Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or rescntr@ire.org where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "al-Qaeda" ...

  • The Narco-Terror Trap

    This project traces the Drug Enforcement Administration’s use of a little-known statute of the Patriot Act to create a role for itself in the war on terror, based largely on unsubstantiated assertions that terrorists were using the drug trade to finance attacks against the United States. The statute, adopted with broad bi-partisan support, allows the D.E.A. to pursue so-called narco-terrorists anywhere in the world, even when none of their alleged crimes occurred on American soil. Between 2002 and 2008, the agency’s budget for foreign operations increased by some 75 percent, which supported expansions into Afghanistan, Eastern Europe, and West Africa. But an examination of the D.E.A.’s narco-terrorism cases reveals that most unraveled as they proceeded through court. The cases relied heavily on sting operations, and the only evidence of any links between terrorists and traffickers was concocted by the D.E.A., which used highly-paid informants to lure targets into staged narco-terrorism conspiracies. The first piece tells the story of three small-time smugglers from Mali who were arrested in West Africa, transported to New York and accused as narco-terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda. It explains how the D.E.A.’s narco-terrorism campaign began in the arrest-first-ask-questions-later period that followed 9/11. And it details the negligible contributions that the effort, whose total cost remains unknown, has made to keeping the country safe from either terrorists or drug traffickers. Nearly three years after the Malian’s arrest, a judge found that the men were not linked to Al-Qaeda, and that they had been motivated to participate in the D.E.A.’s fake conspiracy by an informant’s offer to pay them millions of dollars. The second piece uses an interactive comic – ProPublica’s first – to bring a sharper focus to the patterns in the DEA’s cases. It uses five different narco-terrorism operations in five different parts of the world. The interactivity of the comic allows readers to see how the agency’s stings use essentially the same script in order to make disparate targets fit the designated crime. https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/narco
  • The Jihad Next Door: The Syrian Roots of Iraq’s Newest Civil War

    This is the first story to investigate and map out in detail how Al-Qaeda established a foothold in Syria after the start of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. It explains how the group now known as Islamic State used the Syrian conflict like an incubator, to rejuvenate, recruit and draw human and material resources to its base in Iraq via Syria. The story explains how the under-equipped, poorly organized moderate rebels lost ground to the increasingly influential Jabhat al-Nusra; how the West watched as a new, reformed and ultimately more dangerous version of Al-Qaeda quickly rose in Syria and reduced the space for others to operate in. Among its major findings, the piece lays bare how the Syrian government's release of jailed Islamists from its notorious Sednaya prison early in the revolution provided a ready-made network for Al-Qaeda to exploit.
  • Message Wars

    In the 12 years since 9/11, al Qaeda continues to inspire numerous acts of terror with a sophisticated information campaign. Messages are spread online using sites like YouTube and other jihad forums. So far, law enforcement in the United States has been unable to find a way to respond, but that is not the case in the United Kingdom. Before 9/11, radicalization was up close and personal. A recruit was identified and groomed, taken to a camp and trained. Today, much of radicalization is global, done through sophisticated propaganda videos in the darkest corners of the Internet. The heart of this piece was investigative journalism, speaking with a former radicalized jihadist and on patrol with the officers at the front line of Britain’s outreach program.
  • Return to Benghazi

