Terps in Iraq

In 2008, Sam was a 20 year old Iraqi college student in Baghdad who became an interpreter for the US Marines. He started a blog that tracked his experiences as a terp, and as a young man with all the usual concerns — especially girls. He is one of the lucky interpreters who was finally able to legally re-locate to the US, earlier this summer. While Sam’s life is vastly different from Musa’s, his experiences and concerns as an interpreter are recognizable. Below find a few excerpts from Sam’s blog, INTERPRETERS LIFE IN IRAQ WAR.

Mon, June 23, 2008 — Who is the Interpreter?

The INTERPRETER word means: translating thoughts, points, meanings and actions, but it doesn’t mean translating literally!!the interpreter is a communications bridge between the Coalition Forces and the Local Iraqis, without the interpreter they cant communicate with each other and bad things will happen cuz of the misunderstanding!!

for example, I remember we were doing security operation in a city- west of Iraq, I was with my team. we were the strikers. and there were MET team( team deals with the Iraqi Army).. the MET team leader told his interpreter to call the IA’s (Iraqi Army) through the radio and telling them to stay away from that house which we were getting fire from, cuz the air will bomb it…
the interpreter didn’t understand what his team leader told him, but I was there and I heard what the team leader said…so the interpreter called the IA’s and told them “hey the Americans say get in the house and detain the bad guys inside the house”..

I heard him and I was like what the fuck r u tellin them???? Do u wanna kill them u stupid? he said “that what the team leader said!!” I said “call it off”, then I asked the team leader what u just told him? he said “tell the IA’s to be away from the house cuz the air will bomb it..” then the terp understood that he translated wrong and he almost kill IA’s team by translating mistake…then he called the IA’s again and told them “run far away from the house ASAP the air coming to bomb it..”

Sam the Interpreter

then he thanked me and started crying cuz it was gonna be a really massacre to the IA’s but thanks god I heard what the team leader said and what the terp translated..
my point is, there is a really good terps and there is ok terps and there is sux.. there is terps needs terps, we call them TNT, which is stands for Terp Needs Terp..

the terp was so confused while he was translating cuz we were under fire. but his confusing almost killed the IA’s!!  here I’m trying to define the interps and who r they and what r they and why they chose this job. I wont talk only about myself here but I’ll talk abut other terps too..
the terps community is a mix of a lot and different classes of ppl, u can find terps from age 18 years old to 65 years and maybe more and from different life classes, like ppl used to be wealthy families or ppl poor and trying to be rich or ppl just want to live good and in peace.. u can find doctors, engineers and ppl still students and also u find ppl they haven’t even graduated from high school and ppl even cant read or write Arabic or English!!..

I’ve never met an interpreter he really loves this job and he really wants to stay in it forever or something. they all have goals and most of the goals r two: gettin kinda good money, feeling safer at work more then at home cuz at work u know u r a target and u r ready to protect yourself but at home in any sec somebody can come and kill u..

there is a fact about terps and its we have to be LIARS so we can still survive, we cant say what is our real names, where we live exactly, what our phone# or anything can define or ID cuz the insurgents they will kill us if they know who we are and were we live. they wont only kill us, but they’ll kill our families too..

some of the terps used to work for the Security Companies or the KBR or something else for the Coalition Forces…
there is bad terps, like some of them worked for the insurgents but they r few, and most of them got caught by the CF..

there is another fact, I’ve never heard a terp says he works to help his country, I mean I heard some of them say it, but I bet them if they really mean it…
for myself I work for the money, money and revenge from insurgents and nothing else!!
I mean I love my country, but to be honest I’m not doing it for my country..
Through terps job, the terp help a loooot of ppl, not only by translating but by talking and explaining to Americans things they think wrong about Iraq and Iraqis..well I think that’s pretty much abut WHO ARE THE INTERPRETERS? I hope its enough..
if u ppl have any question go ahead and ask me!!
Take care everybody..

9. Why do u work as an interpreter?
I work cuz I need money and I want to revenge from the insurgents cuz they fucked up my life and I hate them to death.

10. do u like ur work?
I don’t really like it cuz I hate military life. After the invasion I said thanks god there is no more Saddam army, I don’t have to be in the army anymore, but now I’m working with the hardest military in the world US Army and US Marines!!.. 
11. do u feel that u r a disloyal like the local national people call u?
No, I feel proud for what I’m doing cuz I’m doing this to myself and to my family and I’m not ashamed from what I’m doing cuz I’m convinced that I’m not doing wrong thing, I’m just a guy wants to have a nice life, that’s all!!
12. do u think now is better or Saddam’s time was better?
to be honest, Saddam’s time was way better to me and to my family, cuz in his time there was security and no1 fucks with u only if u fuck with Saddam’s govt. so if u wanted live in peace just stay away from Saddam and his men but now u got to stay away from the whole Iraq to be in peace..
15. Do u feel safe and secure while u r working with us?
yes I do, sometimes not really but I force myself to believe I’m safe with u guys so I can have full self-confidence of myself.. 
16. Ain’t u scared from death?
Dude I’m dead long time ago, since we left our houses and my life got fucked up, so im not really scared and sometimes I pray to die, seriously I do, I feel the death walks with me and so many times I felt the death angel walks in front of my sight, specially when we get clashes and gunfight, I see my life flashes in my eyes and when I really feel am so close to death, i say God plz I don’t want to die yet for heaven and my mom’s sake, after everything goes well I just feel how much life is priceless and it is worth to live, just when I taste the death I feel the good flavor of the life, then I wish and fight just to stick alive..
17. R u proud to be Iraqi and a Muslim?
Frankly? sometimes I feel I’m not proud to be a Muslim or Iraqi for all the wrong things I see during this job from ppl calling themselves Muslims. so I don’t feel proud to be a Muslim and there are ppl like these bastards Muslims too. honestly I hate Muslims but I don’t hate Islam, cuz Muslims nowadays don’t follow the real Islam. yea sometimes I don’t feel proud to be Iraqi either and a Muslim, I’m sorry for myself..
18. do u want to go to the States?
hell yea every1 in the world wants to go the states, dude anywhere BUT here!!.
19. Is ur job as an interpreter helps u to go to the States?
when are u going home?
no not really, it’ll if I’m lucky enough but I’m not that lucky. I don’t know really when, but I think when I put my plans in time and I get enough money to do something that I want to do like college issues.
20. Why u dont join the Iraqi Army?
I hate military life, I hate to be told hey do this do that, even as an interpreter but I’m doing it not forever just till I get enough and find another civilian job..
21. why do Iraqis get scared from telling us abut the bad guys?
I think because Iraqis think that Americans do all the bombs and they in charge of killing the innocents or something like this. that is what I hear of course, some of them don’t report because they are the family of those insurgents, or because they are poor and getting paid by the bad guys in order not to tell…who knows!

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