July 27, 2003 Special Reports No. 19

Arab and Muslim Jihad Fighters in Iraq

July 27, 2003 | By Steven Stalinsky*
Iraq | Special Reports No. 19

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. The Families of Saudi Martyrs Speak

III. An Egyptian Historian on Egyptian Jihad Fighters

IV. Iraqi Civilians Turn on the Jihad Fighters

V. Interviews with Jihad Fighters on Iraqi TV

VI. Interviews with Jihad Fighters in the Arab Media

VII. The Story of a Palestinian Mujahid - Sheikh Shu'fat

VIII. The Story of a Palestinian Mujahid - Abu Khaled

I. Introduction

Beginning in March, the Arab media published stories of young Arabs traveling to Iraq to carry out Jihad against the U.S. They came from various Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia , Syria , Yemen , Egypt , Lebanon , the Palestinian territories, Algeria , the United Arab Emirates , Libya , and from Afghanistan as well. A report in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar told of 36 Islamists (Lebanese, Palestinians, Egyptians, and Syrians) receiving visas from the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut to volunteer as martyr s. [1] Syria's Foreign Minister, Farouq Al-Shar' , stated that his country would not stop volunteers going to Iraq via Syria , [2] while the Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abd Al-Aziz claimed that there was no evidence of Saudis volunteering in droves for Jihad in Iraq. [3]

Religious personalities in the Arab world have given a mixed blessing on allowing Arab youth to travel to fight the U.S. In a recent Fatwa (Islamic religious ruling), the Shariah Court in Qatar banned such travel unless it was with the parents' permission: "It is considered against Islam to travel to another country for Jihad without permission from one's parents." The Court also stated that the permission of "those charged with authority among Muslims" is necessary to initiate Jihad. [4] On the other hand, one of the spiritual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, called for Jihad "to expel foreign troops from Iraq." However, he too qualified his statement, saying that "only governments have the right to organize volunteers for Jihad." [5] In Baghdad, Sheik Ahmad al-Kubaysi praised the Arab volunteers: "These young men who came here from other Muslim countries to defend Iraq are very brave. They left their homes and comfortable lives to protect fellow Muslims. That is the most important form of Jihad. These Mujahideen are guaranteed paradise." [6]

II. The Families of Saudi Martyrs Speak

In eastern Saudi Arabia , the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayatinterviewed the families of two Saudi Jihad fighters killed in Iraq . In Al-Damam, the father of Suheil Al-Sahili, 28, known as Yassin Al-Bahhar, who was killed in northern Iraq, told the paper: "I thank Allah that [our son] attained what he sought. For 14 years he sought [martyrdom]. He always pointed to his head and wished that a rifle bullet would split his forehead, and we have been told that that is what happened."

Al-Sahali's brother added: "He went to Afghanistan in 1992, and from there to Tajikistan , where he joined a group under the command of the famous martyr Khattab. After that, he went to Bosnia , where he remained for several years before returning to Saudi Arabia for a brief time, until he went to Chechnya and again joined Khattab for a few years."

"After Chechnya , he returned to Saudi Arabia … and then we didn't hear from him. We got a phone call from him finally, in which he said he was going to the Jihad in Iraq together with volunteers at the northern front. We were informed that he commanded a group of Arab Jihad warriors who had volunteered to defend Iraq . We would get news of him from Internet forums… We always felt that he was a prisoner in this world while his heart was in the next world…"

In the city of Al-Quteif, the brother of Abd Al-Hadi Al-Shehri, 28, also known as Abu Muhammad Al-Asadi, told the paper: "From a young age he wanted Jihad... after fulfilling this commandment of pilgrimage to Mecca , there was no contact with him until news of his martyrdom reached us." [7]

III. An Egyptian Historian on Egyptian Jihad Fighters

In two articles described as 'comments of a historian,' Dr. 'Abd Al-Adheem Ramadhan, an Egyptian historian, bemoaned the fate of thousands of young Egyptians who went to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a holy war, only to find their death because they were manipulated by Jihad slogans and miscalculated the realities of modern-day warfare. Following are experts from the articles which appeared in the Egyptian daily Al-Gumhuriya:

"The Islamic nation still holds the meaning of Jihad as it had been in the past when the Mujahid carried his sword and rode his horse into the battle field… This interpretation persisted despite the developments that occurred in weaponry and training… and [despite] the emergence of tanks, airplanes, airplane carriers, and explosives. As soon as the Islamic nation gets involved in a war, young religious Muslims throughout the Islamic world rush to scream the Jihad battle-cry and to go to war… Obviously, the Islamic countries cannot resist these noble feelings… so they open the door to volunteerism, and open their borders to religious youngsters to head to the battle fields. And there, to their surprise, they find out that war is not what they expected, it is not [fought] with swords and spears. It is a war of tanks, planes, air strikes and the like."

