Job creation in Iraq
When the hot evening sun sets over Baghdad, Sulieman Hassim does not
go home to his wife and family. For this Iraqi, the work day has only
Hassim, 32, is a two-year veteran of the Baghdad police force. Despite
earning "danger pay," he still struggles to stay afloat financially,
and has had to take on a second job as a terrorist just to make ends meet.
"After my electricity and water supply were restored, I suddenly had a
lot more bills to pay," Hassim said. "Jobs are still pretty scarce,
but I figured terrorists are always hiring."
Hassim, who has previously supplemented his income with such part-time
jobs as guarding gas-fueled turbines from insurgents and driving a
taxi, said he was initially unsure that he was qualified for terrorist
"My buddy Abdullah [Bahri] worked at the Brotherhood Of Total Islamic
War, and he said he'd put in a good word for me with the head sheik,"
Hassim said. "I didn't expect to hear back for a while, but before I
knew it, I got an interview."
While Hassim had worried that his lack of experience and his creased
suit would hurt his chances of being hired, he later said "the only
thing they seemed to care about was whether I had a car."
Although happy to have extra work, Hassim is not always able to
fulfill his duties as a terrorist, resulting in some unexpected
"Last week, I couldn't work a suicide-bombing shift because I had to
be alive early the next morning for patrol duty," Hassim said. "I was
calling everyone, but I had a hell of a time trying to find someone to
replace me. At the last minute, Fathi [Abd al-Khalid] agreed to take
the shift. That guy's such a martyr."
After less than a month as a terrorist, the physical and mental strain
of working 70-hour weeks can be seen in Hassim's tired, sunken eyes
and stooped posture. Complaining of exhaustion, Hassim said that he
doesn't "know what job [he's] at half the time."
Enlarge ImageIraqi Cop jump
Hassim (second from left) works a night shift for the Brotherhood Of
Total Islamic War.
"Several times, I've found myself wondering, 'Now, why am I shooting
this guy again? Because he's just stolen a can of gasoline, or because
he's a cowardly informant of the hated occupier?'" Hassim said.
"'Should I mow down the American soldiers at this checkpoint, or
politely flash my badge?'"
Hassim said he had a particularly close call last Sunday.
"I was screaming that U.S. soldiers are murderous infidels whose blood
should be spilled without hesitation, when I realized that I was at
the police station," Hassim said. "Luckily, the other officers either
weren't paying attention or they agreed with me."
Hassim said it "felt strange" to bomb an embassy outpost, punch out,
report to work as a police officer, then return to the same site an
hour later to secure the area.
"That's happened a couple times," Hassim said. "I find myself going,
'DÃ©jÃ vu?' And then I'm like, 'Oh, yeah.'"
Hassim's supervisors at both the police station and the Brotherhood Of
Total Islamic War were critical of his job performance.
"Hassim's accidental-kill rate has doubled in recent weeks," said
Capt. Badeer Mustafa, Hassim's immediate superior at the police
department. "Last week, he shot 20 civilians. I might have to dock his
Mohammed al-Zahass, a high commander with the Brotherhood Of Total
Islamic War, has been displeased with Hassim's performance, as well.
"Second time this week, we've had to tell him to hit 'record' on the
video camera, not 'play,'" al-Zahass said. "I couldn't believe it. I
said, 'Look at the buttons if you're confused!' It's not like you can
behead a hostage twice."
Hassim's family has also felt the strain.
"I rarely see my husband anymore," Ghayda Hassim said. "I never
thought I'd say this, but I miss the early months of the occupation
when Sulieman was out of work like everyone else, sipping mint tea,
watching Al-Jazeera at full blast, and ordering me around like a
slave. I want my old Sulieman back."
Although Hassim, like most Iraqis, would like to see an end to the
bloodshed, the father of four admitted he just can't afford it.
"If the situation in Iraq were to stabilize, I could possibly lose not
only one job, but two. Thankfully, I won't have to worry about that
for a long, long time."
The Onion, 24. August 2005.
Created By: Christian FLH Borchsenius