Baida is honest
August 15, 2009 7:15 PM   Subscribe

How Baida Wanted to Die

In Baquba, the Iraqi police detective flipped pointlessly through a file on his desk...“You will like Baida,” Maj. Hosham al-Tamimi said..."She is” — he paused — “honest...”

She began in a soft voice: “My name is Baida Abdul Karim al-Shammari, and I am from New Baquba near the general hospital. I am one of eight children; five were killed. The police raided our home. It was a half-hour before dawn during Ramadan. The Americans were with them...”

When we did finally go, we met with Baida alone, sitting together on a bed in the nurse’s office because there were no chairs. I asked her gently, and as nonjudgmentally as I could, whether she wanted to kill me because I was a foreigner.

“Frankly, yes.” Then she added, to soften it, “Not specifically you, because I know you.”
posted by zinfandel (45 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Holy hell:

"He told me Baida called the bureau many times in the last three weeks wanting to know when I would visit the hospital — a bad sign, he said. Our security adviser agreed. There are no sureties when dealing with insurgents, but one rule is not to tell them exactly when you will be in a particular place. If they know, they can plan an ambush or a kidnapping or detonate an I.E.D. under your car. 'Don’t go to see her again,' the interpreter said.

For the next meeting with Baida, our security adviser set a time limit, estimating that as soon as we arrived at the hospital, she might hear we were there and make a phone call to her jihadist friends. Baida called us twice to see 'exactly when you are coming.' We lied, keeping it vague. Setting an ambush would be tricky at the hospital but manageable just outside the gate."

posted by hermitosis at 8:13 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


Now that the world is completely fucked it might be time for some lateral thinking.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 8:20 PM on August 15, 2009 [1 favorite]


The strictest Sunni extremists believe that people should not have anything that did not exist in the early days of Islam. Since there was no electricity in the seventh century, there could be neither refrigeration nor ice and no television. The aversion to mixing tomatoes and cucumbers is because cucumbers are viewed as a male vegetable and tomatoes are female, and mixing them in a box is seen as lascivious, Colonel Khalid said, shaking his head.

Someone should point out to them that tomatoes are native to South America and were likely not brought across the Atlantic until mid-16th century. That should solve that problem for them entirely.
posted by hippybear at 8:27 PM on August 15, 2009 [19 favorites]


She seemed excited now at the thought of our capture. “They do not want to kill you, but to torture you and make lunch of your flesh. I could not do anything to help you.”


Somehow I visualize a pre-attack speech sounding like this:


Ten-hut! Eyes forward!

I am a mujahideen. And I need me 8 martyrs.

We’re going to be sent through a security checkpoint, dressed as civilians. We’re going to be doing one thing and one thing only; killing Infidels. Members of the coalition conquered Iraq through murder, torture, intimidation, and terror. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do them.

We will be cruel to the Americans, and through our cruelty they will know who we are. They will find the evidence of our cruelty in the disemboweled, dismembered and disfigured bodies of their brothers we leave behind us. The American will not be able to help them self, imagining the cruelty their brothers endured at our hands, and our boot-heels, and the edge of our knives. The American will be sickened by us, the American will talk about us, and the American will fear us.

Infidels ain’t got no humanity, and they need to be destroyed. Each and every man under my command owes me 100 Infidel scalps, and I want my scalps.

Sound good?

(repurposed from the "Glorious Basterds" trailer)
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 8:28 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


Is that running as a double feature with the new Tarantino film? It sounds like it would make a great double feature.
posted by hippybear at 8:31 PM on August 15, 2009


All incorrect-movie-naming-snark aside...

What a chilling article. I had heard that there were females radicalizing some years ago, and really had no idea how all that played out within the context of Islam, a belief system with which I have only minimal true familiarity. This article really lays out clearly how the hate can be fomented and how it can linger.

I cannot help but think that the abusive marriage within which Baida found herself is the true radicalizing element here. As the author of the piece points out, the women in Iraq seem to have little opportunity to make choices regarding their lives. I do not know really how I would react if I were in a loveless, abusive marriage from the age of 17, having given birth to three children, and saw the opportunity to use religion as my stepping stone out of the abuse, even if it meant stepping out of life altogether.

