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2 May 2003 (My Struggle With Islam)
(Warning: To a great extent, this post is void of editing. Some things I say were said following a very difficult day of trying to solve everyone’s problems, getting shot at, getting spit at, being denied the opportunity to purchase some food and drinks at a local store, and just general hate. I do NOT advocate nor subscribe to the belief that Islam is evil. This journal entry just goes to show you the wide range of emotions soldiers go through during war. If you take my words to justify your hate of Muslims, then you are no better than those zealots blowing themselves up in the name of “God”.)
1843L, 2 May 2003, Friday
I can’t believe it’s been so long since I wrote in here. I figured that since things had calmed down I wouldn’t have as much to write about. That’s true to a certain degree, but a lot has happened in the past few weeks. I’ll hit on some highlights, but I can’t remember most of the dates.
Last week we went down one of the streets I’m responsible for. We have called it “The Dungeon” because every time we go down there, it’s one problem after another. A bunch of political parties have made their home there and there are a bunch of old government building that the looters continue to have their way with. This particular time we were in the neighborhood simply to talk to people. One family told us there were looters down the road. When I looked down there I could see people crossing the road with big chairs, tables, and anything they could carry. It was just Larry and I out this time. We drove down the road and immediately had to break up a fight between some locals and the police. We detained them at gunpoint. We also detained about 5 other people that were looting the place. There’s something wrong when two soldiers are detaining seven people. We called for backup because there were so many people and we could only cover one exit. At one point, I finally asked the police to take their car to the far end where the other exit was and block the road so no one could drive by. We needed to limit the traffic in the area. Some locals told us that there were people inside the building with weapons. Once the police took off to secure the road, we heard about 8 or 10 gunshots. They sounded like pistol shots. I immediately took cover behind a wall and aimed my weapon towards where the shots were coming from. It sounded like the shots were aimed at the police car. I saw a man who looked like he was about to jump the wall into the compound we were securing. I fired a shot just under where he was about to jump over. He ducked behind the wall then appeared and jumped over the wall. I fired another shot in front of him and then he took off toward the building. The third shot I aimed right at him but just barely missed him as he ran behind the building. He’s probably got a hole in his shirt because I didn’t see the shrapnel from my shot hit the wall. I never saw him again. We kept calling asking about our backup and they kept telling us 10 minutes. Eventually, but not soon enough, an infantry platoon arrived and searched the building….40 minutes later!! They didn’t search any of the houses where I reported the gunshots coming from though. They said they didn’t have time for that. I guess we’ll be dealing with that soon too.
A lot of the poor people have uprooted from wherever they used to live and moved into former houses belonging to the government. That doesn’t sit well with the neighbors. A lot of these neighborhoods are nice neighborhoods (by Iraqi standards) and then they get these poor people that move in. Of course they don’t like that. We don’t kick anyone out of these homes, but we do take away their weapons. I’d say about 90% of them claim some political party that gave them permission to take the house. All the political parties have weapons. We’re constantly seizing weapons from party headquarters all over Baghdad.
Today we got a call that another unit needed help at a gas station they were assisting with. At the time, we were trying to record a prayer from a local mosque that was broadcasting anti-American propaganda. Today the Imam was talking about Jihad and the responsibility to destroy themselves in the name of Allah. I’m going to find that guy and gut his throat. We went to the gas station at the end of the prayer. When we got there we saw that they already had a guy assisting with translation so we left. On our way out we ended up at another gas station that looked like anarchy. In my ultimate bid of stupidity I decided to try and help. All I had with me was my team (4 people) and our scout truck (3 people). The scout truck had an automatic weapon on top. The station was in complete disarray. There were people everywhere. We attempted to bring some sort of resolution to the problem. The problem was that they would not listen. Things were getting worse it seemed, although I think we straightened things out a little at the pumps themselves. People were constantly sneaking in the station and trying to jump in line. I don’t even know how many people I forced out of the gas station at gun point. Even a little boy, probably 13 years old, I had to point my pistol at in order to get him to leave. All he did the whole time was beg me for food or water or candy or chocolate. I wanted to shoot him in the forehead. He never came back after I forced him out. About an hour after we called for backup they showed up. The story was that in 5-10 minutes they would arrive. Every time we called it was the same 10 minute story. I had my doubts that I would live through the experience. I thought for sure that at any minute the huge crowd of hundreds of people would realize that there were only 7 of us. Finally, just when I had resolved myself to just leave because I couldn’t fix the problem I got a call on the radio. An infantry platoon had shown up to assist but they couldn’t get their Bradley fighting vehicles close enough to the gas station. We decided to just send in a dismounted squad. The psychological operations team showed up also with a portable speaker system. That helped immensely as I broadcast the rules for the gas station. We opened 2 pumps for fuel cans and the rest of the pumps were reserved for strictly vehicles. No one driving up in a vehicle was authorized to place fuel in a can. If they wanted fuel in a can, they had to wait in he walk-up line. A lot of people were trying to sneak fuel into cans after fueling their cans so I broadcast that anyone caught in the vehicle lane filling up a fuel can would get their can slashed. I even threatened to slash a few cans before they realized I wasn’t joking. I had my bayonet out and was making the motion to cut the can when they decided to leave. Eventually, order was restored. The MP’s showed up and took over the mission from the infantry and us. When I got back, I talked to the S2 about placing concertina wire around the fuel station to prevent people from walking up and trying to cut in line. They are going to try that tomorrow. That would cut the manpower required to maintain control of the station by about 75%. Then, today was finally over. I am so beat.
I’m tired of talking to people. All I ever hear about is how they need power, how America isn’t doing enough to restore life to the way it was fast enough, how someone forced someone else out of their house, how there are looters down the road, how their next door neighbor is a Ba’ath party member, how they need a job, how they need food and water. I don’t care about their problems anymore. It’s difficult to collect information when you can’t stand to be around these people. We help to liberate them and still there are those that refuse to sell to us. There are those that still broadcast messages of hate towards Americans over the loudspeakers of their “religious” mosques. Sometimes freedom of speech shouldn’t be authorized. These people are stupid enough to try that stuff. They’re all religious zealots just waiting to become a “martyr.” I’ll make them a martyr. If they want to be a martyr I should just set up a clinic for potential suicide bombers. Come to me and I’ll just go ahead and kill you. No need to blow yourself up and hurt others. Just enter through my office door and I’ll shoot you in the head and proclaim you a martyr for the cause. It would be so much easier that way I think. I don’t think I’ll even think twice about it. I don’t go anywhere without a chambered round in my weapons anymore. I worry about talking to people and having them blow up right beside me. This whole religious thing just irritates me. Islam is about the most unholy religion I can think of. I’m constantly blowing smoke up my ass as I talk to people telling them that Islam is a great religion, much like Christianity. I tell them I don’t see why the two religions don’t get along better. I’ll tell you why. Because Muslims are terrorists just looking to make themselves “martyrs” for some stupid worthless cause. The guys in charge of spreading the religious message of the Koran wouldn’t know holy if it descended upon them on a white cloud and beat them with a halo. I used to be tolerant of the Muslim religion, thinking it was much like Christianity with it’s handful of people who take the gospel a step too far. Now I think the entire religion is that way with a handful of people who have a straight head on their shoulders and truly are peaceful. Okay, I should end this. I’m pretty irritated. I’m going to keep writing in my journal on a regular basis now.
Supposedly, we’ll be going home between the 12th and 17th of May. I can’t wait to leave this place. I can’t wait to take a shower on a regular basis, even if it is a cold one. Just two more weeks and I’ll never return to this “wretched hive of scum and villainy.”