3/30/2003

Death by bomb

I stood with the British, and watched them bomb my friends on the other side of the city fence. I watched the sergeant place the rocket in the launcher, hoist it on his shoulder, saw the puff as he released it, and watched it rise high into the sky, spewing flames, and racing to destroy lives and homes.

I wished in that moment that I could stop time, and walk into the town, and save the people that that missile would hit. I would slave away, carrying their time frozen bodies into safety, then I would carry the items they had worked their entire lives to buy out of the building that the missile would hit. When time resumed, the missile would hit an empty building, and there would be no sorrow that day.

But that could not be. The missile rose high into the sky, turned itself downwards, and raced towards a house. I imagined the child, standing on the balcony, and watching the star falling towards him. He would point at it, the sort of terror in his heart that no child should ever experience, and the star would hit below him. The building would collapse, and he would grasp at the falling balcony, gasping in the dust, his eardrums smashed by the explosion. He would land on the floor, for a moment alive and screaming. Then the roof of the house would fall on him, crushing him. The sharp metal pieces in the building would rip of his leg, but he wouldn’t feel that, because his brain would be crushed, no longer able to house his soul.

I turned away, because I could not watch the missile land. But I could not turn away from my thoughts. They filled in the gaps all too well, and I cried inside for the child I would never meet, and never know. My heart broke for his friends, who, as they hid in terror from the rain of bombs, would forget their own fear for a moment, to weep for their dead friend. I died inside that day. I died inside for his mother, who would see her life, and her reason for living dead and battered on the floor, for a crime he never commited, and never understood.

I felt hate for the people I stood beside, and when the bomber joked about the number of people he must have got, I felt like smashing his face in with the butt of my rifle. But I did not. I laughed with him, and that laugh was the most difficult thing I ever did in my life, because I laughed as my heart drowned in tears. I laughed although my mind was stunned at the brutality of the man.

But I laughed because it was the only way of saving the next child. I laughed, because my laugh of today, though it kills a part of me, could save my people tommorow from the speakable brutality of the men who stand beside me, and laugh with me.

3/27/2003

Nursery rhymes, sung in Arabic

As we drove towards the british camp outside Basrah, I noticed blood on the floor of the car. Much blood. Then I noticed blood on my hands. And on my arms. I raised my head up, which suddenly felt very heavy, and I saw that my shirt was drenched in blood.

I looked up, and looked around, and I was walking through the desert. There was a chair in the middle of the desert, that I was walking towards. I needed to get to that chair, so I could sit down. Sitting down was important, very important. But as I walked towards it, the chair started sinking into the sand. The chair was in the middle of quicksand, and I stopped because I did not want to die. Just 3 meters away, and I would never reach the chair.

I felt hands lift me out of the car, and as they dropped me in the stretcher, it turned out that it wasn’t actually a stretcher after all, but a dark deep hole. I had been terribly tricked, and I grabbed into the air, trying to cling to the sides of the hole as I fell. There was screaming and shouting around me, and as I looked down into the hole, I saw that it was a well, and it was filled with blood. The blood was frothing and foaming. I heard huge whoops of someone taking their breath, and I saw the face of a man shortly lift itself out of the blood, take a last gulp of air, and then sink into the blood.

I heard a song, an arabic melody that my father had sometimes sang to me. My father was a busy man, but sometimes, when he came home at night, he would take me and my brother Khaled up on his knee, and sing this song. The song was about the man who had lived in the belly of a fish for 3 days, because he had been afraid to fulfill the mission that god had appointed him. He had ran away when he should have stayed and fought his personal Jihad, but as my father explained to me, God had given him another chance to win, but only after making him suffer. My father always completed his missions, and he taught us never to be weak.

The song continued, and I started to come to my senses. I drifted into and out of sleep, and when I finally woke up, I saw that I was in a hospital tent. There was another man on the matrass next to mine, and he slept quiet. I hardly heard him breath, and as I watched him, I felt he was near death. He muttered to himself every now and then, and his talk made no sense. His face and upper body were blackened, and his eyebrows seemed to have been burnt off.

The door of the tent was ripped open, and a soldier was carried in, groaning. He was dropped on the matrass next to mine, and a doctor and two nurses started fussing around him, slicing open his uniform, and then slicing open his arm to remove some chunks of metal.