"This is how thousands of Muslim youngsters die without accomplishing anything except Shahada [martyrdom]. But, as we know, Shahada in itself does not mean victory. Allah Himself gave Muslims the choice between victory and Shahada! What kind of victory do these noble Mujahideen expect to accomplish when they sacrifice themselves in battle without having any knowledge of modern warfare. When the Afghan war started, tens of thousands of Arab, Egyptian, Pakistani and other Muslims volunteered and went to Afghanistan seeking either victory or Shahada. No one heard of them since… They did not bring victory, but achieved only Shahada. "

"And when the American-British war on Iraq started, thousands of young religious Egyptian Muslims were seized with enthusiasm and demanded to go to Iraq for Jihad. Naturally, the Egyptian government was unable to prevent them from going to Iraq, lest it would be accused of opposition to Jihad and failure to fight. At the same time, Islamic elements in labor unions and others encouraged youngsters to volunteer for Jihad. It was a propaganda ploy, no more, no less! They knew perfectly well that if those youngsters go to Iraq they would fall into the same hell-fire that the Iraqi people faced… So, we witnessed thousands of young Egyptians who left their country and their relatives who needed them…" [8]

"…The Iraqi regime opened its doors for them without providing them with necessary protection, and without enlisting them in its own army. We found out from satellite TV services that they fought in remote areas, away from the Iraqi army… and when Baghdad fell they did not know that, and continued to fight courageously… They did not even hear about the disgraceful disappearance of the Iraqi leadership, of Saddam Hussein and his men who abandoned their army and their people… They did not know that the Iraqi regime let them down and that [the Iraqi regime] was not fighting to defend Iraq, but fighting a lost battle to defend itself..."

"I do not know whether it was possible to save the lives of these youngsters… And who were those who embroiled them in such battles?... Was there a way to save them from the hands of wheelers-dealers who manipulated the name of the Iraqi people?..." [9]

IV. Iraqi Civilians Turn on the Jihad Fighters

Many articles in the Arab press have focused on the ill treatment of the Jihad fighters by Iraqis. A Lebanese volunteer who returned from Iraq said that the Iraqi officials isolated the volunteers and the Iraqis themselves "hunted them whenever they could." [10] Another Lebanese volunteer returning from Iraq added: "During the war I was exposed to more Iraqi friendly fire than American fire. The Iraqi people refused to accept the volunteers among them and betrayed them by leaving them exposed." [11] One report stated that ten Arab nationals, mostly Syrians who volunteered to fight for Saddam's regime, were executed publicly in Baghdad during the war because they refused to fight in residential areas. [12]

Another report mentioned that the "Iraqi Shi'a in the Iraqi capital considered the Arab volunteers to be supporters of Osama bin Laden who they said had nothing to do with us…" [13] Four Arab volunteers who returned home from Baghdad to Damascus and Cairo stated that the Iraqi citizens were directing American forces to the hideouts of the Arab volunteers in exchange for large sums of money. They said that the American forces viewed the volunteers as one of the most important targets because they could carry out martyrdom (suicide) operations against groups of American soldiers. [14]

V. Interviews with Jihad Fighters on Iraqi TV

Before Saddam's Iraqi TV was taken off the air by coalition forces, Jihad fighters were shown on it marching in formation and chanting "Allah Akbar." The Egyptian "Jihad fighter" Muhammad Ridha, whose nickname is Abu Abd Al-Rahman, said: "Thanks to Allah, I arrived in June to volunteer in Saddam's 'Jerusalem Army.' I returned [to Egypt], but Allah decreed that I return [to Iraq], and I thank Him for that… I returned to fight the Jihad, and left behind in Egypt four daughters and a son… I came to fight [the war of] Jihad and I take an oath in front of the leader Saddam Hussein that I will die as a martyr and that I do not want to return to Egypt. I say to all the Arabs and Muslims that Jihad is our duty…"

Abd Al-Karim Abd Al-'Azzam,a fighter from Aleppo, Syria said: "I want to send a message to our Muslim brethren throughout the world… Brothers, we are not defending Iraq only, but all the Muslim countries. It started in Iraq, but Syria, Lebanon, and other Muslim countries will follow. How long will we keep silent, how long will we wait? America and the Jews may decide next to bomb Mecca and Al-Madina, what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for them to enter Al-Madina?"

