Into Fallujah Again

Jo Wilding took a second trip into Fallujah Saturday. Here’s how it went:

    Sergeant Tratner of the First Armoured Division is irritated. “Git back or you’ll git killed,” are his opening words.

    Lee says we’re press and he looks with disdain at the car. “In this piece of shit?”

    Makes us less of a target for kidnappers, Lee tells him. Suddenly he decides he recognises Lee from the TV. Based in Germany, he watches the BBC. He sees Lee on TV all the time. “Cool. Hey, can I have your autograph?”

    Lee makes a scribble, unsure who he’s meant to be but happy to have a ticket through the checkpoint which all the cars before us have been turned back from, and Sergeant Tratner carries on. “You guys be careful in Falluja. We’re killing loads of those folks.” Detecting a lack of admiration on our part, he adds, “Well, they’re killing us too. I like Falluja. I killed a bunch of them mother fuckers.”

    I wish Sergeant Tratner were a caricature, a stereotype, but these are all direct quotations. We fiddle with our hijabs in the roasting heat. “You don’t have to wear those things any more,” he says. “You’re liberated now.” He laughs. I mention that more and more women are wearing hijabs nowadays because of increasing attacks on them. … read more