How is this kind of belief system fought against? How can this kind of cultural poison be undone? I can't see how anything done by "us" (meaning the western countries seeking to put an end to the suicide bombings) could possibly counteract this. It is as likely that an effect could be created by outsiders as it is that a group of South American Buddhists could have at convincing women in a small town Souther Baptist church to join them in plural marriage. Languages, cultures, religions... all the basic worldview elements are too foreign for an easy bridge to be built.

What frustrates me the most? That conservative Islam forbids music and dancing. If there is one bridge that can nearly always be built between groups, it can be found in music. But not even that is allowed. *sigh* I'm a hippie at a loss with how to proceed with tieh Baidas in the world.
posted by hippybear at 8:51 PM on August 15, 2009


I agree that the abusive marriage sounds like a key factor, but to me the wider problem is the intolerance, cruelty and hatred that has always been a part of humanity and most likely always will be. Ultimately there's nothing to do but try to live a good life, respect the people around you and fight tooth and nail to preserve freedom of thought and expression wherever you live.
posted by fearthehat at 9:03 PM on August 15, 2009


Ultimately there's nothing to do but try to live a good life, respect the people around you and fight tooth and nail to preserve freedom of thought and expression wherever you live.

Well, that's exactly what Baida thinks she's doing...
posted by hermitosis at 9:13 PM on August 15, 2009 [4 favorites]


Well, that's exactly what Baida thinks she's doing...

No, she's trying to die a holy death, cause brutal injury and death to others and legitimise oppression and pseudo-religious dictatorship. And, deep down, I suspect she knows it.
posted by fearthehat at 9:30 PM on August 15, 2009


Without really being able to see inside Balda's mind, I can only speak out of my own experience with narrow-minded conservative religion. And I know, when I was dwelling in that mindset, I knew that my belief were the correct ones, that anyone who believed differently was fair game for any ploy I could devise to help shine the light of God into their life, and that if they died without converting, they would be lost for all eternity. Never once in those years did I doubt that my beliefs might be wrong. It took my own awakening sexuality and the realization that it was incompatible with my belief set which even began my walk out of that closed circle of delusion. Based on that, I am certain that Balda does not "deep down" know anything other than what she professes. The fact that she not only has volunteered for suicide but continues to long for it even after long imprisonment away from those who may have been "programming" her with that worldview shows how deeply that runs within her.

So yes, that's exactly what she thinks she's doing. If she can blow up the right people, she will contribute to the fall of Everything That Is Not Islam which will culminate with the wiping the earth clean of all infidels. Then Allah will reign supreme, the call to prayer will echo around the world simultaneously, and all alive will kneel facing Mecca. That is her vision, that is what she is fighting for. That is, for her, living a good life, respecting the people around her and fighting tooth and nail to preserve [her idea of] free thought and expression.
posted by hippybear at 9:38 PM on August 15, 2009 [6 favorites]


Well, that's exactly what Baida thinks she's doing...

Agreed. People never believe their own actions are evil. On any side of a coin.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ultimately there's nothing to do but try to live a good life, respect the people around you and fight tooth and nail to preserve freedom of thought and expression wherever you live.

Well, that's exactly what Baida thinks she's doing...


She doesn't think that she's preserving freedom of thought and expression. The whole point of her struggle is to eliminate that:

“I am willing to explode them, even civilians, because they are invaders and blasphemers and Jewish. I will explode them first because they are Jewish and because they feel free to take our lands.”

Westerners tend to concentrate on the secular implications of being considered "invaders" who feel "free to take our lands" and they ignore the bit about Westerners being blasphemers and "Jewish". Osama bin Laden gave several reasons for mounting terrorist attacks against the USA, but I think he was being frankest when he said:
[W]hen people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse. ... (UBL quotes several short and incomplete Hadith verses, as follows): "I was ordered to fight the people until they say there is no god but Allah, and his prophet Muhammad."
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:01 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wow, she seems pleasant.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:17 PM on August 15, 2009


Westerners tend to concentrate on the secular implications of being considered "invaders" who feel "free to take our lands" and they ignore the bit about Westerners being blasphemers and "Jewish".

It certainly seems true that Baida is a religous fanatic of the worst sort, a lot of the reporting on the Iraqi insurgents plays up the religious angle a bit too much.