    In Return to Benghazi, Arwa Damon takes viewers back to the scene of a deadly embassy attack by unknown assailants. Damon's landmark reporting in this program led the U.S. to name the first suspect believed to be involved in the attack. On the night of September 11, 2012, four Americans including Ambassador Christopher Stevens were killed. It was a violent, well-coordinated attack that shocked the world. No one took responsibility for the killings. Libyan and U.S. officials did not know who to blame. A political firestorm erupted in the U.S. amongst lawmakers demanding to know what U.S. officials knew about the leadup to the attack. CNN's Arwa Damon arrived in Benghazi just days after the attack to cover the story. She spoke to witnesses and visited the compound where the Ambassador lived. It was there where she found Ambassador Stevens' diary. The FBI and the Libyan government vowed to find those responsible and bring them to justice, but justice did not come swiftly. It would be weeks before FBI teams would inspect the crime scene. Months passed and still no suspects were identified. Several months after the attack, Arwa Damon goes back to Benghazi to get an update on the investigation. She finds a changed city where westerners have fled and citizens face unexplained violence. Militias increasingly rule the streets and security forces struggle to keep control. Even more omonous, are the alarming signs of support for Al Qaeda that have emerged in less than a year. Damon tracks down the headquarters of Ansar Al Sharia, a group many Libyans and U.S. officials suspected might be behind the attack, but the group isn't talking. She also speaks to a Libyan rebel intelligence chief who blames a factions of Al Quada for the attack. The government is reluctant to move against either of them. In a rare interview, Arwa Damon sits down with a man U.S. officials have often suggested they would be interested in speaking to about the night of the attack: Ahmed Abu Khattala. He admits to Damon that he was at the compound that night while the attack was taking place. He also tells her no one from the FBI had tried to contact him, but that he would be willing to meet with them if it was a conversation and not an interrogation. After the program aired, an outraged U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz told reporters, "News out today that CNN was able to go in and talk to one of the suspected terrorists, how come the military hasn't been able to get after them and capture or kill the people? How come the FBI isn't doing this and yet CNN is?" U.S. federal authorities then filed charges against against Khattala, suspecting him for being involved in the attack. Arwa Damon's reporting in Return to Benghazi not only showcased the powerful investigative journalism that CNN is known for, but it also sparked movement in the stalled investigation of the September 11, 2012 embassy attack.
  • Brian Ross Investigates: Al Qaeda in Kentucky

    This exclusive ABC News investigation found that American counterterrorism officials were investigating more than a dozen cases of possible terrorists who have slipped into the U.S. under the refugee program. With rare access inside current and ongoing major terrorism investigations, the in-depth investigative reports broadcast on "Nightline," "World News with Diane Sawyer" and "Good Morning America" told the story of how a little noticed arrest of two men in Kentucky led to a major national security investigation that commanded the attention of top officials, including President Obama. The Iraqis were not refugees fleeing persecution, as they had claimed to immigration authorities, but were al Qaeda-iraq terrorists who had targeted U.S. troops in northern Iraq with bombs and sniper attacks. A key piece of evidence was that the fingerprints of one defendant were located on an improvised explosive device stored in a box for six years in an FBI warehouse, which had been found buried in a Baiji, Iraq road by American soldiers in September 2005. Worse, the two Iraqi insurgents, who had lied their way into the U.S. as alleged refugees -- and escaped drawing scrutiny until they were serttled in Kentucky -- were plotting to ship- heavy arms back to Iraq in an FBI sting, and were also discussing U.S. Homeland revenge bombings, the FBI learned. ABC News was able not only to tell the story of this incredible counterterrorism investigation by the FBI with help from the U.S. military, but also connect a specific bombing in Baiji that killed four Pennsylvania National Guardsmen to the Iraqi defendants. The exclusive ABC News investigation, which was broadcast on the network's three major newscasts as well as online with stories and web extra videos, also broke the news of current FBI counterterrorism investigations of suspects inside the U.S. whose fingerprints are being checked with those lifted from devices in evidence at the FBI's secret "bomb library," where ABC News was shown 100,000 IEDs collected from warzones in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere.
  • The Longest War

    America's efforts to disband Al-Qaeda.
  • The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America

    This book is Bamford's latest expose' of the National Security Agency. Among his findings, Bamford reveals that the agency had been targeting the Yemeni home that served as Osama bin Laden's operations center prior to 9/11 but had never told the FBI that the al-Qaida terrorists were there. Bamford's book demonstrates an unparalleled ability to penetrate the most secretive of institutions.
  • The Anthrax Case

    60 Minutes looked into the five years old chase between FBI and Steven Hatfill. Hatfill in 2001 was investigated in the Anthrax case and was said to be responsible by the FBI. However, there was distorted and fallacious evidence given to the media at the time. The investigation by 60 Minutes showed that the case was not as air tight as the FBI claimed.
  • Unsafe at Any Altitude

    Authors Susan and Joseph Trento assert the failings of the government to protect U.S. citizens from terrorism before and after 9/11. This includes an "inept" Transportation Security Administration which is not receiving a proper no-fly list from federal agencies, relying on information from Saudi Arabia regarding al-Qaeda, and alliances with groups that are now adversaries, that helped lead to 9/11.
  • The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11

    Lawrence Wright examines the rise of terrorist organization al-Qaeda, and how the U.S. intelligence community was unable to check it. Sources included Arabic press, captured al-Qaeda documents, jihadis and members of U.S. and Saudi Arabian intelligence.