family known, Salmon most certainly would not have been playing in the street.
Oblivious to the oncoming Mercedes Benzes, Salmon flipped the ball from his foot to his
thigh, then back to his foot, then over his shoulder, where he kicked it with the outside
edge of his foot, attempting to pop the ball over his shoulders for the neck-shoulder-blade
move. He lost control of the ball and it went down the dirt street and under the lead car
of the motorcade. Salmon had not wanted to lose the ball, so he ran toward the front car.
The car honked loudly at him and a man stuck his head out the window telling Salmon to
move. Salmon tried to explain to the man that his ball was under the car. It was at this
time that Mohammed el Faya heard the news about the motorcade and ran from his house
out onto the street to find his brother. The crowd was thick and was being corralled to
the side of the street by Saddam‘s armed guards. Mohammed tried to yell at his brother,
but the crowd made too much noise for Salmon to hear.
The next moment was like a slow-motion dream that he had seen a hundred times in
his sleep since then. A burly guard exited the car, armed with an AK-47. Without the
slightest hesitation, the guard sprayed a volley of automatic fire into Salmon‘s head,
chest, and legs, killing him instantly. The lead car of the motorcade then drove over the
boy‘s lifeless body, which thumped loudly under the wheels of the Mercedes. The crowd
was outraged, but the guard wasn‘t hearing any complaints. He sprayed another set of
rounds in the air as a warning, threatening anyone who dared to challenge him or
Saddam‘s authority. Before Saddam left the town, he stopped his car and walked to the
edge of the street, where he plucked a small child from the hands of its mother like a
friendly politician. Saddam paused, smiling, holding the child up. Another guard took
out a Polaroid Instamatic and took a picture of Saddam with the child. Saddam turned to
the frightened mother and, returning her child to her, said, ―It is so nice to see the
children of Dujail.‖ Saddam patted the child on the head and drove off in his car.
Mohammed ran into the street wailing in anger and grief, holding his dead little
brother, his small white cotton shirt drenched in red blood. At that moment, holding his
brother, he vowed to get vengeance on Saddam Hussein. He promised that he,
Mohammed el Faya, would put the bullet through Saddam‘s brain.
For the next two years, he trained extensively with firearms. He learned to use
American weapons, Russian weapons, and cruder models. However, he was most
interested in sniper rifles. He had been a very good shot as a child. His father had let
Mohammed and Salmon guard the family‘s small flock of sheep from coyotes and other
predators. Mohammed had incredible vision, the kind that comes once in a generation.
He was determined to be skilled at the most sophisticated long-range sniper weapons. His
father had given him his Accuracy International sniper rifle, and Mohammed soon
became expert in shooting it.
Four months ago, some of the young men in town who had similar grudges against
Saddam decided to form a team to stage an assassination. They recruited an older Shiite
military fighter from the town called Sabat to plan the mission. Sabat‘s son had been
taken to one of Saddam‘s prisons five years ago and had never returned. He had a salt
and pepper beard, and, even though he was grossly overweight, he had the full respect of
all the young men. The first part of Sabat‘s plan was to plant spies in as many places in
Baghdad as they could. The sole mission of the spies was to learn when Saddam would
be coming again to Dujail. Sure enough, last week, a Dujaili spy working at a restaurant
in Baghdad had overheard two generals in the Republican Guard talking about Saddam‘s