Today a friend of my father visited us after being absent for a long time. I had heard that he was imprisoned at Saddam’s times when he was an officer in the Iraqi army, so I took advantage of the occasion to hear his story in full details and here is it as I heard it from him:
I‘ve had just been assigned in my new important position in the Iraqi army headquarters and that was in 1991 and I was very happy with my new job, fully dedicated to do it as best as I can, until that day when an officer from one of the Iraqi army divisions came to me with a presidential order to hand him confidential documents that concerned his unit defensive plans in Kuwait. He was authorized to receive those documents and after further checking, I handed the documents to him, and I looked at this as another routine procedure, he took the documents, signed on a paper that verifies this and went on his way to his unite with his escorts.
I didn’t expect the disaster that was coming to lie on my head. As that officer stopped with his driver and escorts on the long road, to have dinner, the idiot left the documents in a suitcase in the car. After finishing their meal, the officer and the men with him were shocked as they went out of the restaurant to see that their car was gone. Someone had stolen the car with its exceptionally important cargo.
Here I interrupted our friend, realizing the size of the terrible mistake, but again not understanding what has he got to do with it, as it was clear that he did exactly what he was told to do, and was not responsible in any way for the awful mistake. He said:
So you say, and so I thought but that wasn’t Saddam’s opinion. When he heard about it, he signed an order of executing all those who were related to that incident, including me, and I was just doing my duty. I don’t know if it was possible to escaped this fate, and where was I incautious, was it be possible that I shouldn’t give him the documents? They would’ve executed me as well. How could I know that the idiot will lose it? It wasn’t me who put confidence in him; it was them who chose him.
I asked for meeting with Saddam, and I sent some people who had strong relations with some of his relatives, who were the only people who could interfere in such sensitive issues without the fear that they may face the same destiny of the people they are defending, and hoped that they may convince him to look into my case in a reasonable way. When I finally managed to reach some of his relatives who explained to him how I didn’t have anything to do with what happened (not for free), the sentence was lowered to 15 years. And I accepted my fate. I have a family and this is better than execution.
After that I was transferred from my temporary prison to Abu-Garib prison, and from the moment I entered my cell, which I shared with many convicts, I couldn’t help but telling everyone that I was innocent and I shouldn’t be here.
The other prisoners gathered around me and asked me “what is your story, brother? You have given us a headache with your whining, so spit it out”
I told them my strange story, and here I was shocked. They all laughed at me, and when I said that this was not funny at all, they shook their heads and one of the said” sorry brother but if you knew why we are laughing you may excuse us. Do you really think you are the most unfortunate man on earth? Well at least there was a document that was lost. What would you say if you knew my case?”
So I asked him” why are you here?” and he said, “listen, I’m a senior Ba’ath party member and I was in charge of a large sector in Baghdad. One time I was sitting with some of my comrades, who I also considered my friends, and we were just chatting. I told them a silly dream I had the night before the meeting. I dreamt that I became the president of Iraq and that I appointed one of the comrades as a minister of the defense. The next night there was a heavy knocking at the door and the (midnight visitors) dragged me out of my house, and after a short investigation, I was sentenced to 15 years in prison and this, and he pointed at one of the prisoners, is the minister of defense who got 10 years in prison”
The man in question shook his head in conformation and said “ yes, I’m the minister of defense who appeared accidentally in another man’s dream. So do you still think you are innocent? No, my friend, you are guilty as charged, on Saddam’s justice scale. So shut up and live with it”.
I have to admit that after hearing (the minister of defense), I felt I was somehow overreacting and that I was lucky!