I am based in Beirut, Lebanon, better known to Americans as the terror capital of the world in the 1980s for its rampant lawlessness and kidnappings. Thankfully, the civil war that lasted some fifteen barbarous years ended in 1991. But Lebanon is still a dangerous place.
A series of mysterious bombs have killed or maimed several politicians and journalists I knew well, none more so than a remarkable and courageous woman named May Chidiac, a fearless Maronite Catholic journalist who I came to admire during the war years.
Back then, May was a field reporter for the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation. In recent years, she has come to be known throughout the Middle East as a kind of Barbara Walters. She is fiercely independent and has made many enemies through her opinionated commentary and TV news reports.
Her last broadcast came six months ago when she poured scorn on Lebanon's powerful neighbor, Syria. Her televised discussion focused on alleged Syrian involvement in a series of assassinations in Lebanon. A few hours later, May was blown up by a bomb attached to the underside of her SUV.
She was sliced to shreds, somehow crawling way from the wreckage with her hair ablaze.
"I saw my hand attached to my arm with a small piece of skin," she told me. "But I hoped that they could save my hand." In fact, she lost her hand and half of her arm as well as most of her left leg. She was also covered in terrible burns and her body was peppered by shrapnel wounds.
For months, my friend and respected colleague has been subjected to grueling physical therapy at a special rehabilitation center near Paris. For tonight's show, we talked about how she survived the bomb attack and her valiant effort to eventually return to the screen to tell stories that matter.