The Iraqi Version of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

Ninevah Plains, Iraq

April 17, 2017


I met Ahmed two days ago during a food distribution in the plains just west of Mosul. He immediately stood out to me because he looked like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and because he didn't crowd around with the other men and desperately demand food.  Instead, he preferred to assist the aid workers in keeping the children calm while they were given candy sent over from donors in the US.

Through rudimentary hand gestures I asked how he was so strong. He replied by pointing to some nearby sheep and flashing his excellent Dwayne Johnson grin. He is a shepherd.

Our "conversation" was lighthearted until he walked away for a few minutes and came back holding a little light-skinned baby.

I knew something was off, so as he stood in line waiting for baby formula, I asked if I could follow him back to wherever the baby had come from. His demeanor immediately changed and he frowned. He nodded slowly.

I followed him to a small, dirty tent where a light-skinned lady appeared wearing a black hijab. She reached out for her baby with a stump where her right hand used to be and with a left hand which had only three partial fingers remaining. I smiled at the lady trying to hide my shock. She smiled back and then ducked back into the dark tent.

Ahmed looked at me and said the Arabic term for ISIS, "Daesh. Daesh." Shaking his head, he made a sawing motion with his left hand pretending to cut off his right hand and pointed to where the lady had gone. "Daesh."

I felt like I already knew what he was going to "say" next but I didn't want to believe it. He made the motions of cradling a baby in his arms. My heart sank. He looked at the ground and said softly, "Daesh. Daesh."

The child is a result of the woman being raped by ISIS.  

Ahmed has taken it upon himself to look after the baby and it's mother despite having his own family to look after.

Seeing the look on my face and clearly wanting to change the subject, he went and got his two daughters so I could meet them too.