Isam al-Shumari, a cameraman for Sudost Media, a small production company that provided footage to Germany’s N24 television, is believed to have disappeared in Fallujah on August 15, 2004. His disappearance came the same day his friend, cameraman Mahmoud Abbas, who was working with the German television station ZDF, was killed while on assignment. Al-Shumari’s relatives told an N24 journalist in Baghdad that he had traveled to Fallujah with Abbas on August 15. Although al-Shumari was not on assignment for Sudost Media or N24, he may have been assisting Abbas with his work. CPJ is currently seeking more information about his disappearance.
On August 17, 2004, the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine published an article saying that a freelance cameraman who was travelling with Mahmoud Hamid Abbas, and who shot footage for him, had been taken captive by insurgents. The article did not name the journalist.
Katrin Sandmann, who was a correspondent for N24 in Iraq in 2004, told CPJ in a January 10, 2020, phone interview that al-Shumari was not on assignment for N24 when he went missing.
Abbas was on the phone with a ZDF employee at around 5 p.m. on August 15, 2004, when he said the car he was driving was hit by something, and then the call dropped, Georg Nasser, a production manager at ZDF, told CPJ in a January 23, 2020, email. ZDF was not able to reestablish communication with Abbas, Nasser said, adding that Abbas did not make any mention of al-Shumari during the call.
According to Nasser, the ZDF Baghdad office received a call on August 16, 2004, to inform them that Abbas’s body had been delivered to the Al-Farough mosque in Fallujah, and that it had been identified because he had his ZDF press card with him.
“We dealt extensively with this tragic event and provided for Abbas’ family, but at no point in our research did the name of Issam al-Shumari come up,” Nasser told CPJ.