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A teenage Iraqi interpreter, code name “Roy,” served with a reconnaisance platoon in Iraq in 2007. (Blake Hall)

Iraq war critic, Thomas Ricks, links to a WaPo story by retired Army captain Blake Hall that tells a different perspective on the narrative of the war:

“One day the Qaeda came to my school. They say, ‘You are not students anymore! Put away your books! Now we show you the path of jihad!’ My two best friends say to them, ‘We are students trying to learn. We don’t want to do the jihad.’ ”

“And then?”

Roy gave me a wan smile. “Then, they gather the school in one place, they kneel them down, and they cut their heads with the knife.”

“They beheaded your two best friends, Roy?”

“Yes, sir. I walk to the base the next day and give them my name to work for you. I hate the Qaeda.”

Read the whole piece. You won’t understand the title of this post until you do. (And here is the NYTimes article referenced toward the end of Hall’s op-ed).

One of my favorite excerpts:

* * *

Roy and I were sitting on a smooth concrete floor with our backs against a concrete wall. We were with one of my sniper teams in an apartment overlooking a four-way intersection. I was thinking about the course of the war, from the early days of the invasion in 2003, when the Iraqis seemed overjoyed and the giant statue of Saddam Hussein toppled, to the most violent days of the insurgency. I wasn’t sure what to make of the shift.

“Roy, did most of the Iraqis always hate us?” I asked.

“No, sir. When the Americans first came, everyone was very happy.”

“And now?” I asked.

Roy shrugged.

“How do we fix Iraq, Roy?”

“Nuke it, sir.”

The snipers and I laughed.

“But Roy, your mom and your family is in Baghdad. You can’t seriously think nuking Iraq is the answer.”

“Sir, the only way to fix Iraq is to nuke it.”

“You’ve been hanging out with the guys too long, Roy.”

“Wehl alraght.” [picked up the Kentucky accent from Hall’s driver, as relayed earlier in the article- ws]

The snipers collapsed into fits of laughter.

* * *

If there is one thing the Iraq War did, it was to unite Iraqis and U.S./Coalition forces against the common threat of al Qaeda and expose their brand of Islam to the eyes of the Muslim world.

Iraqi interpreters have been invaluable allies in the war effort, aiding our soldiers at great personal risk to not only themselves, but also to their families. Regarded as traitors by some Iraqis and not fully trusted by our side, most deserve our thanks; not assassinations.

Back in June of this year, one Iraqi interpreter was gunned down by his son and nephew who were part of an AQI-linked group.

For those who missed the 2006-7 60 Minutes segment about the plight of Iraqi “terps” when it aired: Left Behind

16 Responses to “Mohammed”

  1. 1


    We let illiterate Somali’s with questionable background and other scum come to this country, whereas those Terps should be brought here first if they wish to. They are true heroes.

    My son and his merry band get along great with the two he works with, and they love being assigned to the Marines in Helmand. To keep them and their families safer, they are from the northern part of Afghanistan, while Helmand is in the far south.

    They teach each other a lot, and the Marines protect them like they were pure gold.

    RIP, Mohammed. You’ve earned a cool place in Fiddler’s Green.

  2. 2


    We need to deliver on the commitment that we had with these people.

    It sends a horrible message to others in the future, if we don’t fulfill our obligation.

  3. 3



    A tragic story.

    I fear we will be abandoning many more Muslim allies to decapitation and worse deaths, while it is currently quite fashionable for Liberals to adopt Somali and Russian babies; frankly, I’d consider a ‘late term’ adoption of one of these kids, who risk it all to live a small facsimile of the American Dream.

  4. 4


    Is it really safe to show Mohammed’s picture? Presumably, the family he tried to protect and help provide a better life for are still in Iraq — and could still be targeted by the enemy.

  5. 5


    >>frankly, I’d consider a ‘late term’ adoption of one of these kids, who risk it all to live a small facsimile of the American Dream.>>

    Hmmm. Not a bad idea, Skook. I understand that you can adopt adults in _some_ states, but I don’t know if that’s unique, or if so, which states permit it.

    Someone’s written a book – I don’t remember who right now – about a female translator that they were able to bring to the States, and some of the problems achieving that end.

  6. 6


    I have written letters of recommendations for more than 10 “terps” who want to leave Iraq. They will forever be marked for death if their service is known. I know of only one who was allowed refugee status.

  7. 8


    I got an email from one. I am trying to find him a job. I know one has moved to Norway. Several have moved to the Kurdish Area. Some are passed from contractor to contractor. They live in secure compounds and are unable to see their families. The State Department promised 30 per year would be allowed refugee status and to move to the US.

  8. 9

    Random Thoughts

    I agree with Patvann. This boy deserved so much more than he received from the US, as do all the lads like him helping our soldiers at such a terrible risk.

  9. 12


    I read the full story of Roy out loud to my wife. She was moved to tears as I nearly was. It is so incredibly ironic that thousands of illegal aliens cross our southern border to nurse on the teat of the nanny state, yet these heroes have to apply for visas and only 30 a year can come to the U.S.

  10. 13


    My first “terp” in Iraq is in Hampton, VA looking for a job. He use to be a manager of the famous Al Rashied Hotel in Baghdad. We paid him $27/week when he worked for us in 2003. That was a fortune then when College professors got $100/month. I am trying to get him a job with some of the training sites that prepare our soldiers for deployment, but those are only a part time job.

    He is a good man. We had some good discussions about religion and life. He didn’t have a vest in the beginning. As a good Moslem, he always said “as God wills” when discussing the future. I alsked him if his life and death was already predetermined by Allah, why did he need a vest? He smiled and said there are conflicting things in this world. We got him a vest.

    I think that one of the most heroic efforts in Iraq were the young sons of wealthy Kuwaitis who volunteered to accompany our combat troops into Iraq to show their appreciation for our efforts in the first Gulf War. the 14 who stayed with my unit had more family wealth than all of the soldiers stationed at Camp Virginia, yet, they were eager to serve.

    The all worked with no pay until the combat was declared to be over. One gentlemen stayed with us until we celebrated the 4th of July. He was a banker and part time television personality in Kuwait. These young men were often placed out front at check points and in other high risk jobs. They did a great service for us. These gentlemen wern back to Kuwait. The Iraqi terps have no where else to go since Jordan is closed to Iraqis with no wealth. Syria is a possibility, but the Syrians bleed the Iraqi refugees dry wit their having to pay a protection fee.

  11. 14


    I, too, wonder if posting “Roy’s” photo is wise. Even if he is no longer in Iraq, any relatives he has there could very well be targeted.

    There is a US-based organization that is providing legal and other support for Iraqis who qualify for the SIV (special Immigrant Visa)because they worked for 1 or more years with US military or a western NGO or contractor – The List Project:

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