The Departed–Ten Years After

The opening column in this month’s Foreign Service Journal is a timely and moving reminder of friends and colleagues killed ten years ago in a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia. American Foreign Service Association President Robert J. Silverman writes:

The Foreign Service has taken more deaths in the line of duty, on a percentage basis, than has the U.S. military officer corps, and none of us more so than our Diplomatic Security colleagues. Since Diplomatic Security was formed in the closing days of World War II, 93 of its personnel have been killed in the line of duty, including local guards and contract employees. The majority have died in the last 10 years in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

2004-12-07_jeddah_foyer_600On December 6th, 2004, I huddled with my colleagues beneath the hardline visa counter at the U.S. Consulate General in Jeddah as a siren screamed overhead and five terrorists planted bombs and sprayed gunfire across our compound.

Today, I want to recall my dearest friends who lost their lives (not to mention the many who survive with wounds—scars both physical and emotional). The departed remain unsung patriots, cut down in hot, brutal fashion while serving the United States:

Imad, who several times took me in hand on his own time to guide me through the complicated process of buying a truck in Saudi Arabia. Gregarious, helpful, selfless, Peace be upon him.

Basheer, who smiled from the day he started working with us in general services. His generous gift of a vase from India sits prominently in my family home. Cheerful, energetic, Peace be upon him.

Romeo, who kept my international line working so I could call home and talk to the woman who would later become my wife. Quiet, efficient, professional, Peace be upon him.

Ali bin Taleb, noble Chauffer, Peace be upon him.

And smiling Jaufar Sadik, the Sri Lankan Local Guard Force (LGF) member. In a letter to Commentary Magazine, a former U.S. Consul General in Jeddah wrote of him:

Without protective cover, Sadik bravely returned fire from three terrorists who entered the compound of the consulate general. It was he… who killed the terrorist leader and prevented further carnage. Moments later, Sadik himself was killed by a fourth terrorist who came from behind and shot him fatally in the head.

Peace be upon him.

jeddahFor more detailed reading about what happened that day, and the months leading up to it, several accounts are now available. Greg Matos’ Shattered Glass—The Story of a Marine Embassy Guard is a non-fiction account by the Marine standing Post when the terrorists stormed our compound. An essay by Political Officer Heather Kalmbach, present that day, appears in the 2011 third edition of Inside a U.S. Embassy. In fiction, satire rules the narrative of Two Pumps for the Body Man, which explores the things that can go wrong in protecting our diplomats overseas.

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