Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Perspective: "I don't even trust my brother-in-law"

BAGHDAD — The chunky man in the beige velour tracksuit emphasized that he wanted to help the U.S. troops, who politely sipped the Pepsis he had produced after they arrived unannounced Saturday night at his modest home in the northeast neighborhood of Shaab.

Without the Americans, the man said, kidnappers and killers who have terrorized Sunni Muslims in the Shiite-dominated area would resurface. Drawing his index finger across his neck in a slicing motion, he indicated what happened to Sunnis when U.S. forces were not around.

But when U.S. Army Spc. Rany Grizz pressed the man for details, he encountered one of the most stubborn enemies facing American and Iraqi forces attempting to carry out the latest security crackdown in violence-racked Baghdad: Iraqis' paralyzing fear and distrust of virtually everyone, including the Iraqi army, their next-door neighbors and their own relatives.

"The way we can make this neighborhood safer is if we go and get them tonight," Grizz, 22, of Miami said to the man, a sense of urgency in his voice as he tried to coax more information. But the source had nothing more to say, at least for the moment.

"Everybody has a weapon," he said, explaining his fear of saying too much. "I don't even trust my brother-in-law."

Read the rest at the LA Times