Dispatches From Iraq: The Final Option

Michael Yon is an independent journalist and former Green Beret who was embedded in Iraq for nine months in 2005. He has returned to Iraq for 2007 to continue reporting on the war. Here is a portion of his latest dispatch exclusively for FOXNews.com.

HIT, Iraq — Many people in Hit directly attribute the resurrection of this city in large part to the courage of Iraqi Police General Ibrahim Hamid Jaza (General Hamid), who took an aggressive stand against the Al Qaeda (AQI) terrorists who had brazenly made Anbar province a home base and slaughter pad with their marketplace car bombs, beheadings, and reputation for hiding bombs intended to kill parents in the corpses of dead children whom they'd gutted.

Click here to read the full dispatch from Michael Yon in Iraq.

Over time, AQI provided ample demonstrations of their ruthless and reckless abuses of power over civilians, shooting people for using the Internet, or watching television, or other “moral transgressions” such as smoking in public. AQI's claim of fundamentalist piety proved to be a thin veneer that was quickly eroded by blatant drug, alcohol and prostitute use. The people of Anbar rejected AQI, but AQI was still strong and well-armed, so rejection was only a first step.

AQI operatives are not amenable to change, so there was killing to be done. General Hamid was one of the brave souls who took an early stand and went for their throats. In doing so, he demonstrated that the terrorists were also vulnerable. Some soldiers in the Task Force 2-7, began to jokingly refer to the general as “Bufford Pusser” because Hamid literally carried a big stick. But AQI wasn't laughing; they beheaded Hamid's son on a soccer field in the center of Hit in 2005.

About a year ago coalition forces selected Hamid to be the District Chief of Police, confirming his status as a true hero to many Americans and Iraqis. Accordingly, recent signs suggesting that Hamid might have begun flying too close to the sun were a hard and grim reality for officers in both governments, as the evidence of his corruption began to accumulate like so much wax melted off strong wings. Hamid had earned his reputation for being ferocious against terrorists, which might suffice to explain the stunning impact when, without warning or notice, Lt. Col. Crissman arrested and detained the General Tuesday afternoon….

…. Inside the office, General Hamid had unslung his submachine gun and propped it up against the wall. I had noticed earlier that General Hamid’s pistol holster was unsnapped, making the weapon virtually effortless to draw. Perhaps it was an accident that caused the holster to unsnap. But for some reason, and I have no idea why, I thought highly unlikely for a military man like Hamid….

.... I have written before about how keen Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army officers are to have their photographs taken — particularly with Coalition Forces. Photos of Hamid were plastered over the wall behind his desk. Crissman stood calmly beside Hamid and smiled as I snapped a couple of photos. After the last photo, Crissman deftly grabbed Hamid’s pistol out of his unsnapped holster, smiled, and said, “This hurts me more than it hurts you, but I’m going to need you to come with me, General.”

Hamid seemed confused at first, as if his friend Crissman were just admiring Hamid’s Glock pistol. Hamid just kept smiling as Crissman politely said that Hamid was to be detained.

Lt. Col. Crissman, acting solely on his own and with no orders from above, saw that a bloodbath was about to be unleashed, and pulled a plan out of the sky. Yes, there had been a plan already afoot, but Crissman “fragged” it early, managing to arrest an entire police station without a shot being fired, and using me as a photo-op to distract a proud, some might say vain, General just long enough to disarm him.

Fourteen men and General Hamid were arrested. Hamid asked for a cigarette and a soldier offered.

Polite but ready: the soldier kept his own pistol out of Hamid’s sight, but he was ready.

General Hamid was not actually a prisoner of war: his problems are with the Iraqi government, not with ours. Potentially, though, he could hang.

Click here to read the full dispatch from Michael Yon in Iraq.


Independent journalist Michael Yon’s dispatches from Iraq appear exclusively on FOXNews.com. Click to read Yon's online magazine MichaelYon-online.com