Exactly One Shot

spiegel e1417476560914 Exactly One Shot Simon Klingert

(c) Spiegel Online

Genau ein Schuss is a (German-language) feature I wrote for Spiegel Online wherein I recount how I and James Foley were almost taken out by a Taliban sniper. Five years later to the day, the video Jim’s execution surfaced.

Also, if you want to know how and why journalists have become targets among the warring factions of today’s wars, this piece is (almost) all you need to read.

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Video Didn’t Kill the Radio Star

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Simon Klingert enjoys a cup of MRE instant coffee while on assignment in Panjwayi district, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Without further ado, here’s three (German-language) radio pieces I’m featured in.

Kriegsalbum – Was die neuen Heimkehrer nach Hause bringen” is a mesmerizing collection of sounds and voices by veterans, journalists, politicians, do-gooders and therapists, who all talk about war and its effects. The feature is a spin-off from the theater project “Apparat der Kriege” by Lukas Matthaei, Milena Kipfmüller and Klaus Janek.

Ziemlich beste Freunde” by Florian Fricke was aired on October 29, 2014 as part of the BR2 Zündfunk radio program. I discuss my friendship with James Foley and recount the glorious times we spent together on the front lines of our generation’s greatest wars.

If I had to characterize James Foley in one sentence I would say he was one of the last living existentialists.

The more I think about Jim, our time together and what I know about the later stages of his life, this is the theme that seems to stand out more than any other.

Wer prägt das Bild vom Krieg” is a 30-minute feature on war correspondents by esteemed radio journalist Johannes Nichelmann, which aired earlier this year on Deutschlandradio Kultur as part of the Breitband program.

Listen to a bunch of armchair analysts and hardened practitioners – such as yours truly – wax poetically about how one of humanity’s oldest habits, that of killing one another is being reported on. Quite a show I can tell you.

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In Memoriam: James W. Foley (1973 – 2014)

simon klingert james foley In Memoriam: James W. Foley (1973   2014) Simon KlingertThe good times we had. Rest in peace brother.

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Farewell my brother – a letter to James W. Foley


it’s been five years ago today that a Taliban sniper tried to kill us. We were taking a break in that dried up wadi when one of the rocks in front of our feet burst into pieces. I remember our giddy laughter as we scrambled for cover. We watched in awe as the .50 cal machine gun lit up the hill moments later.

Somewhere up on that ridge line, a guy was out to kill us. It only dawned on us later on that night what a close call it was. They’d need to do a lot better to take us out we thought.

Five years later I watched you die, brother.

Continue reading

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Death From Above: The Helmand Hunters

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U.S. Marine Corporal ADAM BRAME, 22, of Little Axe, Oklahoma, a member of Marine Light Helicopter Attack Squadron 169 watches the ground from a UH-1 Y Huey helicopter during a close air support mission over the town of Sangin in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Thursday, May 12, 2011. Based out of Camp Leatherneck in Helmand, HMLA 169 provides air support to ISAF ground troops using a variety of surveillance equipment and weaponry.

The job the members of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 169 (HMLA 169) were officially tasked with was to provide close air support to ground units, who in 2011 were operating all over Helmand province. The grinding counterinsurgency mission carried out on the ground escalated into a gunfight often enough, and the Marines of HMLA 169 made sure to bring more than just a knife as backup.

One .50 cal GAU-21/A machine gun, another 7.62 mm GAU-17/A Gatling gun and two 70 mm Hydra rocket pods brought home the gritty reality of that task as soon as you climbed aboard the Huey helicopter. A significant part of close air support is to provide overwatch and report suspicious activities to the units on the ground. But when it comes do it, the job is to rain death upon those who are considered as enemies. Prisoners are not taken. Continue reading

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

One year ago, U.S. journalist James Foley was abducted by unknown kidnappers while reporting on the civil war in Syria. There has been no news from him ever since. Jim is one of about 30 journalists who are currently missing in Syria, and he is also one of my best friends. In this profile I reflect on war and our friendship, forged under fire.

Years later, I still remember how I first met James W. Foley. I had already spent a few days in the cramped confines of the Combined Press and Information Center (CPIC), a nondescript structure hidden behind rows of concrete blast walls in the International Zone in Baghdad. I was waiting for a flight to a base near the city of Baqubah, where I wanted to cover the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency campaign.

The (CPIC) was the place where all journalists who wanted to accompany U.S. military forces in Iraq would have to go and get credentialed. It was a busy spot, even after overall violence in Iraq had somewhat subsided in the spring of 2008. There was a constant coming and going; one night the room would be packed with reporters, and the next morning you’d wake up all by yourself, wondering where they had all gone to.

The light of the day had already faded. The tube lights cast shadows beneath the metal frames of the bunk beds. There was a murmur coming from the hallway. It grew louder and a few moments later, Jim entered the room, escorted by a young soldier. Continue reading

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Starry Night, Heavy Artillery

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In a starry night, U.S. Army artillerymen on Forward Operating Base Boris sling 155 mm shells at enemy positions near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Paktika province, Afghanistan, 2007. Photo: Simon Klingert

The photo above shows U.S. Army artillerymen conducting a night fire mission from their base in eastern Afghanistan sometime in the summer of 2007. The starry night sky, combined with the blurry traces created by the soldier’s headlamps and the approaching thunderstorm in the background make for a surreal, almost eerie atmosphere that just works, even though the photo is too dark for print.

I still remember how dark the nights were in this place, a small town in the eastern province of Paktika, not far from the border to Pakistan. Continue reading

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