Iraqi Navy SEAL Interpreter 'Code Name Johnny Walker' to Gain Citizenship, Reveal His Real Name
In a PJ Media exclusive, the Iraqi native turned Navy SEAL interpreter and bestselling author who goes by the code name "Johnny Walker" told his story and made a huge announcement: he will receive his U.S. citizenship on Wednesday morning! At that time, he will also reveal his real name. (This article will be updated with that name when it becomes public.)
"It's a big honor," Walker told PJ Media. He is looking forward to posting videos of the ceremony and predicted a beautiful moment where "people from different backgrounds and different religions" will be united by loyalty to the United States.
Walker was born and grew up in Iraq and he started working with the U.S. military after the invasion began in 2003. He worked as an interpreter — called a "terp" — until 2009. That year, the military finally cleared him and his family to come to America.
While he lived in Iraq, he kept his work for the U.S. military a secret. If he had been exposed, it could have cost him his life. Since he will receive his citizenship Wednesday, however, Walker and his family will finally be safe, so he can go public with his name. (The Johnny Walker code name came from the Iraqi-American's love for Johnnie Walker whiskey.)
In 2014, Johnny Walker released a bestselling book, Code Name: Johnny Walker: The Extraordinary Story of the Iraqi Who Risked Everything to Fight with the U.S. Navy SEALs.
In his interview with PJ Media on Tuesday, Walker explained how the American dream entered his imagination. When he was a kid, his parents encouraged him to play basketball to let out some of his youthful energy. "I started to love it," Walker told PJ Media. "I started watching the Harlem team [the Globetrotters], listened to Country music, watched John Wayne movies."
"It gave me the American dream in my mind, built it in my imagination," the Iraqi-American said. When the U.S. military came to Iraq in 2003, he saw Americans as a liberating force.
"The SEALS were targeting bad guys in my city I didn't know about. They came thousands of miles to clean my city and I was born in this city," Walker told PJ Media. "I was disappointed in myself."
He suggested he didn't take sides. "I didn't support American or Iraqi or anyone, I supported the good side versus the bad side," the Iraqi-American said. He saw the damage Al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) left behind. "They will destroy us. They are the enemy of human beings."
Walker told PJ Media he saw signs of ISIS even before Americans arrived in 2003. As the U.S. military fought insurgents, he saw the moral differences between the terrorists and what he saw as the forces of civilization.
"When we caught the bad guys and I saw the weapons — the C-4, the dynamite, the RPGs — all of it is against humanity, there is no future beyond it," he said.
Walker recalled a conversation with a captured terrorist.
"I asked him, 'Why are you doing that? The Americans can help us to be like Germany and Japan.' He had no answer besides, 'We have to kill them and everyone like them.' Killing is not how you build a nation. Civilization collapsed because of savagery and killing," he told PJ Media.
When a terrorist is "so savage he wants to kill kids, the human being in you is going to push you to do the right thing to protect kids." Al Qaeda, ISIS, and the insurgents do not represent Islam in his mind — they represent evil.
Johnny Walker doesn't see his support for the Americans as a betrayal of his country or its people.
"Navy SEALS fought for the right reason, to free these people from dictators," he said. "I'm not against my people. Al Qaeda and ISIS are not f**king my people. They're savages. They want nothing." He said it would be absurd for someone to demand that a white man support the mosque shooter because he is white. "Why do you not support your people?" Walker jokingly asked.
John Shattuck, a former Navy airman and president of the real estate firm Advanced Appraising, told PJ Media he helped "Johnny Walker" finally get his citizenship. In fact, he said, "Johnny Walker introduced me to Keith Barry."
Last September, Navy SEAL Keith Barry was finally acquitted after serving years in the Naval Consolidated Brig (a military prison) for being falsely convicted in a rape case. Shattuck had wanted to meet Walker for some time, and it was a fascinating coincidence that he met Barry at the same time.
Shattuck described Walker as a true American hero. "He's a guy that would give his life for any guy on the team. He would love to be a citizen, but he was focusing on his family more than himself," Shattuck said. He also said Walker was an unusual "terp," because he knew how to handle a firearm.
Shattuck has done some hostage negotiation work and he is well connected, so he decided to do what he could to get this Iraqi-American hero his long-denied citizenship.
"I do not have a law background. What I have is a south-side Chicago common sense background," he told PJ Media. "I got the right people to listen. That's all I ever do." Shattuck also said he also helped Keith Barry overturn his conviction. He also helped free Americans from prison in Haiti.
Shattuck told Walker not to worry but to compile his paperwork. "Lots of folks were attesting to his character — it's incredible what was in there," he said. "I took his paperwork to the Pentagon, I got it to the right people."
"If you think about a Johnny Walker that has been vetted to the Nth degree — you know who he is. How much more do you need to vet him?" Shattuck asked. He also noted that the Iraqi-American "could never go back to Iraq, because if he did, they would kill him.
In his interview with PJ Media, "Johnny Walker" freely called Iraq a "sh*thole country," but expressed love for the people. "Iraq needs a new government," Walker said. "The people in Iraq, they are amazing. But they have no option but to live under dictators or corrupt government."
He also lamented the unnecessary divisions between Sunni and Shia Muslims. They coexist in his own family!
"I am Sunni, she is Shia," he said of his wife. "We get married and after 6, 7, 8 years I told her, can I talk with my kids? I need to ask them something specific. I told them, 'Hey guys, we can have a vote: who's going to be Sunni and who's going to be Shia?'"
"If I have Allah, the Quran, and Mohammed, why do I worry about any other sources?" Walker asked. "After that is just a political agenda. I consider that bulls**t."
But that political bulls**t continues to wreak havoc on the Middle East. "Right now, Iran destroyed all the countries around her because they want to export Islamic Revolution to those countries," he said.
This Iraqi-American had a few political ideas as well. He is a big fan of President Donald Trump's wall.
"The wall, it's something personal. I don't want to have AK-47s every time I take my kids to school," Walker told PJ Media. "I'm not against immigrants, there are thousands better than me. But I am against people who have no background check, who are smuggling across the border. We don't know whether those guys have a criminal record or not, all we know is that they use kids to get what they want."
Both Shattuck and Johnny Walker agreed that foreign interpreters who risk their lives in helping the U.S. military should have a fast-track to citizenship.
"For me and a lot of people who worked with Americans, fought with Americans, want the American dream — I think America should give them something special," Walker told PJ Media.
Update March 20 at 12:36 p.m.: Johnny Walker got his citizenship this morning! And his real name is Riyadh Ahmed Khalaf Al Ahmady. He goes by "Riyadh."
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.