Last year I spent a lot of time covering the unfolding events in Syria for Sky News. I covered the devastating impact on civilians in Homs, the battle for Aleppo and got exclusive footage and interviews with UK jihadists. It was there I met a lawless rebel group – soon to become the most feared in the Middle East – IS. In 2010 I was the first foreign journalist to enter the Swat Valley after the Taliban took control and obtained footage of Taliban training camps for suicide bombers for which we received an International Emmy. More recently I witnessed the uprisings in Ukraine and reported on the scene from the MH17 crash site. I had a count up and I have covered 18 wars from Chechnya through Africa, and the Middle East to Afghanistan and Iraq. I’ve done a fair few earthquakes too.

I’ve just come back from spending a week traveling through Mexico and meeting some of the country's most notorious and dangerous criminals, including a man who claims to have killed over 500 people. You can read my article and watch my first report here:

Join me for my reddit AMA now!


Thanks for all your questions, was great fun answering them. You can watch the rest of my reports from Mexico over the coming days on Sky News on Apple TV & Roku and on the Sky News YouTube channel

Comments: 123 • Responses: 27  • Date: 

mind_the_gap35 karma

I’ve just come back from spending a week traveling through Mexico and meeting some of the country's most notorious and dangerous criminals

So you met with our politicians then?

ramsaysky27 karma

HA! love it!

YaketyMax20 karma

Which is more dangerous to go to right now? Mexico or Syria?

ramsaysky54 karma

Interesting this one - as the death toll in Mexico is way way higher. On balance though for me it is going to be Syria. Jihadists want to abduct and execute foreign journalists. The fighting is random and very intense at times and the Syrian government have an arrest warrant out on me. I met an assassin in Mexico and he said he wouldnt whack me for anything - he said it would cause way too much heat and ruin his income. Im not sure that is the same for local journalists though.

YaketyMax19 karma

Which war zone had the best food?

ramsaysky21 karma

The worst was Chechnya - awful. The best got to be Lebanon!

javachipchocolate19 karma

What do you think is the main reason why the situation with the cartels has gotten so out of hand?

ramsaysky44 karma

The fact that they make $54 billion a year in profits. It means they can buy anyone and anything and it simply too good to give up.

spartybull18 karma

Are you not worried for your safety now that cartels can see who you are etc.?

ramsaysky41 karma

No - infact the cartels have asked me to go back and see their meth labs in action. I think they are quite proud of them. Which is cool - but now you mention it maybe that is a BAD idea!

Liverpoolclippers15 karma

What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you whilst at work?

ramsaysky32 karma

Well I was standing behind a guy who got blown up in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, they weren't great moments and I stepped on a landmine - didnt explode so I suppose that a good moment!! Jokes aside I have lost alot of friends - and each time I hear of another I feel sick to my core. Those bad moments never leave me.

Liverpoolclippers15 karma

What is the most shocking thing you have saw whilst working?

ramsaysky24 karma

There have been a few shockers. The crash site of jet MH17 in Ukraine was probably the worst for sheer volume of dead bodies and body parts strewn over many many miles. But some of the most shocking images have been starving children in Africa and the aftermath of the earthquake in Pakistan and the Typhoon in the Philippines.

tencandancer14 karma

Who shot down MH17?

ramsaysky50 karma

I am pretty certain it was the same guy who abducted me a few weeks earlier and held me tied up with a hood over my head - very unpleasant. He gave the order and he was a Russian separatist.

Mythiees12 karma

  1. What do they get paid to make it worth their while?

  2. How can they be so obscenely violent so casually?

  3. What is their final goal?

ramsaysky19 karma

!. We don't pay for interviews. They doing it as a favour for our fixers. 2. The casual violence is amazing isn't it! I think life means nothing and when you have absolute power (from carrying a weapon against the unarmed) the you fast lose all moral codes. 3. To make lots of money

DirtyDan_TheMan12 karma

Can you tell us anything more about the Mexican assassin or your time as a hostage in Ukraine?

ramsaysky35 karma

The Mexican assassin was a former soldier and a real pro. Infact he was late to the meeting because he had a "Job" that morning. Apart from that I can't say much. We checked him out and he told us enough to believe him and verify his stories - however he added he would kill us if we repeated it. And as I intend to return I'm saying nothing!! The Ukraine abduction was very scary. I was with my team but Erin Lyall and Clarissa Ward from CBS plus their team got caught up in it as well. We were pulled over at a checkpoint and before we knew it we were led at gunpoint to the CBS van and blindfolded. We were driven for a few hours then taken out and led into a garage. The girls were split from the boys and we were interrogated. The most frightening bit was having my arms above me. My legs kicked apart and plastic sheets opened up beneath me. I though they were body bags. As I say - all very frightening. I think we were going to be long term hostages but they hadn't separated us from our hire car - which they wanted. It had a tracker and Avis came and asked for it back! eventually they decided that too many people knew where we were and we were released.

Casaboo12 karma

Why do you do what you do?

ramsaysky23 karma

Honestly - because I believe someone has to bear witness to some of mankind's worst excesses. I think I speak for all my friends who did this kind of work.

scandi_flick11 karma


ramsaysky19 karma

We used our local contacts to make contacts with the gangs. It is standard procedure world wide - it just takes time. Meeting the Taliban took 9 months for example. This took a month or so. It is frightening at times because we fell out with a gang boss and he wanted to shoot us if we returned - but it got sorted. The truth is if they have agreed to meet you and they aren't Jihadists they have no reason to harm you - they could have said no. My security was a local star - former boxer - without him we were toast.