Abdallah from Algeria, added: "I call upon the entire Muslim nation to stand as one and defend the Muslim nation… truth is ours… The suicide volunteer Abd Al-'Aziz Mahmoud Hawwash from Syria added: "We are here, and we left our wives and children in order to defend the Arab and Muslim nation… We came as Shuhada [martyrs] and we pray that Allah accepts our martyrdom for His sake…" Another volunteer suicide-fighter from Syria said: "I came from Syria to fight along with our Iraqi brothers because this land is the land of the prophets and is the natural treasure of the Arabs… The Americans, Zionists, and the British want to control the oil and the natural resources of the Arab world. They say that Iraq has arms, but it is a lie. They want the oil and they want a crusade, but we will be the drawn swords in the hand of the Jihad fighter Saddam Hussein."

Another volunteer, who did not mention his home-country, stated: "…I send a message to the blood-shedding criminal Bush, and to his servant Tony Blair, and his new servant the Spanish P.M., you want a crusade and we are ready for that, with the help of Allah… Oh [Muslim] nation, [which] is a billion and four hundred million strong, don't you see what is happening in Palestine? What happened to the boiling Arab blood in your veins? We hope that you will come to the training camps in Iraq…"

"Listen Oh Bush, and listen America," stated another fighter from Syria, "we are not the aggressors, you crossed the ocean and came here to slaughter our children and our women, and the most important thing that they came for is this religion… We came to seek martyrdom and to raise the chant: Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar."

In addition, a few dozen of the volunteers were seen training, boarding a plane, parachuting or descending from a helicopter by ropes, riding motorcycles in pairs, stopping and firing shoulder rockets, running away, and then firing again. [15]

VI. Interviews with Jihad Fighters in the Arab Media

As the U.S. carried out operations in Iraq, the Arab media interviewed many of the Arab Jihad fighters, asking them why they came, where they came from, and about their experiences. H. 'A., from Yemen , who returned to San'aa from Iraq via Damascus , told the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat: " Baghdad didn't fall, it was handed over to the invading forces in an astonishing operation. While we were fighting in groups in the neighborhoods of Baghdad , the Iraqis asked us to leave the trenches, throw down our arms, and go back to where we came from. Our task became survival in hopes of returning to our homeland after we felt that our remaining in Iraq had become a heavy burden to the Iraqis who were collapsing before the invading forces."

"I left Sanaa together with a group of Yemenis about a week before the war in Iraq . We were five people from the same region, connected by ties of kinship and friendship. We agreed to volunteer to [wage] Jihad to defend Iraq and the Arab and Islamic nation. During the flight, we made ourselves known to four others traveling for the same reason. After a night journey by car, we reached Baghdad in the morning. We went to the hotel, where top Iraqi officials welcomed the volunteers. We were immediately sent to a place near Baghdad for weapons training."

"There were hundreds of Arab volunteers there – Syrians, Moroccans, Algerians, Palestinians, Libyans, Jordanians, Egyptians, and [volunteers] from the UAE and from other Arab countries, whom I didn't have a chance to get to know. The training in the camp was poor and disorganized, even though the Iraqi officials had welcomed us cordially. Two days later, we were given guns, ammunition, and grenades. They divided us into groups in the neighborhoods at the outskirts of Baghdad , Al-Qut and areas to the north on the road to Mossul. But most of our groups were stationed around Baghdad , on the barricades and in the trenches prepared for us in advance. The Iraqis told us that an American landing was expected in these areas, and that we must fight them. They told us: 'We will shell them and breach their ranks, and we will pave the way for you.'"

Volunteer S. A. 'A., said: "The air bombing and the missiles on Baghdad were heavy. We couldn't have imagined such intensity and such destruction. Four days before the fall of Baghdad, we began noticing that the Iraqi cannon, Katyusha launchers, SAMs, and even the tanks positioned beneath the trees and at the entrances to the residential neighborhoods on the bank of the Tigris, were firing very slowly and ineffectively. Some of the residents began to ask us not to shoot so that the invaders would not respond and damage their homes. There was an atmosphere of destruction and bombing all around us. We fruitlessly attempted to fight off the invaders with our light weapons."

