Hamish McKenzie - student, London, Ontario

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Dead and loving it

Robert Fisk came to my school a couple of weeks ago. I was going to write an article about him, but my planned interview fell through and then I got lazy.

But in today's Harper's Weekly I read the following line:

it was reported that Iraqi militants, before they carried out raids or suicide bombings, were taking a methamphetamine-based drug called "pinky" that made them feel superhuman

It got me to thinking about something Fisk said about suicide bombers. In the two descriptions of suicide bombings he'd heard, the bombers were reported to be very happy. He thought it was because they were already imagining better lives among the virgins in heaven. But perhaps the drugs had something to do with it...

Anyway, here's how Fisk, hungover and tired from the night before, described those stories to us, a small crowd of students and lecturers in an almost empty lecture hall.

He starts by talking about his friend who worked for an Arab TV station (Al-Jazeera's competitor)...

He had his new BMW. First time for work, he parked his BMW outside the office that morning -- so you know what's coming. He was going out with two women who worked in the kitchen at the TV station, and he made a habit of driving (them home) because they were poor -- he used to drop them off so they didn’t have to take taxis or buses.

He went up to the car, and a man with a big red vehicle, Saudi accent, with the window down, playing Koranic recitations very loudly on his tape deck in the car, asked my friend if he could please move his car back a bit -- he wanted to park next to the wall. So my friend moved his car back a bit, and then said, "Ah, I left my laptop in the office, I'll just go back and get it."

He walked round the back of the building, in the back through the kitchen, to go the back way to the office, and the roof came down. It was the guy in the vehicle blowing himself up. Most of the two women were atomized. One of the heads was found on the roof two days later.

Fisk finished that story by saying his friend could remember the bomber was very happy.

Another grisly anecdote:

Another Iraqi I know well as a friend was passing by a police station... and there was a man in the street, clean shaven, but laughing, and dancing, and singing songs about women. My friend went around the corner, got in his car. BANG! Up went the bomb. That was him. He was already dead, you see, he was already preparing to enjoy the virgins of heaven, or whatever.

Fisk believes that suicide bombers -- once they've decided to kill themselves, or once they're induced to do it -- kill their souls first:

They can go afterwards, tell their parents they love them. They can hold their little daughters or their sisters, and they’ll still go off and they’ll see the people they’re going to kill.

[Fisk makes a clicking sound like someone switching a detonator]

And they'll know they're going to -- they're executioners. But I think by then you can't redress the situation.... They're dead already.