On 1 February 2017, Marine Corps veteran Steven Gern posted a video to Facebook in which he recounted a conversation he said he had with local residents while working for a private security firm in Iraq:
I work currently in Iraq, which is one of the countries that’s on the list. Obviously, in the United States, a lot is going on — and over here, this is a lot going on, as well, just a lot of things y’all don’t see.
The other morning, we were having a discussion on the executive order, and a lot of the Iraqis showed their displeasure in this executive order, and why they feel like they’ve been betrayed by the United States ...
So, I listened to what they had to say, and after they were done yelling and screaming about their opinion on things, I asked a simple question, and I got an answer to that simple question, and I got it without hesitation. My simple questions was, ‘As an American, if I went out in town right now, would I be welcome?'
They answered me, and said, ‘Absolutely not, you would not be welcome.’ And I said, ‘Okay, what would happen if I went in town?'”
They said the locals would snatch me up and kill me within an hour. I would be tortured first, and after they were done torturing me, I would probably be beheaded. It would go on video for everybody to see as an example.
The point I’m trying to make is — this is the local populace that would do this. This isn’t ISIS. This isn’t al-Qaeda. So, my question to them was pretty simple after that.
If you would do this to me, in your country, why would I let you in my country? All this means to me is that if you had the opportunity to take the life of an American, you would do it.
In a follow-up video posted to his YouTube channel, Gern was shown at Baghdad International Airport, headed out of the country for the United States.
We reached out to Gern and have not yet heard back from him, but he did
speak to the Independent Journal Review (IJR) and told them that he worked for a private security company that decided to move him out of Iraq after he received death threats from both Iraqis and Americans in response to his initial video. He provided the IJR additional perspective on his views:
Americans in general are extremely naive, they don't want to understand there are actual people out there that don't like our way of life. You can't change their thought process ...
As this goes on, I'm actually kind of annoyed that people are treating me the way they're treating me because I actually spoke the truth. I shed light on a conversation that I had, with the people that I had to work with every single day — that I know hate my guts. They hate us, so much.