I was getting more alert by the minute, alert enough to notice what a lovely backside the nurse next to me had. I looked myself over, and concluded that my injuries were minimal, a large number of bloody cuts, probably by all the flying metal from the mortar, and my blackout and hallucinations had most likely been because of loss of blood, and not because of any major wounds. To be safe, I checked that my important appendages were still attached. The medical personel saw me stir, and the nurse I had previously noticed turned to attend to me.

The nurse looked arabic, and she was stunningly beautiful. I was already weak from my wounds, and the sight of her finely moulded features made me even weaker. Had I been standing, I would probably have needed to sit down. And I noticed that I was dressed in a dress, some kind of hospital gown. Where my skin a bit lighter, she would have notice me blush.

“I’m Nurse Jasmine”, she said, in arabic accented english, and in the very same voice I had heard sing my fathers song in the middle of the night.

“I’m Jeff Steinberg”, I said, in a perfect American accent. “What happened?”. She proceeded to explain the details of the battle up till then, and I didn’t hear a lot of what she said, I was too distracted by the movements of her perfect lips.

She left soon with the other personell, and I looked across at my new neighbour. He turned towards me, and smiled.

“Hey, I’m Tom Thompson.” We went through the introductory formalities, and started chatting. He was from london, and spoke with an awful accent that I could hardly understand. He was a funny chap, andd I actually enjoyed his company, enemy though he might be.

I’d been to london a few times, and we talked about many banal things, all the better to get our minds of the war. He gave me tips about clubs, I told him funny stories about my orthodox Jewish parents, and our family voyage into a comedy club that turned out to be borderline pornography. He told me about his father, whose major battle in life was to save the London doves from the London cats. He had me in stitches time and time again, or rather, almost had me bursting my stitches. Literally.

He was a nice friendly chap, and I almost felt bad that I was not fighting on his side. But my thoughts turned with increasing frequency to the lovely arabic woman who knew the nursery rhyme my father had sung for me, and which he had always told me he had written just for me.

3/26/2003

this is posted by yusuf ,the friend of john .john sends this by email .

An American for the day

As daylight dripped through the dusty air, I watched the other men stir, and open their eyes. I was dressing up in my American uniform, gathering the neccesary papers, and changing them to reflect the name tag on my captured uniform. Here in the desert, we had planted a small signal amplifier, and my mission was to infiltrate the British ranks, and with my computer, a radio link and the amplifier, keep the Iraqi troops informed about what was about to happen. The troops in Basrah were getting badly hit, and they needed more information about the positions of the British troops on the outside.

My infiltration computer is my watch. It has got a small device you can attach to the top of it, and this device shines a light to the table, and the light is shaped like a keyboard. You can type on this keyboard, and it is saved in the memory of the watch. Every now and then, it transmits the signals. The range is good for a number of kilometers in flat ground.

Apart from this watch, I was standard American. I don’t usually use an American accent, but I can adopt a bronx accent when I want. My face, my name and my voice had become American. In my Humvee, I would not have any trouble infiltrating the troops on the other side of the river. Or so I thought.

15 minutes after dawn break, I started off, and the other members of the team also prepared to leave, but in the opposite direction. I drove slowly, heading down south, so it would appear as if I was coming from the convoy, and had somehow managed to get across the river. The guns were silent behind me, and I felt the peace of the desert. It was quiet, and so devoid of life. I wondered why people lived here. I’m a city boy, and the rural life seems to me to be the most boring life possible.

A bullet hit my tire.

The humvee sagged and swerved, and I panicked, and wrenched at the steering, grabbing for my small M16 at the same time. The car was hit again, and firing started in earnest. I cowered down in the car, and saw the metal plate in front of my face dent with a loud crack as a bullet hit it. After a while, the shooting stopped, and I saw shadows appear in the dust through the door crack, gradually taking form as they slowly moved towards the car. I stayed crouched, even when I felt the cold muzzle of the gun press against my neck.

I looked up, and Iraqi militia men were in a group around the car, their faces grim, and their gun barrels aimed at my heart. One grabbed at my gun, and disarmed me. They dragged me out, stripped me of my knife, my pistol and the keys of the car. They tied my hands, threw me in the back of the humvee, and we started driving back north, between a small convoy of two other jeeps. I had been ambushed, and very cleverly. I should not have been daydreaming.

