22 May 2017
There is a hollow feeling in me as I tell of Shaheen’s death. He was shot helping families who themselves had been shot by ISIS. He survived the evacuation and multiple surgeries but, 10 days after he was wounded, he died of a sudden infection. I had just talked to him, and he told how God and angels helped him. He told me he loved me and was sorry that he was shot and had to leave us. He gave his life in the most loving and noble way – helping to save others already badly wounded by ISIS.
His death is tragic but not in vain and his sacrifice enabled others to live and carried us all another step towards freedom for the oppressed. I type this in a lull in the battle for West Mosul where we are giving prayer, love, medical care, and relief to people fleeing and to the Iraqi Army as we stand with them. Just 30 minutes ago one of my good friends, LTC Feras, was shot dead in front of me and last night a family was gunned down and we could not save all.
Shaheen lived to help people like this and enabled us to be useful here. He was a Yezidi who suffered oppression from many sides but still gave love to all – Kurds, Arabs, Americans, and all he met. He taught me much of the culture here and was my friend, translator, interpreter, guide, and brother. He bravely followed me into many dangers – always joking and making every day better. His sense of humor and his brilliance lit up our lives and he helped us to know and love people of all types here. He was a gift from God and I believe we will meet him with Jesus in heaven and in between my tears he will make me laugh.
He loved our team and my family. Sahale, Suu, and Peter loved to tease and be teased by Uncle Shaheen. They mutually admired each other and he was part of our family. When the kids raced horses on the mountain of Sinjar, Shaheen would cheer them on and made sure, everywhere we went, that the kids had horses to ride. When I called my family from Mosul yesterday we all cried – we love and miss him so much.
Please pray for his family – for comfort, peace, and help. Pray for us that in our lives we will honor him and help bring freedom and love here. I pray all this in Jesus’ name and ask you, too, to pray for hearts, souls and minds – we miss Shaheen so.
Thank you and God bless you,
Letter from Dave written on 15 May 2017
“Shaheen knew how to walk alongside others better than I. He stayed on the frontline in his home, to help his people, and he continued to comfort the wounded and the sick, to play with the children, and to love those around him – even if it was in his uniquely Shaheen way.
We like to find comfort in our grief. I find little comfort in mine, except that I am confident that Shaheen did not die in vain. John 15:13 (NABRE) says ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Shaheen did just that.
The day I left Iraq, Shaheen asked me to take good care of my wife and my baby. I told him I would. I hope I can be a good father and a good husband, in honor of him and his sacrifice for the young and innocent girl in Iraq. He was full of love and cared more than I knew.”
“He was my brother. A man who changed so much from the first day I met him. It was a privilege to have served with him. We were shot at and almost blown up on several occasions. We worked on countless projects to help Yazidis, Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians, Christian, Sunni and Shiite, He lived and died for his people.
He often told me he just wanted to get out of Iraq to go to some nice place and write poetry and meet beautiful women. Despite constant fatigue and better opportunities everywhere he keep working with us to help the people of Iraq. He choose to stake his life on hope and love that change might happen.
He had a huge heart, not a tiny one. A guy whose real home still isn’t free. We had constant arguments and long night discussions over all nature of topics but we shared a love for people and for God. He said ‘the most important thing we do we do for humans.’
We were father and son to each other depending on whose mustache was longer. It pains me to not be there. Darkness without the moon. I always hoped he could come to America and Thailand someday to see the beautiful places I had been. But I realize Iraq is such a beautiful place. That is what Shaheen was fighting for – to let that beauty come back to the forefront. To put the weeds out and let the flowers bloom. I pray that dream will be realized.
Fly to heaven Falcon Shaheen! Love you my brother in Christ. You will be dearly missed.”
“Friend and teammate to many, Shaheen was shot by an ISIS sniper while rescuing a young girl who had been shot as she fled. He survived for 10 days after being hit, long enough to know he was being lifted up and loved by friends all over the world. For that I am grateful. He died [on May 14, 2017]. Go in love and joy, buddy. We will miss you something fierce.”
“This makes it real. I haven’t been able to post, because a FB post just doesn’t do him or this justice. But I do want to show him and his family honor. Honor to my friend and member of our FBR team, Shaheen who was shot by an ISIS sniper on 4 May 2017 during a civilian rescue of a young girl and her father who had also been shot by an ISIS sniper. He had 10 days after the GSW to his abdomen to see, hear, feel, and experience how much he was admired, loved, and cared for. I am thankful for that. God rest his soul.”
“I can’t write much through burning tears and hurting heart to those who knew and loved this amazing young man. I adopted him as my Yazidi son in my heart and life, he knew the connection we had and I gave him my word I would get him out of Iraq and eventually to the USA. I recently offered him the first step of the journey to get him out of Iraq. He turned it down knowing his work wasn’t done yet. I told him how proud of him and his growth and transformation into a man and warrior of valor for children. Fitting he gave his life helping a young girl.”
“I don’t really have to tell you guys how much I love my many uncles from all over the world, but I can tell you that I cry each time they go. My Yazidi uncle, Shaheen, was shot by ISIS trying to save a little girl, who had also been shot, by transporting her into another vehicle. Shaheen, you lived out the verse John 15:13, ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ He gave his life to save the life of a little girl who he didn’t even know.
There are so many stories of Shaheen but I want to tell one from our last trip in April this year. We had just traveled from one side of the Tigris to the other. On our way back the Tigris flooded, washing out all the bridges so we were stuck along the banks. The Iraqi Army was so generous and kind, giving us food and shelter. Because we only planned this as a one day trip none of us had sleeping bags only maps and a few extra clothes. The snow has just melted and it was pretty cold. Shaheen brought all of his stuff with him because he had been planning to return to his home that day but because we were stuck had decided to stay with us. When he saw that all I had to sleep with was a jacket and maps he gave me his sleeping bag saying, ‘Just take it Sahale. I would not let children sleep and be cold all night, I will drink Wild Tiger and be warm.’ Wild Tiger is an energy drink like Red Bull and it was Shaheen’s favorite drink. We sometimes teased him that he had more Wild Tiger than water in his body. I’ll miss him – he was a great translator, an amazing buddy, a friend, and a hero. I love you Shaheen and if it be God’s will I hope I see you again.”
“He was a walking comedy show with his constant banter and endless texting with girls. He called me Uncle Paul and always said ‘Your mustache is amazing!’ I loved this man dearly and will miss him fiercely. I am praying now for our team that is hurting and for his family and others that I know loved him.”
“Shaheen was our friend and our interpreter. He was shot by an ISIS sniper while on a mission to rescue civilians that had been shot while fleeing. He loved all things beautiful but beautiful words he loved the best. He loved classical Arabic poetry and could capture emotions and entwine them with his writings. This poem [below] is for him. I will think of you when I read great poetry buddy.”
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.
– Mary Elizabeth Frye
“Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”