Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Wednesday - November 25, 2003 7:00 pm Baghdad

I wasn't able to write yesterday because of our schedule. The latest that the Internet cafes stay open is 9:30 pm. I've waited one hour for this machine so I'll give a quick blog of today and yesterday.

Yesterday we spent much of the day at the Abu Hanifa Mosque in West Baghdad as the guest of the Imman (religious leader). This is the largest Suni mosque in the City.

We learned much about the Mosque but also saw the damage that was done during the fighting by U.S. soldiers who sent a missile through their tower and used RPGs inside to gain access to the interior rooms, including their relic (the tomb of Abu Hanifa).

The Imman, Shiek Mouyad Al-Adhami is in his early 40's and, well educated and jovial. His take is that Saddam was "a devil" but also that the U.S. "promise to do somethings but we hve seen nothing." He says that things are getting worse in his part of the city. More about this trip later.

I was responsible for cooking dinner for our group so was busy in the evening getting things ready for that.

Today we had a quite busy schedule. We visited 2 families who had their home bombed, went to the National Museum that was ransacked (closed today for the holidays), and also had a visit with the Coaition Provisional Authority within the "Green Zone". That meeting revealed some interesting things about some of the personalities that are making decisions about Iraq.

I'll have a full report soon but suffice to say that those in charge don't seem to have a clue as to what is going on outside of their walls. They seem to be frustrated.

We also visited the bomb United Nations building and also the International Red Cross (ICRC) building that was bombed by terrorists. The rain today and the gray skys only added to the somber scene.

It's night but the streets are full of fireworks and children enjoying the holiday (even with the power out), lots of car horns, etc. Businesses like this Internet Cafe (the Balloon Cafe) run on generators.

See you with more soon. CJ

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