Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Child Kidnapped on My Shift

11 June, 2003

Tonight I am going to lay in my cot, listening to the BBC report on a suicide bombing in Israel. I think about the PLO man that I had seen in the pictures yesterday. What possesses someone to blow themselves up? There are so many explanations.
I only have time to write about one event from today, but it is a chilling entry that troubled me deeply today. I have a spent 9mm bullet casing in my pocket. It was to be a piece of evidence, but the case will never be opened, and it has already been forgotten. So I took the casing, so that it may never be forgotten.
At 1900 this afternoon, a man driving a new white Opel 4-door was carjacked in our sector. He was hijacked at gunpoint by three men with 9mm pistols with silencers. They took him prisoner, and then grabbed a child, a boy, from his parents at gunpoint. The kidnappers fired three rounds in the ground and then drove away with their two prisoners. They actually took the child right away from his parents. The parents then waved down a Humvee driven for our executive commander. They were in tears, but our soldiers there could not understand what the parents were saying. So they wrote a note and gave the casing from the bullet to the executive commander. He drove to our headquarters, and I got on the case right away, only to get railroaded by the Army unit responsible for the area where the kidnapping took place. I was working frantically – thinking constantly of this terrified child, of the pain of the parents, this was so real to me, so horrible, I knew that only a few minutes away, a family has been dealt a horrific blow. I tried as hard as possible to organize a search of the area, using my authority over battalion management to the fullest. The same man responsible for keeping the peace in this zone, was the same man who was laughing about scaring that poor, skinny, ragged prisoner I was giving water to only a few days ago. I worked the kidnapping all the way up to regiment, and soon to the whole city of Baghdad. As I did this, our office sat empty, as the staffers smoked cigarettes on the “back porch.” I emphasized the urgency of this case, because the longer we waited, the more time these kidnappers had to escape. Still, I was truly on my own. I then contacted the regimental commander – the top of the ladder – and he was the only one who seemed to care, and gave me authority to send the quick reaction force into the zone. So I called the zone commander (zones can’t help other zones, but I manage 3 very large zones) and he said, “I don’t have enough people! I have a patrol out, and I am guarding the Iraqi police station! I can’t respond to every little crime! The Iraqi police don’t even have cars!” And just like that, the search was virtually killed. No one even went to see the parents, who were waiting for help, and were certainly weeping tremendously as I write this. And the child! This enrages me to the fullest! No one cared. It was just another crime. I can’t imagine what those two kidnapped people are going through right now. There is so much violent crime here right now. I felt helpless, but I did all I could. Tonight, I picked up the bullet casing and held it in my dirty fingers before my weary eyes. I twisted it in my fingers, looking closely at it. Violence. A kidnapping and carjacking all committed with this casing. This was in the hands of the kidnappers yesterday. Violence. Evil. Hate. Bullets. Metal. Violence. Bullets. Crime. Anarchy. War. Violence. Crime. War. Tears. Trauma. Evil. War. Evil. War. Violence. Bullets. Evil. Tears.



Would these parents still have their child if there was no war? Would that G.I. killed yesterday still be alive if there was no war? Would these poor kids still have homes if there was no war? I have been touched closely by so much violent crime since I have been here. Animal acts, butchery, human beings – I take that back – human animals at their worst. We have conquered this country and poorly attended to it over pride. We have played down the violence, ignored the horror that descends on the city every night. We need the U.N., we need more help, we need enlightened leadership, we need the international community to help these people. It seems we are guarding our possession blindly, ignoring the real war that is now underway. It is a tragedy, yes, the true opportunity to do the right thing is lost daily, lost to stupid officers and poor planning.
As I looked at the bullet casing, I thought of the priest’s words to me at Vatican City – Bush and Saddam will be judged for bringing this war on the people. I hope Bush sleeps well tonight. He’ll never know about the boy that was kidnapped tonight, at the agony of the parents, of the U.S. soldier that frantically tried to help. I am shedding a tear right now! Horrible! I will keep this casing! It symbolizes so much to me, THIS IS TERROR. I even thought of sending this bullet casing to Bush, with my own story for him to read, but I doubt he would ever get it, and I would probably get in trouble for sending a 9mm casing to the President. Fools! Our leaders are fools! They are jeopardizing our human existence with their power. How do they hold their power? There has to be a vulnerability, a button that can be pushed, to topple the house of cards. This 9mm casing would never have exploded, had Bush not crossed the border. Why did we cross the border? Tonight I pray and think of you, Nora. I love you, and there is a lot of work ahead to make this world a better place. Our children deserve better. I hope for the growth of the E.U., to act as an instrument of peace, of justice. Ultimately, I hope in God. That is the only way. Without God there is darkness. I love you Nora, I will be there for you always!

Our headquarters building was constantly improving. A relic of the old British garrison that once stood on the Rustimiya complex, minor improvements like air-conditioning and refrigerators brought the place up to 21st century standards. Foley and I would work late nights while watching bats crawl around the ceiling. There were several bats that would fly in and out of the building throughout the night. One soldier was able to catch a weak one that had fallen. When you walked in the dark hallways of the building at night, it was normal to see the outline of a bat flying towards you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thankyou for bringing the REALITY OF WAR back home to us...hopefully one day, this country will know peace once more...but I'm afraid with the "man whose driving the bus" in this country, he may well hit the wall, with all of us in it!Thank YOU for putting your life on the line for's appreciated more than you know, as your bravery is...

4:13 AM  

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