By all accounts, Imaad, 32, was a typical, mild-mannered college graduate
who spoke English well and had quietly supported the U.S. presence in Iraq
— until Jan. 5, the night the soldiers came.
His story about that night, told days later in his small living room, is
the story of how the U.S. military made an enemy of one man during a
On the night of Jan. 5, Imaad and his mother, Um Imaad — both of whom
declined to give their full names for fear of retribution — were watching
a movie in the living room. As in most other parts of the capital for the
past two months, their Adhimiya neighborhood has electricity about two
hours a day. So the generators outside were humming at about 9 that night,
and the television was turned up so they could hear.
Imaad said they were startled by a loud banging at the door. He went
quickly to open it. When he did, Imaad said, there were about a dozen U.S.
soldiers standing with their guns pointed at his head.
Imaad and his mother said the soldiers rushed in, ordering them to sit
together while they searched the house. “You look poor,” Imaad recalled one
of the soldiers saying. “Why?”
Imaad answered in English: “I have not been able to find a job, although
I’m a graduate of the College of Arts.” His heart was pounding, Imaad said.
His mother, a chatty widow who adores her son, sat next to him, shaking.
The soldiers went to search his bedroom. He heard laughing, and then they
called for him, he said. Imaad went to his room and saw that the soldiers
had found several magazines he kept hidden from his mother. They had
pictures of girls in swimsuits and erotic poses. Imaad said the soldiers
spread the magazines on his bed and put his Koran in the middle.
“This is a good match,” Imaad said one of the soldiers told him.
“It was a nightmare,” he said. “I will never forget those bad soldiers when
they put the Koran among the magazines…