“Why the f__k are you here voluntarily?”

Michael Totten On the Hunt in Baghdad:

Last time I was in Baghdad, in the summer of 2007, I was told that most suspects surrender the instant they realize their house is surrounded. Fighting would be suicidal, and most terror cell leaders do not seek martyrdom. But the guy we were after was far more vicious and crazy than average.

“Is he the kind of guy who might shoot at us during a raid?” I said to Captain Clint Rusch in the Tactical Operations Center.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “He’s definitely the kind of guy who will shoot at us. He’s a really bad dude.” There was even a chance he was wearing suicide vest.

The tip-off came in over the phone late at night when the terrorist leader’s meeting was almost scheduled to be finished. By the time everyone had their gear and was ready to go, we had seventeen minutes or less to drive across a portion of Sadr City and break down the door before the meeting was over.

We ran to the Humvees.

“Go with Sergeant Gonzales,” Captain Looney said to me. “When we dismount, catch up to me and stay on me.” He looked angry all of a sudden, but mostly he was just being serious. Any of us might be killed in less than an hour.

Our convoy of Humvees roared down Baghdad’s streets in the dark without headlights. I checked my watch. No time to waste. We had eleven minutes to catch the bastard before his meeting was scheduled to end. Hopefully he and his pals were on “Arab time” and would hang out and drink tea for a while before heading out…

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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