From Juan Cole, here is a report from the U.S. military that says of the prisoners who were detained in U.S. detention facilities " more than 70 percent did not attend mosque fastidiously before they were detained, in fact 36 percent said they had never been inside a mosque."

While with suicide bombers and anybody associated Al Queda are largely motivated by religious motives, the majority of insurgents in Iraq probably arose because in a lawless situation with lots of guns and ordinance lying around, the most violent people are always going to be the ones who rise to the top, regardless of their underlying motivation.
posted by afu at 10:29 PM on August 15, 2009 [3 favorites]


I cannot help but think that the abusive marriage within which Baida found herself is the true radicalizing element here.

uh... how about the massive invasion of a foreign army destroying the last remaining infrastructure, plunging a society into total chaos and leading to the death of her father and brothers.

I bet if she just had an abusive husband and none of that other stuff "happened" she wouldn't be so hell bent.

it's sickening to have spent the last 6 years watching my country do this and have no way of stopping it and it won't be over until we acknowledge our crimes.
posted by geos at 10:41 PM on August 15, 2009 [5 favorites]


geos mentions the elephant in the room. I don't at all condone her actions, nor the Wahhabbist notions that have poisoned her reckoning of Islam, but damn if it isn't easy to see how she can be angry about her situation. Let's see how many of you snarky gits can turn the other cheek when placed in a tragic scenario like hers.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:49 PM on August 15, 2009


While with suicide bombers and anybody associated Al Queda are largely motivated by religious motives, the majority of insurgents in Iraq probably arose because in a lawless situation with lots of guns and ordinance lying around, the most violent people are always going to be the ones who rise to the top, regardless of their underlying motivation.

The most common motivation for participating in violence, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Congo, and other places experiencing modern civil wars, is money. The folks at the top are ideologues, the ones planting the bombs and sniping are often simply desperate for a way to support themselves or their families. Incidentally, this is the motivation for a noticeable fraction of the fighters on our side, too.
posted by gsteff at 11:54 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


gsteff: are you saying that suicide bombers are being paid for their self-immolation? I'd like to read more about that if you have links to share.
posted by hippybear at 12:03 AM on August 16, 2009


I cannot help but think that the abusive marriage within which Baida found herself is the true radicalizing element here.

Why insult her so? Why not give her the credit of her convictions? She's willing to die for them.

uh... how about the massive invasion of a foreign army destroying the last remaining infrastructure, plunging a society into total chaos and leading to the death of her father and brothers.

Sure. But if there is such a thing as free will, then, this: You get to choose. You get to choose how you react when the horrible thing happens to you. And she chooses to meet death with death and blood with blood. Glory, honor, vengeance: This she chose, freely. She has kids. Three of 'em, less than 10. And rather than be a mother to them, to shepherd them through the next 30 or 40 or 50 years of their lives and see them happy, she chooses death and hate and glory. She had other choices. Much happened to cause her pain, to fill her with rage, to circumscribe the limits of her life. And within those limits she chose blood. That is monstrous, but it has its dignity. Neither should be denied.
posted by Diablevert at 12:12 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I believe suicide bombers are an exception, though I don't have much familiarity with that. I was referring to regular combatants, the ones planting IEDs and the like.
posted by gsteff at 12:22 AM on August 16, 2009


And within those limits she chose blood not to surrender.
posted by Rumple at 12:33 AM on August 16, 2009


the massive invasion of a foreign army destroying the last remaining infrastructure, plunging a society into total chaos and leading to the death of her father and brothers.
I bet if she just had an abusive husband and none of that other stuff "happened" she wouldn't be so hell bent.

According to the article she was a radical before her father and brothers died and before her marriage. She and her whole family were engaged in producing IEDs. Her brothers didn't die casually; they died in a police raid aimed at stopping the production of these weapons. And as for the "foreign army destroying the last remaining infrastructure" - don't you see that Baida and her fellow travellers are responsible for a good bit of that through the use of these IEDs? Her enemies include other Iraqis, particularly those who follow the wrong sorts of Islam.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:47 AM on August 16, 2009


But if there is such a thing as free will, then, this: You get to choose.

Choice is mediated by understanding which is in turn mediated by language and culture. Most of the time, there's not a lot of choice taking place.
posted by Obscure Reference at 12:55 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I bet if she just had an abusive husband and none of that other stuff "happened" she wouldn't be so hell bent."

