Federal counterterrorism unit investigated journalists: Watchdog



LONDON: “I’m the one who strikes,” said Lebanese investigative journalist Riad Kobeissi – repeating the infamous line from American drama “Breaking Bad” – while looking straight into the camera.

In his Al-Jadeed show “The Corrupt Regime Falls”, Kobeissi spoke directly to the now jailed former director general of Lebanese port customs, Badri Daher after the explosion rocked the capital and killed more than 200 people. This happened during an episode where Kobeissi exposed the long list of corrupt activities that led to the fateful ammonium nitrate entering Lebanon’s main port.

Indeed, it was the bald, glasses-wearing journalist and presenter who made politicians tremble – so much so that he had his windshield smashed – and was thus honored by US Secretary Antony Blinken during the Anti- Corruption Champions Awards 2021 for his leadership, courage and impact in preventing, exposing and fighting corruption.

“Just a few months ago, Riad Kobeissi, a Lebanese journalist, had his windshield smashed while reporting a story on the abuses of the security forces,” he said. “Despite the attacks, Riad and the other winners persisted and we are grateful to them. To today’s winners, thank you for your inspiring and essential work.

“The United States is honored to be your partner now and in the future, and congratulations to all.”

Kobeissi has become one of Lebanon’s most respected investigative journalists. His work in exposing corruption has been featured in the Lebanese section of the Swiss Leaks, as well as in the Panama Papers.

Born in 1981, he has lived all his life in Lebanon. He studied at the Lebanese American University, from which he obtained a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2003.

While at LAU, Kobeissi worked as a freelance editor for the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir where he wrote mainly on social and political issues for its youth edition.

Kobeissi continued to work for the newspaper until 2006, serving as editor of the international page from January 2005 to July 2006. In 2012, he returned to education to take a master’s degree in international affairs from LAU. .

He is currently working with Al-Jadeed, where he heads the Investigative Reports Unit and presents his show.

In addition to his recognition in the United States, Kobaissi has twice won the ARIJ (Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism) Prize and the Inquirer Prize from the Thomson Foundation.

Despite the prevalence of corrupt Lebanese politicians who own or have close ties to many media institutions, Kobeissi has emerged as one of the critical voices against the government, especially after the port explosion.

Since then, he has published a number of documents exposing people allegedly responsible for the storage of the ammonium nitrate that caused the explosion at the wharf. However, as a result, he was attacked in his car while covering a story involving the country’s Internal Security Forces.

As Kobeissi continues his work, and to be recognized for it, many fear his fate will echo that of the country’s murdered journalists – former Annahar editor-in-chief Gebran Tueini, renowned journalist Samir Kassir and , most recently, Lokman Slim.



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