Pay money

yousif12.jpgIraq: Extortion remains one of the rules of the road in still dangerous provinces | Mindy Belz

MOSUL, Iraq—Odisho Yousif’s job every two weeks or so was to take money raised on behalf of church families, people victimized by violence, kidnapping, or persecution mostly in Baghdad, and deliver it to them or their church. Almost since the war began, Iraqis living in the United States and elsewhere in the diaspora, as well as Iraqis with secure livelihoods in the north, became a kind of life support system. When a family lost its grocery store due to a bombing, or a relative had to raise ransom after a kidnapping, the support system kicked in. Yousif, 61, a lay leader in the Assyrian Church of the East and an active member in the central committee of Iraq’s minority Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP), developed a networking talent for raising money and finding need during the worst years of terrorist fighting—when Iraqi deaths easily averaged 500-1,000 a month. That is, until he himself became the victim.

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