Yeah, if you have a group that doesn't allow women the slightest choice in their future, engages in mass executions, kidnappings, beheadings, slaughters women and children and forces families to flee and when, while fighting the glorious jihad, your males are being picked off because they're too easy to defend against and so you use females who have been deprived of education and socialization and expression of their sexuality and subdued and indoctrinated into a fanatic world view, generally they won't start trouble if you just leave 'em alone.

No, I'm pretty sure that if you're going to kill someone if they pronounce their name a certain way, whether in a Sunni way or a Shi'ite way depending on what you are, just about anything is a pretext for xenophobic slaughter and martyrdom.

This is not to say the Iraq war was at all the right thing to do or even in the same league as genuine counterterrorism.
But she'd pretty much feel the same way about the filthy Jews, the filthy Shia, the filthy Christians, the filthy Buddhists, the filthy invaders, or filthy me or filthy you - albeit less motivated.
And Iraq might not have been in chaos, but the secular oppression of Hussein was mitigated only by the (very little) religious oppression it obviated.

I mean, ok, point taken, the invasion was wrong, but when Saddam Hussein died whether of natural causes, coup, random violence, whatever - this was going to happen. Maybe not with her, maybe not because of Americans (although indirectly Americans, and the British, Germans, some others) but eventually this kind of thing would be going on.
It's not like she doesn't know that. It's not like the objective of creating a militant state, one that spreads jihad evangelically with fire and shrapnel, is like, hidden.

So, the elephant in the room is not this woman or the U.S. invasion, but the architecture and infrastructure that supports and enables these kinds of acts and perpetuates the hatred.
I theorize, although we'll never know, that part of the reason suicide bombers do what they do is because they do not wish to change. They want to die with their hate and anger intact so it will carry on to someone else.
I do not sympathize.
In killing a human being there is, unless one is a psychopath, some recognition of the gravity of the act. There is psychic trauma.
IMHO (and experience) this is only alleviated by not hating. By acting as Arjuna did in the Bhagavad Gita (filthy Hindus) and not being attached to the result. Because of the weight of such an act, one can seek to justify it in any way possible. One can become a 'true believer' in just about anything.
But there is no justification. The act is necessary or it is not. Killing from hate or revenge, that will burn a humans soul right out of them.

And I think a lot of people who go to war come back and speak on the nature of killing and destruction. And this forces us to question its necessity. ("I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity....Every gun that's made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms...is spending the genius of its scientists, the sweat of its laborers” - Eisenhower)

I think part of the objective of suicide bombing is to ensure that no one comes back to tell the tale.
What sickens me is not the last 6 years...well ok, somewhat...but more concerning is the future.
Because while the fanatics haven't changed their tactics of hating and perpetuating the hate by insulating their community from the truth of it - the song and dance about the afterlife aside, and all the rest of it, the visceral stuff too - I mean just the brutal truth of killing someone and the fact of your death - we've been learning how to hide that better too.
It infuriates me that the war dead weren't honored by Bush, that he hid the coffins. But part of doing honor to them - the flag waving aside - is respecting death itself. Respecting the finality of that truth. Not only the sacrifice, but hey - here's someone who's dead, wow, that shit is real. I could die too. Man. What would happen to my mom if I did? Who would take care of my kids?
All the very real life stuff that folks start thinking about when they see a dead body.
That is eliminated when that body is blown to tiny chunks and is simply shoveled off and hosed away by work crews - but too - when returning war dead are hidden from the public view.
And that's just one method the U.S. and other countries have done this.
And what's critical - what folks miss when they say they hate war but they hate those who praise it, and praise it without participating even more - is that those people have allowed an abstract - hatred - and never mind whether there is or is not a God and whatever flavor his worship comes in - hatred or any abstract should never eclipse the elementary reality of death.
To do so is akin to driving your car blindfolded and trusting God to steer for you.

So, for me, for this woman to talk about killing - she hasn't done any. She doesn't know the reality of it. Hell, she doesn't seem to have any connection to reality at all. She's entirely in love with the vision of death and killing as a vehicle for her hate and revenge. Killing is just a tool - at absolute best it serves need. If abused, it's like any other danger, like fire.

