SaturdaysonCNN INTERNATIONAL630, 1030, 1430 GMT730, 1130, 1530 CET
March 30th, 2011
07:18 PM ET

Ahmad to Gadhafi: "If I were to see his face, I would strangle him"

    TOBRUK, Libya (CNN) - Like everyone else, Aisha Ahmad watched the riveting drama unfold in a Tripoli hotel as a desperate woman burst into a dining room filled with journalists, sobbing, screaming, wanting the world to know she had been raped by 15 of Moammar Gadhafi's militia men.        

    The arresting images of how swiftly the woman, Eman al-Obeidy, 29, and the journalists were stifled stirred viewers around the world. But perhaps none more so than Ahmad. This was her daughter. And she was enraged. Just weeks before, Ahmad might have wept in silence. But now, with war engulfing Libya and its future hanging in the balance, Ahmad feared Gadhafi no more.

    "If I were to see his face, I would strangle him," she told CNN in an interview at her modest home in the eastern coastal city of Tobruk.

   CNN Phographer Khalil Abdallah was eating breakfast in the hotel, when Aisha Ahmad's daughter Eman al-Obeidy burst in on Saturday. What happened next was unexpected and violent. Khalil, the CNN Photographer, told his story to Michael Holmes on Tuesday.

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Filed under: backstory • Interviews
Remembering a Fallen Colleague
Journalist Sabah al-Bazee was one of 56 people killed when armed militants attacked an Iraqi government building in Tikrit on March 29, 2011.
March 29th, 2011
09:19 PM ET

Remembering a Fallen Colleague

Today, at least 56 people were killed and 98 others wounded, when a gang of men attacked an Iraqi government building in the northern city of Tikrit.  Among those killed in the attack was Sabah al-Bazee, a freelance journalist who worked for a number of news organizations, including CNN.

CNN Producers Mohammed Tawfeeq, Yousuf Basil and Jomana Karadsheh wrote this blog entry, remembering our fallen colleague:

When people ask us what it’s like being a journalist in Iraq, the answer would probably be much more upbeat on any other day.

Whenever bombs go off in Iraq, we get on the phone to sources to get casualty figures and details.    But when Mohammed confirmed the dozens killed and wounded in the horrific siege in Tikrit on Tuesday, he didn’t realize for an hour that one of those killed was someone he has known for years.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— Sabah al-Bazee.

Sabah was one of the many brave Iraqi journalists whose courage and skills made him one of the best local reporters in the deadliest war for journalists since World War II.   Sabah has been a freelance contributor for CNN in the northern province of Salaheddin since 2006. One of his first assignments for us was covering the bombing of al-Askari Shrine in his hometown of Samarra that year; an attack that unleashed the country’s vicious sectarian war.

He reported for us from Tikrit and Samarra at the height of the brutal war, the days when al-Qaeda controlled many cities, including his own. But it was not only al-Qaeda that targeted journalists. Many other groups were also hunting down the media.

But Sabah survived those days, and so did his sense of humor.

Sabah would always want to joke and make us laugh. Even when you would wait for him to pick up the phone, you would get a recorded joke.

He was one of the most outgoing and proactive stringers we had.  Most of the time, Sabah would call and give us the news before we’d call him asking about it.

Sabah’s English was not great, but he tried.  Sometimes he would try holding a conversation with us in English and recently he started trying to write us a news report in English.

Jomana remembers a trip to a U.S. military base in Tikrit in 2008, where she met up with Sabah.

Because this was in his province, Sabah displayed the renowned Iraqi hospitality.
After lunch, he grabbed some fruit and put it in Jomana’s bag.  She did not find it until hours later, when she got back to Baghdad.

Like most Iraqis we know and we work with, Sabah has hesitated for years about leaving Iraq to escape the threats and the violence - because he loved his country.

But a few weeks ago, Sabah asked Mohammed for his help and finally applied for asylum in the U.S., saying:

“I don’t want to live in Iraq least not in the next five years... It is going to be very difficult.”

While Iraq today is not the Iraq of three or four years ago, it still is a place where hundreds are killed and wounded every month.

It is still a place where you can leave your home in the morning and never come back.  Just like Sabah did today.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— yet another one.

Sabah al-Bazee turned 30 one week ago today.

Filed under: backstory • Iraq • journalists
March 29th, 2011
05:02 PM ET

Philippe Cousteau and Team in the Arctic Tundra

By Back|Story staff, CNN International

A CNN team led by environmentalist and explorer Philippe Cousteau is joining an elite group of scientists studying climate change in one of the coldest places on earth, the Arctic Tundra. Bad weather kept the team stuck in the tiny Canadian town of Resolute Bay for days. CNN Sr. Producer Matt Vigil's last tweet said the team has finally arrived at their final destination, which is about 550 kilometers from the North Pole:

"We arrived at Catlin Arctic Survey's Ice Base. Updated reports Tuesday on and CNN platforms in the 8am eastern hour #CNN @pcousteau" -via @mattvigilcnn on twitter

You can follow all the action by staying with CNN and checking in at There you'll find a map of the team's location and learn how the crew is surviving the harsh conditions.

This video above reveals how Philippe and the team prepared for the expedition in Resolute Bay.

Filed under: backstory
March 27th, 2011
04:20 PM ET

Japan: dealing with disaster and looking for answers

By Back|Story staff, CNN International

"...It's just absolutely mind-numbing in the sense that you've got three major disasters. You had the earthquake, you had the tsunami and then of course you had this nuclear, potential meltdown that has occurred. Any one of them, individually, would be a major catastrophe in any country. You've got one country, the people of Japan, dealing with all three."