I saw the futility of trying to say that I was fighting on their side. I had nothing to prove that, apart from my halting arabic. So I went along with them, hoping that I would come across someone who had heard of my group, and could confirm my story.

30 minutes later, we entered Al Basrah, and after a few meters, a number of local people gathered around the car, waving Kalashnikows in the air, and yelling. I was propped up so I could be seen by everyone, and I started getting afraid. The people had hate in their eyes, and the teenagers were trying to hit at me. Someone threw a stone, and it hit my helmet with a painful thunk. The guns started off by being waved in the air, then they started shooting in the air. I started getting afraid they would aim at me, and shoot me.

So I decided to speak in arabic to my capturers, and explain to them who I was, and that I was fighting on their side. But immediately I spoke in arabic, the men in the jeep, started screaming insults and curses into my ear. They screamed that I had come to kill them, and that they would kill me first. A man started screaming that I had killed his mother, and that he would tear off my balls for what I had done to him. I gave up talking after a while, because nobody listened. I sunk my head, and ignored them.

Then a house two blocks away blew up. The crowd screamed and ran, tripping over stones and themselves, and everybody jumped out of the vehicle. I was dragged out, and pulled into the next house, together with about 15 other people. We were all crowded into this small front lobby. I noticed that there was blood on the floor. Much blood.

A young boy was peeking out the window, and would yell shortly before we heard a bomb land. The room was quiet, almost as if they hoped that by staying silent, the bombs would not hit them. The a bomb hit something very near, and the wind was sucked out of the room, and we swayed, and some people stumbled. I heard beams creak, and concrete crack. There was a lull in the bombing, and people started dashing out of the house, down the street and away. After a short while, when the bombing restarted, but in another part of the town, I was dragged and hurried out, down the street to some kind of official building. Someone said that the Americans would bomb that building, and that they would kill me, in a hopeful voice.

But in the building, there was a bunker, and I was led inside, my hands were untied, and I met with some local leader. He seemed to be some political leader, probably Baath, and not a military commander. I started to explain to him what my situation was. In the middle of my sentence, the building was bombed.

We were flung like ragdolls against the walls, and I quickly collected myself, and threw myself towards the stairs. It seemed like I flew up the stairs, so fast did I run, and dashed into the street. I started running up the street, and seconds later, the heavy clacking sound of a kalaschnikow started behind me. I felt the air trail of the bullet pass by my face, and quickly veered off into a compound, jumped over the fence, and ran round to the back, planning to escape into the next compound.

The gunfire from the front was getting intense. I saw bullets hitting the top of the fence, but still grabbed it, and threw myself over. There was glass stuck on the top, probably to prevent burglers, and I cut my finger badly as I performed the stunt. People had already gathered on this side of the fence, however, and as I landed the bullets where already hitting. I veered off to the right, and burst into the house. There was a scared looking boy holding a gun inside, and probably wondering why his people were trying to kill him. I grabbed the gun from him, broke open a window, and started shooting outwards. There was a yell, and someone fell.

We started a gunfire exchange, and after a while, their gunning reduced in intensity. Then there was a roar of mortar, and the building shook in its foundations. A few seconds, and another one, this time a hit. A wall broke at the top, and concrete flew in the room. I ran to a back room, and the next few mortar rounds did not do much damage. Then they got a direct hit, demolishing the front part of the house.

I was about to run out, shooting for my death, when an RPG hit the position of the person firing mortar, and blowing the device and man apart. Further large caliber bullets hit their positions, apparently coming from the british troops a distance away.

I didn’t need to be begged. I ran towards the back, jumped over the fence again, ran up the street, switched on the Humvee with the emergency lever, and hit the accelerator . I squeelled around a corner, took a detour away from the fire, and roared towards the british positions. They took a few pot shots as they saw me approach, but someone must have pointed out the make of the vehicle, because that soon stopped. They watched me approach, and I stopped, and collapsed out of the vehicle.

They approached me, and lifted me up, and took me into their camp. I couldn’t speak, and they didn’t ask me any questions. But I saw the admiration in their eyes. They had rescued a Real American Hero.

3/25/2003

Torture helps

As we drove away from the dead Usman, the wind started to decimate the mound of sand that buried him. Shortly before the grave passed out of sight, his hand was uncovered, and his curled fingers gave the appearance of a final grotesque wave. I turned away, and fear gripped coldly at my stomach for the first time.

