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How two New York Times reporters discovered the gruesome fate of a Syrian police officer

New York Times reporters Anne Barnard and Hwaida Saad recently filed a piece that could have been called, with apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.” They told the story of a Syrian police officer — they call him by his nickname “Abu al-Majd” to protect his family still in Damascus — whom they had met in 2014 on a reporting trip to the ancient city of Palmyra. A year later ISIS was on the march, and Abu al-Majd was pressed into service to help defend the city.

Barnard and Saad stayed in touch with him via text message, until one day he went silent. The reporters wanted to know more, and Barnard told the NewsHour’s William Brangham what they found in reporting his fate.

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