Custom Search

Friday, November 23, 2007

Iraqi Legends are Born

In a hundred years, stories of how Iraqi's turned on al-Qaeda and joined forces with Americans will continue to be told to children across Iraq, with each telling, as is want with legends, the story will be exaggerated and the heroics will become more daring and dangerous, but that does not take away from the true heroics and dangers of how the legend was born to begin with.

The particular set of legends I am referring to now is brought to us via the Chicago Tribune, about a man named Saad Erebi Ghaffouri al-Obaidi, though he is known across Baghdad as Abul Abed.

The once-dreaded Al Qaeda in Iraq stronghold of Amariyah has a new boss, and he's not shy about telling the story of the shootout that turned him into a local legend and helped change the tenor of the Iraq war.

Earlier this year, Abul Abed, a disgruntled Sunni insurgent leader, began secret talks with the Americans about ending Al Qaeda's reign of terror in this run-down, formerly middle-class Baghdad neighborhood, renowned as one of the city's most dangerous. He had been gathering intelligence on the group for months.

One day in late May, he said, he decided it was time to act.

He hailed the car carrying the feared leader of Al Qaeda in the neighborhood, a man known as the White Lion, on one of Amariyah's main streets. "We want you to stop destroying our neighborhood," he told the man.

"Do you know who you are talking to?" said the White Lion, getting out of his car. "I am Al Qaeda. I will destroy even your own houses!"

He pulled out his pistol and shot at Abul Abed. The gun jammed. He reloaded and fired again. Again, the gun jammed.

By this time, Abul Abed said, he had pulled his own gun. He fired once, killing the White Lion.

And so one of many legends is born.

Not the legend of a tyrant, Saddam Hussein, that used chemical weapons to kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's, but one of an Iraqi that went from distrusting and fighting against the Americans, to grudgingly working with them against another common enemy, al-Qaeda, to becoming friends with the Americans and depending on them to help him and his people learn to live free and fight for that freedom.

It was the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda in Amariyah. The next day, a firefight erupted. Al Qaeda fighters closed in on Abul Abed. Most of the 150 men who had joined him fled. Holed up in a mosque with fewer than a dozen supporters, Abul Abed thought the end was near.

"The blue carpet was soaked red with blood," he recalled. Then the imam of the mosque called in American help.

A friendship was born.

History will take into account more than violence, bombings, death tolls and political reconciliation, it will also show everyday Iraqi's, oppressed for decades, overcoming sectarian and religious divisions to unite against common enemies and learning that freedom isn't free and is worth fighting and dying for.

One of the biggest battles in Iraq has been one we have mentioned before.

Winning hearts and minds.

Abul Abed once fought against the Americans in Iraq and now, in his words:

"Americans are our protectors and saviors.

They had to learn for themselves that we could be trusted, they had to learn that they could depend on us and that we would not abandon them and they had to learn, for themselves, that we offered freedom and hope and al-Qaeda offered them more violence and death

Abul Abed is not the the only Iraqi that has learned this, but his story is one that is being duplicated all throughout Iraq.

An 'Awakening' in Iraq

Men like Abul Abed have helped change the face of the war. Following in the footsteps of the late Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha, the tribal leader who led the Sunni revolt that drove Al Qaeda from the base of its operations in Iraq's Anbar province, more than 70,000 people, most of them Sunnis, in 148 groups have joined in the so-called Awakening, or Sahwa, movement, according to the U.S. military, turning against Al Qaeda and turning to the Americans for help.

Abul Abed also makes a point that we wrote about earlier when we posted about 600 Sheiks and 300,000 Iraqi's signing a petition to the UN asking them to investigate crimes committed by Iran and their proxies in Southern Iraq.


The real enemy of Iraq, he says, now is Iran. He pulled out his mobile phone to show pictures he has saved of the bodies of his four brothers, who were kidnapped and murdered in 2005 by what he suspects was a Shiite death squad with ties to Iran. One of them had a nail driven into his head. Another was missing a hand.

"Even animals wouldn't do that," he said, his face darkening. "Iran is so deeply infiltrated in Iraq, the problem here still cannot be solved. Iran wants to demolish us. If the Americans leave, then you can count Iraq as a second Tehran."

Legends are being born every day in Iraq, heroes are emerging and Iraqi's are standing up side by side with the American Military and Coalition forces against enemies that would hold them back from becoming a free nation as they long to be.

[Update] Related:
Michelle Malkin shares and email from the front on Thanksgiving in Iraq.

I am not showing any of it here... you have to read the entire letter.