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Remembering a Fallen Colleague
Journalist Sabah al-Bazee was one of 56 people killed when armed militants attacked an Iraqi government building in Tikrit on March 29, 2011.
March 29th, 2011
09:19 PM ET

Remembering a Fallen Colleague

Today, at least 56 people were killed and 98 others wounded, when a gang of men attacked an Iraqi government building in the northern city of Tikrit.  Among those killed in the attack was Sabah al-Bazee, a freelance journalist who worked for a number of news organizations, including CNN.

CNN Producers Mohammed Tawfeeq, Yousuf Basil and Jomana Karadsheh wrote this blog entry, remembering our fallen colleague:

When people ask us what it’s like being a journalist in Iraq, the answer would probably be much more upbeat on any other day.

Whenever bombs go off in Iraq, we get on the phone to sources to get casualty figures and details.    But when Mohammed confirmed the dozens killed and wounded in the horrific siege in Tikrit on Tuesday, he didn’t realize for an hour that one of those killed was someone he has known for years.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— Sabah al-Bazee.

Sabah was one of the many brave Iraqi journalists whose courage and skills made him one of the best local reporters in the deadliest war for journalists since World War II.   Sabah has been a freelance contributor for CNN in the northern province of Salaheddin since 2006. One of his first assignments for us was covering the bombing of al-Askari Shrine in his hometown of Samarra that year; an attack that unleashed the country’s vicious sectarian war.

He reported for us from Tikrit and Samarra at the height of the brutal war, the days when al-Qaeda controlled many cities, including his own. But it was not only al-Qaeda that targeted journalists. Many other groups were also hunting down the media.

But Sabah survived those days, and so did his sense of humor.

Sabah would always want to joke and make us laugh. Even when you would wait for him to pick up the phone, you would get a recorded joke.

He was one of the most outgoing and proactive stringers we had.  Most of the time, Sabah would call and give us the news before we’d call him asking about it.

Sabah’s English was not great, but he tried.  Sometimes he would try holding a conversation with us in English and recently he started trying to write us a news report in English.

Jomana remembers a trip to a U.S. military base in Tikrit in 2008, where she met up with Sabah.

Because this was in his province, Sabah displayed the renowned Iraqi hospitality.
After lunch, he grabbed some fruit and put it in Jomana’s bag.  She did not find it until hours later, when she got back to Baghdad.

Like most Iraqis we know and we work with, Sabah has hesitated for years about leaving Iraq to escape the threats and the violence - because he loved his country.

But a few weeks ago, Sabah asked Mohammed for his help and finally applied for asylum in the U.S., saying:

“I don’t want to live in Iraq ...at least not in the next five years... It is going to be very difficult.”

While Iraq today is not the Iraq of three or four years ago, it still is a place where hundreds are killed and wounded every month.

It is still a place where you can leave your home in the morning and never come back.  Just like Sabah did today.

Today, we mourn a colleague and a friend— yet another one.

Sabah al-Bazee turned 30 one week ago today.


Filed under: backstory • Iraq • journalists
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Nurudeen

    Allah will put a stop to all this tragedy thing that is happening in Iraq one day INSHA'ALLAH AMEEN.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. oladunjoye olatunbosun

    Rest in peace bro.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Abdulazeez Biodun

    What a great lost to jourlist, what a great lost to contemporary mass communicators, what a great lost to CNN and what very great lost to Iraq and to his family. May Almighty Allah grant him Aljannatul Firidausi, and i believe the government of Iraq will do something for his family and CNN.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. r fetting

    nothing in iraq is important enuf to lose your life over.nobody cares.a smart guy would get the hell out.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  5. LEONARD

    it so said to hear about these unfortunate death.

    March 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Samson A. Agbamu

    What a tragedy? I think US particularly and to some certain extent UN, NATO should be able to learn from history that thier third party interventions in wars causes more harm than good and if really such intervention is geared towards protecting the lifes of the poor masses then, a close study of the negative repercussions of all the interventions should be made. The situations in Iraq, Afganistan, middle east, Libya etc ll continue to deteriate because the third party(s) is or has been self centered. Do not enforce yourself or government on others because others will prefer dying with many than to be ruled by such.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Oscar Ivan Medina

    It's hard to find these kind of cases, I'm a colombian journalist and in here that used to happen a lot some ages ago, although, for example almost 8 years ago the subdirector of "la Patria" a local newspaper in Manizales was killed because of a serie of investigations about corruption in the local goverment, and just until today 2 of the suspects of that crime are being procesed by the authorities. Impunity that's the word that describes a lot of things of our journalist's world, but apart of that we absolute love our job. RIP Sabah al-Bazee.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mohamed

      Junshien – @Judy: Thank you for your kind words, and really glad you had a good time. We truly apietcpared the opportunity to cover Eda and Ken's wedding. And about being the perpetual bridesmaid you know your own day will come soon, right? Believe it! :D@Liz, Alvina: Thanks!