I felt anger seep into me. Anger combats and destroys fear. When one would be afraid, one can be angry instead.

We drove for many more hours and came near to Basrah. British and American troops were on the other side of the river, and we were about 20 kilometers away from them on the east side of Basrah. We parked the Jeeps, and I and two other men entered the American Humvee we had previously taken, and made a big detour towards the American lines, which were across the river. A massive duststorm had gathered at this time, which made our mission so much easier.

We drove to within 2 kilometers of the troops, undressed to our underwear, carrying rifles and knives, rowed across the river in small boat, and walked up a few kilometers behind the troops, then walked into the camp.

Many people were occupied, and the few people who saw us must have thought it strange to see dust covered men in green underwear, but they did not question us. We walked into a tent, where two americans were sitting, looking totally worn out. I walked up to the nearest man, grabbed his head and covered his mouth. James, my companion, ran up to and stabbed the other man in the neck, cutting his windpipe. He dragged his head backwards toallow air from his lungs to leak, and disable him from shouting. The man died after a few gurgles.

I let the man I was gripping watch this, then I broke his neck. He was young, maybe 24, and he didn’t look important enough to be worth questioning. To lower moral amongst the american troops a bit, and to announce our presence, I removed both his eyes. James decapitated the other man, and put his head in a bag. We then placed both men in sleeping bags, sealed them, and placed them to cover the blood on the floor.

We preened a bit, and decided that we looked like American soldiers. I played a bit with an American rifle, but it didn’t have anything that my modified Kalaschnikow did not have. So I kept my AK, though the possibility existed that it might raise suspicions when we went out.

And go out we did. We walked out, into the midst of the troops, and joined them to fire towards the town.After about 30 minutes, we began to advance. At this point, I had made out who was in control, and we both neared the man. At an oppurtune moment, when guns roared, and the swirling dust served to obfuscate, James shot him in the arm.

He screamed a high pitched girls scream, and dropped. I and James ran towards him, hoisted him on our soldiers and started taking him towards the camp, apparently to help him get medical attention. About half way between camp and front, we veered off, and ran towards the shore. The man resisted, and I knocked him so hard on the head, he might have fractured his head. I heard something crunch, but it might have been the piece of wood I was holding.

James, who is a large man, hoisted him on his back, and we ran the kilometers to our small boat. We dropped the man inside, and quickly roared back. Some more running, and we were at the Humvee, in full American camouflage, and with an American unit commander in our posession.

We were totally exhausted, and when we arrived where the rest of the team was, we had to rest for a long while before we could do anything more. When I finally felt fit again, the American was tied up, and stripped down to his underpants. Awaiting my mercy.

I felt a joyful glee. I felt that power that goes to your head, and corrupts your morals. The power that makes you want to watch others suffer at your hands, that makes you enjoy seeing them flinch when you raise your hand to remove dust from your face. My eyes gleamed.

“Curtis,” I read from his name tag. “You do realise you are in enemy hands, do you not?”. He looked at me with a mildy stubborn look on his face, and did not reply. A strong one, it seemed. I was going to enjoy this.

“You are not a prisoner of war. You are a war casualty, who just isn’t dead yet”, I explained to him. “You can either die quick, or Enrico Callan is going to make you die slow.” He blanched as he heard my name. “You know my uncle Tony, do you not?”, I spoke, smoking a thin cigarette. “You killed him. I am him, reborn. But I understand our inherited mental disorder because I studied it. And I know better than to fight it. I enjoy it, and Callan the elder never did.”

But the man still did not speak. I stripped him naked, and proceeded to surgically remove his finger nails. When he kept silent through that process, I saw that I had a hard nut. So I crushed his little finger, forced his mouth open, and made him swallow it. He choked on a splintered bone, and coughed blood. He started crying.

I explained to him that I would remove his eyes, and he could spare himself that pain by telling us all we wanted to know. But he didn’t. So I injected him full of drugs, and bound his eyes. Then I started speaking to him, explaining to him the horrors that awaited him. The drugs enhanced the fright, and gave him the don’t-really-care attitude. He pooped in his pants at the moment, and the shit ran down his leg. I kicked him, and he went sprawling on the ground. Limbs bent and loose. He babbled, and told us battle strategies and the names of his cats, and his birthdate.

