Dec 27 2004

Iraq Interpreters Live in Fear

Published by at December 27, 2004 4:15 pm under Interpretation

“Adam” is supposed to be the Iraqi face at a key U.S. military checkpoint south of Baghdad, but he is so fearful for his life that he wears a black ski mask to hide his identity.

Dressed in camouflage fatigues, he is part of an army of [interpreters] that serves as a vital link for U.S. occupiers short on Arab speakers needed for manning roadblocks, mounting patrols and interrogating suspects.

But because of their highly visible jobs, they also face an especially high risk from Iraqi insurgents who have branded them traitors and collaborators and marked them for death.

The pressure is so intense that some [interpreters] have quit.

“We use American nicknames and wear masks because if the Ali Babas find out who we are, they will kill us,” said Adam, referring to guerrillas and bandits who have executed hundreds of interpreters hired since last year’s U.S.-led invasion.

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