Cigars in the Sand

Commentary, Notes and Pictures from my time in Iraq

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Location: Baghdad, Iraq

Farmer by genetics, Lawyer by training, currently "vacationing" in Iraq and advising the Iraqi government on border security issues. Before moving to Baghdad, I served in the White House as Deputy Counsel for the Homeland Security Council. I can be reached at opusxryanathotmaildotcom.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Intimidation

Intimidation is probably the terrorists' greatest weapon. I see the cycle repeated over and over in Iraq: a force will finally get some traction and then it's targetted by the terrorist with threats and small acts of violence (comparatively), with the threat of more to come if the forces don't immediately discontinue their work. A few examples:

1. I work daily with an Iraqi general whose 15 year old son was kidnapped because of his father's associations with the Coalition. Thankfully, the general was able to secure his son's release.

2. The Desert Wolves on the Syrian border have been repeatedly targetted. One man's son was threatened at school, and his brother-in-law was recently shot. Three more Desert Wolves were beheaded not long ago on their return from the border.

3. I spoke to a different Iraqi general last night about intimidation. He was ambushed with his son last fall as they were driving through Baghdad. He was shot several times, but thankfully his son was unharmed. I asked him last night about protective measures, and he obviously takes plenty. But he also had something else to say: "We must continue our work for Iraq. If I die defending my country, than that is simply my destiny."

These types of attacks are extremely damaging. They impact not only the men directly involved, but also the other men who witness and hear about these attacks and now must consider if they are next. Still though, Iraqis volunteer to serve their country.

I continue to be in awe of the will of the Iraqi leaders. Every one of them know that they risk not only their own lives, but the lives of their families as well. And they don't live in the Green Zone, they live out in the middle of Baghdad and other unprotected places. I'm not sure I could take those risks.