Then I took him to edge of the camp and shot him. When I came back, someone had vomited on the floor.

We left, in possesion of 3 American uniforms and an American vehicle. We drove about 5 kilometers away, and set up a small camp. We started working on our plan for tommorow, when we will start the demoralisation campaign.

I feel satisfied and fulfilled. My agony and craving is gone, stilled and dampened. Torture helps me feel better.

3/24/2003

Dying in the desert sand

Usman turned green about 12 hours ago. His cut arm swoll up, and watery red pus oozed out of the wound, dripping on the floor of the Jeep. It dried in the desert air, but still managed to infect the air with a sickly sweet smell.

I held a small desert flower in my hands, and it appeared so small and fragile in my large hands. Then I crushed it, and it stained my palms red. Red with blood. Hands that had killed, that had crushed a life, and which would forever be stained in the terrible colour of murder.

Usman sank into the corner of the car and start to cry. We could not hear him crying through the roar of the car, but we could see the tears run down his cheeks. A strong man, a man that was sent to fight and bring destruction on the heads of invaders was crying because of a cut arm.

We looked away, because we were also strong men. We would all cry like he was crying when our times came. When we lay by the roadside in a time to come, our life flowing our of our bodies, our eyes and minds open and willing, but having lost control over our bodies, we would cry like he was crying.

The jeep was throwing up huge clouds of dust and dirt and small objects that were landing at our feet, hitting our faces, and infecting our wounds. I idly wondered if it could have been a relative or friend of that small flower that I crushed that might be attacking the man with its poison.

Usman vomited, and the juice flowed between our legs, mixing with the dust on our boots, and forming small clumps of sand. Lines of blood streaked through the vomit, and I saw a half digested bean dance to the rhythm created by our car bouncing on the desert road.

We stopped, and doused the jeep floor with sand. It absorbed the liquid that was Usmans life, but would not gain any life of its own by doing that. The desert thirsted for liquid, and maybe that was why it beckoned to us, invited us to come and die in it, so that it would drink our blood. And we came, and we died, but it always seemed to want more.

We carried Usman out, and made him a bed in the desert. He vomited again, and the vomit disappeared into the dry desert sand. We gave him our water to drink, so he would not dehydrate, but his stomach rejected it, and the desert lapped it up.

We did not have much more water, and we were 100 kilometers from the next town. Usman started coughing, trying to get the sand out of his dry lungs. The sand was entering his lungs with each breath. The sand had come to claim him, to attack and ravage him, consume and absorb him, and finally, turn him into just more sand. It gleefully wrapped itself around him, sticking to the water dropplets on his face, and painting his face gray.

And with that grey face, sand clinging to his beard, him gasping for air, yet breathing sand, the desert absorbed his life.

In that moment, I saw years pass, and saw as he decayed in that spot, slowly collapsing into rotting flesh, and then into clumps of dirt, and finally became part of the desert. The desert that is growing larger by the minute, and which will eat us all, one day or the day after.

3/23/2003

The battle of An-Nasiriyah

We arrived at Nasiriyah at roughly the same time that the Americans arrived. We came in from the north, while they came in from the south. We slipped into the town shortly before the Americans started to encircle it, and contacted the guard that were in control the city. We were given rations, electricity to recharge batteries, clean clothes, and ear plugs and a bed in a bunker.

When I woke up, it was pitch dark, and there was the muffled booming from above that indicated that we were being attacked. I groped around, found a torch, and switched it on. The bunker was completely empty. I dressed up, grabbed my gear walked up the stairs. As I walked, my boots stuck to the ground - I shone my torchlight downwards, and saw that the ground was splotched with blood.

I came out of the bunker, and the building over the bunker was a burnt out shell. A soldier gestured from across the road. I ducked and ran across the road and joined the other soliders, who were aiming their rifles up the road. On inquiry, I learnt that the Americans had tried to enter the town, and had bombed a number of buildings. The building above the bunker had caught fire, and they had forgotten all about me. I was not pleased to hear that, but hey, they had things on their minds.

I started radioing my team, and 10 minutes later, we were gathered together in a trench, and formulating a plan. Our mission was not in Nasiriyah, but further on down. We had to get to the Americans at Basrah. The problem now was that Americans were surrounding our town, and with their helicopters, it would be difficult to get out of the town with vehicles. They were bombing everything mechanised that moved. So we made a plan.

