Yes arranged marriages, I will explain..
After my time at the Korps Commandotroepen I went to the DKDB a police unit tasked with the protection of Diplomats and the Royal Family. Although the course was good and had some great instructors, I realized after a few months of being operational, that this job was not for me. I missed being in a dirty country and having to improvise. It was to strict and boring, for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for the guys doing it.
I already heard that some former KCT guys were working for Control Risks, in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing close protection. So I asked around a bit to see if they would need somebody. Everybody I spoke said, ‘No, they are not hiring..’ but I thought, fuck that, I will try anyway. Turns out they did need somebody and I had the perfect resume, combining SF with Diplomatic close protection.
I wanted to go to Afghanistan, because I liked working there more than in Iraq. I always had more respect for the people of Afghanistan, living in very primitive circumstances, with many years of war before we came there. In Iraq it was a big mess, people had been living under a very strict and corrupt regime all of their lives, and it was almost printed in their DNA to be corrupt.
But, they needed somebody in Baghdad, so off I went.
We had a good team over there, all guys with a SF or SO background. Most of our free time was spent training tactics and going to the range. We took it very seriously. Although some of you might also remember our monthly party..
The team used to work kinda low-profile, but as the situation changed, we did too. We went more ‘combat-ready’, also because we knew, it could take the QRF some time to reach us.
The Polish Ambassador was picked up by Blackwater. There is a lot of controversy around Blackwater and some incidents. We had the pleasure of their support on a few BIAP runs, and I have nothing but respect for those guys and the work they did. Read the book Erik Prince wrote, and make up your own mind.
Phone rings in our ops-room, my team leader picks up… A girl, speaking perfect Dutch, tells that she is in Baghdad, and is looking for the Dutch Embassy, which she could not find, (because the official one was located in the red-zone. We evacuated from that one because of the situation). She tells my TL that she is 16 years old, born and raised in the Netherlands. Her parents who had fled Iraq in the Saddam period had taken her on ‘vacation’ to Kuwait to visit family. But instead of going to the family, they went to Basra, which is in the south of Iraq approximately 500 kilometers south of Baghdad (if you have not been there). In Basra she was introduced to her new (old) husband to be and her passport taken away. After the wedding, the parents left her behind, going back to the Netherlands themselves…
Imagine this, a girl, born and raised in the Netherlands, went to school there, makes friends, has a ‘normal’ life. It can not be further away from Iraq 2008.
The girl did not agree at all with the plans her parents made for her, took matters in her own hands and fled. She took a taxi to Baghdad, to find the Dutch Embassy.
After talking to the Ambassador, he agreed we should find the girl and get her back at the Embassy, as quickly as possible. Of course, he wanted to come, and personally arrange this matter. Luckily we were able to convince him against this, because of a possible ambush. We made a plan and went out to the position she gave. I was in the second vehicle, passenger side. We were driving along the river and I was looking to my right, I see a girl walking in western clothing without a scarf. I say to Sanders: “Look at that!” Not realizing it is the girl, because I was expecting a typical woman from that area. He says: “that must be her”, we do a 180 stop the car, I get out and approach her, which felt pretty strange, almost expecting an ambush. “Are you … I ask” (in Dutch) It was her. We got her in the car as quickly as possible, and got back to the green-zone safely, lucky for us no incidents.
The Ambassador provided her with a Laissez-Passer, and she went back to the Netherlands.
Incredible, that she traveled across Iraq without incident, the way she did. She was wearing, what the average school-girl would wear, jeans, sneakers that stuff. Not at all what you would see on the streets at that time in Iraq.
Crazy story right? Who would leave their child behind in country at war? For what? Status, religion? Read this article if you want to know more.
I don’t know what became of her, but I do have respect, that she took matters in her own hands, the way she did.
And by the way, I am not a supporter of Arranged Marriages.
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