A week ago, the Lebanese-American journalist Serena Shim reported that she had evidence that Islamic State combatants were being smuggled back and forth to the besieged town of Kobane from Turkey in the back of convoys of vehicles of the World Food Organization and other aid organizations.
If true, the implications of this news for how we understand the Islamic State and the war against it are enormous. It questions the neutrality of humanitarian organizations and it implies that the government of Turkey (a NATO member and ally of the United States) is covertly supporting the organization widely regarded as evil personified.
Shortly after breaking this news, Serena Shim was harassed by the Turkish intelligence agency and accused of being a spy. She feared the consequences, as is plain in this interview with her Friday October 17. Listen to the fear in her voice:
Two days later, on Sunday, she was dead—the car in which she was travelling with her photographer was hit by a ‘large vehicle’, so far unidentified. Accident or assassination? I doubt if many journalists working on this topic in this area believe it was an accident. Certainly, I do not. It silenced forever a courageous and tenacious journalist and it warned those remaining that they would pay for future revelations with their lives. As did this young man: Treachery works both ways: the life of Edward Snowden and the death of Michael Hastings.
Serena Shim was an American citizen (from Tennessee) but not a word from the United States on the death of this brave young woman. Compare her tragic death with the honours feted upon two rather dubious journalists, with even more dubious deaths, James Foley and Stephen Sotloff. There is so much more to the ‘Islamic State’ than first meets the eye—as I hope to show.
A lot of the best reporting in this dangerous part of the world comes from women like Serena Shim. She was buried in Beirut, Lebanon Wednesday, October 22. Serena leaves two young children, Ali, age 4, and Ajmal, 2.