Print/Text News Report
The picture of Khaled Sharrouf’s son holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier was described by US Secretary of State John Kerry as the “iconic image” of Islamic State’s brutality. Paul Maley and Greg Bearup came in to work on their days off to uncover the story behind the photo. The follow-up was a second shocking exclusive: footage of Sharrouf and his friend Mohamed Elomar participating in mass executions in Iraq.
Maley and Bearup scoured social media for the terrorists – even as their accounts were being shut down by Twitter and Facebook – and spent hours door-knocking in Western Sydney. They then worked high-level contacts in the police and security services to confirm what they had found. The pair endured death threats, dealt with a torrent of gruesome images, and made the hard calls about taste versus the public’s need to know. Together, their articles gave names and faces to the young Australian jihadis fighting with Islamic State forces and revealed to the world the horror of their deeds.
Judges’ comments: “It was an image that stunned a nation – Khaled Sharrouf’s son, a child raised in the suburbs of Sydney, holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier. This set of powerful, well-researched stories and pictures graphically demonstrated how Australian jihadis were using social media to promote their cause, and detailed how they had joined the bloody fight on the battlefields in Syria and Iraq. Outstanding journalism.”
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