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Witness
Accidental Hero
A rare glimpse into the lives of the men who keep Iraq's oil flowing.
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2009 14:11 GMT

Watch part two

Filmmaker: Rashed Radwan

Some, as the saying goes, have greatness thrust upon them. 35 year-old Farouk works on the Basra Oil Terminal in the Shatt Al-Arab Waterway, surrounded by tankers and warships from the US, the UK and Australia.

They patrol under UN authorisation, their job is to guarantee the safety of shipping in the area and to protect Iraq's oil exports. In April 2004, these warships were unable to prevent a looming disaster.

From his work station in the communications office of the terminal, Farouk has a birds-eye view of the Shatt-Al-Arab waters, the starting point for the war between Iran and Iraq.

"He is a very simple man that had spent all his life with his tribe in Southern Iraq. To get a job in the oil industry for him was an amazing opportunity even though he was about to follow his father on their family business of working in the date palm groves." Carmen Marques, the producer of Accidental Hero said.

In April 2004 Farouk was at his post when he heard a huge explosion at another neighboring Oil Terminal. Coalition forces rushed headlong towards the blast, leaving the Basra Terminal undefended. Suddenly Farouk saw a small boat speeding directly towards the terminal. He knew immediately what it was – a suicide bomber heading straight for him.

"Farouk is a great example of how each one of us can be a hero. When four boats full of explosives tried to destroy the Basra Oil terminal, nobody, not even the Iraqi and American soldiers on board of the warships could react on time. Farouk did, using what he learned from his ancestors, tribesmen living in the marshes of southern Iraq, in the region of the ancient Mesopotamia where people have lived for centuries from fishing and hunting."

Rashed Radwan's film is about the day a simple worker from an Iraqi village helped prevent a massive economic and ecological disaster. It is a fascinating human story but also a rare glimpse into the lives of the men who keep Iraq's oil flowing.

"Farouk still doesn't understand the importance of his action. It was very strange to meet this man face to face knowing that his prompt action had such huge influence in our lives all over the world."

Source:
Al Jazeera
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