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Bahrain - April 2002

Anonymous Marine

Subject: Fw: Embassy duty in Bahrain
Date: Sat, 27 Apr 2002 14:29:30 -0700

Just to let you know the Embassy in Bahrain was attacked yesterday at 4:00 p.m. The five Marine Security Guards and the two Regional Security Officers were the only ones protecting the Embassy. The Embassy was closed so luckily we only had to protect ourselves and the Embassy compound from destruction. The protest was a pro-Palestinian rally that started a few miles from the embassy and became fueled for violence as radical Muslim groups took charge and led the march on the embassy at 3:30 p.m. The march was between 2600 and 3000 protestors, but we do not have an exact count because it just happened several hours ago. The protestors were throwing rocks, sticks and fire bombs at the embassy. Between 20 and 30 protestors climbed the wall and started setting the cars, trucks and embassy on fire. When the protestors climbed the walls, the 5 Marines were authorized to use necessary force. We shot tear gas into the crowd of over 2600 people to try and turn them away from the compound and then continued destruction of our pov's and satellite communication equipment, which was outside the embassy but inside the compound wall. At 4:10 p.m. no firefighters had arrived, so three Marines had to leave the embassy under covering fire of the Marines with gas on the third floor to go to the back of the compound to put out the fires themselves. We sustained minor injuries from the protestors attacking us with rocks and sticks as we chased them out of the compound and back over the walls using force, while the remaining Marine put out the fires to the best of his ability. After the fires were secured the Marines pulled back into the embassy and continued to force the protestors back onto the highway behind the embassy. The protests were mainly secured by 7:00 p.m. and the investigation was in full swing by this time as well. The Marines stayed at the embassy for security throughout the night and will continue to do so today. The host government was embarrassed that they could not control its own people and that their riot control police were no match for the number of protestors.

      The King of Bahrain instructed the Ministry of Interior to fix the problem before dawn, so that minimal damage would  be seen this morning. When the Marines were told at 6:00 a.m. this morning we could leave to go get some sleep, we drove past the outside of the embassy and were amazed. The graffiti had been painted over, the guard shacks that had been burned were replaced, the fire bomb burns on the wall had been painted over, the thousand's of rocks that had been thrown were swept away, and the barbed wire that surround the embassy the previous day was gone. Other than the total destruction of all government property inside the compound it looked to anyone passing by, that nothing had really happened.

      The host government representatives called the Ambassador last night and told him they would replace everything that was destroyed and that cost was not an issue. The Kingdom of Bahrain is so scared of pissing off the U.S. that it will do anything in its power to preserve its relationship with us even in the shadow of ignorance from it's own people. The entire fight was caught on video because we saw the Al Jazerra News choppers over our heads. The video may or may not be released because it will be handled the same way the Daniel Pearl murder was handled, since the government will try and  pressure what is released and given the fact that the news agency that filmed the riot yesterday is the same one that had the Daniel Pearl murder on tape.

      This is the story of what took place on April 5th 2002 in Manama, Bahrain at 3:30 p.m., regardless of what you see or hear.  Before I leave and go treat my scrapes and cuts and then go to bed for about 12 hours, I would like to say that the two RSO's and five Marines kept the Embassy from burning to an embarrassing pile of United States image, and successfully held off and injured any one that intended to come take our pride from us.

      Did I mention the riot was at least 2600 people?  Just wanted to make sure anyone out there who thought the Marines who guard the embassies were NOT bad ass boys with guns, does not have that in their heads anymore.

      Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am off to bed because I am dead tired, but it was worth it because I had the time of my life yesterday, by far the most fun I have ever had.

      And one more thing, the American flag is still flying as high and bright as it was before the riot and the protestors' flags are lying on the ground covered in mud.


Bahrain - May 2001

Captain Edward Caricato USMC


[Editor's Note:  Capt. Caricato wrote the following letter during a six month deployment aboard the USS Boxer (similar to a miniature aircraft carrier).  He was the Executive Officer for a Marine field artillery battery.  Prior to Bahrain, they had been in Thailand.]

Since Thailand we have continued west and are now in the Persian Gulf. We passed through the Straits of Hormuz a couple days ago and pulled into Bahrain for a 3 day working port visit. We had a lot of work to do while there but I managed to get a couple hours here and there to get off the ship and into town. Bahrain is a pretty interesting place. I highly recommend it as a vacation spot, if you are a devout Muslim. If Muslims feel a little constrained at home they tend to go to Bahrain to let their hair down a little. It is relatively western compared to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.

Because of my limited time there, I did not really get to see too much. Both nights out we went into the Souk (sook) which is a type of open air market. It kind of reminded me of a China town you may find in a big city in the U.S.. It certainly was a change of pace from our nights in Thailand but we still had a good time. Unfortunately, I did not do to much souvenir shopping due to a pretty bad exchange rate ($3.77 = 1 Bahraini Dinar). I did pick up some local spices that I was told were significantly more expensive in the U.S.. Anyone eating in the Caricato house for the next year or so can expect a lot of saffron and curry.

As always I had to test my guts with some of the local cuisine. I figured you can't go much more native than getting in line with a bunch of Bahrainis at a street vendor selling shwarmas. A shwarma is like a gyro. Plus they were pretty cheap. After night #2 I realized a couple rules of thumb when eating shwarmas: #1 They taste really good following a couple beers. #2 They don't taste as good prior to those beers. #Do not ever, under any circumstances watch the vendor prepare your shwarma or look too hard at it while you are eating it. Needless to say, my guts decided it was time to send me a message and I was down hard for about a day after that. The moral of the story; you are safer sampling this cuisine at a gyro stand in the food court of your local mall and even that isn't a 100% guarantee.

I wish I had more to write but we have been pretty busy preparing for our next evolution. By the time you receive this letter I will be ashore in Kuwait for some training.

[Continued:  Click on Countries - Kuwait]