The Hands of God
A Village, North of Mosul: Friday 26 January 07
The attacker walked down this alley.
He was dressed as a woman as he walked down the alley toward the mosque full of worshippers. It was Friday, just before Ashura, and the air was chilled.
The bomb strapped to his body was studded with ball-bearings so that he could kill more villagers as they gathered for prayer. The detonation would eviscerate and dismember those closest, shattering bones into fragments, but the ball-bearings would ensure lethality beyond the percussive edge of the blast wave, ripping through the flesh of people who might not have been knocked down by the explosion.
There were no soldiers in his path to stop him; no police to alert to the man in women’s clothes. There were only villagers. The man dressed as a woman was to be the agent of their deaths. He kept walking down the alley toward the mosque where more than one hundred people were praying, a mass murderer masquerading in a woman’s garb.
The prayerful people may not have known he was coming, but we hear the explosions every day. Every single day. Seven days per week. I remember the story told to me by Tennessee National Guardsman of another such man who had grabbed the hand of a nearby child as cover, then walked over to some policemen before detonating himself and the child. I remember the bomber who rammed a car full of explosives into vehicle full of American soldiers in Mosul. The Americans had been surrounded by Iraqi children, and the bomber could have waited a block or two then attack the Americans man-on-man, but instead he chose to blow up the Iraqi kids. Sometimes we see the torn and mangled hunks of flesh. Sometimes their open bodies curl a baleful steam into the cold morning air.
The closer a counterfeit comes to the genuine article, the more obvious the deceit. As the murderer dressed in women’s clothes walked purposefully toward his target, there was a village man ahead. But under the guise of a simple villager was a true Martyr, and he, too, had his target in sight. The Martyr had seen through the disguise, but he had no gun. No bomb. No rocket. No stone. No time.
The Martyr walked up to the murderer and lunged into a bear hug, on the spot where we were now standing.
Go to the Michael Yon site to read the rest and see all the photos.