After graduating from Stanford, Engel left for Cairo, feeling the region was where the next big story would erupt. He attributed his attraction to journalism as “the prospect of learning about new subjects and having the privilege of riding the train of history rather than watching it pass”. He first lived in a ramshackle seven-story walk-up, learned Egyptian Arabic and worked as a freelance reporter in Cairo for four years.
Richard Engel (born September 16, 1973) is an American journalist and author who is NBC News’ chief foreign correspondent. He was assigned to that position on April 18, 2008, after being the network’s Middle East correspondent and Beirut Bureau chief. Engel was the first broadcast journalist recipient of the Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his report “War Zone Diary”.
Prior to joining NBC News in May 2003, he covered the start of the 2003 war in Iraq from Baghdad for ABC News as a freelance journalist. He speaks and reads Arabic fluently and is also fluent in Italian and Spanish. Engel wrote the book A Fist in the Hornet’s Nest, published in 2004, about his experience covering the Iraq War from Baghdad. His newest book, And Then All Hell Broke Loose, published in 2016, is about his two decade career in the Middle East as a freelance reporter.
Engel is known for having covered the Iraq War, the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War. While many media outlets pulled their journalists out of Iraq shortly after shelling began in March 2003, Engel stayed, and was subsequently one of the only Western journalists in the country. He was the only American television correspondent to remain in Baghdad for the entire war.
His constant presence ensured his front seat to the “train of history” crashing through the Middle East. He covered every major milestone of the war, including the first free Iraqi election and the capture, trial, and execution of Saddam Hussein.
He covered the war from several perspectives by gaining and maintaining frequent access to U.S. military commanders, Sunni insurgents, Shiite militias, and Iraqi families. He frequently traveled outside Iraq’s Green Zone, the fortified international zone in central Baghdad, to report on the genuine state of Iraqi life.
At times he found himself “dressed as a blue target” as a foreign journalist in Iraq. He survived kidnapping attempts, bombings, IED attacks, and ambushes. He spent years covering what he often describes as one of the most important stories of his generation, the Iraq War.
On January 30 2018, on Nightly News with Lester Holt, Engel opened up about his son’s journey with Rett syndrome. His son’s cells were taken to help researchers find a treatment for him and other children affected by Rett Syndrome.