Ako Abdulrahman began looking for ways to protect himself when jihadist militants started coming closer to his home in Kirkuk, Iraq. Abdulrahman found a solution to his fears when he bought a 1990s bulletproof BMW at a car auction for $10,000.
Abdulrahman, a Peshmerga fighter, was grateful to drive around the city without fear of being shot at from far away. That changed on October 21st, when ISIS militants launched a series of attacks on the city.
The militants wounded many during these attacks. City officials were afraid to help the injured because they feared there could be snipers in the area. Abdulrahman heard the news, got in his vehicle, and began transporting injured residents to safety.
“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,” Abdulrahman said in an interview.
Though he was under constant fire from snipers, Abdulrahman was able to rescue over 70 people and to carry back the bodies of some of the fallen.
Dr. Najmaldin Karim, governor of Kirkuk, honored Abdulrahman with a certificate of bravery and an envelope containing $385. Abdulrahman did not want the money, though by the time he noticed it, it was too late to give it back. Abdulrahman has also turned down an offer from BMW to replace his car and plans to keep his current model and repair it for future use.
“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,” Adulrahman said.