      October 29, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Auth

      Flor T. Esteban – Hi Daniel,Thank you for taking our filmay photos. We love the photos!Yes, we all had fun during the entire photoshoot. It was well worth it!May God continue to bless the work of your hands.Flor

      October 31, 2012 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  8. chinelo

    May his soul rest in peace.

    March 29, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Aaron Choi

    I think his contribution to media was enormous in terms of providing important news sources. I an sorry he passed away in his age of 30... too young.... May he rest his soul...

    March 30, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
    • Azer

      I teach my kids about God, Satan, haeven and hell. It is important that they know about it. Important for me to keep my commitment to the church, God, if I put it when they were babies bekam.Meine beliefs, the truth is that the child is present, and they will face bear all their lives. It's my job as a mother, and I intend to stick to it!

      February 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Andrew Austin

    He showed courage and dedication being willing to report in a country at war like Iraq is, and I am sorry the world has obviously lost a great journalist.

    March 30, 2011 at 3:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Starr

      You\'ve really captured all the essentials in this sbuecjt area, haven\'t you?

      November 6, 2011 at 1:21 am | Report abuse |
      • Silvia

        svheuofheaotn88 on May 11, 2011 STEP 1 , MY LIGHTS FLASH PEFECT , I'M OK THERESTEP 2, THE TV LIGHT DOESNT STAY ON AT ALL BRAN NEW REMOTE ! ANY IDEAS ?WILL IT STILL WORK ?

        February 24, 2012 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
        • Nur

          Why not go after the Brits thru ICJ to pay large amount of money to the True Sultan of Sabah; they were after all, the main cause of all the un-lawfulness and iiligalltees of Malaysia.

          October 29, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
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      48IpQS szgvapdesfal

      November 6, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
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      AEWART bfvdzujxldtj

      November 9, 2011 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  11. K.C.

    I'm sorry for this lad's family and friends. I am also sorry for the nameless faceless men and women who have died all through this mess. I am so tired of all the killing and misery in this world. RIP.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Marilu

      Gee wliikelrs, that's such a great post!

      August 17, 2011 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. KevinMichael

    It's profoundly sad when you connect with the idea that these aren't just casualties were are hearing about. These are people with names, faces, friends, quirks, favorite foods, dreams and their own daily ordeals that they plow through every single day in the name of making tomorrow better for themselves or others. That someone – anyone – be denied all of that because of violence is heartbreaking. I want to thank the writers here for sharing their memories so generously and in a way that breathes life into Sabah for us tonight that he is so unfairly denied himself. We need to read these things. Thank you for sharing it and please accept my condolences for the loss of your friend and teammate.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Emmanuela

    I just want to extend my condolence to family,relatives & friends of Sabah al-Bazee.May his soul & souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace Amen.

    March 30, 2011 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. игроман

    Кто играл в Старкрафт2? Интиресует прохождение последней миссии там где Рейнер спасает Кериган. Если кто проходил не поленитесь отпишите плиз.

    May 22, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ellen

      Is that really all there is to it bcesuae that'd be flabbergasting.

      September 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • sznovvxoh

      pp5Bye vznawgmcamng

      September 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • qdphfeqi

      VWZnqh zslhwoekupbz

      October 2, 2011 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Magalie

        I really like your blog.. very nice colros & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. appreciate it

        June 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
        • Natsuki

          Thanks! We happened to get to Argentina right after their eoconmy had tanked, so everything was still really cheap. We want to go back, but it's gotten too pricey. When we do go back though, we're definitely biking the vineyards

          July 24, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Wistrol depot 50 mg

    Nothing against the article, but I disagree with a couple of points to some extenct. I'm probably a minority though, lol. Thanks for sharing it on backstory.blogs.cnn.com .

    December 1, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
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    December 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
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    You have GOT to be kiiddng me! Greg Toombs, I would assume Obama would next stage a takeover of the motor vehicle insurance industry.

    February 26, 2012 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |