The Iraqis Making Freelance Bomb Disposal Into A Lucrative New Business
Locals are struggling to get rid of the explosive booby-traps the Islamic State left as they withdrew from Ramadi. For one group of daring locals, defusing the bombs has become a lucrative new job opportunity.
In the central Iraqi city of Ramadi, it is no longer unusual to see individuals who look like ordinary civilians dismantling improvised explosive devices left behind by extremists as they withdrew from the city late last year. In fact, the extremist group known as the Islamic State, or IS, left behind so many improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, that the military and local security authorities don’t have the manpower or time to defuse them all. And locals, who know their way around a bomb, have been quick to take up the slack.
Some of them are former members of the military, others are moonlighting from the police or army to make some extra money and some are ordinary civilians with mechanical or engineering backgrounds who have learned how to defuse the IEDs, often using less sophisticated methods than dedicated bomb squads.
Faleh al-Marsoumi got involved in the lucrative new trade because it was taking far too long for authorities to come to his home and remove the booby trapped explosives. The usual procedure involves asking engineers who work for the local authorities to come and dismantle the dangerous devices.
Having heard that there were unofficial bomb disposal experts now working in the city, al-Marsoumi decided to pay one of these to clear his property. He had heard that the bomb disposal crews gathered on the outskirts of the city and that one could request them to come and work, in a similar way that one could employ freelance construction workers and manual labourers.