Again - I understand the root causes, and with those, I can sympathize. But not with her vision, which is madness. I know it for what it is because I've seen it.
Allah will take care of her children?
She won't kill the journalist because she knows her?
There's no underlying reality there. She want's to kill the 'evil' people not do what's necessary. Which is the rub. Even in doing what is necessary, even if it's entirely necessary, one can get sick of killing. As one can get sick of doing anything.
One can fatigue. One can balk. (Even a first timer. Tellingly, while she's proud of her mission and determined to complete it "Her choice of suicide was not entirely hers to make" with someone else holding a detonator).

But unreality? A dream? Hell that can just roll on and on and on (like the 'Thousand year Reich - think they weren't serious? Think they'd have stopped? Ask the Midianites or the Amalekites or the Cherokee)

So I guess I'm saying it's her. And it's them. But yeah, unless we're very careful, it's us too. I'm not just saying 'Americans.' Plenty of paradigms and narratives one can get hooked into where we can forget the realities.

That said, in all other typical ways of thinking about this, yeah it's just a shame all around.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:57 AM on August 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


You know what the worst part about this is? The idea that the powers that be in our country are presenting us with this because they want us to be like that, except on our side.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:47 AM on August 16, 2009


Let's see how many of you snarky gits can turn the other cheek when placed in a tragic scenario like hers.

Every human life is largely and (towards the end) almost monotonically loss, and yet plenty of us losers get by without hardening into the pawn on someone's maniac chessboard. Sometimes we even leave something more useful than an explosion in our wake.

But if one is looking at martyrdom competitively, professionally, if one is looking to impress heaven, RDX-tailored suits and telephone triggers are by any century's standards too quick and easy. I imagine the masochist's paradise now drafts bed by bed from the modern hospital. Observe: We have bodies trisected more times than St Sebastian, bruised by bedsores more subtle than stones. History has Thomas Beckett, but we can cut the brain - many, many times - without spilling it. The iron maiden has been surpassed by the iron lung. The sport evolves; our modern saint must burn brighter than ever before.

Baida, I invite you to sit in on a neurology or oncology ward for a taste of our latest technologies of pain, of chemicals that burn longer than napalm and of radiation cures. There will be no assurances for the next-of-kin; this is not Hamas. We have hospital bills long enough to haunt the seventh of seventh sons. We have modern debt-collection. These are our fishers of men. And to complete this picture of suffering I can even arrange for you a Jewish doctor, and a point of departure called Mount Saini, Beth Israel.

Come, Baida. The martyr's makeover awaits.
posted by kid ichorous at 2:27 AM on August 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Sure. But if there is such a thing as free will, then, this: You get to choose. You get to choose how you react when the horrible thing happens to you.

So I'm a real man because this morning I didn't develop PSTD when that sudden buzzing sound happened in my bedroom when I didn't think I set the alarm, but all those guys coming back from Iraq, a little bit to a lot fucked up, are just pussies. Have I got that right? I mean seriously dude, are you gearing up to be a republican presidential hopeful?

I could go on (and tell you about a time in my life when sleeping under the bed with an assault rifle in case the Viet Cong just happened to show up seemed like pretty reasonable behavior) but I'm just gonna say that if you can't muster up a bit more empathy than that - see that she probably figures she can die killing them, or her kids can die killing them, but probably both - I think you'd be pretty likely to make some pretty bad decisions in her shoes.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:07 AM on August 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


But if one is looking at martyrdom competitively, professionally, if one is looking to impress heaven, RDX-tailored suits and telephone triggers are by any century's standards too quick and easy. I imagine the masochist's paradise now drafts bed by bed from the modern hospital. Observe: We have bodies trisected more times than St Sebastian, bruised by bedsores more subtle than stones. History has Thomas Beckett, but we can cut the brain - many, many times - without spilling it. The iron maiden has been surpassed by the iron lung. The sport evolves; our modern saint must burn brighter than ever before.

