Monday, April 26, 2010

Bedouin gun runners

Sometimes not identifying people is a precondition for me being allowed to photograph them.

Such was the case with a group of Bedouin arms smugglers in the Sinai peninsula.

I actually was tagging along with Abigail Hauslohner, TIME's stringer in Cairo. She wrote about Bedouins who smuggle goods and humans across Egypt's borders with Gaza and Israel. To read her two stories, click here ("Egypt's New Challenge: Sinai's Restive Bedouins") and here ("North Sinai: Security Challenges and Ethnic Tensions").

It's always pretty challenging to photograph people who can't actually be photographed.

One of the smugglers cleans his Glock pistol. The Glock was overwhelmingly the chosen sidearm for the smugglers we hung out with.

One of the smugglers' wives.

Me trying to be creative with the whole I-have-photograph-you-but-can't-photograph-you thing.

The Egyptian National soccer team pulled out a win over Algeria, and, in a show of their power, the smugglers rode through the village of Sheikh Ziyad, leading the parade of honking vehicles.

One of the smugglers got a bit carried away and fired his weapon into the air.

We did a lot of driving around the desert aimlessly. We kept hoping they'd show us an arms shipment or take us to a group of Somalis in a safe house, waiting to be smuggled across the border.

But, they didn't. Instead we saw an Israeli border post in the middle of the Sinai desert.

Then the smugglers took us to see one of the poor Bedouin families living in the middle of nowhere. This woman's father was lying behind her and too ill to stand.

Here we are again, whisked away to the desert to visit more Bedouin families.

Quite beautiful out in the desert.

Sabeha. She doesn't know how old she is, but thinks she's 50 or 60.

A sandstorm colored the air the next day.

It really does feel like the end of the earth.


Sharon said...

Wow. Holly, this is amazing. I'm glad I caught it on Namrata's FB page.

Holly said...

Thanks Sharon!

Noor al Haqiqa said...

Amazing photographs.