I was posted in Fob Anaconda during my deployment in Iraq. I was one of 24 soldiers who manned one of 4 entrances into our base. We covered the north entrance where locals would enter and go through our security scanner, be checked for illegal substances and be routinely verified by our canine division. We came across 80 locals who worked in our base on a daily basis. Half who presented goods in our flea markets for sale at the bazaar and the other half who worked our construction yard doing manual labor and earning American dollars since Iraq's economy was ran by our dollar currency. I had grown fond of many of the Iraq locals during my deployment and began to grow interest in their culture and respected them as equals because I'm not closed minded or racist.
During the end of my tour I noticed that many of the workers had perished because Al Quida spies would denounce their family and murder them when they had exited our base for aiding us and taking American money as a form of payment.
We had a strict procedure of allowing locals inside the base. Each person was assigned a military ID card which had their picture, date of birth, and microchip attached to the card. After they are scanned into our system they go through the x-ray machines to see if they are smuggling any items inside base. During my last 2 weeks something insane happened that was recorded on our reports that raised eyebrows across our company and was the ghost story of the year.
One of my older locals, Hazim, that I generally talked to on a daily basis came in through the X-ray but was acting very odd and pale. For the first time in months he didn't speak to or acknowledge me, he looked sad and uncomfortable so I left him alone. I assumed it was a death in the family or something terrible has happened. I left him alone as he turned in his badge to enter the base. We did a recount on the badge IDs to make sure all the locals were accounted for and that the badges matched the correct number of people. By end of day work period, the same crowd shuffled through the X-ray machines picked up their IDs and made their way back home to their own villages. I noticed that Hazim's badge was still hanging on our wall and still active in our base according to our system. I quickly called construction yard and alerting them that we have a local that may have been left behind in the latrines or possibly wandered off the working area. They double checked their cameras and said all individuals signed in have been signed out and that their records were on spot.
Our platoon Sgt was worried that we might have allowed him inside the confines of the base without checking him through the system. We did a thorough manhunt for him but nothing came up. The base was put on alert and the interpreters were notified of the situation asking individuals to help locate Hazim.
That morning we checked in all the normal locals who were working and noticed that Hazim did not return. So we marked him MIA in our records. Later that afternoon his wife and son came up to our Control point with a cart. She was explaining to the interpreter what happened. The interpreter was pale and sweating as if he'd seen a ghost, he reluctantly turned to me and attempted to collect himself.
Hazim was killed yesterday morning by an insurgent for working for the U.S. He was shot to death around 7:00 am during that time frame his family was held hostage as they were being questioned by the terrorists as to who else had been working with him. Hazim was wrapped up inside the cart, his body cleaned and ready to be buried. We had mortuary affairs come to identify the body. Still crying and mourning the wife handed me his badge that was stained with his blood. I exclaimed, "That's impossible!" as I knew we already had that badge inside the office. I ran in confusion to prove to myself that a duplicate must have been made. And to my astonishment there was no badge on the wall.
I checked the computers, there was also no log of him entering the base on file and I was extremely pissed and thought that someone was playing a sick joke on me. I told the interpreter that we all saw him enter the base and that he gave us the ID. He replied that it wasn't possible since he had been dead since the morning of that day. Puzzled and confused I demanded to check the video recordings of the previous day to counter argue that we were right. The video recording captured Hazim entering the building and scanning through the X-ray captured ON VIDEO and as he got off the X-ray machine he vanishes as he starts to remove his badge.
We watched it over and over again in disbelief because that is physical evidence that he was there and everyone saw him. His wife watching the video continued to cry as she acknowledges his appearance in the video. Our company Commander had us destroy the video as it was in bad taste and morbid to release something like that on Youtube without facing UCMJ charges for uploading confidential footage.
He was buried the same day with all his relatives at his village. His co-worker came up to me and explained that Hazim had been secretly putting aside money hidden somewhere in the base and had kept it away from the Taliban preventing them from robbing him, and instructed his friend to give the funds to his family upon the possibility of his death. His coworker explained to me even in death his loyalty to his family is bound by his soul and his love to ensure that they are taken care of. In a span of a year Hazim had saved 8,000 U.S dollars which was more than enough for his family to live off of for the next 10 years.
3rd Infantry Division
In memory of Hazim Ashula Muhammod may he rest in peace