Sunday, May 31, 2009

What a crazy country

No fury like an Iraqi scorned

Rod Nordland, Baghdad
May 31, 2009

It goes like this: Boy meets girl. They exchange glances and text messages, the limit of respectable courting here. Then boy asks girl's father for her hand. Dad turns him down. Boy goes to girl's house and plants a bomb.

The authorities call it a "love IED", or improvised explosive device, and it is not just an isolated case. Police captain Nabil Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi national police said six had exploded in the Dora district of Baghdad alone in the past year.

"These guys, they face any problem with their girlfriends, family, anyone, and they're making this kind of IED," he said.

There have been no reported deaths or injuries from the devices. "Usually they're putting them in front of the doors of their houses, not to kill, but to scare them," Captain Hussein said.

Police say many of the men are former insurgents who are no longer trying to kill foreign troops but who have an array of bomb-making skills and a stash of TNT.

"There was a percentage of young men who were co-operating with the al-Qaeda organisations, or the Shia militias," Captain Hussein said. "They've changed their minds about fighting now, but they still have good experience in how to make IEDs."

Police in Dora have recorded only one arrest, involving a young man caught and convicted of planting a love IED. He is Omar Abdul Hussein, 18, known as Cisco, a former supporter of the country's main Sunni insurgent group. Cisco was rejected by his girlfriend's father three times. He planted a bomb by their garden wall and set it off.

Since he lived just next door, it was a short manhunt. Cisco was tried and convicted — of terrorism.

"Another guy shot up his girlfriend's house to force the family to give her in marriage," Captain Hussein said. "We've faced this many times."

Police Colonel Samir Shatti recalled a recent case of a student upset with his results who planted in his teacher's office three drink-can bombs wired with a timer. The bombs didn't go off.


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