All over Baghdad, families drove to the power stations with pistols and AK-47s and ordered the employees to restore electricity to their neighborhoods. It was their chance to make freedomization work for them.
The electricity problem was not limited to the capital. The factories lining the road to Al-Hillah either limped along on generator power or had fallen into a coma. In Basra, which never had electricity in the first place, nothing had changed. But now the Sunni towns north and west of Baghdad had no power either and residents there were baffled; they had enjoyed uninterrupted service when Saddam was in charge and didn’t see any reason why that should change just because foreigners had taken over the government. By the end of May, some people agreed that their electricity was being redirected to Israel to power missile factories and poison gas laboratories that would be used against them in the next phase of the war. This terrible tale propelled 849 Iraqi men and teenagers to take part in attacking Americans and over 12,000 others to sit on their roofs at night and shoot their guns at nothing, because while eager to impress their neighbors they didn’t want to get killed in the process.
Of the 849 rumor-inspired combatants, fifty-five were killed in action and 233 were captured and incarcerated in one of the many prison complexes in the country, joining 455 other inmates who had never taken up arms against the coalition but were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. As for the fifty-five martyrs of the electricity movement, their envied deaths, some of which had been quite spectacular, inspired 970 relatives and neighbors to take up arms on behalf of Iraq and the Arabs and Islam. Fifty university graduates from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait did the same. Unemployed youth from Syria, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan also pledged vengeance after hearing of the obscenities resulting from Iraq’s stolen electricity. Some of these mujahideen later killed people, kidnapped others and/or detonated themselves alive, all acts that inspired others to fight injustice and prove their devotion to God.
In response to this spike in violent activity, America’s intelligence community dispatched two Middle East experts and one counterterrorism guru to Iraq. One of the experts was killed when his convoy was ambushed by members of the incipient electricity movement; the other developed a migraine and was medevaced home. It was soon discovered that the counterterrorism guru maintained a vacation home in France so he was sent home as well, and the replacement for all three was a Marine sergeant with a more amenable personality, a former tight end from Wisconsin who loved bass fishing and eating pussy. Excluded from the Army’s closed-door conversations on the electricity movement, the Marine sergeant tried to get noticed in the Saddam Intelligence Team instead. The data collected by the Saddam Intelligence Team were relayed to the Secret Saddam Task Force, but because the Secret Saddam Task Force had its own, internal intelligence cell, the Saddam Intelligence Team’s electronically encoded reports never made it past the bulwark of proxy servers and firewalls that had been set up to protect the Secret Saddam Task Force’s network from infiltration.
Without electricity there was no refrigeration, air conditioning or powered fans, and for each scorching hour that elapsed without it, more Iraqis cursed the Americans for their cruelties and their lies. As the heat mounted, death came to the very young and the very old. Iraqis that had spent their evenings shooting in the air turned their rifles to the street.
The Americans had broken everything and put nothing in its place.