Frajer11 karma

are you ever scared when working in difficult situations?

ramsaysky24 karma

OMG yes!! All the time. The skill of conflict or rather hostile environment reporting is not - not being scared, but learning to deal with it. I am fortunate in that I can do that, but I am often shitting myself. I hate loud noises and heights. It is amazing how many times I have been shot at while on the side of a high building!!

Zachasm10 karma

Did you look back on your encounters with IS in Syria after the captured journalists were beheaded and think that could have been you?

ramsaysky26 karma

I think about it a lot not least because I know them. Marie Colvin was killed in the house I recommended her to go to. Anthony Lloyd from the Times was abducted shot and beaten up on a trip we had been talking about doing but I did something else. So yes it could have been me - it could always have been. Specifically with Syria over the last year I elected NOT to go over and risk the Jihadists. My contacts were telling me not to and I listened to them - that's why I use them.

shouldbeworking239 karma

I can't lie, when I saw your name I thought you were Gordon Ramsey. Do you cook?

ramsaysky23 karma

Funnily enough we have the same spelling on our surname and were put next to each other on a flight from South Africa - the air crew didnt know what the hell was going on! We aren't related btw but yes I can cook!

odsdaniel9 karma

what was your first impression when you met those Mexican criminals?

ramsaysky24 karma

That its just business. They were all quite pleasant to be honest - although a few were on coke so a trifle doddgy.

Racechick0289 karma

Hi! I'm studying to be a journalist and my dream is to be a reporter. In your own opinion, how did you get where you are today?

ramsaysky15 karma

Hard work and lots of luck and always telling the truth. Hard work wont do it alone but it helps for sure. Being honest as a reporter is absolutely essential but I guess LUCK is the most important thing - but as they say 'the harder I work the luckier I get'

RetroEyes8 karma

Hi Stuart, was wondering if you have any great stories from your entire line of work that you've always wanted to share? Big fan!

ramsaysky18 karma

My friend and colleague Alex Crawford and I often laugh about the trip we took to interview the Taliban. The trip was the maddest most dangerous loony thing we ever did. We travelled initially on mountain roads that kept disappearing in flood waters that suddenly hit - car in front went into a ravine. The driver decided to drive the whole way at 100 MPH and we had two wheels over the edge on three different occasions. He decided to undertake a car on a hairpin bend forcing the other car into a ditch - it then chased us and i looked back and two guys were out of the windows shooting us with AK47's. They stopped us and kicked the crap out of the driver. We then had to ford a river to meet the Taliban who were waiting for us but they got attacked by US forces and lost two guys. When we arrived they blamed us and disappeared so we had to wait hours for them to come back on the side of a road. This BEFORE we interviewed them!

RayMonkey7 karma

What's your favourite country?

ramsaysky7 karma

I don't think I have one really - I have never been anywhere I didn't like to be honest.

sweettooth86 karma

Hi Stuart really enjoyed watching your report it was very informative. Where does the Mexican government stand on legalising cannabis ? surely it makes more sense to legalise tax and regulate it rather than keep the criminality continuing. Would it not put them out of business to regulate it?

ramsaysky16 karma

I will be honest and say I am not sure exactly what their view on drugs at home is - but I think the point to bear in mind is that the Mexico drug problem is actually a United States and Europe drug problem. The profits come from international sales and trafficking - what goes on in Mexico is peanuts. It the trade now that the Colombian cartels have been overtaken by the distributing Mexican cartels.

kjdemaria235 karma

Is there anything that comes close to the thrill of a buzzing newsroom?

ramsaysky14 karma

You know what they don't really buzz anymore as we work on open sets (well I dont as i'm rarely in the office) so the presenters wouldnt be able to be heard above the old newsroom noise. There is certainly nothing better than the sound of a can of beer opening when we close the camera down after a long day!

Jean_Lubed_Picard3 karma

How is it that you are still alive?

ramsaysky4 karma

Luck - and some planning

2ndEntropy3 karma

How often is there a story that you or your colleagues desperately wanted to report on but your editor refused to allow it on air?

ramsaysky10 karma

That is a good one. I was covering the Michael Jackson trial (I do do courts sometimes!) and there was a break in proceedings. I had read that a British couple had become huge LA pornstars and contacted them and asked if i could film them at "work". They agreed. I thought it would be a bit of fun - my editor went bonkers! We didnt do it. I haven't ever been stopped from doing proper stories for editorial reasons - only cost.

Summer-Wolf2 karma

Do they really only do it for money or pleasure or do they feel like they have a purpose? (Like defeating governments, for their family, stuff like that). (Im talking about Mexico, not Syria).

ramsaysky2 karma

Cartels and gangs for money for sure. Others a myriad of reasons - political for sure but also personal I would say; revenge and the like.

nickwales2 karma

In your dealings with cartels, terrorists, insurgents and national militaries who has been the most inscrutable from a philosophical and physical standpoint?

ramsaysky3 karma

Im struggling with this one!! Ok physically I would say the Ukrainian pro-russia separatists. National militaries on the philosophical front.

YaketyMax2 karma

Are you a fan of the television show Breaking Bad and is their portrayal of Mexican cartels accurate at all?

ramsaysky11 karma

Guess what - i think I am the only person in the world who has never seen an episode! Me and my wife that is.

eskimoexplosion2 karma

As the longest serving reporter, do you feel violence and conflict around the globe has escalated over the years or do we simply have the technology like twitter to find out about events that otherwise would go unreported?

ramsaysky2 karma

Since 9/11 and then the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab Spring things have escalated a lot. But technology has REALLY changed the way we can deliver news and the way we find out about it. We now do wars live - just a short while ago that was all but impossible. The world seems a much smaller place for sure. Thinking about it 9/11 really did change the world.