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From Experience

Reader comment on item: [Khobar Rampage:] "Don't Be Afraid, We Won't Kill Muslims"

Submitted by William McAuley (United States), Jun 8, 2004 at 14:19

As an expat with several years of experience in mild Muslim countries, I have often considered what to do in such a situation.

In Indonesia, the radicals who set up roadblocks, especially in 1998 during Soeharto's ouster, I used the method shown by Mel Gibson in the movie A Year Of Living Dangerously. Driving around, boldly stepping out, or driving through the roadbloacks worked, mostly because the roadblock hoodlums wheren't expecting any Caucasians. That obviously worked, because I'm still here.

(BTW, the Gibson movie was very accurate, except for the locations, which were shot in the Philippines.)

In West Africa we suffered break-ins, similar to Khobar, but the vicious African Gendarmes got there before the terrorists could kill any expats. Unfortunately, in almost all of the attacks, many of our local African security people were killed. The poor people always pay the largest price for the aspirations of power by radicals.

Since the accounts of the Khobar break-in, I've had to seriously consider what I would do if caught in a similar situation in the Middle East, especially since my pending Baghdad assignment is still pending. My first thoughts go to the experience of Peter the Apostle, and his three denials of Christ. My feelings, sitting in Minnesota, are that I would refuse to deny Christ, just as Peter protested that he would not deny Christ.

Being realistic, and truly understanding the machinations of real fear from experience, your current message is a Godsend for expats, and others that may be confronted with a Khobar experience. As a Caucasian American, nothing said would probably make any difference, but having your Muslim references in memory could possibly be a true lifesaver for many of us. I'm going to print them out on flash cards. From experience, the guys carrying out the attacks are not from the top cards in the deck.

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