New e-Book: Who Shot Ahmed? A Mystery Unravels in Bahrain’s Botched Arab Spring

I have some exciting news! Friend of UN Dispatch and former UN Dispatch contributor Elizabeth Dickinson has a vital new e-single: Who Shot Ahmed? A Mystery Unravels in Bahrain’s Botched Arab Spring. I’m biased because I served as the publisher via DAWNS Digest. But take my word that it is a compelling, fast paced read about a tragedy, a government coverup and a family’s quest for justice.

Who Shot Ahmed? Cover

Bahrain is a tiny Island kingdom in the Persian Gulf, but the brutality of the suppression of the Arab Spring protests rivaled that of much larger countries. Unlike Tunisia, Yemen, or Egypt the USA did not loudly condemn the crackdown. That’s in part because the USA has a large navy base in Bahrain aimed at keeping Iran at bay and oil flowing through the Gulf. The protests also took a sectarian turn, with the Shia majority demanding more political participation in a Sunni dominated system. That, of course, inflamed regional rivalries between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

That geopolitical intrigue is elegantly weaved into the story of Ahmed’s tragic death. Dickinson offers the first authoritative account of Bahrain’s Arab spring gone terribly awry.

My DAWNS project seeks to support compelling global humanitarian journalism, and this project certainly fits the bill. The story is an “e-single,” on Amazon meaning that it’s about the length of a long magazine article. It’s available for purchase for $2.99.  This is our first e-single, and we want to invest in more narrative non-fiction about ideas, issues and parts of the world that are generally off the mainstream media’s radar. If you don’t have an Amazon account you can purchase the story in various formats via Smashwords. Please check it out!

Please let me know what you think!  Full description below.


Who Shot Ahmed? recounts the murder of a 22-year-old videographer, killed in cold blood in the dead of night at the height of Bahrain’s Arab Spring revolution. On a small island Kingdom swirling with political, economic, and sectarian tensions, Ahmed’s murder epitomized everything that had gone wrong since 2011, when pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in droves. Drawing on dozens of testimonies, journalist Elizabeth Dickinson traces the tale of Ahmed’s death and his family’s fearless quest for justice. Darting between narratives and delving into characters, it is a tale of a life lost and the great powers—from Washington to London, and Riyadh to Manama—that did nothing to stop the crisis. Dickinson has a deep knowledge of the region, but she brings a story from a foreign land straight back home: Ahmed could be any of our sons.

Elizabeth Dickinson is an American journalist based in Abu Dhabi. Reporting from five continents, she has served as assistant managing editor at Foreign Policy magazine, Nigeria correspondent for The Economist, as well as contributing Editor at World Affairs and correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor. Her work has additionally appeared in The National, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Washington Monthly, The Atlantic, and The New Republic. This work is based on her independent investigation and does not represent the views of her employers. Who Shot Ahmed? was edited by Sandra Allen.

Who Shot Ahmed? is available for purchase in the Amazon Kindle Store. For users who do not have Kindle accounts or who live in territories not serviced by the Kindle Store (like Bahrain) Who Shot Ahmed? is available for purchase in multiple formats via Smashwords.

What people are saying about Who Shot Ahmed?

“For those of us in the business of recording history as it unfolds, it is inspiring to read the sad but ultimately uplifting story that Elizabeth Dickinson offers up regarding a young Bahraini cameraman, Ahmed Ismail al-Samadi, who was shot dead by police during pro-democracy protests he was filming. Be it in Bahrain, in Egypt, in Syria, or any other zone of conflict and contestation, the role of the media is critical, and it should therefore come as no surprise that the person holding the camera to document events — for the record, for justice, for posterity — becomes a target. In telling Ahmed’s tale, with its bittersweet ending, Dickinson  reaffirms the continuity of recording history, despite a regime’s attempt to break it by killing the messenger.”

– Joost Hiltermann, CEO, International Crisis Group

“Elizabeth Dickinson captures both the tragedy and complexity of the simmering, sometimes explosive, unrest in Bahrain in recent years. Her portrayal of a brave young man and his family provides the human texture necessary to achieve deeper understanding of the broad political issues. While Dickinson wisely avoids proposing easy solutions to Bahrain’s problems, she highlights the challenges with admirable empathy and understanding.”

– Richard LeBaron, visiting senior fellow with the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, former US ambassador to Kuwait

“”Who shot Ahmed? ” demonstrates the multidimensional challenges draining the credibility of U.S. foreign policy in the Gulf.”

– Matar Matar Ebrahim, former Bahraini MP

Publisher’s Note

The Development and Aid World News Service (DAWNS) believes that a community of global humanitarian news consumers can be inspired to support storytelling about issues, ideas and places generally ignored by mainstream press. The DAWNS Digest curates the latest human rights, international development and humanitarian news everyday. Revenue from subscription sales to DAWNS Digest funds a grant program for journalists, bloggers, photographers and documentary filmmakers around the world.

Who Shot Ahmed? is the embodiment of our mission. This first installment of our new e-single series is a riveting story told by a skilled journalist, Elizabeth Dickinson. Your purchase supports our mission to bring stories like Ahmed’s to life.

Learn more at and sign up for updates at or send us an email to learn how you can support humanitarian storytelling.

— Mark Leon Goldberg and Tom Murphy, co-founders.