Kidnappers In Uniform? Defenders Of Baghdad Turn To Crime For Cash
There’s been a rise in crime and kidnapping in Baghdad and it seems that perpetrators are often in military uniform, driving official cars. This has led locals to suspect members of Shiite Muslim militias recently formed to fight extremists. But even if locals are kidnapped, they don’t complain – they don’t want to tarnish the reputation of those “defending” their city and sect.
Baghdad local Nawar Mohsen was just minding his own business in his store, where he sells gold jewellery and ornaments, when three men in military uniform came in. They told him that he was wanted by the judiciary. So helpless and confused, all Mohsen could do, was follow them out of the store.
It didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t actually with the Iraqi military at all; he had been kidnapped. Mohsen ended up a captive of the gang that took him for three days until his family agreed to pay the ransom they demanded. It was only then that he was dropped off by the side of the road, without any money or his mobile phone.
Mohsen says he didn’t go to the authorities because he is almost certain the kidnappers live in the same area he works in – in fact, he thinks he was even kept captive nearby. “The car that drove me there only drove for about five minutes,” he explains. Mohsen has since moved house and submitted an application to immigrate elsewhere; he says he is scared the kidnappers will return for him. “The money we paid the kidnappers would have allowed us to start a good life in Europe,” he notes sadly.
Mohsen’s story is not a unique one. There has been a steady rise in the number of kidnappings in Baghdad for the past month or so.