In memory of Syrian journalist, Khaled AlKhateb, killed in an ISIS attack on Syrian Arab Army positions while he was reporting on the anti-terror operations for RT – 30th July 2017:
“What you have written is the fire which burning our hearts because of losing Khaled. He was such a perfect young man fill of life and energy…death does not look like him ..this unfair destiny has pull him off from us in a very early time. Dear Vanessa, thanks so much for putting this spotlight on Khaled’s life and work. Thank you for sharing our pain and sorrow. We, Khaled’s family and friends will be sure to continue his dream to help the vulnerable people.” ~ Nuwar Farha Afara
When in Salamiyah, Hama, in January 2018 I met with the beautiful and courageous family and friends of murdered RT journalist, Khaled G. Alkhateb
Taken from the RT report of 1st August 2017:
“A journalist working with RT Arabic, Khaled Alkhateb, has been killed in shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) side in the eastern suburb of Homs, Syria.
The journalist was filming a report on the Syrian Army’s operations against IS terrorists.
He and a Syrian Army official, who has not been identified yet, were killed in a rocket attack by Islamic State militants near a village called Bghailiyah, in Homs province, according to the head of RT Arabic’s office in Damascus, Abdelhameed Tawfiq.
Khaled Alkhateb was just 25 years old and had recently started to work with RT.”
A photo of Khaled in his bedroom in Salamiyah. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
An estimated 300 Syrian journalists have lost their lives in the dirty war that has been waged against Syria for the last seven years, by 74 UN member states who have formed a US/UK-led “regime change” coalition to destablize Syria with the hordes of terrorist factions that they have trained, armed, financed and equipped.
Sharmine Narwani told the story of Yara Abbas, just one of these heroic journalists back in May 2013:
“Yara is listed as the 38th media casualty (in 2013) of the Syrian conflict – by any standard that is a shocking number of journalists to have lost their lives covering a story. In Syria, increasingly, it appears that reporters are being singled out for execution.”
It is inconceivable that these young people who put themselves at such risk to report on the real time events on the ground in Syria, during some of the fiercest battles on the frontlines to liberate areas of the country occupied by extremists and terrorist factions who have a history of brutalizing, raping, torturing and abusing the Syrian people under their control, should lose their lives in the process.
Memorial to Khaled in his hometown of Salamiyah. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
Khaled was one of those brave journalists who believed that the world deserved to know the truth of the war being waged against his own people and homeland. He accompanied the Syrian Arab Army deep into ISIS held territory and despite wearing a Press vest, he was targeted and murdered for bearing witness to the atrocities committted by these murdering groups financed by the Gulf States but armed and universally promoted by the US coalition and the NATO-aligned media and NGOs.
Khaled’s bedroom in Salamiyah, Hama. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
Khaled’s mother, Lydia, showed me his bedroom that had become a shrine to the life of a handsome, intelligent and driven young man, with huge dreams for the future of his country and his own career. Lydia herself is a tall, striking woman whose face bears the pain of loss but who smiles readily and with an enormous warmth especially when remembering her son:
“The girls loved him, he was like a movie star” she confided to me, with a sad smile.
One of the many memorials to Khaled in Salamiyah. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
The town of Salamiyah bears the scars of systematic attacks from the terrorist factions that surround it on four sides. Both Nusra Front and ISIS are a constant threat to this town. Most women here have lost members of their family, husbands, sons, brothers serving in the Syrian Arab Army and defending Syria against the terrorist invaders. Everywhere we drove, we saw images of Khaled, on the walls, photos placed alongside commemorative trophies for his journalism. This young man is not only mourned by his family and close friends, but by all who knew him and Salamiyah is a close knit community. The death of one is mourned and remembered by all.
Memorial to Khaled in Salamiyah. (Photo: Family)
The pain of Khaled’s family and close friends is clearly still clouding their emotions and their thoughts, never far from the surface, but they welcomed us with familiar Syrian hospitality, smiles and humour. During more quiet moments, their reflection on the tragic loss of this exemplary young man, was evident and heartbreaking. What drives them is the desire for his memory to serve Syria and to be an example to other young people who wish to follow the same path.
With Khaled’s family and friends in Salamiyah.
