Just as the Iraq War was about to start, Engel took $20,000 he had saved up and went to Jordan. Once there, he purchased a human-shield visa, promising to chain himself to Iraqi buildings to deter the U.S. from bombing them. An Iraqi official gave Engel the visa for a couple $100 and baby clothing.
Not only does Engel speak fluent Arabic, but he also speaks Italian and Spanish fluently too.
When Engel was 16, he spent a year in Sicily as an exchange student.
On February 18, 2007, Engel stated on Meet the Press that because of his extensive reporting of the Iraq War over many years, it had cost the life of his marriage.
Engel wrote about an Iraqi friend of his who showed off his new cellphone which had videos of attacks on the U.S. military as well as other gruesome pictures. Engel called this Iraqi desire for brutality, war porn.
Engel wrote a book about his life as a reporter in Iraq called, "A Fist in the Hornet's Nest: On the Ground in Baghdad Before, During, and After the War."
Engel wrote an article about something he experienced while standing outside his hotel in Iraq. After the hotel was bombed, a few birds shook a tree branch and the suicide bombers face, a small piece of his skin, dropped from the leaves.
Engel overcame dyslexia when he was a kid.
Engel was a freelance reporter for ABC until he snuck his way into Iraq illegally in 2003, hiding in safe houses while covering the war. Soon thereafter, Engel signed with NBC.
Richard Engel has served as a reporter in Iraq the longest out of any U.S. reporter.
(Engel on Iraq)
Engel: You can't let your guard down....You have to go out every day assuming you're being hunted, that people want to take you for ransom.
(Engel commenting on his job as a reporter)
Engel: I think that I'm very lucky to have this job. I love it, and I think I'm one of the few people who can say that about their careers, that they get up every morning and really are interested and excited to try and bring the story to people.
(Engel on reporting the gruesome details in print)
Engel: Well, some of the more grotesque details are not suitable for television and are probably best left to the imagination after you write them in print. But it's also cathartic. It's also a way for me to release some of the terrible images that have accumulated all of the times that I've sat down and watched beheading videos. And these are memories that I don't want to keep inside and that I hope I will leave here in Baghdad once this mission is finished.
(Engel on how the Iraq War has changed his life)
Engel: As Iraq has changed, I have changed. The war has cost me my marriage. I have had friends killed and kidnapped, survived bombings and attempts on my life. I have seen Iraqis freed from the numbing, terrifying fetters of totalitarianism, and had their lives destroyed by the religious bigotry, ignorance, greed and opportnunism unleashed by this war. It has changed my outlook. Violence and cruelty now seem to me, to come easily to mankind; a new belief that disturbs me. But I am also more appreciative of how quickly life can turn for the better, or for the worse.
(Engel on why he has stayed in Iraq for so long and does it weigh on his mind)
Engel: It certainly does. It weighs on your mind. It weighs on your conscience. It chips away at your ability to feel and to empathize. I mean, just today I was reading reports that eight Iraqi heads were found severed in fruit baskets in Baquba with a note saying that this was revenge for a killing of Shiites that had happened two years ago. When I heard it, I've heard so many reports like this, I didn't even bat an eye...So it certainly does weigh on you, and you build up a certain immunity to it, and I think over time we are going to have some lingering psychological effects from this conflict. But why do we do it? I think the small group of reporters that remains here and consistently come here are doing it because they enjoy it. They like being at the forefront of the news, being part of an important story, being able to bring back the events to people back home.
(Engel talking about U.S. forces)
Engel: Whether you agree with the war or not, I have a very soft spot for the guys who are out there. These guys have saved my life on more than one occasion, and they are dying at the rate of two a day, and they deserve to be talked about.
(Engel on how he felt after looking at remains of a suicide bombers face)
Engel: I was looking at the person face to face who tried to kill all of us, I wasn't bothered at all. I thought, what's happened to our humanity?
(Engel on Iraq War)
Engel: It's horrible. I've seen hundreds of dead bodies, rotting bodies, bodies buried in shallow graves. One time I watched a dog carry a severed human head in its mouth. You're smelling bodies, you're seeing people who are so angry and insanely distraught. The people who are being killed are too old, too stupid, too poor, too young or too weak, socially or otherwise, to leave.