Those were the words of CNN's Martin Savidge in Tokyo. He went to Sendai, a major car manufacturing area of Japan, where he encountered what he called a "car graveyard". He found the aftermath of the tsunami where people in cars, who were driving, had been poured over onto new cars, that were parked and ready to be sold. It was a scene where, combined with the clean up, bodies will have to be recovered from some of those cars as well.

Nuclear "trepidation" abounds inside and outside of Japan as well. Martin went aboard the USS Ronald Reagan to learn more about how military helicopters were flying in aid to disaster victims. He ended up finding another story. As a precaution crews were washing the entire U.S. Military super-carrier because it had passed through the plume from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, suffering possible contamination. There is a reason the ship is called a "super-carrier", it's huge.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is run by TEPCO, The Tokyo Electric Power Company. Inside its headquarters in Tokyo, Martin and crew crammed into the scrum of journalists vying for attention from officials who were there to calmly answer questions from the press. All questions were asked and answered in Japanese. All informational handouts where given in Japanese as well. CNN had a crew member who spoke the language and Martin was given an opportunity to ask questions. You can find informational handouts from TEPCO, in English, for the press and public on their website. Our chat with Martin about all of this is in the video above.

Be sure to stay with Back|Story for more on Japan. If you would like to help please visit

Filed under: backstory • Japan
March 26th, 2011
04:29 AM ET

Gorani: "The big frustration for people in Syria is corruption"

By Back|Story staff, CNN International

CNN Center (CNN) There is a lot of focus on the historical pattern of unrest happening in the Middle East. Syria is particularly interesting and protests there are the latest focus of the wave of events where people in the region are expressing concern and unhappiness with the status quo.

We've seen protests in the southern Syrian city of Daraa where at least 15 people have been killed at the time of this recording you see in the video above. Even surprisingly, some protests in Damascus as well; but also of note are reports of protests in the city of Hema which is significant given it's history: there was a heavy attack in 1982 by the Syrian Army to shut down a revolt involving the Muslim Brotherhood. Syria isn't a culture of protests, unlike Egypt where even before their latest revolution you would still see protests happening.

Hala Gorani of CNN International has been to Syria many times. We felt we should sit down with her to talk about some of the details that stand out about Syria's brand of unrest.

It turned out to be quite an enlightening conversation about a complex yet intriguing country.

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Filed under: Interviews
March 25th, 2011
07:18 PM ET

The Revealer: Secrets in a Work of Art

By Back|Story staff, CNN

"The Revealer", on Back|Story, takes us to London's National Gallery to examine a painting from 1533 called "The Ambassadors". It was depicted by artist Hans Holbein.

The painting is full of small mysteries and little intriguing clues to messages that the artist may have been trying to convey. Susan Foister, of the National Gallery, is an expert on the works of Holbein and points out some truly astounding aspects of the work.

But history and art isn't all this episode of "The Revealer" has to offer. A groundbreaking advance from Internet search brand Google is bringing physical history to the digital world. Some amazing new technology is taking high resolution scans of art like "The Ambassadors" to bring them to the internet, down to the smallest stipple.


Filed under: The Revealer
March 24th, 2011
01:52 PM ET

"The Revealer" on BackStory

We're proud to present to you a new Back|Story series that unearths fascinating new secrets about places and stories you thought you knew. Every other Thursday we will present an all new segment called "The Revealer". They will all air live at on Back|Story every other Thursday and then be posted on


You can see our full schedule of air times for Back|Story below, or on our webpage.

We love to hear from you so be sure to communicate with the team anytime on facebook and twitter

Back | Story Live

Weekdays at 1700 EST/ 2200 GMT/ 2200 in Abuja/ 2400 Nairobi/  0500 HKT

Replay at 0530 GMT (12:30 ET)

Best of Back|Story

Friday (0330 EST) 0830 GMT  & (0730 EST) 1230 GMT

Saturday (1700 EST) 2200 GMT

Sunday & Monday (0030 EST) 0530 GMT

Filed under: The Revealer
March 23rd, 2011
11:03 PM ET

Remembering a Hollywood Legend: Elizabeth Taylor

By Back|Story staff, CNN

British born Elizabeth Taylor started her career as a child acress, entertaining us through the years. She lived her life in the spotlight. So much so that she is considered to be one of the first celebrities to be followed by paparazzi style photographers. 

We spoke to Larry King today about her. He first met Liz Taylor in Miami when he was working in Radio and Television. He gave us some insights (that only Larry can) into her life; through his experiences meeting her at Hollywood parties and interviewing her on his show that ran for years on CNN.

Take a look at the segment that we put together today. We hope you enjoy all of the iconic photos of Liz through the years as much as we enjoyed bringing them to you.

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Filed under: backstory
Back|Story Photo op: Huge ships washed ashore in Japan
Ships Washed Ashore in Japan
March 23rd, 2011
10:11 PM ET

Back|Story Photo op: Huge ships washed ashore in Japan

Posted by Back|Story staff, CNN

The earthquake-generated tsunami which struck Japan on March 11, 2011 tossed these huge cargo ships onto piers in the port of Hachinohe in northeast Japan. Shot March, 16, 2011

Credit: Mark Biello/CNN

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Filed under: Japan • photography
March 23rd, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Reporting from dangerous places

Posted by Back|Story staff, CNN

Michael Holmes has decades of experience reporting from inside some of the world's most important events of his generation. CNN U.S. asked him to speak about the lifestyle it takes to do such a, sometimes dangerous, job. We'll let Michael do the talking here. Take a look at the video above.