Farah, Douglas 1957-
Farah, Douglas 1957-
Born June 22, 1957; son of missionaries. Education: University of Kansas, B.A. (with honors), 1985.
Journalist and researcher. United Press International, eventually named UPI bureau chief in El Salvador, 1980-87; freelance foreign correspondent and investigative reporter, 1987-mid-2000s; Washington Post, staff correspondent for Central America and the Caribbean, 1992-97, international investigative reporter, 1997-2000, West Africa bureau chief, 2000-03, on staff until 2004; Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, researcher, 2004; Nine Eleven Finding Answers Foundation, New York, NY, senior investigator, 2005—. International Assessment and Strategy Center, Alexandria, VA, senior fellow for financial investigations and transparency.
Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award for foreign correspondence, 1988; Maria Moor Cabot Prize for outstanding coverage of Latin America, Columbia University, 1995.
Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror, Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.
(With Richard H. Shultz and Itamara V. Lochard) Armed Groups: A Tier-One Security Priority, USAF Institute for National Security Studies (Colorado Springs, CO), 2004.
(With Stephen Braun) Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible, John Wiley (Hoboken, NJ), 2007.
Contributor to numerous periodicals, including Boston Globe, U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, New Republic, Journal of International Security Affairs, Royal United Services Institute, Air Force Institute for National Security Studies, and Washington Post.
Douglas Farah is a journalist and researcher. He grew up in South America in the 1960s, the son of missionaries. In the early 1980s, he moved to the United States and earned a bachelor of arts degree with honors from the University of Kansas in 1985. While a student, he started working with United Press International and was eventually named bureau chief in El Salvador, where he reported on the country's civil war and the U.S.-backed Contra rebels of Honduras. In 1987, Farah began working as a freelance foreign correspondent and investigative reporter, winning the Sigma Delta Chi Distinguished Service Award the following year for a series of articles he wrote in the Washington Post on right-wing death squads in El Salvador. That earned him a contract with the periodical to write about the drug trade in Colombia in 1990. By 1992, he became a staff correspondent for Central America and the Caribbean, where he continued to cover the drug trade in Colombia, as well as the U.S. occupation of Haiti, the spread of the drug trade and HIV/AIDS across Central America, and Cuba's evolving political landscape. Farah's work earned him the Maria Moor Cabot Prize from Columbia University in 1995.
In 2000, Farah was named the Washington Post West African bureau chief, based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he covered the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, while researching the diamonds-for-weapons trade that flourishes in the region, Farah uncovered al Qaeda's financial connections to the diamond trade industry and found out how U.S.-funded governments were knowingly profiting from the trade deals. Weeks later, Farah and his family were evacuated from the country due to receiving death threats related to the breaking story. He left the Washington Post in 2004, becoming a researcher for the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence that year. The following year, Farah became a senior investigator with the Nine Eleven Finding Answers (NEFA) Foundation. Farah also works as a senior fellow for financial investigations and transparency at the International Assessment and Strategy Center.
In 2004, Farah wrote, with Richard H. Shultz and Itamara V. Lochard, the book Armed Groups: A Tier-One Security Priority. Farah also published Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror in 2004. The account describes his findings about al Qaeda's dealings with U.S.-friendly countries in West Africa and about the diamond trade, which allowed them access to money that is difficult to trace. The account highlights significant flaws within the U.S. intelligence community. Publishers Weekly contributor Andrew Richard Albanese asked Farah about his interactions with the Central Intelligence Agency after breaking this case and finding the U.S. government's complacency on this issue. The author responded: "There was an interest, in small groups in the intelligence community, to discredit me in personal ways, which they weren't able to do. It was a little unnerving … that it became a very personal thing with them against me. I found that unnerving both as a journalist and as a citizen."
Abdoulaye W. Dukulé, reviewing the book in the Perspective, called the account a "meticulously researched book that reads like the best of spy novels." Dukulé noted that "the story here is many folds [sic]. The narrator finds himself leading on the one hand an investigation to piece together the source of the financial empire of the terrorists networks and paradoxically, he has to battle to convince the intelligence community about his findings," adding that "the narrator makes the best case possible on linkages between diamonds and warfare in Africa." Dukulé concluded that "this book is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the intricate world of terrorism and money and gun running and especially, how [the] diamond trade in Africa affected deadly conflicts that took millions of lives on the continent." A contributor to Publishers Weekly found that "Farah's drum-tight presentation of evidence" makes the case "difficult to dispute," adding that Farah's "stark and straightforward writing style makes this book hard to put down." Vance Serchuk, writing in the Weekly Standard, commented that "Farah builds his case largely from field intelligence he gathered personally. His story certainly doesn't lack for color." Serchuk concluded that "much of the war on terrorism will require venturing deep into these collapsed corners of the Muslim world, far from where America's spies, soldiers, and diplomats are accustomed to working. As our national security establishment adapts to confront the considerable challenge posed by such places, we can be grateful to intrepid explorers like Douglas Farah who have already made the journey—and have returned to tell us about it." A contributor to Kirkus Reviews noted that the book "sounds disturbing themes, among them the ineptitude of high-ranking American intelligence officials." The same contributor remarked that the book is "immensely valuable for those who follow the movements of international terrorists—who, by Farah's account, walk among us on all sides." Booklist contributor David Siegfried admitted that the book reveals "major oversights on the part of the FBI and CIA."
In 2007, Farah published Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible with Stephen Braun. The pair look into the empire of the Russian dealer Victor Bout, and his international network of weapons trading following the collapse of the Soviet Union. A contributor to Arms Control Today mentioned that the authors "write for a broad audience in this book." A contributor to Publishers Weekly concluded: "Although an unsatisfactory portrait, the book surrounds it with an engrossing, detailed description of this wildly destructive traffic."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Spectator, July 1, 2004, John Corry, review of Blood from Stones: The Secret Financial Network of Terror, p. 71.
Arms Control Today, October, 2007, review of Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible, p. 54.
Booklist, April 15, 2004, David Siegfried, review of Blood from Stones, p. 1409; May 1, 2004, David Siegfried, review of Blood from Stones, p. 1532.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of Blood from Stones, p. 256.
Mother Jones, September 13, 2007, Laura Rozen, author interview.
National Jeweler, May 1, 2004, "Farah Tracks Diamond-Terrorism Connection," p. 22.
New York Review of Books, February 10, 2005, Patrick Radden Keefe, review of Blood from Stones, p. 33.
Perspective, August 6, 2004, Abdoulaye W. Dukulé, review of Blood from Stones.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 2004, review of Blood from Stones, p. 73; March 22, 2004, Andrew Richard Albanese, author interview, p. 73; June 11, 2007, review of Merchant of Death, p. 51.
Washington Post Book World, May 30, 2004, Shaun Waterman, review of Blood from Stones, p. 7.
Weekly Standard, January 3, 2005, Vance Serchuk, review of Blood from Stones, p. 36.
Douglas Farah Home Page,http://www.douglasfarah.com (March 27, 2008), author biography.
Strategy Center Web site,http://www.strategycenter.net/ (March 27, 2008), author profile.