FRONTLINE Wins Peabody Award for “ISIS in Afghanistan”

April 26, 2016
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by Patrice Taddonio Assistant Director of Audience Development

When journalist Najibullah Quraishi made a dangerous journey inside ISIS-held territory in Afghanistan last summer, he was stunned by what he saw: Local ISIS fighters teaching children how to kill, how to behead people, and how to become suicide bombers.

Quraishi captured these “jihad lessons” on film, showing how the self-proclaimed Islamic State is gaining a foothold in Afghanistan by taking on the Taliban while also training a new generation of fighters.

On Tuesday, the resulting FRONTLINE film, ISIS in Afghanistan, was named a George Foster Peabody Award winner for excellence in documentary filmmaking.

“Making the most of a difficult, dangerous assignment, Afghani journalist Najibullah Quraishi and his producing team got deep into ISIS-held territory to document its growing power and appeal in Afghanistan, its conflict with the Taliban and, most unnerving, its indoctrination and weapons training of children as young as five,” said today’s announcement on the Peabody Awards website.

“We aired this powerful documentary showing ISIS’s emergence in Afghanistan firsthand just days after the Paris attacks, as the public was searching for context on the brutal terror group’s rise,” said FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath. “We’re so thrilled that Najibullah’s brave reporting is being honored in this way. We couldn’t do this work without the support of our viewers, our funders at PBS and CPB, and WGBH.”

ISIS in Afghanistan — a FRONTLINE production with Clover Films that was directed and filmed by Quraishi, produced by Jamie Doran, and senior produced by Dan Edge is the most recent FRONTLINE documentary from Quraishi, an Afghan journalist who has covered the war between the Taliban and the American-led coalition for more than a decade.

“As a journalist and filmmaker, I am always trying to find unique stories to expose,” Quraishi said. “When I learned that ISIS was making gains in Afghanistan, my home country, I wanted to show why they are there, what they are doing, and what their aims are. I wanted to see what’s going on in their minds in order to alert people throughout the world.”

“This award means so much to me,” Quraishi added. “It feels great for my work to be recognized, and it encourages me to investigate more stories and to make more films. I would like to thank the FRONTLINE team and PBS, who have always supported me throughout my journalism career.”

Since 1940, the prestigious George Foster Peabody Awards have honored excellence in broadcasting. The awards now recognize excellence in digital storytelling as well. The 75th annual Peabody Awards ceremony, hosted by Keegan-Michael Key, will take place May 21 in New York City, and will be televised on Pivot on June 6. Learn more here.

This is FRONTLINE’s 18th Peabody Award. Also nominated alongside ISIS in Afghanistan was the June 2015 FRONTLINE film Growing Up Trans, and Inheritance, a multimedia exploration of filmmaker Ken Dornstein’s grief over the death of his brother in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Watch the winning film below.

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