Da krigen kom til Ghaith Abdul-Ahads hjemby Bagdad, fant han sitt egentlige kall.
Fra å være arkitektstudent og ha sneket seg unna innkalling til Saddams hær, begynte han å ta bilder av det han så. Nå er han korrespondent for Guardian, har dekket konfliktene i Midt-Østen de siste ti årene som journalist, fotograf og videoreporter, vært en av de første til å se IS-bevegelsens frammarsj.
Han har både reist med, og blitt arrestert av, Taliban to ganger, sittet i husarrest under Libya-krigen, fulgt shia-militsen i Irak, dekket Syria-konflikten en rekke ganger, og kommer nå rett fra krigen i Jemen.
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad har rapportert fra blant annet Irak, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan og Jemen, for blant annet New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Times og Getty og mottatt Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, James Cameron Memorial Trust Award, British Press Awards Foreign Reporter of the Year (2008) og The Orwell Prize for Journalism, (2014)
Few Western correspondents have a background as unique as Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s. A native of Iraq at the time of the US invasion, he was working as an architect in Baghdad while dodging the draft. When American forces occupied the city, he went to work as a translator for The Guardian and later became a fixer for The New York Times. An amateur photographer, he also began taking photographs for Getty Images. (A selection appeared in the 2005 book Unembedded.) In 2004, he became a correspondent for The Guardian in Iraq, and in 2008, he received a British Press Award as foreign reporter of the year. As an Iraqi covering Iraq for a Western news organization, Abdul-Ahad was able both to gain access to sectors of Iraqi society that were off limits to most outsiders and to examine them with the detachment of a reporter. He made a particular point of getting to know Iraqi insurgents. He was in Fallujah before the US assault on that city in April 2004, and in Najaf when Shia militia battled US troops that summer. Later, in Afghanistan, he traveled with the Taliban and was twice detained by them. While covering the fighting in Libya earlier this year, he was detained and held incommunicado for two weeks. Now based in Beirut, Abdul-Ahad rejects the idea of distinguishing between Western and local journalists. “Good journalists can be local or Western, and bad journalists can be local or Western,” he says. The Western journalists who reported on Iraq, he adds, “deserve thousands of medals.” At the same time, he thinks that all journalists, Western and local, have missed—and continue to miss key aspects of the Iraq story.