Shooting the Messengers

Internet Video Shows Killings of DriversCAIRO, Egypt – A video surfaced Tuesday on the Internet showing three drivers who said they worked for a Jordanian trucking company being shot by gunmen claiming to belong to a militant Islamic group in Iraq. One of Iraq’s most notorious insurgent groups, Ansar al-Sunnah, posted the video on an Islamic Web site known as a clearinghouse for militant material. The authenticity of the video could not be verified.

The three men were shown being shot in the back of the head in a desert-like area. The identities and nationalities of the men were unclear due to the poor quality of the tape, but their accents appeared to be Iraqi.

“We don’t see any difference between them and the Americans,” a statement attached to the video said. “On the contrary, they work night and day in aiding the Americans to find the houses and locations of the mujahedeen (holy warriors).”

One of the men interviewed before being shot said he worked for the Jordan-based Shaheen Co. contracted by U.S. forces to supply Iraqi police academies in Hillah and Kut, south of Baghdad. In the Jordanian capital, Amman, company official Mustafa al-Nassan said he could not confirm the authenticity of the reports. [more]

This is a difficult situation. From a ‘realistic’ point of view these drivers are trying to make a living and it’s hard (as a Jordanian truck driver) NOT to resist the temptation of earning so much money from such a short, but potentially dangerous, trip. In most accounts what happens is that these drivers work for companies who have contracts with companies in Iraq, in cities such as Baghdad. They drive supplies to these companies who in turn sell and/or supply the American forces. Thinking about it this way makes one realise how insignificant these drivers really are in the whole process. It’s like shooting the messenger, quite literally. The American troops (as far as I’ve learned) protect these trucks on their way to Baghdad as they protect the entrances of supply routes in to the capital. The trouble seems to occur when they abandon these trucks on their way back to Jordan, the drivers have no protection. This is why you never hear of a Halliburton truck driver being ambushed and killed. They’ve got connections. There are actually more Turkish, Syrian and Iranian truck drivers in Iraq than Jordanians.I sympathize with these drivers, I don’t feel they are to blame. If they were wealthy and had no reason to go then that’s another story.

At the same time, the other thing that angers me, is the religious context. How dare these people refer to themselves as “ansar al-sunnah”! How can they break with Islamic codes and still categorize themselves as such. I don’t know whether they are Iraqi national resistance fighters but I highly doubt it. I think Zarqawi has spread a cloud of “anti-Jordan-ism” within these groups.

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