Dhia Najim

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Najim, an Iraqi freelance cameraman, was shot and killed in the western
city of Ramadi, where he had been covering a gun battle between the
U.S. military and Iraqi insurgents.

Najim, who worked for a number of news organizations, was on assignment
for Reuters that day. He was shot in the back of the neck while working
near his home in the Andalus District of Ramadi, 70 miles (112 kilometers)
west of the capital, Baghdad, Reuters said.

“Video shot from an upper floor of a building nearby shows Najim,
at first half-hidden by a wall, move into the open,” Reuters reported.
“As soon as he emerges, a powerful gunshot cracks out and he falls
to the ground, his arms outstretched. Civilians are seen gathering
calmly at the scene immediately afterwards to look at his lifeless

A November 2 statement from the 1st Marine Division of the I Marine
Expeditionary Force said that U.S. forces “engaged several insurgents
in a brief small arms firefight that killed an individual who was
carrying a video camera.”

The statement went on to say, “Inspection of videotape in [Najim’s]
camera revealed footage of previous attacks on Multi-National Force
military vehicles that included the insurgent use of RPGs (rocket-propelled
grenades), an IED (roadside bomb) and small arms fire.” The statement
also said that the insurgents who fought U.S. forces “fled the scene
with their wounded but left the body of the dead man along the side
of the road.”

On November 3, The New York Times reported that the Marine
Corps had opened an investigation. “‘We did kill him,” an unnamed
military official told The Times. “‘He was out with the bad
guys. He was there with them, they attacked, and we fired back and
hit him.”

Reuters rejected the military’s implication that Najim was working
as part of an insurgent group. The agency reported that video footage
showed no signs of fighting in the vicinity and noted that Najim had
“filmed heavy clashes between Marines and insurgents earlier in the
day but that fighting had subsided.”

On November 2, CPJ wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seeking
an inquiry into the incident.