When New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid died in Syria earlier this year, his death was absorbed along with the civic unrest and military upheaval that have been prevalent in that country for some time. Add the inherent dangers of foreign correspondence to that unrest and military upheaval, and it’s not hard to see how Shadid paid the ultimate price with little fanfare.
But as the whole story on his death and the manner in which the New York Times had smuggled him into Syria has come to light, it’s increasingly difficult to ignore a situation that Shadid himself feared would lead to his death.
After all, he had been assigned to go to Syria in December, but after “a security advisor analyzed the plan to get to Syria from Turkey” the trip was canceled because of the danger. Yet just over a month later, “with the security situation worse,” he was again called to make the trip from Turkey into Syria.
The night before Shadid departed from Turkey, he reportedly had a phone conversation with editors at the New York Times that was marked by “screaming and slamming the phone.” And after talking to the editors, Shadid called his wife and said, “If anything happens to me I want the world to know the New York Times killed me.”
As of now, what’s known is that Shadid was concerned because motorcycles were supposed to be a component of the operation to smuggle him in, but none were provided. And those smuggling him were not smuggling he and his photographer alone, but also ammunition. (Smuggling ammunition in a war zone can draw considerable, and unwanted, attention.)
In the end, Shadid died from what is believed to have been “a heart attack” while running from a pack of barking dogs in February. He and the photo journalist accompanying him were afraid the dogs would give away their position.
Shadid’s cousin, Dr. Edward Shadid, is urging “for greater regulations within the journalism industry for journalists forced to go into war zones.”