Thursday, April 20, 2017

Suicide Blast Kills 24 At International Airport (On Surviving A Suicide Bombing - Part II)

I walked away with only a bloody nose, a concussion and multiple lacerations and contusions caused by flying shrapnel and debris.

Had I not taken a knee to double-knot my boot laces at the exact moment the bomber completed the circuit to his suicide vest . . . well, suffice to say mine would have been a closed-casket funeral.

Pink mist doesn't take up much room in a standard-size casket.

I found out later that the suicide vest had been packed with improvised shrapnel, a pre-formed fragmentation matrix consisting of nuts, bolts, ball bearings and nails, to ensure the maximum amount of collateral damage would be inflicted upon the target.

I know this because the navy corpsman ended up pulling six nails out of both of my forearms. Thankfully the velocity at which the shrapnel entered my body was significantly diminished prior to piercing the skin - I was left with only superficial flesh wounds that healed with time.

The woman in front of me however was not as lucky. The fact that those same nails shredded her internal organs and helped shatter every bone in her body before hitting me likely undercut most of their momentum, inadvertently saving my life as a result.

Suicide Blast Kills 24 at International Airport (On Surviving A Suicide Bombing - Part I)

The suicide bomber chose to attack a crowded aviation security checkpoint during rush hour. Most of the victims were early-morning commuters boarding flights bound for Baghdad International Airport. Several checkpoint security officers, who only moments before had clocked in for their respective shifts, perished in the blast as well.

I recall a young man in the crowd yelling in Arabic - "Get down!" - as he attempted to wrestle the initiator switch out of the bombers hand but by then it was too late. The bomber had positioned himself in the center of the crowd, patiently waiting for the perfect moment to complete the circuit and ignite the incendiary hidden beneath his jacket.

The resulting explosion transformed the security checkpoint into a bloodbath. The aftermath is a blur in my mind but I do remember  leading a group of survivors out of the airport and to safety. I also remember stepping into a puddle of something human and not knowing what it was and attempting to shield a young girl's eyes of that sight as she exited the terminal.

In hindsight that was probably a moot point.

Dying in Perspective

Everybody does it, which means it's nothing special.