We told the Iraqis to gradually cease fire, making it seem like the resistance was dying down. We placed a number of troops in two buildings, and told them to keep firing steadily. Pretty soon, as we expected, the Americans blew up both buildings. Our 'resistance had been crushed'. 2 hours later, American tanks and armoured carrriers rolled into the town, with troops running behind them.

When they were in the middle of the town, we sent two guards to surrender to them. They approached, and as the Americans reached to disarm them, the guard shot the commander. Immediately, all the americans focused on them, and literarily gunned them to shreds. Brave matyrs, those men were.

Immediately their attention was diverted, we ran towards them with grenades, and threw them below the tanks and personel carriers. From above, the guards opened machine gun fire, and threw molotov cocktails. The American troops ran and died, and lost about 30 of their vehicles in the town. As they ran, we pulled together the Iraqi army, and fought them back out of the town. They called for backup and the copters that were hovering came to the south suburb of the town, leaving the east relatively unprotected. My crew picked up a couple of jeeps, and an American humvee, and drove out at high speed, exchanging fire with the occaional company, but easily making it out.

We drove about 20 kilometers east, then started driving back southwards, passing through small Iraqi towns. The townspeople came to wave at us, the men who would sacrifice them to save them from the aggressors who wish to invade and occupy Iraq and steal its wealth.

After about 50 kilometers, we saw an American vehicle parked in the middle of the road. Some personel was working on it, changing a tire, I think. We immediately dropped into formation, and started firing and advancing. The fired back, and a battled raged for about 15 minutes. They did not have arial backup, and they were fighting against a really crack team. Soon, about half of their number were dead, and the other half were either wounded or sitting on the ground with their hands in the air.

We went towards them, mindfull of an ambush. Sure enough, as we reached, a soldier shot at our legs from underneat the van, and splinterred the ankle of Rahimi. As he howled in pain, We shoved our guns under neat the car, and let lose a barrage. Because of his massive armour, he was still able to sent lose another shot, which luckily did not hit anyone. He died soon, and we dragged him out and dumped him behind the truck.

"Let the vultures eat him", a comrade said. We packed the other prisoners on a jeep, and drove quickly towards south. In the next town, we contacted Iraqi guards, handed over the prisoners, and let the wounded man be sent up to control for treatment.

Then we continued southwards, having lost a man, but having gained valueable experience about how the Americans fight. We are still crawling downwards through the bad roads, hoping to hit a highway soon. I'm checking up on radio intercepts, which are being done by non-gov organisations, and which we paid for, and are receiving. Sat pictures are harder to get, but occasionally, they land in my email box. The internet is winning this war for us, I'd almost say.

3/22/2003

The blood of the Americans stained the desert sand

The news we are hearing from Iraqi soldiers heading north is that there are no oil wells on fire. The fires are all from oil PIPELINES, which were lit by American missiles as they fired at the troops in the towns. The fires are going out now that the oil supply has been turned off by the Americans.

And a colonel told me before we left that leader Hussein is not going to talk to the people for a while, because he wants the focus of the war not be him. He wants the war to be between the Iraqi people and the Americans, and not between Saddam and Americans. I see why he is a survivor. He is an excellent strategist.

Since yesterday night, we have been driving southwards. At the moment, we are between An Najaf and As Samawah. We are planning to coordinate attacks on American troops who we hear are in the Basrah area. One ‘exciting’ incident happened so far.

As me and 14 other men were driving in the night, we could hear the planes booming across our heads. About 8 men are non-Iraqi arab, like myself, and they got all worked up every now at then, and hurling classic insults like “evil imperialist donkeys!” into the howling air. I was collecting information from internet sources in the back of a jeep. Then I saw the picture.

The picture of the American soldier raising a flag over an Iraqi town. I felt angry, but that was small compared to the fearsome rage the picture transformed the men into. They started talking and shouting, screaming that the Americans would never take Arab land or oil, and went on and on. Then one of them must have reached a level of rage that he could no longer humanly control, grabbed a rifle, and started blasting at the planes passing above. We tried to stop him, but he continued shouting and shooting.

Now, we are riding in a specially heat shielded car that can only be detected at low heights, for example, with helicopters. Planes cannot read our heat signature. But they will read the gunshots clearly.