“No matter what we say, we can’t express the tragedy and sadness that we have. Khaled, you have been a brother,friend and inspiration to many people. Your dreams will be completed by us, your friends,family and all who love you and promise you that. It’s so hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember… RIP cousin. Many thanks for your word and for sharing our grief..” ~ Anas M Alkhateb
During our time together in one of the many restaurants in Salamiyah, Khaled’s mother talked to me about Khaled – her “best friend“, not just her son:
Khaled’s mother, Lydia, carries her son’s coffin in Salamiyah. (Photo: Family)
“Khaled wanted to take our voices to the outside world, he achieved this, for Syria and for Salamiyah. Salamiyah has been ignored by many throughout this war and Khaled helped to raise awareness. As a result, more Syrian troops were sent to improve our defence against terrorism.
Khaled was my best friend, not only my son. He was such a special child, everyone loved him. He was so clever, when he was a kid, I used to read him stories to encourage his imagination and to make him more active. During his first days at school he was very talented, particularly at math, but he was successful during all the stages of his study. He had such dreams and ambitions. Most people have one big goal but he had so many in his life and career. He achieved two batchelor degrees in IT Technology and Media studies. Dr Bouthaina Shaaban presented him with his final graduation in his Media degree.
Dr Bouthaina Shaaban (Political & Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad) with Khaled.
Khaled loved improving his media skills and he built upon his experience at every opportunity. His family supported him in all his ambitions, we all wanted to see him succeed. Khaled excelled in every sector, within two years he was recognised globally through the media channels he worked for that included Dutch media outlets, RT and Sputnik, Al Ikhbaria -Syria TV.
He wanted to achieve so much more than this, but his destiny was not for him to attain his goals. His death was a huge shock to all of us, it was just not acceptable. The morning of his death, he said goodbye to me and he was so proud of the victories of the Syrian Arab Army. The biggest shock was that I heard of his death via social media, Facebook actually. I lost my son for no reason, just bad timing, the ISIS rocket targeted the area where he was standing.
He was only 25 years old. All those 25 years had been about hard work and study. He left an imprint on our souls to remind us of his outstanding work for Syria.
Remembering Khaled. A corner of his bedroom with his papers and cameras. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
Khaled’s legacy will be the charity we want to establish that will assist all families related to or affected by martyrs, refugees, IDPs (internally displaced people). We need to get a licence for this charity inside Syria and we need international support for it to be the success that will truly honour Khaled’s memory.
Through this work we hope that Khaled’s name will always be remembered. Salamiyah will not be forgotten, we want to improve living conditions here also, in honour of all our martyrs.
In two years, Khaled had a powerful influence on everyone he came into contact with, all over Syria, and for this reason we must work to ensure his death is not in vain. Through Khaled, Syria will be forever in our memories and hearts.
Khaled’s bedroom in his family home in Salamiyah. (Photo: Vanessa Beeley)
The power of the written word is even more powerful than the gun. Western media and the terrorist groups they promote are all spreading lies and propaganda. Journalists, like Khaled, who expose the truth – their work is a victory for the “real” media which works tirelessly to counter the propaganda produced in the West. Khaled made this mission his life purpose. These genuine reporters in Syria bring us the facts at huge risk to themselves.
I want to tell you, I knew he had passed away even before I heard. I was preparing food in the kitchen and talking when I suddenly had the thought that I would give this food that was for Khaled, to the poor people. I asked myself why I thought that and I tried to call Khaled. His phone was out of coverage. Then, a few minutes later, I saw the Facebook post. I screamed and screamed so loudly, everyone in the neighbourhood heard me.
People asked me how I could have carried his coffin. My answer was – I accompanied him all his life, even through his times of weakness, I will not abandon him now”
In Syria, almost every mother will have borne the body of at least one of their children to their final resting place. Meeting with Khaled’s loved ones, it is apparent that the lives of these heroes does not end with their death, it continues through those who remain behind and continue fighting against the unlawful and predatory forces that threaten their culturally diverse-yet-united existence in noble Syria that has resisted hostility towards its stubborn pluralist civilization throughout history.
The final victory will be for the Syrian people in the full knowledge that the Syrian Arab Army is the Syrian people. Khaled walked side by side with those who fight for the liberation of the Syrian people, he died alongside the Syrian soldiers who took up arms to defend their country. His camera was his only defence but his words will travel further and influence more widely than any bullet. History will honour Khaled Al Khateab as a guide for all those who aspire to his same goals and dreams, for a better Syria and a brighter future for the people who have fought for their freedom to decide their own fate and that of their country, without foreign interference.
Mary Oliver – When Death Comes
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world…
21st Century Wire