Each day that I worked for The Post involved attempts to prevent my own killing. No one in my neighborhood knew where I worked or what I really did for a living. I told everyone that I ran my own business, an Internet cafe, in a remote area of northern Baghdad. If people had known the truth, word might have reached bloodthirsty insurgents who wait for a chance to add another name to their death lists.
But my lies weren’t enough to make me feel safe. I knew that someone out there was waiting to kill me because of my work for The Post. I always expected a threatening note to appear on my family’s doorstep, or a bomb to go off as I left my house.
The murders of Iraqi reporters who work for the Western media have left the rest of us with few options. Many have quit our jobs or left the country. I was lucky enough to be accepted, with help from a Post reporter, into a master’s program in writing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, fulfilling my dream to earn a higher degree. But others haven’t had my good fortune. They remain in Iraq either because they don’t have enough money to leave or because they have no place to go.
And yet some journalists remain because they strongly believe that Iraq needs them at this difficult time. “I will never quit my job,” said my aunt, Nidhal al-Mousawi, a reporter for the Iraqi newspaper Azzaman. Insurgents have forced her out of her house. They’ve left her a threatening letter demanding that she quit her job. Yet she hasn’t. “If I quit and my colleagues quit, who is going to tell the world about Iraq?” she told me the night I left Baghdad.
Every day, my aunt drives her car to work, knowing that she might be another victim of the ongoing effort to suppress the truth.