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Sebastian Rotella is a senior reporter at ProPublica. An award-winning foreign correspondent and investigative reporter, Sebastian worked for almost 23 years for the Los Angeles Times, covering everything from terrorism to arts to the Mexican border. He served most recently as a national security correspondent in Washington, D.C., and his previous posts include international investigative correspondent and bureau chief in Paris and Buenos Aires, with assignments in the Middle East and North Africa.
Rotella has been honored with numerous journalism awards throughout his career. In 2013, his multi-faceted "Finding Oscar" investigation won a Peabody Award, Dart Center Award for Excellence in Coverage of Trauma, and was a finalist for the Scripps Howard Ernie Pyle Award. He was recognized with an Urbino Press Award in 2012 for excellence in journalism. His "A Perfect Terrorist" investigation of the Mumbai attacks (in conjunction with Frontline) was nominated for an Emmy and the online version of the story resulted in his third Overseas Press Club Award in 2011.
In 2006, he was named a Pulitzer finalist for international reporting for his coverage of terrorism and Muslim communities in Europe. He won the German Marshall Fund's senior award for excellence in European reporting the same year. He was part of a team whose coverage of al-Qaida received an award from the Overseas Press Club 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, the Inter-American Press Association and the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
He is the author of two novels: The Convert’s Song (December, 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 and was born in Chicago.
Feb. 13, 12:14 p.m.Alan Bersin says a border wall won’t address the real challenges confronting the U.S. border enforcement system: hopelessly understaffed immigration courts and lawlessness and poverty in Central America.
Jan. 16, 7:59 a.m.Matthew Olsen, a senior national security official in both Democratic and Republican administrations, says the ongoing conflict between President-elect Trump and the U.S. intelligence community poses grave risks.
Jan. 10, 4:01 p.m.The Maryland resident has been linked to a 1982 attack on the village of Dos Erres in Guatemala that led to the deaths of about 250 children, women and unarmed men.
Nov. 22, 2016, 11:05 a.m.State Department sanctions a former soldier in the French Foreign Legion as a senior plotter as French authorities roll up an ISIS network said to be planning new attacks.
Oct. 19, 2016, 12:30 p.m.American officials say the investigation of the assaults on Paris and Brussels has led them to a shadowy Moroccan militant who was raised in Southern France and now lives in Syria.
Oct. 18, 2016, 7 a.m.The ISIS attacks on France and Belgium exposed weaknesses in Europe’s approach to borders and information sharing that counterterror officials had warned about for years. The vulnerabilities remain largely unaddressed.
July 11, 2016, 7 a.m.A trove of communications from ISIS plots and activity in Europe reveals a mix of direct control and improvisation and shows the crucial importance of encrypted messaging tools. “Detonate your belt in the crowds,” one message declared.
June 6, 2016, 7 a.m.Enrique Degenhart intentó reformar la agencia de migración de Guatemala. Su historia es parte de la extraordinaria batalla de un país contra la corrupción.
June 2, 2016, 6:59 a.m.Enrique Degenhart tried to clean up Guatemala's immigration service. His story is part of a nation's extraordinary fight against corruption.
March 22, 2016, 4:30 p.m.Coordinated bombings in Brussels may have been in the works for some time, aided by an underworld where crime and extremism blur together.
Nov. 23, 2015, 10:44 a.m.Veteran European law enforcement officials, one of them Muslim, reflect on the roots of the Paris attacks, the tense aftermath and the debate about the effectiveness of counterterror forces.
Nov. 18, 2015, 8:40 a.m.As a pre-dawn raid today outside Paris targets suspected mastermind of last week’s attack, his roots point to the shadow Belgium casts over the terror threat in Europe.
Oct. 23, 2015, 12:16 p.m.Denis Villeneuve’s movie gets much right about the borderlands but crosses the line into exaggeration. A veteran border correspondent compares the film’s underworld to the one he knows.
Sep. 29, 2015, 12:26 p.m.Authorities say former members of a Paris neighborhood gang ended up aiding the Charlie Hebdo attack, recruiting militant fighters to Syria.
Sep. 14, 2015, 10:30 a.m.Deaths at sea and a chaotic refugee influx reflect the failure of European Union leaders to settle on a common immigration policy, one of Italy’s top elected officials tells ProPublica.
June 23, 2015, 4:44 a.m.Sentences are short compared to the U.S.; two Charlie Hebdo attackers and another suspected plotter, now in Yemen, cycled through French jails.
April 21, 2015, 8 a.m.After Edward Snowden, the government said its controversial surveillance programs had stopped a terrorist – David Coleman Headley. In “American Terrorist,” ProPublica and PBS “Frontline” show why the claim is largely untrue.
Feb. 11, 2015, 10:35 a.m.Whether the crusading prosecutor's death is found to be a suicide or homicide, many Argentines probably won't believe it. The past has taught them to always look for the sinister explanation.
Dec. 21, 2014, 9 p.m.Indian and British intelligence agencies monitored the online activities of a key plotter but couldn’t connect the dots.
Feb. 10, 2014, 3:37 p.m.A federal judge sentences Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes to the maximum term for lying on immigration forms about his role in the deaths of 250 people during the Guatemalan civil war.
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