Diyaa jumped off the front of the Pander, and let’s just say he began briskly walking away, the fear showing on his face. He was scared shitless for some reason. If this was indeed an IIS safehouse, or a former secret residence of Saddam, it might still have some folks inside it if Saddam was there or was planning to stay there. Hell, Diyaa may have been working for the regime and was leading us into an ambush. I prayed the one-story, walled residence wasn’t booby-trapped to keep curious US military folks out.

I jumped off after Diyaa and told him to get his ass back here. He brought us here, and we were going in together like one big happy fucking family. His face contorted into an array of expressions that I had never seen before. I grabbed him as we lined up against the wall of the compound waiting for the fellas to open the gate. All the while he kept saying in English, “No Mister, please, no Mister, please.” “Shut the fuck up you stupid bitch! You’re going in,” I yelled in Arabic, as the first Ranger was blowing the gate open to gain access to the inner courtyard of the residence.

As the stack of Rangers, Diyaa and I all ran into the compound, I noticed that this house was a bit different than the 30+ houses we had raided in Baghdad, Habbaniyah, and Fallujah thus far. It was well-kept, the grass inside the walls was green, and the windows all had curtains in them. That’s a bad sign…

After seeing the Rangers blow the gate off its hinges, my little Iraqi friend thought he was going to be a cool guy and became a bit emboldened. His initial fear seemed to melt away after he saw that we had actually penetrated the “inner sanctum” of the “Saddam House” and he seemed to take a sort of strange leadership role, telling people to be careful and pointing out items of interest.