A Tale of Two Mothers

From Holden:

One is the proud mother of Fallujah insurgent fighters. The other is the fearful mother of an Iraqi National Guardsman. A simple comparison of the two women and their outlook on life and their son’s futures vividly illustrates just which side is winning this war.

“A ‘fatwa’ has been issued to behead any ING [Iraqi National Guard] member that enters Falluja and is caught,” said Mariam [the mother of two insurgent fighters], who like Athra [the mother of an Iraqi National Guardsman] asked that her full name not be used because she feared for her sons’ safety. “We consider them traitors.”

This is now the dominant front of the war in Iraq. Transcending explicitly sectarian or ethnic lines, the division is between those Iraqis who fight for the interim government and those who struggle against it.

Although she is now a refugee, Mariam is proud of her children, perhaps proudest of her three sons – all in their early 20s – who stayed in Falluja to fight “the infidels”.


This week she learned that her sons survived the Falluja offensive, escaping from the city on the fourth day of fighting and making their way to Baghdad by desert roads, but should they not be so lucky next time she will celebrate. “Even if they die, they are martyrs, we know they will be in heaven,” she said.

For Athra, the guardsman’s mother, the thought of rejoicing in her son’s death is unimaginable. Athra begged 19-year-old Haider not to join the national guard.

“This was the only job he could get – he tried for so many jobs,” 38-year-old Athra said.