Adieu, Yasser Faisal al-Joumaili

A courageous cameraman is killed in Syria.

by

    It was his damn hat.

    It was one of those camping shop specials made of waterproof nylon. He'd put it on and with his wraparound Oakley sunglasses he'd look like he was about to cook up a BBQ in Kansas somewhere.

    He knew how ridiculous he looked but he was determined to make me laugh because we were very definitely not in Kansas.

    We were on the Syrian border. Yasser joked that we should sneak over.  Playing along, I said only If he didn't make me carry the tripod.

    He pulled his phone out of his pocket and said no big cameras, we will film it all on this. Yasser was always quick with a witty remark.

    I don't know what camera he took into Syria. I didn't know he was going in.

    I saw him a couple weeks ago in the Al Jazeera office in Baghdad where we discussed a piece in Fallujah that I wanted to do. Yasser was excited about us coming.

    Apparently Fallujah has a special kebab that is tastier than anything I will ever eat.

    I told Yasser that was big statement to say to a Pakistani. Our kebabs are pretty good. I will never eat kebabs with Yasser.

    I met him for the first time over the summer. We instantly connected and we headed to northern Iraq just as Syrians Kurds came across the border only adding to the already difficult refugee crisis there.

    We talked about what we would do, and what we would film.

    Yasser filmed with such delicate beauty and sensitivity for people. We shot several stories in the camps and each one took something from us, a piece of our hearts.

    All told it was something like 23 days covering that crisis. We shared meals, bumpy car journeys, we laughed and we shook our heads in sorrow at the filthy conditions we witnessed in those camps.

    Yasser was a kind soul. He'd tease the kids in the camps with one breath and then in another mutter about the senseless tragedy of the situation.

    I can't believe I won't work with him again. I can't believe he won't make me laugh again. He leaves behind three children and a wife.

    I lost a colleague and new friend. They have lost so much more.

    My heart cries for them.

    Read Al Jazeera's Baghdad correspondent Jane Arraf's tribute to Yasser Faisal al-Joumaili here: The dashing Yasser

    Read Al Jazeera senior producer Omar al-Saleh's tribute here: Remembering my friend, Yasser


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR



    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    We foreigners: What it means to be Bengali in India's Assam

    As tensions over India's citizenship law shine a light on Assam, a writer explores the historical tensions in the state.

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    Sentenced to death for blasphemy: Surviving Pakistan's death row

    The story of a man who spent 19 years awaiting execution reveals the power of a false blasphemy claim to destroy a life.

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    The Syrian women and girls sold into sexual slavery in Lebanon

    Syria's refugee crisis has shone a light on sex trafficking in Lebanon, where victims are often treated as criminals.