Wednesday, October 19, 2005
"Daddy, I want to be a martyr. Can you get me an explosive belt?"
Most of you have probably already seen this Time article on the guy who supplies and trains murder-suicide bombers.
When his 9 year-old-son asked him the question that I've chosen for the title, he says "I didn't know what to say."
His brother and sister have approached him about becoming human bombs as well. He gave them "basic training", but talked them out of it. For his son?
[He told him] he is too young to become a martyr, but says he recently taught the child how to make roadside bombs and how to fashion a rudimentary rocket launcher out of metal tubes. (He also gave TIME a propaganda video, in which he and two other adults teach a group of four children how to jury-rig a pair of artillery shells into a bomb.)
Take note those of you who think they have proved that the US military targets civilians by simply reporting children killed in terrorist hide-outs. By the way, this monster has directed at least one human bomb not much older than his son. Yet he says:
A suicide bombing should be the last resort. It should not be a shortcut to paradise."
However, he says that is exactly what the human bombs he sets off want:
"[They] come a long way from their countries, spending a lot of money and with high hopes. They don't want to gradually earn their entry to paradise by participating in operations against the Americans. They want martyrdom immediately."
But his own family members...well, there's no reason for them to waste their lives as human bombs.
This guy is a former member of Saddam's Republican Guard. Surprise! surprise! One of Saddam's orphans.
He says that he, essentially, never stopped fighting for Saddam. He fought Coalition soldiers continuously but quickly realized it was futile. Then only two weeks after Baghdad's fall, he began organizing networks of Islamists and ex-Ba'athists under direct orders from Saddam. So much for the insurgency being made of disaffected Iraqis who were disappointed in the "false promises" of the Liberation. So much for the Islamists like Zarqawi and the Ba'athists not being connected.
[Saddam] said that we had to attack the Americans from different angles so they would not be able to settle in Iraq." He made contact with insurgent groups in the Sunni triangle and around Baghdad. He also helped set up Jaish Mohammed (Army of Mohammed), a group of Baathists and ex-military men.
He says he was in Abu Ghraib during the time of the notorious torture photo-op:
In November 2003 al-Tamimi was arrested by U.S. forces and tossed into Abu Ghraib on the outskirts of Baghdad, where, he says, he endured forms of torture similar to those displayed in the infamous photographs from the prison--including being chained at the neck and dragged around like a dog. While these claims cannot be verified without knowing his real name, al-Tamimi showed TIME scars on his leg that appeared consistent with lashing by electrical wires.
For me, rather than causing me to reminisce about the cruelty of humans to one another, this fact makes me wonder at the sanity of the legal system that let this maniac out.
What about civilian deaths?
According to the "Rand Terrorism Chronology," which tracks suicide bombings in Iraq, attacks on U.S. military targets are relatively rare, but there have been more than 250 assaults on civilian targets in 2005 alone, killing more than 2,400 Iraqis and injuring 5,200 others. Pressed, al-Tamimi says angrily, "Civilian deaths are regrettable, but when you are in a freedom struggle, it sometimes happens."
I know. I know. "That's what the US military says." But this guy does not have any doubt about differentiating between a US soldier and an Iraqi. He is TARGETING Iraqi civilians.
What does he say about the future of Iraq after the insurgency drives the US out?
"I've had many conversations with [the jihadis], and I keep asking, 'What is your vision?'" he says. "They never have a straight answer." He fears they want to turn Iraq into another Afghanistan, with a Taliban-style government. [...] "One day, when the Americans have gone, we will need to fight another war, against these jihadis. They won't leave quietly."
War without end. That's the vision of the insurgency for Iraq.