Saturday, September 22, 2007

A view from the Baghdad Hilton

Daniel called. It was the first time in over a week I had heard from him. It was nice to know he was alive and unharmed.

It's Ramadan and I learned something of this religious observance. According to Muslim tradition, during the holiday the gates of Hell are closed. Anyone who dies during this time automatically goes to heaven. I asked Daniel if, as we in Christian society would assume, the violence would be subdued during a religious observance. He said no, in fact the opposite was true. There was generally an increase in suicide bombings during the month because not only did the bombers go to heaven, but also Muslim faithful who happened to be happily placed in the way of his bomb. You would think the families would thank the bombers for the favor.

I learned something from Steve as well. Steve used to work for a couple of Muslim bosses and they told him in Saudi Arabia Ramadan ends a day early. The observance comes to a close when the new moon is observed and as it is a month of daytime fasting, the sooner it ends the better! It turns out that the wealthy Saudi royal family has planes which can fly into the stratosphere, where the occupants can glimpse the new moon a day earlier than can be done from the ground. When it is announced the new moon has been seen, voila! end of fasting and time for partying; the Muslim equivalent for "Miller Time" without the beer, voluptuous women and hold the BBQ'd pork.

Daniel said the chain of command for 3rd platoon had all been fired and an investigation was pending on a checkpoint issue. His only joy in that was the sergeant who had published a nasty video of him on YouTube was in 3rd platoon. If you want the link I'll send it, but you'll get the context story as well.

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