Thursday, October 21, 2004

Red Alert

I suppose it has been too quiet since I got here 3 weeks ago. One red alert (incoming) a week until Ramadan. Now every day at least one. Ramadan, the fourth pillar of Islam. Darned if I know what the other 3 are!

During Ramadan, Muslims come to Iftar: moving toward self and nature. During daylight hours, practicing Iraqis abstain from food, drink, smoking, swearing, speaking ill, speaking unnecessary words, and, well, sexual activity. But once night falls....

Out of courtesy we are encouraged not to partake of these things in front of them during the day. I don't, for the most part, anyway. We are also warned that they are hungry and tired (party all night) and may therefore be grumpy and to not hold it against them.
ON the evening of Oct. 27 Muslims celebrate Laylat-al-Qadr (The Night of Power!) -- Expect celebratory gunfire!! I can hardly wait. We are to wish all Iraqi's a "Happy Ramadan" and "Happy Eid al-Fitr" from Nov. 12th. Like I'm going to remember how to say that...
But apparently the "evil zealots" as I will call them take all religious times as a good time to savage their enemies, if possible. The crescent moon is also symbolic to them and we got one of those too. Expect more than celebratory gunfire.

Sorry for a "darker" rendition of email but it's part of the big picture, thought you might want to know. Worse, increasingly the weapon of choice against coalition and Iraqi police is the IED, or Improvised Explosive Device. (It is more accurate and deadly) They hide them in a pit on the road and cover it with asphalt to hide it or in piles of garbage or even in dead dogs, for example. They hide and trigger it as vehicle drives over or by it with a cell phone or vehicle remote.
2 guys from the unit we work for were badly hurt by one recently and flown off to Germany for hospital care. It seems so often that it was a miracle they weren't worse or dead. Their cab was obliterated by shrapnel, an effective hit, but I've heard so many stories of miracle misses or saved life that I must believe in a higher power operating here in this crazy combat zone.

The ray of hope? I understand the we have our own remote device to detonate the IED's BEFORE we hit them. Leadership is in the process of being sold on it.
OK, more tomorrow, I hope, on more pleasant things, I hope! Take care over there,
Ernie

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