It’s more than three years since Kamaran Najm was captured in Iraq. Now his friends have lifted the media blackoutby Steve Bloomfield / December 7, 2017 / Leave a comment
The death of Kamaran Najm was announced on the evening of 12th June 2014. A photojournalist from Sulimaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan, Kamaran had headed to the frontline alongside Peshmerga forces two days after Islamic State swept into Mosul. The Kurdish militia he was embedded with came under heavy fire in the village of Mullah Abdullah, 12 miles away from Kirkuk. Kamaran was shot in the neck. Bleeding heavily, he was carried back towards safety by Kurdish soldiers, but as the attack continued, they said it became too difficult to take him any further. Kamaran was left behind to die.
At daybreak the following morning, Kamaran’s friends and brother piled into a car and headed from Sulimaniyah to Kirkuk to recover his body. When they reached the city, one of Kamaran’s friends received a phone call from an unknown number.
It was Kamaran.
After being left for dead, Kamaran had been captured by the Sunni militias aligned with IS that the Kurds had been fighting. Now, they wanted to negotiate.
“It was the most joyful moment of my life,” recalls one of those friends, Sebastian Meyer, an American photographer who had moved to Sulimaniyah in 2009. “Suddenly your best friend who you thought was dead has come back to life. It’s a weird, miraculous moment. People were screaming and crying.”
The militia wanted to speak to Sarhad Qadir, the head of Kirkuk’s provincial police and the man with whom Kamaran had headed to the front line. The phone call did not go well. Sarhad played tough, but the tactic didn’t work and negotiations broke down. “And that was that,” says Sebastian.
The phone call took place one thousand, two hundred and seventy three days ago. No-one has heard from Kamaran since.
Two years before he was captured I spent a week with Kamaran and Sebastian reporting in Sulimaniyah. The two friends had…