Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Iraqi Translator Friends Shot, Haider Remains Faithful

7 April, 2004 1240

Hostilities continue around Iraq. I spent a lot of the morning reading reports from activity across Baghdad and Fallujah. Marines are getting hit hard, and it seems the rebels were well trained and prepared for the U.S. offensive. Unrest has been serious, with the medial unaware of most of the activity. U.S. forces and allies have been very fair in giving rebels opportunities to leave and go home, but rebels insist on fighting, so coalition forces have responded very violently – with main gun rounds and heavy machinegun fire. Some streets turned into meat grinders. Based on large numbers of deaths and open combat, it seems the rebels want to be martyred. It’s sick.
Going back to Palm Sunday night, after I left the radios when heavy combat lessened. I went over to see Ali and Haider, but found Abbas and Ali (the Ali with the Catholic girlfriend).
[1] I also saw Tariq. I thought he had quit his job as a translator in order to concentrate on studying. Personally, I believe he’s frightened to be killed for working with us. There’s a reason to be frightened, 18 translators were killed that were employed by Titan (a contractor that monitors, recruits, and pays translators). Someone inside of the organization must be leaking names and information to terrorists. One of those killed was an A Co. translator. Since the beginning of the year, assassinations and assassination attempts have increased on our own translator teams.

One night, I went up to talk to Haider in the internet cafe. I noticed two of my Iraqi friends sitting there, looking ill. I asked what was wrong with them, and they said they had been shot. I couldn’t believe it! Not these guys! Sure enough, Ali showed me several rose-colored, fleshy wounds that were bullet wounds. He was shot while riding with an American patrol. I remember earlier in the deployment, there was a young man who translated for the Americans. He used to walk around with a bandanna on his head with an American flag patch on it. He loved Americans, and he believed he was making a difference. One night, some men came to his house and asked for him. When he came to the door, the men killed him on the spot. These were the men that were giving their lives for us, for a few bucks a day. They weren’t clad in armor, they didn’t sleep within the walls of a secure facility at night. They were truly courageous, and they believed in what they were doing, otherwise they would not risk their lives. I felt these men needed to be protected, they needed to be sheltered from these butchers who wander in the Baghdad nights like satanic angels of death. There was nothing we could do for them. When Sadr City imploded, we were told to purge the base of all Iraqis – regiment was afraid they would turn on us.
Haider showed me a flyer from the Iraqi Mujahideen threatening to kill anyone working for the Americans. Sadr thugs also distributed the same flyers to the squatters (our primary labor source) that lived along our perimeter. Most of them ignored the threat, and showed back up to work when they were allowed to return again. Haider took the threat in stride. He said that his future is already written, and he trusts Allah. Not only that, but he added that he is Kurdish, and that the Kurdish people look out after one and other.

[1] It was not unheard of for Iraqis of different faiths to date or marry eachother.


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