Yemeni volunteer S. M. N. said: "I was attached to a group of Arab volunteers in a residential neighborhood in western Baghdad a few days before its fall. When the American forces entered Saddam Airport we were transferred willingly near there and there found Iraqi forces belonging to the Republican Guard and infantry forces, which perhaps belonged to the Fedayeen, fighting ferocious battles several hundred meters from our position."

"The Iraqis fought fiercely in the battle on the airport, and the Americans moved under an aerial umbrella of fighter planes, helicopters, and heavy bombing with missiles and giant bombs. It was a sight from hell, and hundreds of Iraqis and Arab volunteers were martyred. Afterwards, hundreds were taken captive when their ammunition ran out and the American tanks closed in on them. The sharpshooters were firing on any Iraqi who hesitated to take his clothes off and not obey, word for word, the surrender instructions given in English."

"Three Yemenis were martyred in the battle for the airport. I found out that 36 Syrian volunteers were martyred also. I also found out later that three other Yemenis were martyred at Al-Qut and two more in the Al-'Amara district."

Another Yemeni volunteer, N.A., said: "On Tuesday morning [April 8], I was together with a group of Arab volunteers in the Al-A'zamiya neighborhood. There were five of us, and there was heavy American bombing around us and close to us. None of the Iraqi coordinators came to us. We were visited by people in civilian dress who told us: 'We advise you to leave here, because the Americans are near you.' We felt that we were alone in the battle and that those [who should be] involved [i.e. the Iraqis] had abandoned us. We waited for hours. Before noon , we decided to move to the nearby neighborhoods, which were empty, except for 10 Arab volunteers who gathered there on the instructions of one of the Iraqis. A few moments later, three large buses came and we quickly boarded them at the request of one of the drivers. We drove to one of the squares in the heart of the city where the drivers stopped and quickly disappeared. We remained for more than two hours, and then took up positions in the nearby streets. The only thing that interested us was defending ourselves."

"During the night, the Iraqi resistance disappeared and the streets emptied of all military or security presence. Tanks and weapons were abandoned at their positions with all the battle equipment that was in them and quiet reigned, as if the war was over and the city had been emptied of its inhabitants. When Wednesday dawned, we met some residents gripped with amazement. One of them shouted to us, 'They entered Baghdad and killed Saddam. They destroyed his army and they are on their way to you.' Another Iraqi advised us to leave for the west and north of the city." [16]

Abdullah, a Saudi fighter, and Majdi, a Syrian fighter, were also interviewed. Both said they came to Iraq out of religious obligation to join a Jihad against "American aggression." Abdullah explained, "I came here because it is the duty of every Arab and every Muslim to defend Iraq from foreign invaders." Like Majdi, he spoke on the condition that only his first name be published. "When I left Saudi Arabia, I was ready to become a martyr. That was the path I had chosen."

Abdullah and Majdi would not say if they took part in attacks on U.S. troops, but both explained they prepared explosives and helped transport weapons to people who were carrying out attacks. "We are here for Jihad, and we must do whatever we can to help our Iraqi brothers," Majdi stated. "Sometimes, circumstances don't allow us to confront the Americans directly, so we help others who are able to do that." [17]

VII. The Story of a Palestinian Mujahid - Sheikh Shu'fat

The Arabic-language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsatinterviewed Islamic activist Sheikh Muhammad Shu'fat, a Palestinian from Jordan who went to Iraq on April 4 and returned to Jordan . Sheikh Shu'fat, like most of the volunteers, reached Iraq via Damascus . He related that when he arrived in Baghdad , "the Iraqi official asked about what was happening at the scene of the battle, because contact had been cut off. I felt my heart beat with the hope of achieving victory or martyrdom… I did not go to defend the Ba'ath regime, but the persecuted Iraqi people who were suffering from injustice. I defended the Arab and Islamic land under occupation and aggression in advance of the takeover of the [entire Islamic] nation."

Asked how he explained the Iraqis' joy at Saddam's fall, Sheikh Shu'fat replied: "This is a message to the Arab rulers that they must make peace with their people and give them more freedom, so the people will unite with the armies in resistance to the colonialist aggression… I do not feel sorrow for any Arab ruler who is brought down."

