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Postscript Baghdad 7.1.04 For most of the week we’ve been waiting to hear what happened to Tarek, a crazy Canadian-born Palestinian med-student acquaintance who came out here to work in a hospital. When ‹ghting broke out in Faluja on the morning of June 24, Tarek was on a bus from Baghdad. Soon after his arrival he was kidnapped by one of the muj groups. He passed his captivity at the front, living with the group’s commander, until they felt sure he wasn’t a spy. Then they pressured him to become a ‹ghter instead of a medic. Fed up, he eventually left the front and returned to our hotel. Faluja is under full muj control. I was there the day before the attack, and police told us we weren’t safe even inside the forti‹ed station. The military’s air strikes have been hitting ‹ghters’ houses, but the muj, like any other army, are trying to control what information is released. Tarek was forced to leave the front without his computer, but it was delivered yesterday by one of the muj, who was so afraid of being seen that he refused to bring it into the hotel. It’s a truly bizarre movement, involving ex-regime criminals, 176 muj, Wahhab extremists, all probably funded by people who escaped before and right after the invasion. But most of the ground troops are regular Falujis. Anyway, it was a week of nerve-wracking calls, with us as Tarek’s only link to the outside world. They’re killing ‹ve to ten collaborators a week, he says, and there’s nightly ‹ghting between the marines and the muj. Tarek is lucky to be alive. Abu Thalat (ever the fatherly sort) reprimands the young man soundly. Baghdad 8.6.04 Back at the ‹ghters’ house in Sadr City, having lunch. Outside, Mehdi ‹ghters are planting mines in the streets by digging up the pavement and then repaving over the bombs. They’re preparing for another U.S. incursion. I realize with a start that on the way to Friday prayers we literally drove through a mine‹eld. The passage between the two rows of bombs is wide enough for a car or a minibus, but not for a Humvee or Bradley. The minibus drivers wind through it all—another traf‹c obstruction in Baghdad. Nothing new. After lunch we discuss the occupation. “You said you were against it,” one of them says to me. “What have you done to oppose it?” I talk about the articles I’ve written. I talk about the things I’ve told people in the States, things they wouldn’t know otherwise. He takes a bomb out of the closet. It’s a 160-millimeter mortar shell, connected to ten meters of wire. He hands it to me. “Will you take this back to the States with you?” Amman 8.13.04 Mark woke me up this morning with a frantic phone call from London. POSTSCRIPT 177 “James has been kidnapped in Basra.” Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. No. No. No. No. No. No. All of the foreigners from the Bulletin except Mark and Kathleen (who spent time in Afghanistan and Kashmir, respectively ) had come back to work in Iraq in some capacity after the magazine shut down. I left a week ago. Seb and Ralph were still there, as was James. He was the last person I stopped to see before I left. He’d been working for the Sunday Telegraph. Mark had already called them. They didn’t have any information. We went to work as fast as we could. An old fear had become real. Making the calls was like a re›ex. It was in Basra—call the Sadr of‹ce. Almost certainly has to be Sadr guys if it’s Basra. Do his parents know? Can we get hold of them? Fuck, TV is no way for them to ‹nd out this has happened. We’re no longer responsible for him. We aren’t worried because our asses are on the line; we’re worried because it’s James. Funny James. Quiet James. James who had the balls to come out and work with us in the ‹rst place. Reporters begin calling from the U.K. “You know Mr. Brandon?” “Yes.” “Was he prepared for something like this? Did he have hostile environment training?” For what? What kind of training prepares you for...


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MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
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