Monday, November 7, 2016
In the many wars spanning the globe, a variety of vehicles have been pressed into military service by insurgents and militias alike, most notably the venerable Toyota Hilux. More recently Chinese compact pickups have appeared on battlegrounds, and even one Texas plumber’s Ford F-250 turned up in the hands of some bad guys.
Now comes word that on October 21, a heroic Kurdish Peshmerga fighter used his bulletproof E32 BMW 7 Series as a military ambulance to save up to 70 people. Ako Abdulrehman made repeated trips under ISIS sniper fire to save fighters and civilians wounded during the militants’ attack on the Kurdish city of Kirkuk.
Islamic State fighters attacked several locations in the city that day, but before they were pushed back by police and security forces almost 90 people were killed and over 200 injured. Ako, whose first name means “servant of the merciful” was on a mission near southern Kirkuk when he heard of the attack.
He told BasNews, “After we arrived at the scene, we saw many wounded individuals among the security forces and civilians and no one was able to approach them due to the IS snipers. Therefore we decided to help those wounded people since bullets could not penetrate my car.”
Four months earlier, Ako had bought the bulletproof BMW for $9,000. The extent of its armoring isn’t known but from the looks of it, the glass had been substantially upgraded.
All day long and into the night, Ako ferried Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs wounded in the fighting or by crossfire to a hospital.
“My aim was to prevent any captives, wounded or martyrs falling into ISIS’ hands,” the Peshmerga fighter said. “What really made me sad,” though, was that “many of the wounded, we reached them too late and they bled to death.”
“Sadly, one injured person died on the way to the hospital although he was lightly wounded, but he had not been transferred to hospital soon enough.”
“There are marks from 50 to 60 bullets on the body of my car and many of them hit the front and the windshield of the car,” Ako told Rudaw.net. He added: “The ISIS bullets were coming in my direction. I saw death with my own eyes. Yet, I did not stop what I was doing. I could not leave the wounded in limbo. The only thing I cared about was getting the wounded into my car and driving them to the hospital.”
The brave BMW eventually succumbed to the firepower, but Ako says that BMW is willing to give him a new car in exchange for putting his trusty E32 in the automaker’s museum. BMW Cihan of Baghdad has also offered to repair the 7 Series sedan but Ako instead is going to give his car to a Sulaymaniyah museum to go on display as a symbol of the bravery of the people of Kirkuk.
(Perhaps due to transliteration, there is some confusion about the Kurdish BMW owner’s name. Rudaw.net calls him Ako Abdulrehman. Basnews.com identified him as “Ako Aburrahman, known as Ako Duzi.”)