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Reporters on the Job

• A TERRORIST'S TALE: The Monitor's Scott Peterson went twice to interview the Iranian smuggler who claims to have been contracted to carry out attacks on US warships (page 1). On the first trip to the detention center in Kurd-controlled northern Iraq, the smuggler refused to speak to Scott about the bomb plot. "He was worried about his family's safety. The Kurdish interrogator just shrugged his shoulders. So, we left, but told him we'd be back and he should think about it," says Scott. Two days later, the smuggler changed his mind. Scott returned and spent 2-1/2 hours sitting on an old couch with his interpreter, asking questions. At the end, Scott asked to photograph the smuggler. He refused. Scott suggested a pose that would hide his face. He wasn't budging. So, Scott snapped a picture of his interpreter with his digital camera. "He looked at the electronic image on the back of the camera, and was reassured that Saddam's agents wouldn't be able to identify him. Then, he let me take the photo (page 10)."

• OUT OF BETHLEHEM: The Monitor's Cameron Barr and three colleagues took shelter from the gunfire in Bethlehem (page 1) in the home of a sociologist. They stayed there for several hours yesterday. But as his deadline approached, Cameron grew concerned that he would be stuck there until the next morning. And he didn't have his laptop computer. "Fortified by a meal, emboldened by a lull in the shooting, and spurred by the approach of darkness and a copy deadline, we struck out for our car," he says. The five-block walk was "spooky," he says. "The streets were deserted." They drove slowly back to Beit Jala with their flashers on. They arrived at an earthen berm, known as "the backdoor," where a colleague's car was waiting to take them back to Jerusalem.

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• A SECOND FRONT? Reporter Nicholas Blanford has visited the border between Lebanon and Israel (this page) many times, and the terrain makes it a military nightmare for Israel. "It is very easy for Lebanon-based guerrillas to approach the border fence undetected using the rocky, scrub-covered terrain for cover," he says. The Israeli Army uses a patrol road that runs alongside the border fence, and it regularly checks for infiltrations.

"The other day, I stopped my car where the road on the Lebanese side overlooks the border fence to watch three Israeli jeeps creep along the road. They were less than 100 yards away. A Palestinian colleague with me remarked chillingly, 'If I had a gun, I could shoot those guys and be away before anyone sees me.' "

David Clark Scott
World editor