New Yorker's Hezbollah Series Wins $20,000 International Investigative Reporting Award

11/20/2003

From: Ann Pincus or Nathan Kommers of The Center for Public Integrity, 202-466-1300

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 -- A two-part investigative report that revealed the inner workings of the Shiite terrorist group Hezbollah and its global reach won the 2003 ICIJ Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting.

For his New Yorker series, "In the Party of God," Jeffrey Goldberg traveled throughout Lebanon, Syria and Israel, and met with Hezbollah's spiritual leader Sayidd Fadlallah, who told him that a peaceful settlement between Israel and Palestine was impossible. His investigation also took him to the border crossroads of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, now considered to be the "center of Middle Eastern terrorism in South America." He visited the lawless town of Cuidad del Este, a major fundraising center for Hezbollah and al Qaeda, in search of the man once considered by U.S. officials to be the world's most dangerous terrorist.

The story eventually led Goldberg to North Carolina, where a Hezbollah cell was involved in a cigarette smuggling scheme to raise money for Hezbollah headquarters in Lebanon. A U.S. attorney told Goldberg that Hezbollah cells were active in the United States, adding, "I believe that the structure was in place to carry out a command."

A five-judge panel of international journalists awarded Goldberg the first-place prize of $20,000 and called his winning entry "a model of top-quality investigative journalism and the kind of important work that the ICIJ Award was created to honor."

"His outstanding reporting skills, elegant writing and exceptional courage have shed light on Hezbollah, one of the most secretive and dangerous groups in the world," the judges said in their commendation. "As Goldberg followed the strands of the organization to the Bekaa Valley, southern Lebanon, to Israel and Syria, to Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina, and, even to North Carolina, he revealed a sophisticated global organization, whose power is by no means concentrated among a small group of extremists."

The judges also selected five entries from four countries to receive $1,000 finalists' awards. The finalists for the sixth annual ICIJ award, in alphabetical order, are

-- Mzilikazi wa Afrika and Jessica Bezuidenhout of the Sunday Times of South Africa, for their nine-part series, exposing bribery and corruption at the heart of South Africa's first forestry privatization deal. The series resulted in the cancellation of the deal by the government and the reopening of the bidding process.

-- Nick Fielding and Yosri Fouda of The Sunday Times of Britain for "Masterminds of 9/11 Reveal Terror Secrets," which included face-to-face interviews with two of the principal organizers of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States - Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, chairman of al Qaeda's military committee, and Ramzi Binalshibh, chief coordinator of the hijackers and close personal friend of Mohammed Atta, one of the terrorist hijackers.

-- Walter F. Roche, Jr. and Willoughby Mariano of The Baltimore Sun and The Orlando Sentinel for their series "Indentured in America," which tells the story of smuggled workers from Micronesia and the Marshall Islands who are enticed to the United States with promises of high-paying jobs, but end up working in squalid conditions for little money and living packed together in decrepit apartments.

-- Tim Sandler, Chris Hansen and Allan Maraynes of Dateline NBC for "Slaves to Fashion?" a yearlong investigation into illegal child labor in India's silk industry and its multimillion dollar connection to American retailers. The report produced an influx of donations to non-profit organizations working with children sold into bonded slavery in India.

-- Staff reporters at China's Caijing magazine, which produced a five-part series and four supplements on SARS, severe acute respiratory syndrome, even as the Chinese government and other media were silent on the deadly disease. The articles detailed not only the path of the disease itself, but its implications for China's government and society.

The ICIJ Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting is unique among journalism awards worldwide in that it was created specifically to honor international investigative reporting. Presented by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, the annual award is made possible by a grant from The John and Florence Newman Foundation of San Antonio, Texas.

The competition for the 2003 award attracted 56 entries from 19 countries, involving reporting in 70 countries. Any professional journalist or team of journalists of any nationality working in print, broadcast or online media may apply for the award. In keeping with the transnational emphasis of the ICIJ award, eligible investigations must involve reporting in at least two countries. For more details on this year's ICIJ award winner and finalists, as well as information on how to apply for the 2004 award, please visit the ICIJ Web site at http://www.icij.org.

The Center for Public Integrity ( http://www.publicintegrity.org ), a nonprofit, nonpartisan investigative research organization in Washington, D.C., created ICIJ in 1997 to extend globally the Center's style of "watchdog journalism" in the public interest. The ICIJ network of more than 90 journalist-members in over 45 countries investigates issues that transcend national borders, and its award-winning reports can be read in the Center's online report The Public i ( http://www.public-i.org ).

Contacts: Ann Pincus or Nathan Kommers at The Center for Public Integrity, 202-466-1300, or by e-mail to apincus@publicintegrity.org or nkommers@publicintegrity.org.











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