His Greed Led to His Death

A woman with her children goes to visit relatives. Photo: IWPR

A woman with her children goes to visit relatives. Photo: IWPR

My cousin Ayman used to smuggle guns and ammunition. After the revolution began, he used to buy arms from the regime’s supporters and sell them to revolutionaries at a very high price.

The whole village knew about Ayman’s wealth. He was filthy rich, as they say.

I remember going to see his wife in their house nearby one night. I asked her, “Why do you allow him to go and meet those people, don’t you get scared?”

“We used to live in poverty and now we have everything,” she replied. She was proud of her clothes and jewelry, and served us the finest food during our visit.

A few days later, I heard that she had opened a shop selling women’s clothes. I went there thinking of buying something but the prices were so expensive I went home empty-handed.

Ayman told my husband Riyad that he should come to work with him. My husband told me about the offer and said that he was seriously considering it because of our difficult financial situation. His job would only be to secure the road. Riyad dreamed of buying a car like Ayman and a piece of land and becoming rich. However, I refused to let him because it was still dangerous and I was terrified of losing him.

One July night in 2013, Ayman went to the western mountains as usual to smuggle ammunition. But he went alone this time, riding his motorcycle.

That night, we heard the sound of heavy gunfire from the western side of the village. We didn’t know what was happening. The villagers thought that the shabiha militia were about to invade our village, and we were all scared.

While we sat there worrying, Ayman’s wife came hurrying to our house and cried as she told us that he had gone alone with a large sum of money. He was carrying 10,000 US dollars, not a small amount in those days.

My husband and I were shocked and he and other villagers and members of Ayman’s family members went to see what was happening. We later learned that a trap had been set for Ayman.

We tried to call Ayman but the phone kept ringing without an answer. My husband persisted and to his surprise someone eventually answered and said he had killed Ayman and taken both his money and motorcycle. One of Ayman’s brothers took the phone and said to the man, “Take everything. I will sell his car and his land and all that he owns and give them to you but let him come back to us.”

The murderer answered him drily, “The amount he had was sufficient.”

Ayman’s family didn’t believe Ayman was dead and kept begging the man to let him go. They didn’t believe it until the murderer sent a picture of Ayman, covered with blood.

I went to his wife to comfort her. She said, “Let them take everything and give me back Ayman.”

But it was too late, Ayman was dead now and he will not return, even if they paid his weight in gold. She was beating herself and wishing that she had not let him go that night.

Ayman died and his wife and children remained without a father to care for them, all because of his love for money. His greed led to his death.

Nahla Mustafa, 22, is married with three children. A housewife from western Hama countryside, she was displaced from the town of Maar Tahroma.