Monday, September 1, 2003

Portrait of an Iraqi Rebel

politics > iraq > occupation > resistance
Walid is a tough-looking, compact little man with a stubble beard and the universally short-cropped hair of young Iraqis. He has thick calluses on his hands from playing handball and he says that he used to stub out cigarettes on them. But he is not all bravura, and in many ways he does not seem to conform to the picture that has emerged of the typical Iraqi resistance fighter. He is no friend of Saddam or the Baath regime, he is not a Muslim fundamentalist and as a student of English Literature at Baghdad University, he is not anti-Western.

In fact, throughout the interview, Walid takes great pains to emphasize that he is tolerant, a man of the world. "You see," he tells a reporter, "I drink cola with you, even though my group has issued a call to boycott all American products." His tale, however, is one of gradually increasing opposition to the presence of U.S. soldiers in the countryside and finally, of a decision to join the resistance. The account cannot be independently verified, but a fellow student from Baghdad University confirms that Walid told him about the same events at the time when they happened over the past few months.

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