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December 20, 2011

John Redwine, American citizen, Fox News Journalist found dead in Lebanon mountains

December 20, 2011

December 20, 2011



John Redwine, a 33 year old Beirut-Based American citizen from Sioux Falls (Iowa), was found dead in Sannin Mountainous area, Northern Beirut. He was reported as "missing" over the weekend, and an American Embassy team joined the Lebanese military in their search efforts. Approximately 100 personnel from both the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) participated in the search operation.They used two helicopters and trained search dogs in their search efforts. "Teams said the man they had found appeared to have fallen to his death", reported the Daily Star. The Arab Digest spoke to a number of Redwine's friends, he was surely an avid climber who would usually take some risks and might have really fallen into his own death. His friends recall "a great friend, husband and father", and they praised his great command of the Arabic language. (Alarabiya reported that his body and face were deformed, and that he was murdered. But a Red Cross official who was at the scene told the German News Agency that Redwine fell and broke his neck. Security officials also confirmed that his death was an accident).
The Sannin region where Redwine was found dead, is known for its strategic importance due to the high altitude. One year ago, the Lebanese military discovered and dismantled two high tech Israeli spy devices in Sannine (probably notified of their presence by Hezbollah); Hezbollah was also criticized by Christian MP Sami Gemayel for maintaining military and security presence in the Sannine region. Nevertheless, Andrew North, a BBC journalist, and a friend of John, told the Arab Digest, that he skied with Redwine on the Sannine mountain after climbing many times. So it is sure that John did this many times to practise his favourite sport.
"Shortly before the discovery of the body after midday Tuesday, Redwine’s Silver Volkswagen was found nearby to the popular mountains. Redwine's wife, Irina, sounded distraught when contacted by The Daily Star on her husband’s disappearance and said she did not wish to talk to the media. According to the security sources, Mrs. Redwine arrived in Lebanon from Morocco Monday after she lost contact with her husband on Dec. 17. The wife contacted the U.S. Embassy about the case after she arrived in the country, the sources added". They found his car close to the area where his body laid "in a wide hole" near the Beskinta mountains in the Northern Metn province. He used to walk in that mountainous region.
He was a Hezbollah expert, and had good connections to the conservative media in the United States. The Arab Digest learned that Redwine works with Albany Associates which is directed by a former NATO spokesperson and works with the United Nations (ESCWA. A UNIFIL spokesman denied that Redwine did work for them).
John graduated from the American University in Beirut where he earned a Masters degree in Middle East Studies; he is an annual contributor to the AUB, though in small amounts. While he took different Lebanon jobs during the past 5 years, his latest post was a freelancer for Fox News (I only found one report he did from Tripoli, Libya where he spoke to Gaddafi's spokesperson Moussa Ibrahim). Redwine also worked for Albany Associates who has among its clients' list various international agencies, especially the U.S. Department of State and the Pentagon (also the U.K. government). Simon Haselock, Albany's director, was NATO spokesman in Sarajevo during the American intervention there. The Lebanese Daily Star, however, reported that Redwine "worked for the Beirut office of BGR, a German federal institute for geosciences and natural resources that has been cooperating with the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) since 1992".

He is good friends with the Western community in Lebanon, which includes journalists, and his mates on Facebook are mostly graduates from prestigious universities. His death, though apparently a hiking accident, comes amid heightened tensions between the CIA and Hezbollah after the exposure of American agents stationed in Lebanon, where they were passing information to the Israelis. (Check the Arab Digest's No Nonsense Guide to the CIA in Lebanon part I, part II & part III for the full story on the agency's operations in Beirut).

Lebanese Al-Liwaa newspaper asked today "Has the war on the ESCWA begun after previously receiving threats?". The newspaper cited that Redwine's deformed face and body show he's murdered. This is of course disputed by the various reports and statements by the security services in Lebanon, all of which refer to possible wild animals' attacks in the days following his disappearance. Other reports, however, cited that he was with friends who lost track of him in the mountain (weird, who are they? if true of course).

Below is what the American University in Beirut said about Redwine:

John Redwine received a BA in History from the University of Montana. He joined CAMES in 2004 and received and his MA in February 2008. While completing his master’s degree at CAMES, he worked freelance as a copy editor for The Middle East Reporter. During the July 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, he worked as an Arabic interpreter for ABC News, and also he also managed ABC’s news desk for part of that conflict. Following the war, he worked as a press officer in south Lebanon for the aid organization International Medical Corps. His thesis, “Hizbullah’s Political Capital and the July War”, was largely informed by these experiences. After graduating, John worked as a staff writer for the English language, pan-Arab business publication, Executive Magazine in which he headed the editorial department before leaving to join the UK-based consulting firm Albany Associates. John is currently Project Director for Albany Associates’ consultancy to the Government of Lebanon.
The American University in Beirut forgot to mention that Albany Associates also handles UNIFIL forces' PR; the French forces under UNIFIL have recently been attacked due to Paris's growing role in Syria.
He also has a Twitter account in which he calls himself an "Independent public relations and communications professional based in Beirut, Lebanon with over a decade of experience in the Middle East and fluent Arabic"

In spite of the timing, the location, the Hezbollah connection, it is very nasty for anyone to suggest that he is a CIA agent; this young man was simply interested in the Middle East, and that is it for now. Hezbollah had mentioned that the CIA network included journalists, among many other professionals, but the CIA is banned from hiring journalists. (Redwine called himself an "Independent public relations and communications professional based in Beirut, Lebanon with over a decade of experience in the Middle East and fluent Arabic").