Could you share what you've been smoking, because I am totally, totally failing to grasp the connection here. Are you saying that to impress Allah, we should declare jihad on modern medicine and have suicide... erm... patients? I am so, so lost.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:23 AM on August 16, 2009


I think what kid ichorous is saying is, many people face tragic scenarios without blowing people up later. As examples, he gives cancer and consumer debt.
posted by Houstonian at 6:29 AM on August 16, 2009


I mean, ok, point taken, the invasion was wrong, but when Saddam Hussein died whether of natural causes, coup, random violence, whatever - this was going to happen.

that's a pretty massive counterfactual. i mean, we walked into that china shop. we started throwing those antique vases around like they were basketballs. who are we to come back and say, "well, porcelain is fragile." all societies are fragile.

the other thing about that article is the whole 'hogan's heroes' feel to it. everyone is just so blase: she was caught with a suicide belt but she hasn't been charged with a crime, she has a phone and she's actively trying to kill the American interviewing her (who doesn't seem to quite get it.) You almost get the sense that, for the Iraqis involved, trying to kill Americans wasn't her biggest crime.

In killing a human being there is, unless one is a psychopath, some recognition of the gravity of the act. There is psychic trauma.

I think this is why we like to put 17 year olds in the army. they only realize the gravity of the act afterwards.
posted by geos at 6:55 AM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


So I'm a real man because this morning I didn't develop PSTD when that sudden buzzing sound happened in my bedroom when I didn't think I set the alarm, but all those guys coming back from Iraq, a little bit to a lot fucked up, are just pussies. Have I got that right? I mean seriously dude, are you gearing up to be a republican presidential hopeful?

Who said I believe in free will? I consider it a signifigant if. But if there is no choice there is no blame for anything. And if you get to chose, then she chose. I don't think people who go through horrible experiences and get fucked up by them are pussies, no. You're not to blame for your brain breaking under trauma any than you are for your body breaking. But being in that spot, even in that dark, small space, if there are choices at all there are still choices. To seek treatment. To remove yourself from those you love if you realize that your fucked-upness could bring harm to them. To kill yourself to prevent yourself from hurting others. To drink the pain away. Or all or some or none of these. I don't know what I'd do, if I saw my father and brothers shot down in front of me, what I'd become. But there was more than one path open to her and she picked the one she's on.
posted by Diablevert at 9:10 AM on August 16, 2009


Could you share what you've been smoking

Sure; I could have put it better. I've seen quiet, common pain that leaves every legendary act of martyrdom in its shade.

Baida entertains a very classical ideal of death with her body scrambled over a sidewalk like a Spartan on a shield, but with her glory intact. But she does not expect a death that, by turns, takes glory too: nine months from surgery to sepsis, each organ blinking off one by one; nor does she expect to be given a girl's nightgown to wear, and then a stomach shunt, or perhaps a colostomy, and worse; or to be passed before the eyes of interns, to become a public dissection with no more veils to hide behind, no more partitions of haram and halel, but a new nakedness. And she does not expect to pay the price of an American college tuition to buy this death, and an epitaph spelled out not in some codex of the faithful but in the ciphers of some HMO's balance sheet, in some cardiologist's Christmas bonus. She most certainly does not expect to become an interest-bearing transaction. And while she may in fact inflict this very death and more on a bystander to her last act, she will not stick around to face it herself. Because somewhere in this modern process your halo loses its shine.

So I consider this martyr - and most of the whole profession of martyrs, and these frankly ridiculous claims to 'hearts of stone,' or to suffering that justifies their gods or their ends - obsolete, fraudulent. Like her, most of them have chosen relatively easy ways out. And no god, if a god prized suffering as holy, would pick that from out of a billion common tragedies.
posted by kid ichorous at 9:17 AM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


are you saying that suicide bombers are being paid for their self-immolation?

A lot of the time, yes, their families will get money. Strangely, one of the arguments for Iraq's involvement in terrorism is that he had given money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:36 AM on August 16, 2009


Seems to me she's no better or worse than the douchebag who runs Blackwater/XE, who has hundreds of radical religious nuts in his organization who seek holy war against the mid-East.

Or for that matter, the parts of the US military which have become quite a scary religious organization. A lot of soldiers are out there "doing God's work" by slaughtering muslims.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:58 AM on August 16, 2009


Thanks, kid ichorous. I'm not sure if I agree, but I understand your position much better.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 11:32 AM on August 16, 2009


A lot of soldiers are out there "doing God's work" by slaughtering muslims.

