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Monday, October 30, 2006

A case of the stupids

We've come for the American

Missing Soldier Said to Be Wed to an Iraqi

Published: October 29, 2006

BAGHDAD, Oct. 29 — The missing American soldier who has been the subject of an intensive manhunt here in the capital since he was kidnapped by gunmen outside the heavily protected Green Zone last week was secretly married to an Iraqi woman and had been visiting her at the time of the abduction, several people who identified themselves as his in-laws said Sunday.

Such a marriage, if confirmed, would not only be highly unusual but also a violation of American military rules and would put the mystery of the missing soldier in an entirely new light.

The American military command has been circumspect in the details of the missing soldier, saying he was an Iraqi-American translator who had left the Green Zone without permission to visit unidentified relatives in Baghdad. Search squads have shown local residents the missing soldier’s picture, but the military has not even released his name.

The new details of his family connections were disclosed as a spate of attacks reported elsewhere in Iraq left at least 33 people dead, including a police academy ambush in southern Iraq that killed 17.

The people who said they were the missing soldier’s in-laws identified him as Ahmed Qusai al-Taei, 41. They showed visitors to their Baghdad apartment an enlarged wedding photo of him and the bride, whom they identified as Israa Abdul-Satar, 26, a college student. They also showed the visitors glossy snapshots of the smiling couple in Egypt for their honeymoon.

The couple had married, they said, three months ago. The precise dates of the wedding and honeymoon, and whether the soldier had been on active duty at the time, were not clear.

The people also described in vivid detail how members of the Mahdi Army militia, led by a local commander known as Abu Rami, came to the wife’s home in the central Baghdad neighborhood of Karada last Monday, the first day of the Muslim holiday Id al-Fitr, and dragged Mr. Taei away.

“They were saying, ‘He’s an American journalist,’ ” said a woman who identified herself as his mother-in-law and asked that she be identified only by her nickname, Um Omar, because of fear of reprisals. “We were saying, ‘No, he’s an Iraqi,’ ”

Um Omar and the others in the home said they had not learned until after his kidnapping that he was an American soldier.

Military officials would not comment when asked on Sunday about these new details, and it was impossible to corroborate independently the account given by Mr. Taei’s purported in-laws.

The military’s fraternization policies prohibit active duty personnel from marrying local civilians, said Lt. Col. Josslyn Aberle, a military spokeswoman. But she said privacy rules barred her from providing any details about the missing soldier.

In 2003, a pair of Florida national guardsmen famously married Iraqi doctors they met in Baghdad soon after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in a joint ceremony. One of the soldiers’ marriages dissolved soon afterward, but the one whose marriage lasted was confined to his base and eventually discharged from the military.

The people who claimed to be the missing soldier’s in-laws said he and his immediate family, Sunni Arabs from the capital’s Adhamiya neighborhood, had fled to the United States before the fall of Mr. Hussein. They explained how he came to marry Ms. Abdul-Satar, also a Sunni.

Mr. Taei had friends in Karada, a mostly well-to-do commercial district that sits outside the Green Zone, Um Omar said. As she described it, he spotted her daughter one day as she was en route to classes at Mutsamsirya University in central Baghdad, where she is enrolled in the science college.

Through friends, he arranged to speak with her parents, Um Omar said, and after some discussion, Ms. Abdul-Satar agreed to marry Mr. Taei, whom her mother described as a “gentleman.”

After the couple married, Um Omar said, Ms. Abdul-Satar moved out of her mother’s cramped apartment on the third floor of a dreary complex on a side street in Karada near the National Theater, to a cousin’s one-story home down the block.

Mr. Taei came to visit every few days, said a neighbor who lives across the street from the cousin’s home, where the kidnapping took place.

“We thought he was a businessman,” said the neighbor, who asked to be identified only by his last name, Nadhir.


Ms. Abdul-Satar and her brother are now staying in the Green Zone for their safety and to answer additional questions from the military, their mother said. She has heard from her daughter a few times, but there has been no news.

American troops, along with their Iraqi counterparts, have cordoned off much of eastern Baghdad, including Sadr City, in their search for the missing soldier.

On Sunday, thousands of residents, along with politicians from Mr. Sadr’s political bloc, gathered in Sadr City to protest peacefully the security cordon around the neighborhood.

For Um Omar, the last week has been filled with waiting and worrying. If she had known that Mr. Taei had been in the United States Army, she said, she would have forbidden him from visiting.

“I’m praying,” she said. “I’m calling on Allah for his safety.”

What the fuck was he thinking?

People are getting killed over his stupidity. Sadr City almost blew up over it.

Originally, I thought he was a deserter who planned to escape with his wife. But now, wow. Did he think no one would notice he was an American? That no one would follow him, remember seeing him?

My God, what the hell was on his mind, and don't say pussy. Because he had to know there was a serious risk in even socializing with an Iraqi, forget a wedding. And even if the homeless militia leader didn't know he was a soldier, he soon fucking found out. Jesus. People can't be that stupid.

posted by Steve @ 1:28:00 AM

1:28:00 AM

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