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[casi] Iraqis working with US fear attacks - Financial Times Report

sent by Nicholas.

Iraqis working with US fear attacks
By Kim Ghattas, recently in Baghdad
Published: August 25 2003 5:00 | Last Updated: August 25 2003 5:00

Thousands of Iraqis are co-operating with the occupying coalition
authorities in one way or another: from informants, electricity workers,
teachers and security guards at coalition buildings to the first 400
recruits training for the planned 40,000-strong new Iraqi army.

But Sunday's targeting by unknown bombers of Sciri, a prominent Shia Muslim
group that has accepted representation on the country's US-backed governing
council, is likely to make them even more anxious over their own safety.

Three bodyguards died in the Najaf blast, which followed the bombing of the
United Nations base in Baghdad last week. But some Iraqis working more
directly with the coalition had already fallen victim to attacks.

When Layth Samir's friend was shot twice in the back by unknown assailants
one afternoon in July, there was no doubt in anyone's mind why he had been
killed: he was a translator for US troops. So Mr Samir, a 21-year-old
student of political science at Baghdad University, thought it was time for
him to quit his own job as a translator for the Alpha company of the US
army's 1st Armoured division.

"But my mother said I should not give up, she said I wasn't doing anything
wrong, on the contrary. So I'm still working with the Americans. I love my
job, it's a lot of fun but it's also very scary some times when we go on
patrols," he says.

Before the latest attacks, at least two other translators had been shot and
Mr Samir said he had been warned three times against working with the
Americans by men who came to his house.

"I don't know them, but they said they were from the Hawza (the country's
highest Shia religious authority). I asked them how they knew where I lived
but they didn't answer. I've heard that the Hawza is making a list of the
names of all the translators," he says.

In June, Mohammed Jurayfi, the pro-American mayor of the western town of
Haditha, was killed with his son in an ambush, and Haifa Aziz Daoud, a
senior engineer in charge of electricity distribution in an area of
Baghdad, was shot dead on her doorstep.

Police officers trained by the Americans have also been targeted: nine were
killed last month in a bomb attack on their headquarters in the western
town of Ramadi.

With many Iraqis resigning or shying away from jobs with the Americans, the
coalition announced in July it would offer rewards starting at $2,500 for
information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators of attacks - not only
on US soldiers but also on Iraqis working with the coalition.

However, informants are also a target and US troops are not ready to
provide protection for them.

Many Iraqis continue to work with US troops and the coalition authorities.
Some, like Mr Samir, have idealistic reasons. Others simply need the money,
at a time when around half of Iraqis are without jobs.

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