Yeah, there's been an awful lot of "Jesus wants us to go to war" thrown about in the past 6 years, and a disturbingly large number of Americans have not been able to see the irony and hypocrisy inherent in such statements.
posted by elizardbits at 11:47 AM on August 16, 2009


Joe in Australia: According to the article she was a radical before her father and brothers died and before her marriage.

If I've read correctly, she only joined the insurgents herself when she had already been married (and beaten) for at least two years. From the article:
She told me she watched the Americans shoot a neighbor in 2005, and she replayed the image over and over in her mind: “I saw him running toward them, and then they shot him in the neck. I still see him. I still remember how he fell when the Americans shot him and I saw him clawing on the ground in the dust before his soul left his body. After that I began to help with making the improvised explosive devices.”
Later she is said to be a "mother of two boys and a girl, all under 8", implying the oldest is 7, which would put the wedding somewhere around 2001-2002.
posted by Anything at 3:37 PM on August 16, 2009


Latest, that is.
posted by Anything at 3:40 PM on August 16, 2009


This woman's zeal isn't about religion or revenge, although she cites those things to justify it. It's not about the people she might or might not kill, whether they are known or unknown or friend or foe or halal or whatever. With her father and brothers dead, her hated husband free to beat her at will, this is the one absolute choice she can make for herself which nobody will deny her and everybody she cares about will praise.

This is about power.

Baida is actually very much like a Western anorexic; in her bombing attempt she felt powerful and alive, probably for the first time in years and certainly in the only way imaginable to her now. So yes she will do it again, just like the western teenager who is all skin and bones and whose teeth are rotting out from the stomach acid will quietly make herself vomit again after she's made to eat a decent meal, and short of tying her up for the rest of her life there's probably nothing that anybody can do to stop her. She will make the excuses and there may be a part of her that knows they are contradictory and make no sense but it will not matter because in those few glorious moments before she pushes the button (and mark my words, they won't have to use the remote trigger on this girl) she will feel free and powerful, and that is so intoxicating to her because it's something she has hardly ever felt in her entire life.
posted by localroger at 3:44 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anything: Here's the timeline as far as I can make it out. From her account - bearing in mind that she may well by lying to us - although she was undoubtedly complicit in her family's activities from the outset, she was radicalized by things that happened to her and around her, rather than by exposure to, say, a general call to Jihad. As localroger says, though, her decision to become a suicide bomber wasn't necessarily about revenge for her father and brothers: rather, it was because life with her husband was intolerable and joining the suicide cell was a way of escaping that life.

1980&nbsp Iran-Iraq war begins and continues to 1988
1982&nbsp Badia is born
1990&nbsp Operation Desert Storm begins, ending Feb 28th next year
1999&nbsp Badia is 17. She marries "a few months later".
2000&nbsp First of Badia's children is born
2003&nbsp Iraq invaded by USA.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Badia's family begins to make IEDs.
2005&nbsp Badia watches an American kill a neighbour.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Badia begins to help make IEDs.
2006&nbsp Badia's family members are killed in a police raid.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Badia joins a group for suicide bombers
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Badia watches as a captured American soldier is tortured
2008&nbsp Badia is captured

posted by Joe in Australia at 5:01 PM on August 16, 2009


Heh. When it displayed in the preview, all my "&nbsp" showed as spaces, the way they should. But now that it's posted they look all wrong. And I thought I was making such a nice table :-(
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:53 PM on August 16, 2009


and yet plenty of us losers get by without hardening into the pawn on someone's maniac chessboard.

You pay taxes, right? You know anyone who voted for Bush? Anyone who deliberately joined (as opposed to drafted) the armed forces? It's all a matter of degrees.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:54 PM on August 16, 2009


No, she's trying to die a holy death, cause brutal injury and death to others and legitimise oppression and pseudo-religious dictatorship. And, deep down, I suspect she knows it.

god that woman is so STUPID so what if we bombed her country and killed her family and friends she should be HAPPY we brought FREEDOM there they should just TAKE THAT FREEDOM AND ENJOY IT or WE'LL FUCKING MURDER THEM into SUBMISSION
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:21 AM on August 17, 2009


“that's a pretty massive counterfactual. i mean, we walked into that china shop. we started throwing those antique vases around like they were basketballs. who are we to come back and say, "well, porcelain is fragile." all societies are fragile.”

