Ako Abdulrahman is a Kurdish Peshmerga fighter who was constantly under ISIS attack from militants who were advancing around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. For extra protection, he purchased an early ’90s BMW which was outfitted with armor to make it bulletproof. He told CNN, “My friends were very happy when I bought the armored car. We started driving in it to the front line near Kirkuk, not worried about ISIS drive-by shootings or roadside bombs.”
On October 21, dozens of ISIS militants carried out a series of attacks against Kirkuk. Civilians and security forces in neighborhoods were targeted, leaving 64 dead, and more than 100 wounded and stranded, while they were trapped with some able-bodied persons surrounded by ISIS sniper fire.
Abdulrahman decided to take action.
“I told myself, this is the right time to help people, this is the right moment to do it. I am a fighter and I have a bulletproof car, shame on me if I can’t help.” He drove in and out of the city in his armored BMW, picking up the injured and trapped, and transferring them to safety. “I kept telling myself, my people are in danger, they need me, my city is in danger, I have to protect it.”
He continued, “When I arrived at the scene, I saw many people on the ground, civilians and security forces and no one could dare to come close because of ISIS snipers and random shooting. In my car, I carried Sunni, Shiite, Kurds, Turkmen and Christians. I felt like I am truly Iraq and this is who everyone should be. My car received more than 50 bullets, [there are] marks all over it. ISIS kept shooting, hoping to penetrate my car to kill me and kill the wounded people inside it.”
Abdulrahman rescued more than 70 people who were trapped, and even transferred the bodies of dead civilians away from the attack zones. Kirkuk Gov. Dr. Najmaldin Karim personally thanks Abdulrahman in a presentation, giving him a certificate of thanks, as well as a reward of 500,000 Iraqi dinars, something Abdulrahman is grateful for, but feels is unnecessary. “I was happy with the certificate of appreciation from the governor, but I thought it’s insulting to give me money for something every Iraqi should do.”
He even turned down an offer for a brand new BMW in exchange for his bullet riddled car, which BMW wanted to display proudly at its headquarters. Instead, he wants to repair his old car, so he can continue fighting. “I am not a hero, I am only an ordinary Iraqi who wants to defeat his country from criminals and killers.”