Raffi Khatchadourian

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Raffi Khatchadourian is an American journalist. He is well known for his investigative pieces on an array of topics such as WikiLeaks, the Iraq War, U.S. military experimenting and genocide. His long-form piece "Azzam the American," which appeared in The New Yorker, is one of his most notable works.[1] It was published on January 22, 2007, and was nominated for a National Magazine Award in Profile Writing.[1][2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Khatchadourian was born in Long Island, New York.[5] He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.[6] He also earned an International Relations master's degree from Columbia University.[6]

Early career[edit]

Khatchadourian began his journalism career in Moscow, where he worked at an English weekly called The Russia Journal.[6] While there, he worked as the chief copy editor and wrote news and editorial articles.[6]

He has contributed freelance work to a number of publications after returning from Moscow, including The Nation, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, Condé Nast Traveler, Smithsonian magazine and Salon.[6] Khatchadourian spent time in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in 2001 in order to report on U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan for The Nation and the San Francisco Chronicle.[6]

In 2003, prior to joining the staff at The New Yorker, Khatchadourian wrote a five-segment piece for The Village Voice on the construction of an oil pipeline through Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

Khatchadourian was a fellow at the International Reporting Project (IRP) in 2005.[1][6] The project, which is run by the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., "provides opportunities for journalists to report internationally on critical issues that are under covered in the news media."[1][12]

The New Yorker[edit]

Khatchadourian began working for The New Yorker in 2003 as a staff fact-checker.[6] He wrote his first piece for the magazine, "Azzam the American," in 2007 and transitioned to a staff writer in 2008.[1][13] Since then, Khatchadourian has written a number of investigative pieces for The New Yorker on a range of topics.

"Azzam the American"[edit]

"Azzam the American" is the first piece Khatchadourian wrote for The New Yorker, the year before becoming a staff writer for the magazine.[1][13] The piece was nominated for the Profile Writing category of the National Magazine Awards.[1][13] It investigated the story of Adam Yahiye Gadahn, a California-born U.S. citizen who joined Al-Qaeda.[2][3] Gadahn became an English spokesperson for Al-Qaeda's media, serving as "translator, video producer and cultural interpreter," Khatchadourian reported.[2][3]

Although Khatchadourian did not speak with Gadahn himself, he offered an in-depth profile using a number of sources. He spoke to terrorism experts such as Randy Parsons, who was in charge of the Los Angeles F.B.I.'s counterterroism division from 2002 to 2006.[2] The article also cited people who knew Gadahn's family. Most importantly, though, Khatchadourian scoured through essays, videos and audio recordings Gadahn had made in order to learn more about him.[2]

"No Secrets"[edit]

In 2010, Khatchadourian wrote "No Secrets" for The New Yorker. The investigative article profiled Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.[14] In the piece, Khatchadourian wrote that Assange wanted to be as transparent as possible concerning his work at WikiLeaks.[14] He captured this as he told Assange's story, from starting WikiLeaks to keeping an eye out for the next leak.[14]

Khatchadourian spent time with Assange, and his team at the time, in Iceland. They were working on a leak, code named Project B, regarding two U.S. airstrikes in Baghdad, which took place on July 12, 2007.[14] The video revealed that, along with the intended targets, the airstrike killed Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen, two war correspondents for Reuters.[14] The leak was given the title Collateral Murder upon release.

Assange also revealed his own personal story to Khathcadourian. At the age of 16 he began hacking under the name Mendax, with a group called the International Subversives.[14] Khatchadourian also reported, from a meeting with the WikiLeaks founder on a bench in Bryant Park after the release of Collateral Murder, that Assange was working on a new project: Project G.[14]

Operation Delirium[edit]

Another of Khatchadourian's investigative pieces for The New Yorker, titled "Operation Delirium," shed light on U.S. military experimenting during the Cold War. The article, written in 2012, focused on Colonel James S. Ketchum, and his involvement with the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments.[15] Khatchadourian unveiled the extent to which a vast assortment of different chemicals were being tested on, often unknowing, U.S. soldiers.[15] The experiments were executed in an effort to create a viable form of psychochemical warfare.[15]

Ketchum told Khatchadourian about the experiments that took place at Edgewood. Soldiers were given drugs without any preparation or knowledge of what they were taking; they were studied, and then released without counselling or warning of potential effects.[15] Ketchum also told Khatchadourian of an experimenter at Edgewood Arsenal by the name of Dr. Van Murray Sim. Sim believed that the type of psychochemical testing they were involved in required subjects not to have any preconceived expectations.[15] He often gave unwitting people, including high-ranking officers, LSD, without informed consent.[15] Despite disagreeing with Sim's methods, and struggling with his own conscience, Khatchadourian reported that Ketchum defended his work at Edgewood.[15]


Series on the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Pipeline Project


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Raffi Khatchadourian". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Khatchadourian, Raffi (January 22, 2007). "Azzam the American". Condé Nast. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c The Bryant Park Project (May 1, 2008). "'New Yorker' Writer Could Win With First Piece". National Public Radio, Inc. NPR. Retrieved March 21, 2016.
  4. ^ "New Yorker, The". MPA – The Association of Magazine Media. MPA. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  5. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (January 5, 2015). "A Century of Silence". Condé Nast. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Raffi Khatchadourian". International Reporting Project. The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (February 11, 2003). "Part One: Crude Measures". The Village Voice LLC. The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  8. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (February 18, 2003). "Part Two: Code of the Kalashnikov". The Village Voice LLC. The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  9. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (March 4, 2003). "Part Three: Disgust, Distrust and Death Threats". The Village Voice LLC. The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (March 25, 2003). "Part Four: America Builds an Army for Industry". The Village Voice LLC. The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  11. ^ Khatchadourian, Raffi (April 22, 2003). "The Price of Progress". The Village Voice LLC. The Village Voice. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  12. ^ "About". International Reporting Project. The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) of the Johns Hopkins University. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  13. ^ a b c "Immersion Journalism". Condé Nast. The New Yorker. October 10, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g Khatchadourian, Raffi (June 7, 2010). "No Secrets". Condé Nast. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g Khatchadourian, Raffi (December 17, 2012). "Operation Delirium". Condé Nast. The New Yorker. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  16. ^ Discusses Matvey Natanzon, aka Falafel.
  17. ^ Online version is titled "Julian Assange, a man without a country".