Najm was a friend for years. I met him the first time in 2007 in a restaurant in Erbil. He was always a very helpful colleague. He had helped me to cover along the eastern border of Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran to make a documentary about alleged "bootlegger" (alcohol smugglers) . Reality was: the smugglers smuggled weapons into Iran for anti government groups. They never smuggled alcohol. Even the poor donkey's could hardly carry the load,- and the smugglers were equipped with low-orbit satellite phones that can not be purchased on the open market ...
Najm was just 27 years old, too young and he had virtually no combat experience, - which does not help these day's . Too young, because the Kurdish region was the only region of Iraq with a non-violent role in daily life since Iraq was invaded in 2003. So thats why Najm had worked a lot to cover the development of Iraqi Kurdistan, KRG. But he should have known that these jihadists, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi , UAE, Oman, Bahrain and other countries with their tribal leader ships and their religious dogmatists, do not respect any rules that are protecting journalists in combat eras , but indeed fight their war also against journalists who do not share their idea of a theocracy in which heads and hands are cut off, women are pelted with stones until they are death.
When I once asked Najm why the palm has been removed from a coat of arms, he replied "Palm trees are an Arab symbol, we Kurds are not Arabs." He was more driven by his view of positive developments for a better future for the Kurds.
Yet his cosmopolitan open mindedness disabled Najm not from making critical remarks about the fragility of the relatively autonomous situation of the KRG in Iraq. "Every day, we export vast amounts of oil, but do not even have our own refinery, so we export the oil to Turkey and then we import back from there the gasoline, - which in turn favors the black market. We import everything. Our own knowledge and skills in craft disappear because we import all these junk. Its like in the West-bank". He also saw very clear how "King Barzani" has created a client system - but life here is still better than in any other region of Iraq.
For obvious copyright reasons I can add his photos here, so just some photos I did while Najm was traveling with me in the KRG