Luckily, I was able to secure the other day Khadra’s “The Sirens of Baghdad”, a 200-page narrative about life in Baghdad and the tragic conditions that lead people to extremism. This was timely, as the Philippines is also right now struggling with extremists in Marawi, one of the country's major cities in the south.
The young man was a pacifist by nature, but he was also very sensitive. He'd absorb all the pain he hears and carry them all in, like stored energy, to be unleashed one day by American GIs who raided their village and subjected everyone, including the young man’s father, mother and sisters, to torture and humiliation. The sight of his poor, half-naked father being tossed to the ground by screaming GIs was too much for the young man. The Bedouins are proud people. And humiliations such as that could never be forgiven, even by the most pacifist of all.
Bent on revenge, the young man fled to Baghdad only to be confronted by anarchy everywhere. The once city of his dreams was no more. When he met a team of insurgents, he committed himself to their cause. “I’m ready, Sayed. My life’s at your disposal”.
Eventually he was assigned a mission meant to dwarf the attacks of September 11, but he soon found himself struggling with a heavy dilemma. What should he do?
The “Sirens of Baghdad” gives us a look at how violence affects ordinary people, how it turns decent human beings into monsters, and how one must tread on the delicate balance between what is right and what is not.