Reporting on ISIS: Producers' video diaries

60 Minutes producers shoot video diaries from the front lines in northern Iraq on assignment with Scott Pelley

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For the season premiere of 60 Minutes, Scott Pelley reports on The Islamic State from the front lines and refugee camps in Iraq. The broadcast's companion web show, 60 Minutes Overtime, sent small cameras with Pelley's producers to document the 60 Minutes team reporting on the ground in Iraq. The producers, led by Henry Schuster, came back with vivid, behind-the-scenes footage, posted in the video player above as a producers' video diary.

"We wanted to be up close with ISIS," Schuster tells Overtime's Ann Silvio, using the acronym for the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

"My strategy was to divide and conquer. I went with my crew and we went to the front lines," says Schuster. "Rachael Morehouse is my associate producer, and her team went north to the refugee camps to hear what life was like under ISIS rule."

For Morehouse, the trip was her first foray into war reporting. She traveled in a convoy of three armored cars with a team of fixers, security, a sound technician, and an experienced cameraman who knew the area well. It was Morehouse's team that stumbled upon a sight that would be familiar to anyone who watches the fictional Showtime series "Homeland."

"We were about three hours away from Erbil, and on the way, we spotted this abandoned, half-constructed building," says Morehouse. "There must have been thousands of people living there. No running sewage, no clean water -- and right away, just the stories started pouring out. It looked like the scene out of "Homeland" when Brody was living in that half-built building in Venezuela."

"Everybody who sees that shot says, 'Oh, just like in "Homeland,'" says Schuster. "Well, you know, that's not life imitating art. That's art stealing it from life. The truth is this is what happens in a war."

After chasing rumors and talking to many victims of ISIS, Morehouse's team found several siblings from a Yazidi family whose village was attacked and slaughtered by ISIS. Pelley's gut-wrenching interviews with the sister and two brothers in that family appeared in the broadcast this week. In the above video, Morehouse explains how she found them and shares footage of her first meetings with the three family members.

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Meanwhile, Schuster documented his trip to the front lines. At one point, Schuster's team stopped at a bridge on the road to Tikrit. On the other side of the bridge, the black flag of ISIS flies in the desert winds.

"When you look across that bridge, you think, 'Is that a reality? Is it permanent?' You know, how long is that flag gonna be there?" says Schuster. "The disconcerting part of it is that when both sides at that bridge have trenches up, that says, it's a new border of a new territory -- and for the world that's a pretty frightening prospect to have ISIS there."

Schuster had reported in the area for 60 Minutes in the past, and he said it was tempting to walk across the bridge to learn more about life under ISIS.

"You want to walk across that bridge. You want to find out what it's like over there, but then you think, 'Don't be stupid.' We were there when one of the American hostages was beheaded, so you're fully aware of the consequence of what happens if you make a wrong move," says Schuster.

Three years ago, Schuster, Pelley and cameraman Chris Albert had reported a story in the area just across the bridge which is now controlled by ISIS.

"We see the sign that says, "Tikrit, 90 kilometers," says Schuster. "Scott [Pelley] looks over at me and said, 'I just never imagined we'd be back here.'"

When asked by 60 Minutes Overtime what was going through his mind, thinking back to that trip three years ago, Schuster said:

"What the hell are we doing back here again? How did this go so wrong and how did it seem to go so wrong, so quickly?"

The video above was produced by 60 Minutes Overtime's Senior Editor Ann Silvio and Producer-Editor Lisa Orlando.