We were not sure if the Americans would send attackers to us or not, but just to make sure, we got out the car, switched it off, and took a rest. I couldn’t use my PC because of the radio signal.

30 minutes later, we were about to go on, when we heard the intermittent buzz, carried by the desert wind, of a vehicle. So we stayed put, dug ourselves into shallow sand trenches, and waited. Then the headlights came down the highway, and raced up towards us. We were sure it would be an Iraqi car, but to make sure, we drove our car into the middle of the road. When the driver saw that happening, he swerved, parked sideways, and started shooting in our direction. We didn’t reply, but tried to make contact on Iraqi radio frequency. There was no reply. The car reversed, and drove away.

We stayed put, wondering if those could be the Americans. 10 minutes later, we were attacked from the air, probably by an unmanned aircraft. One of our chaps, Usman was hit by some rock or something, and got a nasty cut in his arm. He wasn’t in a trench as he should have been.

I concluded that it must have been Amerian special ops. We decided to go get them.

As the bomb hit, we had all ran away from our car, carrying our backpacks with equipment. A few minutes later, it exploded, like we expected it would. Our trenchcoats absorb and disperse heat, and if we do not run together, it is impossible to detect us on the ground. Also, the radio we use is one of these new multiple frequency things, which change the frequency every minute based on a preprogrammed arrangement, so we could not be tracked by radio.

We organised, and moved a few kilometers up the road, and shooting detection flares up the road. These are very small missiles, which can go about 5 kilometers horizontally, and scan the ground for movements by taking multiple snapshots. So our computers can detect who is moving up to 5 kilometers ahead of us. Luckily for us, and unfortunaltey for the Americans, they were parked about 10 km down, waiting for us to die and let them by.

We formed our plan, and started a large encirclment movement. In about 30 minutes, we had formed a large circle around the enemy vehicle and we started moving towards them. From about 500 meters, Usman locked their metal vehicle with his radar guided small missile launcher. This is like an RPG, but smaller, and with smaller bullets. But the power is much larger.

He shot off the missile, and we dropped to the ground. A few moments later, the boom, and a confused clattering of semi automatic rifles. Then the shooting stopped. We moved in slowly, scanning the area with night vision goggles. We saw the car burning, and at least one dead person beside. As we neared, and were about 100 meters from the position, shooting started from behind the car. We dropped to the ground, and I radiod the man that was coming from that direction to take care of them. A few minutes later, a barrage of shooting from one of our guns (which are pretty large caliber), and the area seemed to be clear. We walked in, and 3 dead Americans together with 1 wounded one were lying around their smouldering vehicle.

Before we could stop him, Usman ran up to the American, and started shouting in Arabic at him. He was looking confused up at him, and then Usman grabbed the net of the helmet of the American, pushed his face against the muzzle of his rifle, and shot him.

Like I mentioned, we are using guns that are roughly equivalent to elephant guns in caliber, and the mess was horrific. The man was headless, and brains and skull was sprayed on our trenchcoats. We stood there, shocked, looking at the carnage.

But we had to get moving, so we grabbed the bodies, threw them into the truck, retreated, and blasted it again with the RPG, setting it on fire again, and leaving the bodies to burn.

Then we radiod the next town, and asked for a replacement jeep. For the next hour, we slept, and I dreamt of a blood stained desert, reaching as wide as the eye could see, and of which there was no beginning and no end.

3/21/2003

Driving to the front
We left about half of our men in the town, and drove towards the south about 3 hours ago. The invasion has starting southwards, and we plan to do what we came to Iraq to do, since the Iraqis seem capable of defending their towns. I'm sending this from the back of a rover, and as soon as I get another chance, I'll update this blog.

Entering Iraq
We arrived in Bagdad late afternoon on the day after the first bombings. We met with our contact, an elderly and very calm soldier called Bakar. My troops is a high skill troop, with about 10 heavy artillery pros, a few reconn/planners/strategist like myself, some chemical guys, and some other misc.

We were separated from one another as we arrived in the city, and I and three of my men were taken to a house in the outskirts of Bagdahd, towards the north, where we received plain green uniforms, and rank stickers. I was placed at major, but it was explained that I was major only to the troops under our control, and was not allowed to order Iraqi troops that were not assigned to us.

