Freelance Bomb Disposal a Lucrative New Business

“We know that local authorities and the central government have been negotiating with international specialists and we believe it is going to become legal for Iraqis too,” al-Marsoumi explains.

Another Ramadi man doing this job is 53-year-old Amir al-Suwaydawi. He used to serve in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein but was one of those who lost their jobs after the US-led invasion of Iraq, when the army was largely disbanded. When the extremist IS group were first driven out of Iraq, al-Suwaydawi used to help guide military engineers to where the IEDs were hidden.

Many of these were former colleagues. However, when he saw how the various engineering teams worked, watching how they dismantled the IEDs, he realized he could do the job too. He also realised it could provide him with a new source of income.

"I figured out that I could do this and that I only needed relatively simple tools, such as a few screwdrivers, pliers and some electrical wiring,” al-Suwaydawi says. “The job also requires experience and courage – and I have both of these.”

Al-Suwaydawi describes himself as “a good magician”, removing the effects of “black magic” in his home town.

Because the work is not legal, al-Suwaydawi says that he and other IED-experts only get jobs via word of mouth and that their network is a closed one based on trust.  It’s obvious that the job is dangerous too. “We have lost friends and colleagues,” al-Suwaydawi admits. “Often as a result of inexperience and recklessness.”

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