Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Kidnap Victim Speaks of His Ordeal

A taxi driver recalls abduction by unknown gunmen who accused him of being an informer for the occupation powers.
By Awad al-Taee

Mohammed Khalid al-Jubori was well aware of the risks of driving around Baghdad, but he never imagined he would be kidnapped and accused of spying.


Jubori, 31, a taxi driver, says his ordeal began one morning, shortly after he’d left for work. After a short drive near the al-Adil district of the city, he picked up his first customer, an elegant women in her twenties.


He said she was in a hurry and asked him to drive her to al-Jadiria, a district where wealthy people, and foreign companies and embassies are located.


Minutes later, he says, she told him that she was a translator. The woman said little more and was clearly nervous, insisting that they were being followed. “There is a car watching me... I saw them before I got in your taxi... be careful,” she told Jubori.


As he drove through an empty street, a black BMW with four occupants, whose faces were covered, overtook them. Moments later, an Opel blocked the car from the back.


“I thought it was an armed car-jacking,” said Jubori, who added that two men armed with pistols stepped out and rushed toward his car.


“Get out... don’t say anything,” they said as they grazed his head with the butt of a pistol, handcuffed him and the lady, and took them away in blindfolds.


“They put me in the car boot. They drove for few minutes. They took us to a place nearby. I was kept alone and told not to do anything... and I didn’t.”


Soon, a man entered and, Jubori said, started to kick him, asking if he was working with the occupation troops. “No I don’t,” Jubori said.


“You are lying. Everyone says ‘No’ and when we interrogate them, they turn out to be spies and agents,” the man said.


Jubori was interrogated for few hours while his abductors tried to make him confess to working with the occupation.


“We will check your address from your car papers. We have information about all agents and spies,” the kidnapper told Jubori.


Claiming he was beaten badly, Jubori said his captors gave him no water and did not allow him to call his family.


“I was afraid,” he said. “I hear that hostages are beheaded. I was scared that they had wrong information about me, and that I would die.”


But another man soon came into the room and told Jubori, “Your information is correct, we checked and asked the translator.”


The man turned to his group and told them, “He has nothing to do with the occupation but we can’t release him right now.”


Other captors warned Jubori not to work with the occupation, and the conversation ended when one of his captors told him, “It’s 1.30 am and we will release you at dawn.”


At dawn, Jubor said “three men took me blindfold... and after a short drive... they let me out and told me to drive my taxi and never to look back”.


He didn’t know what happened to the translator, but felt happy for his own release.


Jubori’s family was concerned about his absence. They searched all the local police stations and hospitals, thinking he had been killed.


“I told them what happened to me... we all broke into tears... I will not work as a taxi driver again,” he said.


Awad al-Taee is an IWPR trainee in Baghdad.


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