Last week the NY Times wrote an article about a man named Jaburi. (Yes I know that is a Tribe and there are a million Jaburi’s in Iraq, Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait) Mr. Jaburi was kidnapped by ISIS in southern Iraq while truffle hunting with his nephew and cousins in the desert. While many falsely believe that ISIS has been defeated, articles such as this demonstrate that they are alive and well. ISIS is ransoming their Sunni captives for $40,000 to $50,000 US Dollars, and almost without exception, killing their Shiite captives. Mr. Jaburi a Shiite and his cousins were being taken into the desert to be executed when he escaped. His nephew and cousins froze and did not follow suit. They were executed.
Mr. Jaburi told the NY Times that he worked his hands loose from the rope restraints he was in while being transported into the nighttime desert. Jaburi whispered to his cousins and nephew to do the same however they did not. Jaburi waited for the right opportunity and pounced on the guard taking his M16 rifle and tried to shoot him with it. Jaburi forgot to remove the safety so the weapon did not fire, but he kept trying and tried to start the vehicle he was in. The vehicle did not start so he fled into the desert with the M16 rifle. The ISIS fighters did not pursue and only fired into the darkness. Mr. Jaburi walked through the desert for three weeks and was aided by Beduins to finally get home. Mr. Jaburi’s cousins and nephew were executed as planned by ISIS.
Mr. Jaburi made a decision that saved his life, and stuck with it even as parts of his plan failed around him. The weapon failed to fire, the truck didn’t start. Jaburi did not quit and continued despite the odds. We at Captive Audience PTRT teach Anti Kidnapping and Hostage Survival and have taken some great lessons from this story. Perhaps the greatest is the will to survive, and being escape minded. Mr. Jaburi did not allow himself to buy into the learned helplessness his captors tried to instill in him. Instead Mr. Jaburi looked for an opportunity to escape and he urged those around him to do the same. When the time came to escape, Mr. Jaburi did not quit when the first parts of his plan failed but instead, kept fighting. At the end of the day fortune smiles on those who do not hesitate, and those who see the mission through.
As we commemorate the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, it is evident that the lessons learned back then are still important. Saddam is not the kidnapper this time, but the story is still the same. Humans are loved by other humans who will pay ransom to get their loved ones back. Kidnapping your enemies and killing them also sends a message to the masses. While I was on my second tour in Iraq, AQI the predecessor to ISIS was capturing Shiites, killing them, feeding them to pigs, and ransoming the more wealthy one back to their families. The business model has been around since the dawn of time and we urge those who travel to at-risk locations to get travel safety, and anti-kidnapping and hostage survival training. At the end of the day, why would you want to risk it?