The U.S. was responsible for the Fitna of the killing of Uthman in 656? We had something to do with the Buyid amirate shiites falling to the Saljuq Turks in 1050? We were allies with Hulagu Khan when he sacked Baghdad in 1250 and slaughtered a million people? The Black Sheep and the White Sheep Turkmen, the Janissaries, the Mamluk, and others didn’t battle over Baghdad well before the U.S. was even founded and on until the fall of the Ottomans and the British colonial rule?

No, the schism in Islam and Persia’s role as a battleground goes back centuries, so we didn’t do a damn thing to start any of that. Our role in the war? Sure, lots of distruction. But this “I hate you and everyone who looks like you and I will kill everyone who doesn’t think like me” shit – no, that’s always only been held in check by conquest or imperial rule whether it’s a caliphate or some domestic despot.
You had King Faisal who tried to smooth the hostilities between factions and between sunni and shia, but nobody wanted to hear about it. And they started changing government by military coups since 1958 so don’t give me this shit about them being a stable society before we came in and started kicking things around because the history doesn’t support it. Unless you want to call what they had under Saddam Hussein stable.

But he put down the kurds’ grumblings by killing thousands of them with gas. Want to blame the U.S. for that, go right ahead, you can’t give the Reagan administration enough shit for taking Iraq off the terrorist watchlist, but I tend to lean more on Alcolac, Kim Al-Khaleej, Karl Kolb GmbH and other corporations – oh, Rumsfeld, et.al. who had ties to them - but country-wise most of the stuff came from Singapore, the netherlands, Egypt, India, Germany…. Were you at all interested in an accurate picture of the history of the development of this kind of thing or did you just want to be trendy and cool and win points bashing the U.S.?

So no, not counterfactual. Antagonism there goes back well before the U.S. was even founded. Again – fault for the war in the first place and further for wonton destruction and not taking any of that history at all into account while prosecuting the war does indeed lay with the U.S.

But it’s not like Iraq was this pristine society untouched by strife until the evil U.S. came along. There was going to be murder and terrorism and blood in the street with or without us after Hussein fell.
But that’s all I’m saying. This woman would exist in one form or another, as an inevitability of not dealing with the situation and valuing resources, power, etc., over stability and lives.

It’s not like I’m arguing throwing gas on an extremely flammable situation was going to help at all, it makes it worse - is the point.
You appear ignorant of some of the particulars, but at the very least you’re position is against initiating a conflict there. Is there any excuse for someone who is clearly ignorant (willfully or otherwise) of the dangers and the history and the incendiary religious/political landscape but argues FOR sending troops in to topple the military dictator who’s barely holding the place together as it is?
I mean "greet us with flowers?" Wha?
I can think of several scenarios in which that might have happened, but they all include a pan-arab sort of deal with the support of other arab nations. Which didn't work so well under Faisal but that doesn't mean something couldn't be worked out.
As it turned out - there wasn't even the pretense of that.
Me I try to take comfort in thinking maybe some folks in charge know more than I do or at least have an altruistic perspective and are trying to find a genuine solution and - barring that - they'd be held accountable.
Not so crazy a thing. Nixon got a political ass kicking over much less, even if he did get a pardon.
But past is not always prologue - so maybe you're right and they'd've pulled their heads out and become some Mesopotamian paradise had we not shown up.
I suspect though that only happens when people get sick of conflict. Too many people too divorced from it and too many other people making bucks off it.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:06 AM on August 17, 2009


god that woman is so STUPID so what if we bombed her country and killed her family and friends she should be HAPPY we brought FREEDOM there they should just TAKE THAT FREEDOM AND ENJOY IT or WE'LL FUCKING MURDER THEM into SUBMISSION

Err... I think you're misinterpreting my statement. As I have already stated I do not believe this is entirely to do with politics. Rather, I believe it is to do with universal human flaws, and that similar ideological underpinnings are at work in fundamentalist Christian groups, racial supremacist groups and any number of other extremist organisations.

Furthermore, as I do not reside in or have any political ties to the USA (or, indeed, any country that participated in the occupation of Iraq) I would appreciate it if you would not portray me as supporting the invasion.

That's assuming your statement is ironic. It is, right?
posted by fearthehat at 2:16 PM on August 17, 2009


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