Thursday, January 31, 2008

March of the Iman...

Well, I'm going back in time a little bit to talk about a few events that happened several patrols ago. The reason for this is the damn internet is down in my building again, and ever since I got internet in my room it is almost like getting the motivation to go to the dentist when it comes to heading down to the MWR computers. But now the internet has been down for a while and I have no clue when it will be getting fixed so I'm finally putting together a post to take down to the computers and upload. From what I hear the computers are running really slow so I may or may not get to put up pictures that I am wanting to include with this. Guess we'll see.

The first significant event deals with the CLC or civilian armed guards that we have in some of the neighborhoods in our sector. I've talked about them many times, especially when it deals with running in to one of their armed dismount patrols at night or the weapons caches that these guys find for us from time to time. Although I disagree with the decision to allow them to have free roam, especially with weapons, they have actually proven to be a big help in assisting us in finding these caches and catching some of the bad guys around the area.

What basically happened, in a brief, as much as I know telling of this, there was some argument between two of the guys over some shooting incident that they were involved in and one was demanding the arrest of another. I don't know what escalated the situation but in the end the guy who was wanting to other arrested was not getting his way, so he let loose with his AK-47. He ended up shooting the leader, his son and I believe another person before he was shot and detained. I don't believe he was killed, but the wounds that the leader of the group sustained proved to be fatal. It's kind of weird because we have worked with them many times and I have met and talked with the leader of this group on many occassions. Again, although I do not agree with his group running around with guns, I did think that he was a genuinly good guy and it sucks to think that he's dead now. And it wasn't even a member of the local militia that did it. Now I guess we will see how these guys end up doing with a new leader.

The next event was a pretty big one to be a part of. There was a Muslim religious holiday recently, and infact it may even still be going on, in honor of a fallen Iman, Hussein. One of the days, was the biggest celebration days and apparently on that day, the people come to the streets by the thousands and parade around and punish themselves by whipping themselves in the back with these chain whip type of things. We knew they were going to be going on, but we wern't really sure where. Also, during these kinds of celebrations we try to keep our distance and not interfere with what they are doing. At one point we had turned on to this street and started heading down it, when we noticed a HUGE procession of people coming down the road. We couldn't turn around and so in an attempt to stay out of the way as best as possible, we pulled off to the side of the road and waited for them to pass.

Not the best of situations to be in!There were thousands of men, women and childern that were marching, some of them playing music, some dancing and signing, others dressed up in costume and the rest just walking along with it all. We all locked our doors because we were in a situation that was not the best of ones to be in. We were surrounded big thousands of people and in the event they wanted to get to us, it would of been a lot easier than any other time without all those people. It took almost 30-40 minutes for the procession to pass and the whole time we just sat in our seats and watched the people go by, ocassionally waving to the people when they waved at us. It was pretty surreal because normally we try to keep people away from our trucks as best we can when we are out there. Every now and again a group of kids will form by one of the windows but even they aren't right up on the vehicle. But with the huge amounts of people out there, there was nothing we could do and our trucks were completly surrounded with people putting their faces right up to the windows. Once the crowd thinned and we could drive off without interfering we did so.

We had a basic idea of what the holiday was about, but we wanted to know more so I went to our interperator and asked him. I guess the story behind it deals with the split between the Shiite and Sunni sects of Islam, and this was a Shiite holiday. There was an Iman, Hussein, who a big group of the Muslims felt should be the next to run all of Islam, but on his way to Iraq from Mecca in Saudia Arabia, in which he was to talk with the people who were calling for him to be in charge, an Army was sent out after his caravan to kill him. His caravan consisted of mostly women and childer so he did not have much of a fighting force. When he learned of this, he went in to the nearby city and called out for people to join him and help him fight, but no one came out and in the end he was slaughtered, had his head cut off and brough back to the king to prove he was dead. This is why the Iraqi people come out in the steets and whip themselves, to show their support now which they did not do before and to punish themselves for what they had done to him. I find it pretty interesting to learn about these holidays and to learn about the Muslim religion, but one thing I have noticed is that there seems to be much violence in the history and holidays of their religion. Maybe that is why, things are the way they are for us in that region.

Lastly I had hoped on Google the other day and looked up the area of Baghdad that we are in and was learning about the history of this area. Basically the area we are in is the oldest part of Baghdad, and when Baghdad was initially founded, many many years BC, where our sector is, thats where Baghdad began. Its kind of crazy to know that probably some of the same streets and alleyways that I patrol around, have been some of the some paths people have taken for thousands of years.

So thats about all for now. I have some more I want to talk about but I will get to that with another post. Hopefully it won't be as long for the next one, but the way the internet is going around here, you never know.

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Nixon said...

Interesting perspective on the Ashura Pilgrimage. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Ain't easy fighting history. As much as I've learned about the situation over the last few years, I've only managed to scratch the surface. Solo

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Anonymous said...

Hi 80 Deuce,
I know this is off subject but couldn't help thinkin bout ya on Super Bowl Sun and so close to your hometown--hope you got to see some of the game AND HOME We miss yall. God bless David Schultz

Anonymous said...

Always enjoy reading about events never covered in the press. Thanks for taking the time to write.
Cathy B

Lisa McGlaun said...

Thanks for sharing this. Reading things from your perspective always puts me right there with you in a way news reports or magazine articles could never hope to do.

I think about you often and hope that you are well.