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On the Hunt in Baghdad

Michael J. Totten

“If your men conduct any raids,” I said to Captain Todd Looney on the outskirts of Sadr City, Baghdad, “I want to go.”

“We might have something come up,” he said. “If so, I’ll get you out there.”

Less than an hour later Haji Jawad, one of the most dangerous terrorist leaders in all of Iraq, was spotted holding a meeting at a house in the area. An arrest warrant had already been issued by the government of Iraq, and Captain Looney’s company was the closest to his location. They would be the ones to go get him.

“Do you still have room for me?” I said.

“Get your gear,” he said.

Last time I was in Baghdad, I was told that most suspects surrender the instant they realize their house is surrounded. Fighting would be suicidal, and most terror cell leaders do not seek martyrdom. But the man we were after was far more committed and vicious than usual.

“Is he the kind of guy who might shoot at us during a raid?” I said to Captain Clint Rusch.

“Oh yeah,” he said. “He’s definitely the kind of guy who will shoot at us. He’s a really bad dude. A few weeks ago he and his men lobbed huge bombs at a JSS in the area and almost destroyed it, then called up the commander and asked him how was his morning. And he said if we don’t stop chasing him, he’ll start wearing a suicide vest wherever he goes.”

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