadhafi, the son and one-time heir apparent of Moammar Gadhafi.

Mohammed is a teacher, and for the past 17 years, he has also worked with an Islamic charity in Cairo. But a little more than two weeks ago that charity was shut down.

Security forces raided its office, took everything and began searching for the head of the board of directors because he's connected to the Muslim Brotherhood — the Islamist group of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Mohammed, who asked that only his first name be used, fled.

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