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Sebastian Rotella

Senior Reporter

Photo of Sebastian Rotella

Sebastian Rotella is a senior reporter at ProPublica. An award-winning foreign correspondent and investigative reporter, he worked for almost 23 years for the Los Angeles Times before joining ProPublica in 2010. He covers international security issues including terrorism, intelligence, organized crime, human rights and migration. His reporting has taken him across the Americas and Europe, and to the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa.

Sebastian was co-writer and correspondent for Terror in Europe, a 2016 Frontline documentary that was a finalist for the Investigative Reporters and Editors broadcast/video award. In 2013, his Finding Oscar investigation with This American Life won a Peabody Award, a Dart Center Award, and two awards from the Overseas Press Club. In 2012, he was recognized with Italy’s Urbino Press Award for excellence in American journalism. His A Perfect Terrorist investigation of the Mumbai attacks (with Frontline) was nominated for an Emmy, and the online version of the story got an Overseas Press Club Award in 2011.

In 2006, he was named a Pulitzer finalist for international reporting for his L.A. Times coverage of terrorism and Muslim communities in Europe, which won the German Marshall Fund’s senior award for excellence in European reporting. He was part of a team whose coverage of al-Qaida received an Overseas Press Club award and finalist honors for Harvard University’s Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2002. In 2001, he won Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Prize for his career coverage of Latin America. His work in Latin America also won honors from the Overseas Press Club, Inter-American Press Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

At the L.A. Times, Sebastian served as a correspondent at the Mexican border, in South America and in Europe. His border reporting inspired two songs on Bruce Springsteen’s album The Ghost of Tom Joad (1995).

Sebastian is the author of three novels: the forthcoming Rip Crew (March, 2018), The Convert’s Song (2014), and Triple Crossing (2011). He is also the author of Twilight on the Line: Underworlds and Politics at the U.S.-Mexico Border (1998). He speaks Spanish, French and Italian. He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, studied at the University of Barcelona, and was born in Chicago.

FBI Was Warned Years in Advance of Mumbai Attacker's Terror Ties

Three years before the Mumbai attack, the U.S. was warned that a key figure in the plot had terror ties.

Times Square Bombing Investigation Focuses on Suspected Role of Pakistani Army Major

U.S. investigators are looking into whether a major in Pakistan’s army knew of Faisal Shahzad’s plans to attack U.S. targets months before Shahzad tried to ignite a car bomb in the heart of New York City. Pakistani officials have arrested the major.

Pakistani Taliban Link to Times Square Bombing Attempt Would Have Troubling Implications

If the failed Times Square bombing is linked to the Pakistani Taliban, it could mean that a group with hardened fighters, previously intent on created an Islamic regime at home, is turning its sights on the U.S.

U.S. Terror Targets Unprotected, According to Former CIA Official

In a new book, a former CIA counterterrorism operative says little has been done to make America safer since Sept. 11. Charles S. Faddis says that while observing potential U.S. targets, he encountered systemically outmoded defenses and poorly trained personnel.

Iran's Efforts to Buy Embargoed Arms Revealed in Italian Case

Court documents in an Italian guns-running case highlight how Iranian buyers seek embargoed military goods, and how difficult it is for the trade to be stemmed.

Map: U.S. and Mexico Patrol the Border

Border Patrol and Mexican Police Make History at Arizona Border

For the first time, Border Patrol agents and Mexican federal police officers are training together, sharing intelligence and coordinating patrols. It is a joint attack on northbound flows of drugs and migrants, and southbound shipments of guns and cash.

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