(John Redwine in an interview on Syria).


Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), also a friend of Redwine wrote the following for the Arab Digest:

John was an experienced and avid climber, so while I am saddened by his death, I am not suspicious of the circumstances. John had some of the best Arabic you have ever heard on a westerner. His FusHa was excellent, as was his Lebanese amiyyeh. (He spoke pretty good Moroccan as well.) John was simply one of the nicest, most humble men I have ever known. He and his wife Irina just had a son a few months ago.

He also wrote a longer tribute on his blog, in which he spoke of their days in the Middle East.

Here is another tribute from his brother Adam:

If you're reading this you are probably aware that my brother John's body was found today in the mountains around Beirut. I appreciate all of the sympathies though I'm sure that for the moment this is hardest on his wife Irina and my parents. No parent should have to bury their child, but some do.Over time, however, John's decision to go climbing that day, and the consequences of that decision, will have a profound impact on his now two-month old son Winston. (Also check Adam's comment below)

John Redwine is also the son of former Iowa Republican Senator John Redwine Sr. (One of his contributions to the AUB was in honour of his father).

Also, in the Arab Digest, a tribute by John's brother, Adam Redwine:

My brother John Redwine, the mountain climber, the Arabist...


15 comments:

Sorry to say this, but his profile fits perfectly for a CIA operative according to Hezbollah SI system for signals regarding possible spies. Most probably he was in the wrong place in the wrong time. Lets hope his murder won't wind up among the thousands of dossiers of unsolved murders or be another July 2007 Israeli-Lebanese only this time with a USA blessing! The whole area's political atmosphere is as they say in Arabic on the palm of a fiend! I offer my condolences to his family.

I wonder if he's the same fella with this profile on twitter: Independent public relations and communications professional based in Beirut, Lebanon with over a decade of experience in the Middle East and fluent Arabic.

ref url: http://twitter.com/johnredwine

Coz his tweets can say a lot about his disappearance!

I kind of think he was a spy. It's not normal that "an American Embassy team joined the Lebanese military in their search efforts. They used two helicopters and trained search dogs in their search efforts."

He passed away mountain climbing. This is a terrible tragedy, please don't start silly rumors about what happened. He has many family and friends from his hometown that are deeply saddened by this. Please be respectful. Thank you.

Whatever
The fact is.
He is dead. Death is a favorite activity in the middle east. They never heard of live and let live it seems.
Hezbollah are crazies and its admirable that he was living in a very dangerous part of the world. Who knows if he was a cia guy. If he was, more power to him.
Condolences to his wife and child.

John would have found this post very amusing.

I think he would have been amused. The Blackwater guys wanted him but he'd have none of it. He was fascinated by the Middle East and loved all of the wonderful friends he had.

It's kind of fun to think of him spying and playing the real James Bond, but it's not realistic. The embassy search is probably because he had deep connections in the area and his wife is a higher up in the UN. They didn't know if it was a kidnapping or not. Sadly, it just looks like a tragic accident.

Adam, I know it has been a long time since we have spoke or even seen eachother. What an irony that this happens to be the manner in which contact is re-established. My prayers go out to you, your family & his. I hope/pray the LORD brings healing & closure quickly.

Hezbollah has made it very clear for many years that area is their land, and specifically, Mount Sannine. Google for Hezbollah’s Territory, and every map will show the same. It is cute they can focus on the climbing, and you may be right about the degree of the slope, and the challenge of climbing a certain route. And the truth of the matter is, the climb could be no more than a stiff hike with a chest filled of gold coins at the top waiting for anyone that wanted them. And those coins would be sitting untouched today, because you wouldn’t be hiking Mount Sannine.

This comment has been removed by the author.

John was a friend to many,and he had a wide array of capabilities,but he was passionate about climbing. I will always think of him as a teacher. He’d climb with family, friends, and with other avid climbers but he’d also teach locals to whom the idea of ascending physical barriers for fun had never before occurred, and on any rock around. In the Middle East, he’d teach these locals in their own language, and it really was some of the best Arabic FusHa or Lebanese ammiyeh I’ve heard on a Westerner. John was a deeply humble person, and in his quiet actions, it was almost, in Lebanon at least, as if he was calling people out of the homes where they’d sought shelter in a country long ravaged by war, to come out and reclaim the beauty of the land, the mountains, the sheer splendor of outside. In his constant exploration of this land, it was the mountains that tragically claimed him (as is sadly common in the sport, and especially tragic as he leaves behind an infant son), but John leaves behind a legacy that will remain with the people everywhere he met who he mentored and taught.

Thank you all for our comments. It has been a tragic accident, and I have been touched by the sheer number of relatives, friends, and even acquaintances who are so saddened by his death. This is a blog for anonymous Arab journalists; I have opened the blog for obituaries in memory of this special young man.

His family should be proud to know, and I hope will continue to learn more about, the graceful way he chose to spend the short currency of his life on earth.

Glad to do that, would welcome any contribution on John, please send us something

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