DAMASCUS, Syria — A local Syrian man is poring over English textbooks day after day to perfect his pronunciation of the phrase “no ISIS here” in preparation for his upcoming work as a translator for U.S. military forces, sources confirmed.
Abdul Barazi, 47, a native Arabic speaker who speaks very little English beyond “hello” or “mister,” is excited that once coalition forces begin conducting ground combat operations in the region, he’ll be there to listen to locals describe in Arabic both intelligence on ISIS militants and a wide variety of local problems, which will then be translated to U.S. troops as “he say America number one.”
“I am hope that one day President George Bush come and liberate Syria with United State of Freedom troops,” said Barazi in perfect Arabic, which was then translated for Duffel Blog reporters by a graduate of Defense Language Institute who wasn’t quite sure what that last word was. “ISIS no good here. ISIS bad bad man. Ali Baba.”
In addition to the phrase “no ISIS here” which will help U.S. forces easily not identify any militants, Barazi has reportedly been studying other key phrases he believes will be useful. These include “ISIS in next village,” “These men just farmers,” and “he not really say anything important,” which Barazi intends to use when a village elder speaks on important topics for any length of time over two minutes.
Barazi is not alone in his quest to learn English. Many others in Syria are working on their language skills so they can get an interpreter job paid for by the U.S. government, including businessmen, recently released criminals, and ISIS militants. Meanwhile, local schoolchildren are learning how to say “pencil” and “chocolate,” as well as “one dollar” in an effort to help boost the local Syrian economy.
At press time, Barazi was practicing with a friend who role-played by describing himself having a bad hip, cataracts, and a mean case of syphilis, which was translated as “need medicine.”
Duffel Blog investigative journalist Lee Ho Fuk contributed to this report.