The telecom industry is mourning the loss of Terry Barnich, 56, who was tragically killed in Iraq on Monday, Memorial Day. According to the Chicago Daily Observer, Barnich, president and CEO of New Paradigm Resources Group (NPRG), was killed by a roadside bomb while riding in an automobile convoy just outside of Fallujah, in Al Anbar, 43 miles west of Baghdad.
Barnich had been in Baghdad since January 2007, serving as senior adviser for law and policy to the Iraq Transition Assistance Office of the U.S. Department of State for the Electricity Sector, a post for which he volunteered. Barnich served as general counsel to the electricity section of the State Department’s reconstruction office as well as a legal advisor to the Iraqi Minister of Electricity, helping develop a new modern electricity law and some regulatory protocols that would be necessary for attracting private investments. In a 2007 interview with PHONE+, Barnich said that despite the danger and distance from home, he continued to work 10 to 12 hours per day, seven days per week, toward what he called “the mission.” He believed “that to protect American liberty at home we need to see liberty succeed in the Middle East. Building the civil institutions of liberal democracy may just sustain our effort to introduce liberty here. I feel the responsibility to do my part,” he explained. “I like to think that in some small way, I will have contributed my part in transferring certain knowledge to the Iraqis that will permit them to otherwise accelerate their seizing control of their own future and make this experiment in liberty a success.”
Friend and business partner Craig Clausen, executive vice president and co-founder of NPRG, said since Barnich had been in Iraq for two-and-a-half years, the news came very unexpectedly.
“He and I go back 20 years, which seems like forever. And in the last 24 hours, I’ve really been forced to sit down and think about what he was all about. He was about having principles and then working for those principles,” said Clausen. “For example, way back when, when he was on the commission, he believed open markets were better than regulation. And he came in as a pretty young guy, 30 or 34 years old, and went about opening telecom markets. In this case too, he saw what was going on in Iraq, particularly with the reconstruction efforts, and he thought this was a place he could help out.”
Clausen said each time Barnich came back to the U.S. over the past few years, he was more and more energized about the rewarding work he was doing in Iraq. In fact, he continuously volunteered to extend his stay in Iraq to continue helping the Iraqi people. However, Clausen said Barnich had just filed paperwork to be back on U.S. soil for good by July 4.
“My family and I knew him very, very well,” said Clausen. “He was a good friend – someone you could always count on. He was a guy who really enjoyed life.”
Since Barnich was in Iraq, Clausen expects it will take a while to bring him home, and therefore, to his knowledge, plans for a memorial service have not yet been made.
Prior to forming the Chicago-based NPRG with Clausen in 1993, Barnich was chairman and commissioner of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Previously, he was legal counsel to Illinois Governor James R. Thompson.