Sheikh Shu'fat related, "When we arrived they split us up into two camps, one for those with military experience and the other for the untrained. I was sent to the camp for the experienced because I had served in the Jordanian army. The camp was called Al-Saliah, and it was in Baghdad . There the Arab volunteers were received, and they were under the supervision of Iraqi officers. In the camp there were 500-700 people, mostly from three countries: Syria , Jordan , and Egypt . There were only a few from the Gulf states . In my camp there were two from Saudi Arabia and two from Kuwait . I was in Baghdad for only five days, and I participated in the resistance against the [suspected U.S. ] landing on the suspension bridge connecting the two parts of Baghdad . The battle continued for two hours. My weapon was a Kalachnikov. We succeeded in encircling the American forces and they were rescued by helicopters. Two Syrians were martyred, and two Jordanians, one of them myself, were lightly wounded."

Asked about the fall of Baghdad , Sheikh Shu'fat said: "We have no explanation for this. Suddenly, the Iraqi resistance disappeared… On the evening of April 9, we were in the camp. Morale was high, and resistance was fierce. When we woke for morning prayers, we found only the Arab volunteers in the camp. Not a single Iraqi officer or soldier. Everyone had disappeared without our noticing… We were confused because something we did not understand had happened. Our hope was to achieve victory or martyrdom. They [the Iraqi soldiers] went back home and turned into ordinary citizens. They left their weapons in the camps and streets, which were filled with tanks and various weapons. I am happy that I waged Jihad for the sake of Allah. I suggested to them that they carry out martyrdom operations, but they said it was too soon…"

"Not all the Arab volunteers have returned to their countries because most of them have no money for the trip. Some have no passports because the Iraqis took them… I returned because I felt that my task was over, and there was no longer any need for me to remain. After meeting at the camp, we decided to return immediately. We went to Syria , and from there to Amman ." [18]

VIII: The Story of a Palestinian Mujahid - Abu Khaled

Al-Ahram's reporter Rasha Sa'ad interviewed a Palestinian fighter when he returned home. The following are excerpts from the interview:

"'I cannot believe that I am alive. I was in hell and Allah brought me back,' said Abu Khaled, who joined other Arab volunteers in the battle at Baghdad's airport in early April. Abu Khaled's - not his real name - story begins one month earlier. It was back in March that Abu Khaled, a Palestinian, was deported from Jordan. Unable to immediately return to the West Bank, he had to travel to a third country. Since Iraq was the only Arab country that would allow Palestinians to enter, Abu Khaled found himself in Baghdad nine days before the Anglo-American war in Iraq."

"'I arrived in Baghdad and felt lost. I did not know anyone there or even what to do or where to sleep. I was later assisted by a kind Iraqi who paid my $100 visa fee, helped me find a room in a hotel and even paid for my stay.' As the ultimatum for war approached, Abu Khaled decided to join the Iraqi resistance along with hundreds of other Arab volunteers. They were trained in Al-Sadeer district in Baghdad along with members of the Jerusalem Army and the Fedayeen Saddam militias. 'My group was composed of a couple hundred Arab volunteers with the majority Palestinian and Syrians of Palestinian origin. The rest were Sudanese and Yemenis. We were assigned to defend the [ Baghdad ] airport.'"

"Asked whether he found the training adequate for such a task, Abu Khaled said that he and all the Arab volunteers had training prior to joining the resistance. 'We were all trained in military tactics. We were better trained than Fedayeen Saddam.' Even though Abu Khaled was unable to determine whether the order came from Saddam Hussein or some other military leaders, he is positive that 'there clearly was corruption and collusion to lose the war.' According to him, logistics were inefficient and nearly half of the military hardware did not function. While these facts were indicative of corruption and inefficiency in the Iraqi military, it was only later that Abu Khaled found cause for serious alarm."

"At the beginning of the war, Abu Khaled says he was shocked at the sense of panic that seemed to pervade among the Iraqi troops. 'The Iraqi soldiers were scared to death, with some even fainting. I did not understand their attitude then.' Now, Abu Khaled believes that the soldiers must have sensed there was a conspiracy. 'It seems that they knew better than us that they were going to be sacrificed. The Iraqi leadership has indeed betrayed and killed them,' he contends…"

"The feeling that something was not right intensified as the volunteers moved to the airport. Abu Khaled believes that there was no military strategy to defend the airport. 'I knew one of Saddam's Republican Guards who told me that the orders he and his division were given was to take their positions in the airport and hold their positions, even if they were fired at. This man was the only one in the division that got out alive…'"

"Abu Khaled and his Arab companions, however, rebelled against their deployment orders. They were moved to the airport hours before the first military strike, where Iraqi troops were already amassed. 'We were the last to arrive at the airport and were ordered to take front-line positions, which would have left us completely exposed. We refused the order and accused the Iraqi military commanders of placing us in unnecessary danger. We asked them to let us choose the positions that we find appropriate. To avoid a confrontation, the military commanders agreed we could take a position within the trees surrounding the airport.'"

