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New York Times Reporter Rukmini Callimachi To Discuss Rise of ISIS

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

​Dominican University is pleased to present New York Times foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachi in the third annual Georgie Anne Geyer Lecture on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center, 7900 Division Street. A three-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Callimachi has gained worldwide acclaim for her coverage of international terrorism and, particularly, her investigative reporting on al-Qaeda.

Callimachi's gripping podcast series, "Caliphate," which tracks the rise of the Islamic State (ISIS) from their encrypted, online chatrooms to their many-tentacled network across four continents, has been ranked by Esquire magazine as the best podcast of the year so far. An expert on ISIS's use of social media, Callimachi has gone beyond governmental intelligence sources to gain access to the inner world of jihadists.

"From the time ISIS rose to become the most infamous terrorist organization on Earth, no reporter has done more to explain and expose the group than the New York Times' Rukmini Callimachi," wrote Isaac Chotiner in Slate magazine (July 12, 2016).

Callimachi started her career in journalism as a freelancer in India, covering for TIME magazine the catastrophic Gujarat earthquake in 2001. She then landed an internship at the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, IL before joining the Associated Press (AP) and covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

While serving as a foreign correspondent for the West Africa bureau of the AP, Callimachi pursued the story that earned her the second of the three Pulitzer Prize nominations. Traveling to Timbuktu in Mali following its liberation from al-Qaeda, she was led by locals to the jihadist group's former headquarters. Strewn across the floor and in overturned cabinets, she found thousands of pages of internal al-Qaeda documents, providing a window into the organization's operations. The discovery formed the basis for her New York Times piece, "The ISIS Files," which revealed the brutality and bureaucracy that kept the Islamic State a powerful threat for so long. 

Callimachi was awarded the International Center for Journalist's inaugural "Integrity in Journalism" Prize in 2016 for her articles revealing ISIS's institutionalization of sex slavery and linking child labor in Senegal to banks in Switzerland. Her series, "Underwriting Jihad," which revealed how ransoms paid by European governments served as a primary source of financing for al-Qaeda and ISIS, won the prestigious Polk Award in Journalism. Her series, "The al-Qaeda Papers," received the Michael Kelly Award as well as two Overseas Press Club awards.

Callimachi's lecture at Dominican honors the trailblazing journalist and foreign correspondent Georgia Anne Geyer, for whom the annual lecture is named. Geyer has covered some of the most momentous international events of the past 60 years. Renowned for her in-depth interviews with world leaders including Juan Peron, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, Geyer is the author of Guerilla Prince, an acclaimed biography of Fidel Castro; the autobiographical Buying the Night Flight; and Predicting the Unthinkable, Anticipating the Impossible, a compilation of domestic and foreign dispatches.

Tickets for Rukmini Callimachi's Geyer Lecture are $20 and can be reserverd online at