Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Running around today to hospitals and police stations chasing this morning’s multiple suicide bombings, I didn’t encounter a single Iraqi cop who said, forget this job, it doesn’t pay enough.

Instead, it was a steady chorus of police saying they wouldn’t be deterred. “Nothing will stop our work,” said Mohammed Kadhim, 25, injured in the blast at the al-Baya'a police station in the Hay Iaalaam neighborhood.

Attacks at the Red Cross and four Baghdad police stations (three bombs detonated at police stations, the fourth police staion bomber was shot before he could detonate) left at least 34 dead, including 8 Iraqi police, and more than 200 injured, including 65 Iraqi police.

“I must work because I have a family. I must feed them,” said Capt. Hamid Majeed, 51. “Also I have worked in the police line of work for 33 years and I want to serve my country.”

Even as he complained that the Americans had not provided enough guns, body armor and other equipment, Majeed insisted the Iraqi Police and the US soldiers were good partners. “I will stay and I will never care,” he said, dismissing terrorists who are targeting anyone who collaborates with the Americans.

The saddest part of today was not the bloodstains and body parts but watching the four children of Maj. Ahmed Saleh Ibrahim, a 41-year-old engineer who works with the Iraqi Civil Defense Force. Ibrahim ended up in Yarmuk hospital after a suicide bomb attack at the al-Khadra police station next door to his offices sent him flying into a water pipe.

Daughters Halla, 11, and Fatma, 4, curled their lips and cried as they kissed their dad. Sons Haitham, 13 and Mohammed, 7, scrunched up their faces and moved others in the room to tears. One of our drivers said that if their father died, there would be no future for these kids.

Amid all the bandaged heads and arms and the stench of blood and the moaning men and workers applying antiseptic, was one sour note. A doctor of ophthalmology who refused to give her name asked why I was asking the injured military police about what had happened today, about the attacks all across Baghdad.

“All the Christians and Jews want to kill all the Muslims in this great month,” she said. “You should ask the Americans, they know everything that is going on. You will see, you will know everything in one or two years. It will all come out.”

Even though conspiracy theories abound here, I was taken back that this educated, well-groomed, English-speaking woman would tell me this. She was the only such voice in a day of scores of interviews. I started to try to convince her otherwise, before I thought better of it and turned back to interviewing the injured Iraqi police officers.

It's now nearly 1 am Baghdad time, Tuesday. Maybe today will be quieter, Insha'allah.