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4/3/02 - THE FREE IRAQI FORCES - 2003-04-03

Hakim is an Iraqi American. He fled the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein in 1974 and since then has lived in the U.S. When war with Iraq became likely, Hakim volunteered to join U.S. troops. Today, he is a member of the Free Iraqi Forces.

Their job is to work alongside U.S. troops near the Iraqi border with Kuwait. When asked why he wanted to fight, Hakim said: “Our story is the story of the twenty-two million Iraqis. They spent the last thirty-five years in total dictatorship, stripped [of] their dignity and freedom. Our mission is a mission of liberation for a free and democratic nation.”

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed by the Iraqi regime, which has carried out political assassinations, random executions, and mass killings. Saddam Hussein’s government has routinely tortured, beaten, raped, and otherwise abused detainees. Alleged political opponents have been summarily executed.

The chance to put an end to such abuses has inspired thousands of inquiries to the U.S. government from Iraqis eager to enlist in the Free Iraqi Forces. Many, like Hamdy, are from the U.S. He has left behind his family and his business to join the Free Iraqi Forces. In 1991, Hamdy said, “I joined the uprising against the regime trying to overthrow Saddam from power and gain our freedom and democracy in Iraq. I consider this [the Free Iraqi Forces] to be a continuation for the mission we started in 1991.”

President George W. Bush said U.S.-led coalition forces will not stop until the people of Iraq are free:

“I give this pledge to the citizens of Iraq: We’re coming with a mighty force to end the reign of your oppressors. We are coming to bring you food and medicine and a better life. And we are coming, and we will not stop. We will not relent until your country is free.”

With each day, U.S.-led coalition forces move closer to victory.