IRAQI JIHAD NEWS SERVICE--Pathim Tili Al-Aman has a life any Iraqi would envy. He is 28 and holds both a M.B.A. and a Ph.D from the prestigious Cairo University. Until a month ago, he ran the futures desk at the new Baghdad Stock Exchange, a gig that yielded a salary over $400,000 a year. He shares a sprawling luxury apartment, furnished with rare cacti and Babylonian artifacts he acquired a year ago and which enjoys a panoramic view of Baghdad from the Tigris to the Green Zone and back again, with four wives and eight sons. His second wife Nadia, famous as the prettiest girl in their upscale Mansoor neighborhood, still turns heads from behind her abaya as she zips past local checkpoints in one of the couple's three new Mercedes.
"Pathim has a bright future. He can do whatever he wants," says Kamal Abbas, a childhood friend. "Not only is he a brilliant businessman, fashion model, and mathematician, he's the most promising football [soccer] player this country has ever produced." He was offered a 3.6 million dinar, three-year contract to play for the Karkh sports club. He's a hard worker, a devoted family man and an award-winning chef. Everyone who meets him describes him as a stunningly handsome, virile, hard-driving man with a deeply thoughtful, intellectual streak. Though Tili Al-Aman describes himself as a "lapsed Sunni," Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani relies upon his encyclopedic knowledge of Islamic legal history to settle intractable ecclesiastical controversies and to settle conflicts between warring tribal factions.
But that's all in the past. Pathim has enlisted in the Jama'at al-Tawhid wal Jihad, known since October as al-Qaeda in Iraq. He will soon report as an ordinary grunt insurgent to a remote camp in southeastern Kurdistan to learn basic guerilla warfare tactics from agents of Ansar al-Islam. He will receive $70 a month to cover food, plus $500 for every coalition soldier he kills. Like any other resistance fighter, he will supply his own Kalashnikov rifle and rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
Under normal circumstances, Tili Al-Aman could look forward to a life of luxury and glamor, his future assured. Instead he has chosen the harder but more satisfying path of sacrifice and hardship. And with thousands of anti-coalition soldiers already martyred, there's a real chance he could leave his family fatherless and destitute.
"People ask 'Why would a guy give up everything to plant roadside bombs in the trash?'," said Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, chief JTJ commander. "The answer is, he's a leader. He doesn't want some other man doing his fighting for him."
"Sure, I'm successful. And I could make a lot of money playing football. But none of that seemed important after we were attacked on 3-25," said Tili Al-Aman, referring to the start of the 2003 American invasion. "My grandfather died defending the nation from Britain in 1941. My father fought alongside il-Za'im to depose the puppet Hashemite monarchy in 1958. What have I done?"
While many of his peers wallow in self-indulgence, Pathim Tili Al-Aman is a genuine patriot, selfless and disciplined, a man whose band of brothers is his top priority. "We are at war," he says. "Wars need leaders. And that's what I am, a leader."
This is the cry of the pure at heart, naturally repugnant to the liberal kubba-nibbling cultural elitists who smile and wave at passing troops of the forces of imperialist American oppression. Such effete poindexters see no irony in mocking the men whose resistance protects their right to issue such utterances, without whom they would probably die screaming in a torture chamber at Gitmo or Abu Ghraib.
Consider Malik Morali, the comedian-documentarian who derides Tili Al-Aman's heroism as "another ignorant raghead willing to get shot up like Swiss cheese on the off chance his I.E.D. will cost a Hummer a flat tire ... stooo-pid." Or Fariz Farez, a "pundit" whose newspaper serves the U.S. puppet Allawi. "Risking your life for a bunch of Koran-thumping woman haters and oil-stealing Baathist thugs hardly makes you a hero," sneered Farez in his syndicated column. "It makes you a sap."
Thank Allah we have more men like Tili Al-Aman, who are willing to fight and even die for our freedom, than cowards like Morali.
UPDATE: Al-Qaeda will honor fallen mujahid Pathim Tili Al-Aman, killed in combat defending Fallujah. A $1,000 martyrdom remittance will be paid to each of his widows. Tili Al-Aman was lauded in a special Internet videotape recorded by Sheikh Osama bin Laden for intentionally drawing infidel fire after he was struck by a bullet, allowing his comrades to escape their safehouse. "He gave up millions of dinars to join the resistance," noted bin Laden. "Anyone who doubts that he's an Iraqi hero is a traitor." Sheikh al-Zarqawi has posthumously awarded Tili Al-Aman the Silver Crescent for his final act of bravery.
FURTHER UPDATE: Al-Qaeda in Iraq has issued a terse statement indicating that Pathim Tili Al-Aman, the young businessman and budding soccer star lionized as a national hero who joined the insurgency to fight American terrorism, actually died from "friendly fire," having been shot by a fellow jihadi. Asked whether Tili Al-Aman's Silver Crescent award would be revoked, Sheikh al-Zarqawi reminded Iraqis that he remains "a national hero whom every patriotic young man should emulate."