Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Monday, April 07, 2003

An Iraqi homecoming.

Khuder Al-Emeri, 43, left his Seattle restaurant behind three months ago to join the Free Iraqi Forces, a group of exiles trained by the U.S. military to serve as interpreters and guides in Iraq.

Wearing desert camouflage and assisting the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, his return to the Shiite village where he once led an uprising against Saddam's regime was a whirlwind of tears and hugs _ seeing relatives he didn't even recognize after 12 years away.

"I came to help my people," Al-Emeri said.

When news got out that Al-Emeri was back, crowds of men flooded into the streets and pressed around him, cheering and clapping and pushing up against Marines in defensive positions. One man rushed up to an American with a wreath of plastic flowers to hug him, rifle and all, despite the Marine's best efforts to maintain his distance.

"We have had enough!" the crowd chanted, and several young men also shouted "George Bush, yes!"

Inside secret police offices behind the mural, Al-Emeri found a warrant dated in early March calling two brothers in for questioning. He received no information Monday on their whereabouts.

Leader of a Shiite uprising during the first Gulf War, Al-Emeri left the country in April 1991 and said the Iraqi regime placed a price on his head. He was only able to communicate with his family _ who was regularly questioned about his whereabouts _ by relaying messages through acquaintances in Baghdad. The restaurant he ran, named "Peace" in Arabic, was seized by the government along with his other businesses.

His family were among those who rushed out to greet him _ including his 15-year-old son, Ali, whom he hadn't seen since he left Iraq. When they first saw each other, they embraced tightly and wept.

< email | 4/07/2003 03:08:00 PM | link

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