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Phil Rees is a Welsh writer, reporter and television producer who has specialised in international relations. He has won more than a dozen international awards for his work.

Contents

Background

Rees graduated from Oxford University in 1982. In the same year, he joined the BBC as a trainee journalist and began his career as a reporter on television news in Northern Ireland.

He has covered Asia, the Middle East, Africa and the Americas during his career. He has written widely and presented or produced nearly fifty documentaries.

At the BBC, his reports appeared on the nightly TV news, Newsnight, Correspondent, World Service Radio, NPR and BBC World News satellite and cable channel.

In 2006, Rees set up Out of Office Films, a TV production company based in London. It has made programmes for Channel 4, ZDF, Al Jazeera, ERT (Greece) and Swedish television.

His awards include two from the Royal Television Society for best foreign affairs documentary (1994 & 1998). From 1986 - 2002, Rees covered Asia, the Middle East, South and Central America for the BBC’s news and current affairs’ department.

He remains the only western journalist to have travelled and filmed with Algeria’s Islamic militants. His 1994 film, Algeria’s Hidden War, revealed the scale of a conflict that claimed 200,000 lives and was rarely glimpsed by the outside world.

Rees won the Silver Nymph at the 1998 Monte Carlo Television Festival for his reporting on the war in Kashmir. With unique access to the armies of both India and Pakistan, The Unfinished War told the story of a conflict that has continued for half century between two nations that are now nuclear powers.

His reporting on the war in Kosovo in 1998 won him the Prix Bayeux Des Correspondents de Guerre award. His film, The Serbs’ Last Stand, won that year’s Royal Television Society award. Sloba and Mira, a profile of Slobodan Milosevic and his wife, made just before war broke out in Europe, was described by the Financial Times as “excellent” and short listed for an RTS.

Rees covered extensively the conflict in Afghanistan during the late 1980s and 90s. He filmed frontline fighting with both the Soviet backed regime in Kabul and the mujahedeen guerrillas. In November 2001, he was with the group of BBC journalists who were the first to enter Kabul when the Taliban fled. He reported on the war in Cambodia from 1988 onwards. In 1997, he made a film on the country’s strongman, Hun Sen for the Correspondent series. He later gained the first television interview with Pol Pot’s deputy, Nuon Chea.

Rees has also worked as series producer for Planet Islam, which was described by The Independent as "foreign affairs journalism at its best",[citation needed] and for Druglands, a candid portrayal of drug usage in Britain. Rees reported and produced the first in the series on cocaine dealers in London. His other recent documentaries include the Secret Life of the Office Cleaner, an exposé of the cleaning industry’s dependence on illegal labour and Who Needs the Union Jack? - a BBC2 documentary examining whether we really need a British flag when the English now see the Flag of St George as their national banner and the Welsh and Scottish mostly ignore the Union Jack.

His first book, Dining with Terrorists, a critique of the ‘war on terror’, was published by Macmillan in March 2005 and described by The Guardian as "an outstanding book…the vivid writing links his interviews with smiling killers into a kind of globe-trotting adventure story, as readable as it is informative."[citation needed] According to The British Journalism Review "This thoughtful, controversial book should be compulsory reading for every editor, journalist and politician – before it is too late."[citation needed] Noam Chomsky described it as "an amazing tour de force".[citation needed] According to Le Monde diplomatique, ‘Rees is a remarkable storyteller.’

In 2009. a six part series based on his book, 'Dining with Terrorists', was broadcast on Al Jazeera's English and Arabic networks. The series does what no mainstream documentary has so far achieved. It portrays the 'war on terror' from both sides. The show interviewed the architects of the West’s response to 9/11, such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, ex-US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. But Rees also gained unique access to people who usually shun the Western media - the jihadis themselves. The series includes rare interviews with a Taliban commander in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan and an Egyptian jihadi who has close links with the al Qa'eda leadership in Iraq. In Gaza he interviewed a senior Al-Qassam Brigades military commander and in Lebanon, filmed a Palestinian militia that has pledged loyalty to al-Qa’eda.

He is a regular guest on al Jazeera Network – both Arabic and English channels – where he discusses issues surrounding the West’s ‘war on terror’. He has also appeared as an expert on Channel 4 News, ABC, al Arabiya, al Hurra and Press TV. He also addresses conferences and academic seminars on terrorism and relations between Islam and the West.

Rees has also written for the New Statesman, The Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian and numerous other publications. He is a regular contributor to the Italian gastronomic magazine, Slow Food.

He currently lives in London and is preparing his second book.

Written works

  • Dining with Terrorists: Meetings with the World's Most Wanted Militants (2005)

Documentary films

Dining with Terrorists (Al Jazeera English) http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/general/2009/02/20092565012929122.html

  • Dispatches: At Home with the Terror Suspects
  • Dispatches: Britain Under Attack (MPACUK criticism and prasie for 'Britain Under Attack') [1]

Notes and references

External links

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