This month marks the 20 anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington – and two decades of conflict. In the days following the attacks, two young German journalists worked tirelessly to piece together the developments leading up to September 11, 2001. Their experiences then have influenced their careers, and one might even say that they have been following some of the leads immediately after 9/11 ever since. Journalists and authors Souad Mekhennet and Elmar Theveßen have become leading terrorism experts.
In 2012, they won Germany’s prestigious Deutsche Fernsehpreis for their two-part documentary “9/11: The Day the World Changed.” Produced ten years after the terrorist attacks, the program analyzes the profound global impact of the day on politics and society. Join the American Council on Germany for a discussion with Souad Mekhennet and Elmar Theveßen on the impact of 9/11 today.
Souad Mekhennet is a correspondent for The Washington Post’s national security desk, and she has reported on terrorism for the New York Times, the International Herald Tribune, and NPR. She was a 2012 Nieman fellow at Harvard University and a visiting fellow at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Ms. Mekhennet first reported for The Post in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, delving into the backgrounds of the Hamburg cell and writing on the al-Qaeda threat in Europe, North Africa, and the Gulf. She was part of The Post’s coverage of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. In 2004, she began a long interlude at the New York Times, where she produced some of the most distinguished reporting on the Bush administration’s war on terrorism. Ms. Mekhennet returned to The Post as a contributor in 2014 and became a staff writer in 2017. With her colleagues, she helped unmask Jihadi John. She reported the death of Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the leader of the group that staged the Paris attacks, 15 hours ahead of a government announcement and the rest of the media.
Ms. Mekhennet has written four books, most recently her critically acclaimed memoir, “I Was Told to Come Alone: My Journey Behind the Lines of Jihad.” It was included in the 2017 longlist for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and received the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism. Her other books include: “Islam”; “The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim,” co-written with Nicholas Kulish; and “The Children of Jihad: The New Generation of Islamist Terror in Europe,” co-written with Claudia Sautter and Michael Hanfeld.
Elmar Theveßen is a German journalist and author and has served as the bureau chief of ZDF’s studio in Washington, DC. since March 2019. He is an expert on international security and terrorism and studied history, political science, and German studies at the University of Bonn as well as foreign policy and journalism at American University in Washington, DC.
From 1991 to 1995, Mr. Theveßen was tv-journalist for politics in ZDF-studio Bonn. Until 2001 he worked as a tv-journalist for ZDF-studio in Washington, DC. From 2001 to 2002 he worked as tv-journalist for Frontal21 at ZDF. Since 2007 Mr. Theveßen was ZDF’s Deputy Editor-in-Chief and managing editor for the current affairs department in Mainz.
He is the author of seven books, including four on terrorism and Al-Qaida.