Sunday, April 5, 2009

The SWAT Team pays a visit - was my neighbor an assassin?

I have been somewhat depressed lately and haven't felt like posting anything, but yesterday's events bear mentioning.

I was awakened by the children at about 9 AM telling me that their teacher called and said he wasn't coming, because the police had blocked off the road in front of our house, and he couldn't get through. I was in half-asleep mode, so that didn't really register completely. I asked Salman to clarify exactly where the police were positioned, not realizing that they were right outside the wall to my villa and barring my driveway, the neighbor's driveway and the small section of road in front of our houses. Once I realized how close they were and that they appeared only interested in blocking our two houses, I was a little alarmed.

I couldn't really see over the wall, so I stood on the sofa in my living room, and from there I could make out about ten unmarked cars of different kinds and several men - mostly locals - in the road outside of my neighbor's place and in their courtyard. I was relieved to know that their interest seemed to be in my neighbor's house and not mine, but still, paranoid thoughts crept through my mind and got me worrying that they might try to search my house and I have absolutely no idea what the rules are here in regard to that - are the police allowed to search homes without a warrant? Not that I am hiding anything, but still being half asleep with a tendency to worry about strange things, I started fretting that any second they would be pounding on my door.

The dog - Max (Billy died, that is another sad story I have to tell) - was getting restless and barking. He is a really really good dog, but hearing strange voices just over the wall and not seeing the people they belong to was getting to him, plus he had had his breakfast and needed to go relieve himself. So, Salman and I took him out for a walk.

As soon as we emerged from our gate, the men in the road stopped talking and stared at us. I felt like a suspect the way they watched our every move. We crossed the road to the field opposite us with the men still watching us. I hate being stared at so I pretended not to notice. And walked a distance from them.

Now opposite my neighbor's house, I could see that not only were their several men in Kandoras and street clothes going in and out, there were what looked like members of a SWAT team deployed inside the courtyard as well, I saw at least four men with all black clothes, including bullet proof vests and helmets and guns. There was a big dark hummer with black out windows with a light on top and a bunch of other cars all with Dubai plates. I didn't see a single RAK police car in the area.

We walked behind in the neighborhood a bit, when we came back, we saw that they were removing our neighbor's cars from the courtyard and putting them on a car carrier. I approached an Indian guy standing by the side of the road. I asked him if he knew what was going on, he shrugged his shoulders. I asked if he knew how much longer they would take, a young local guy with longish hair in jeans and a t-shirt came over when he saw me talking to the Indian guy. He was with the police officers, so I asked him how long they would have the road and my house blocked because I needed to go to the supermarket. He was very gracious and apologized profusely saying "why didn't you tell me, we can move our cars for you right now if you like." I told him "no, it's okay, I will be going later, so as long I am not blocked in then, this is not bothering me."

Then he asked me which car(s) was mine. I told him the red one on the street that they had blocked in and that there was one inside my gate as well.

I asked him what was going on. He just smiled and said "oh nothing, just some problem with the cars and nodded towards the car being moved onto the vehicle carrier." I didn't buy it, maybe I look naive to them, but you don't need to call out special forces to repossess a car. But I didn't say anything; I guess they probably aren't allowed to discuss whatever they are doing with bystanders anyway. The young guy's boss - a Middle Aged Emirati in a Kandora - saw him talking to me and came over. Then they started asking us about our neighbors. I am afraid I was of no use as a witness. I am ashamed to say I have not given the slightest bit of attention to my neighbors to the point where I was not even able to say how many people stayed there, what sex, race or nationality any of the were. I told them, "sorry, I am always at work so I have never seen them, just saw a car parked outside once or twice." I told them to ask Salman, he told them he saw one guy a couple of times who always wears white pants and a white shirt. I was embarrassed by our inability to be useful in this regard; like a typical American, I obviously had no clue what sort of people my next door neighbors were. Judging from how involved my in laws were in their neighbor's lives, I am sure Indian neighbors would have been able to give the police a much more detailed report including their comings and goings, how many they were, and what they looked like as well as a good amount of speculation about their love lives...
Salman actually noticed more details about them than he told the police. Later in the day after they had left, he mentioned to me that the man he saw had blond hair and blue eyes. I laughed considering that information is a lot more useful than the white shirt and pants bit the police got from us.

I apologized to the police officers for not being able to give them more helpful information. The younger one told me to tell them if I need to take my car out and then joked that they were thinking to take my car too. I smiled and told him, "please don't!" then we took Max to finish his business. We took a long walk in the light rain, and when we came back things were starting to wind down at our neighbor's place.

After they had all gone, I noticed some cars in the field opposite the house parked there all day facing us. I don't think that anyone was home when they raided my neighbor's place, so I am not sure that their work here is done yet and the house may still be under surveillance. That evening, as I was standing in my gate looking at the weeds growing in the flowers we planted near the road, I noticed a small white car drive slowly by and then pull in front of my neighbor's gate, stop for a few minutes, and then pull away quickly.

Over all, the whole experience creeped me out because

1. I had been obliviously living next to some sort of dangerous criminal all this time
2. We had obviously been under surveillance for quite some time - at least I know now that I was not paranoid for feeling like some cars used to drive by too slowly too often.
3. They haven't caught them yet.

I made the boys sleep with me last night and I jumped at every noise from outside and every time the dog barked. I keep imagining my criminal neighbor coming home, realizing the police are closing in on him and jumping the wall to my house and holding us hostage.

I told "A" about everything I saw and my conversations with the police and he said once when he took the boys out he saw a guy who looked like a Russian coming out of the house (maybe the blond man Salman saw too) and that he suspects that, judging from what I described, maybe my neighbors were Russian Mafia or drug dealers. But who knows really.... And I thought RAK was such a peaceful little haven..

An update to this... now everyone I am telling this story too is speculating that it all might have something to do with the investigation into the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev, the opponent of Chechnya's Russian backed leader, in Dubai at the end of March.... scary thought, I might have been living next to assassins all this time.....


Ahavah said...

Are you and the children ok?

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness. I am praying for you guys! This is almost worse then living next to a sex offender. If they are trained assasins imagine all the weapons that could have gone off and possibly killed someone close to you. Hoping you can move, and all my love-Lisa.

desertmonsoon said...

Hi Ahavah, welcome, and thanks for your concern, we are fine. They were very quiet neighbors

They are gone now Lisa so we are fine, thanks for your concern too. :)