Dallas Marine vet posts viral message about dangers in Iraq
DALLAS - A Marine veteran from North Texas made a Facebook post that has millions of people talking.
Steven Gern from Dallas posted a commentary in support of President Trump's travel ban. He said the the growing hostility in Iraq, where he working at the time, should be proof that travel restrictions are necessary. He said the tension and danger for Americans abroad has increased since the travel ban started.
"I can't go out in town here. Why should they go out in town in my country?" he said in the Facebook video. "Just trying to inform you about what's happening on the ground in one of the banned countries."
The private security contractor posted the Facebook video last week. Since then it's gotten millions of views. When it grew to five million, Gern got a call from his security director.
"You got 30 minutes to pack your things," Gern says his director told him. "We need to get you out of the country. Your life is in danger."
A week after his solo flight home, Gern's post has been viewed 44 million times. It describes a question he asked the Iraqi nationals on his security team about President Trump's travel ban.
"As an American, if I went out in town right now, would I be welcome? And they instantly said, 'Absolutely not. You would not be welcome,'" Gern recalled. "And I said, 'Ok. What would happen if I went out in town?' And they said the locals would snatch me up and kill me within an hour."
Gern is not the only one who believes the executive order has increased tension.
In April 2003, former state rep Allen Vaught was an Army captain stationed in Fallujah and worked closely with Iraqi nationals. A half dozen of his colleagues were killed over the years, his contacts say, because they worked with Americans. Those contacts tell Vaught the locals were surprised by the executive order and that many view it as anti-Muslim.
"Based upon information from inside of Iraq that it has increased the recruiting ability for ISIS, therefore the threat level to Americans has gone up," Vaught said.
Gern is quick to say not all Iraqis are bad, but said "for all those that are good, there's a huge number that aren't. And for the ones that are good and would stand up for you, they won't do it in their own country because if they do, they'll be killed."
Gern said he wasn't trying to incite anyone with the post, he just he felt compelled to let people know what's happening inside one of the "banned" countries.