An Officer but No Gentleman: Fraudsters Promise Army Jobs in Karbala
Criminals in Karbala are exploiting the security crisis and expectations about military corruption by promising young men a job in the Iraqi army, complete with an officer rank.
Her eyes are tearful as she shows off the military uniform in the closet. But it is not because Saja Mohammed Abdul Rasul is mourning a death on the battlefield. It is because this uniform cost her and her husband, Muthather Hussein, a lot of money, savings that they couldn’t afford to loose.
Rasul has been married to Hussein for only a year – the couple are in their late teens and live in one of the low income areas in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala. Hussein works as a labourer on construction sites but his income is low and erratic and what he really wanted to do was join the Iraqi army. Like so many other young Iraqis, there, he thought, despite the danger, he would earn regular wages.
Hussein met a local man through relatives who said he could help him achieve this dream. The man even said he could guarantee him a good rank. But it would cost money – US$2,000. So Hussein asked Rasul if he could sell her gold jewellery in order to be granted an in to the military – after he got the military job he promised her he would pay her back with far finer jewellery.
“The salaries paid to army officers are high,” Hussein explains. “And I thought then I could keep my promise to my wife. I was so eager to join the army even though its a dangerous job.”
And so, perhaps rather naively, Hussein and Rasul paid all their money to the man who had said he was a general, and who promised Hussein the rank of a lieutenant if he joined – this was despite the fact that Hussein had no qualifications or military training. After the alleged general received the couple’s money, he disappeared. His cell phone numbers no longer work and they have no idea where he is. They quickly realised they had been swindled.