"The first strike on the airport by the coalition forces left thousands of soldiers dead. 'I went to the site where my friend Ziad was stationed and found it full of corpses.' At this point Abu Khaled's eyes filled with tears, 'this is his watch,' he said as he waved his hand towards me, while wearing Ziad's black sports watch."

"Abu Khaled also explained that there were some losses on the U.S. side. 'We were able to destroy some jeeps and carriers. The weapons we had were not appropriate to destroy a tank.' The second strike was even more devastating, according to Abu Khaled. 'There was a division 50 metres away from me, after the strike I saw nothing - they were erased.' Abu Khaled decided, at that moment, to desert the battlefield. 'I told myself I would not die in this way. I was then convinced that treachery was afoot, and thought it unacceptable to sacrifice my life for nothing.' As he fled from the airport area, Abu Khaled could find no trace of the tens of thousands of troops that were positioned around Baghdad - now all that could be seen were crushed and deformed corpses."

"Abu Khaled's problems were far from over, however. He had to walk 20 kilometres to reach Baghdad . 'Exhausted, tense and with almost no food or drink for several days, I reached a house where I thought I could finally find shelter.' An Iraqi man opened the door and asked Abu Khaled about his identity. The Palestinian fighter answered proudly that he is an Arab volunteer. 'The man slapped the door in my face and said 'go away we do not want you in our country.' Not only did he refuse to let me into his house, he wouldn't even offer me a glass of water.'"

"It was then that Abu Khaled realised that the Iraqi people had a different agenda. To his astonishment, he was later told that the Iraqis wanted to get rid of the dictatorship and oppression of Saddam Hussein at any cost - and in this context the Arab volunteers were regarded by them as supporters of the regime, who are cashing dollars, only to prolong the Iraqi suffering. 'I do not defend Saddam's regime. I joined the resistance to defend the Iraqi people.' I wanted to take part in the war against our brethren in Iraq . I came to defend the dignity of the Arab nation,' said a shocked and bewildered Abu Khaled."

"After walking several hours, Abu Khaled finally found some people who offered him water and informed him of the whereabouts of Palestinians in the Baladiyat district, a few kilometres from the centre of Baghdad . There he joined fellow Palestinians in resisting intensive coalition strikes. He recalled, 'The Palestinians' resistance delayed the coalition forces' capture of the centre of Baghdad for a whole day. I saw one Palestinian kill five Americans with one missile.'"

"The realisation that many Iraqi civilians did not want to see further resistance to the invasion forces struck Abu Khaled even more staggeringly. 'While we were defending ourselves from the coalition strikes, I saw an Iraqi in a nearby building shooting at us. I had to protect myself and my people so I fired an RPG missile at his house. While he was not killed, the second floor of the house was destroyed.'"

"After the U.S. captured the centre of Baghdad on 9 April, Abu Khaled decided to return to his hotel. He discovered, however, that he was no longer welcome. 'They welcomed me as a Palestinian before the war because they feared Saddam Hussein; now that he is gone they do not see any reason to give me shelter. They told me that they needed the room because they have other people who offered more for the room.'"

"Abu Khaled is now without shelter and is dependent on the generosity of others 'for food, tea or coffee.' I left him as he prepared to head home, leaving the country which now had no space for him. 'I avoid being alone or recalling what happened to me, because whenever I remember what happened at the airport, how I was abandoned – I feel betrayed and devastated.'" [19]

* Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of MEMRI.

[1] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), April 1, 2003.

[2] Al-Gumhuriya (Egypt), April 9, 2003.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), April 6, 2003

[4] The Peninsula (Qatar), July 15, 2003.

[5] Al-Zaman (Iraq), May 9, 2003.

[6] Newsday, July 20, 2003.

[7] Al-Hayat (London), April 16, 2003.

[8] Al-Gumhuriya (Egypt), April 19, 2003.

[9] Al-Gumhuriya (Egypt), April 20, 2003.

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 11, 2003.

[11] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 12, 2003.

[12] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), June 19, 2003.

[13] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 14, 2003.

[14] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 16, 2003

[15] Iraqi TV, March 21, 2003.

[16] Al-Hayat (London), April 18, 2003.

[17] Newsday, July 20, 2003.

[18] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 12, 2003.

[19] Al-Ahram (Egypt), June 11, 2003.

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