Fallujah man files from home

The Scottish Press Association’s Maurice McDonald is the only civilian photographer embedded with the Black Watch regiment at Camp Dogwood in Iraq. His pictures have been widely used in the national and Scottish press. The photo above shows a team from 40 Commando firing mortar into the air to prevent incoming attacks, as phosphorus lights up the sky during early morning perimeter checks at Camp Dogwood, 20 miles south-west of Baghdad.

Fadel Al-Badrani is uniquely placed to file for Reuters from Fallujah. It is the home town of the journalist, who holds a doctorate in media, and who formerly worked for the Iraqi government’s news agency.

Al-Badrani is one of the few journalists left within the city in the midst of the onslaught by American forces, and his reports for Reuters earned him spectacular front page coverage in The Independent on Wednesday. He has been stringing for Reuters since April last year. He works with two Reuters colleagues also living in Fallujah; photographer Mohannad Faisal and his cameraman brother Yasser.

Along with two Reuters correspondents embedded with American soldiers, they have been given an opportunity to leave the city now that the streets are so dangerous, said Barry Moody, Reuters’ Middle East and Africa editor – but they refused, saying they wanted to cover the attack.

“They’ve all got mobile and satellite phones and we have given them flak jackets and helmets,” said Moody.

All Reuters’ Fallujan staffers have been warned to stay indoors, though that advice has not helped the Faisals.

When the house next door was flattened by US troops, because it contained insurgents, their own house was damaged as well.

Al-Badrani moved his family out of Fallujah a couple of weeks ago but returned to keep filing to the Reuters teamin Baghdad. Moody trusts his correspondents’ on-the-ground knowledge to keep them safe.

“In the case of Fallujah that is very important,” he said. “In normal circumstances that’s really the greatest protection they have, though we give all our staff the advice that they should never take life-threatening risks for a story. We don’t believe any story is worth a life.”

Even though he operates from home and ventures out only when he judges it to be safe, Al-Badrani is getting a lot of good material, said Moody.

Reuters is also getting reports and pictures from internatonal staff writer Michael Georgy, an American Egyptian, and Columbian photographer Eliana Aponte Tobar, embedded with US soldiers in Fallujah; and Alexander Yorke, a British freelance cameraman, currently working at the Americans’ base close to the beseiged Iraqi city.

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By Jean Morgan

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