To make it clear, my team and I are a specially trained team, what Americans would call Special Ops. Our job is to do the dangerous stuff that the Iraqi army will not or cannot do. We are being paid well, and the money has been deposited in an account in Jordan, and will be released upon our return by the Iraqi officials. If the Americans would pay us more, we would work for them, but it is pretty clear that they won't hire us. So the Iraqis trust us. We have a reputation, mostly being mercenaries from the defunct EO/Combat Solutions.

Late in the afternoon, we received a soviet style tracer (anti-aircraft gun), which the artillery guys were to look over. The other two chaps I arrived with showed me how to handle the gun.

Basically, it is a big metal, mounted on springs and swerveable to about 180° in all directions pointing upwards. I placed the catridge bag in the gun, and tested the trigger. The gun is very powerful. Before you shoot, you have to lock it into position, and in spite of that there is a great heat and clattering as it bounces on its shock absorbers. And it was so old, it felt like it would explode any minute.

Later in the day, we lifted the gun to the back of a dusty open back range rover with a rusty skin. I cut my hand on the back of the truck, and it seemed absurd to draw first blood in such an undramatic manner. We drove the Rover into the town, and joined an array of anti-aircraft guns, and dropped into the fox holes and trenches beside. Later in the evening, American planes came up in the sky. I was in control of the gun, just for fun.

How do the Iraqis do it? A plotter shouts out the coordinates of the plane when he gets it on his radar, and eveyone winches their gun into that general coordinate. Then he starts shouting out the coordinate movements of the plane, and every tracer is to shoot around the plane, based on his position. For example, I always had to shoot 0.05 behind the plane.

Then the bombs started dropping.

The Americans have missiles, and you can clearly see the fire burning in the sky, racing towards you. When they are high in the sky, it looks like they are coming right at you, and my heart jumped into my mouth whenever I heard the hiss and boom, and saw that death star racing towards the ground.

But as they drop, they race towards other targets, and we all smile nervously. Survived .. for now.

Later in the night, however, it got serious for us. We were moved to the bottom of a high rise ministry building, so that our backs would be covered as we shot towards the skies. This is a dangerous task, because big buildings get hit. But our open traces at the other location were being machined gunned from the sky with large caliber, so that area were getting a bit too dangerous.

At about 8pm, when it was already dark, I was sitting, and drinking tea while my companions, Jorg from South Africa and Rajid from Madagascar were handling the trace guns. And then, a huge explosive slammed into the side of the building, and the air displacement lifted us up into the air, and slammed us around. If you’ve ever been in a wave, you will know what I mean.

Debris was falling all around, and men were shouting. The hair on my skin felt singed, and I grabbed my rifle and ran out of the area. Most men cleared the area, but even as I moved away, I saw Iraqis driving army jeeps into the area. They lifted the anti-aircraft guns, and heaved them into the jeeps, even as chucks of cement fell on their heads.

I entered my jeep with Rajid – I did not see what happened to Jorg, and drove away from the scene. The building was empty I think, and there was a single ambulance driving into that area as we left. What surprised me was that the street lights were still on as we drove away.

Fighting for Iraq
I’m a professional soldier, and Iraq is picking up soldiers at almost any price. If you have creds, contact me, and I can hook you up. I’ve been negotiating for the past 2 weeks, and together with a number of ex/current merenaries that the new south African laws against our groups hit as hard as they hit me, we’ve come to Iraq to do special operations. The men are all special forces – i.e, men with special skills, and we are going to do reconn, site placement, sabotage, mixing, etc. We are getting paid good because we all can produce fluent American accents, so we can infiltrate groups, if need be. I’ve never done infiltration, but I have done civilian spying, as well as worked for American agencies, so I am one of the best men for this work.

And how am I going to continue to update this weblog from Iraq? Our crew is hightech, and we have got 10 suitcase satellite dishes, and I’ve got a PocketPC as well as a small laptop. Whenever we rest, I will type out the stories of the day, and when I can connect, I will do so and send them. So do not be suprised if there are multiple posts at roughly the same time describing events far apart. Also, I will have to delay sensitive stuff till it is no longer dangerous to publish.

I’m not sure if the Americans are going to block radio signals, but I hardly think so. Iraq has given us a large sum of money, and it is safeguarded in Jordan right now, and when we come back, we will collect. So I plan to return.

Test post over satellite.