Iraqi translators react to news
By Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Williams, 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
/ Published December 16, 2003
KIRKUK AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- “No more nightmares,” said Mohammed Taha. “A lot more good will happen in Iraq after 35 years of nightmares.”
Taha was just one of thousands of Iraqis who reacted with joy about the news that Saddam Hussein was captured Dec. 13 and is now in U.S. custody.
What makes Taha unique is that he is one of a handful of Iraqi exiles working as a translator for the U.S. Air Force here.
After the initial shock and disbelief, Taha reflected on the wounds Hussein and the Ba’ath party inflicted on his family.
“My brother was killed. Three or four of my cousins were hung. A lot of our houses were destroyed by Saddam,” Taha said. “Many of my relative’s tongues or hands were cut by knives.”
Taha also remembered the 180,000 Kurdish people who disappeared.
“Today, right went up, wrong went down,” he said.
A lump developed in Taha’s throat as he reflected on July 1, 1981, a day of personal tragedy for him.
After Hussein gained power in Iraq, thousands of Arabs from the southern part of the country occupied land in the north, he said. It was land that belonged to Taha and his fellow Kurds.
“When those people came, Saddam gave them money and land -- everything,” he said. “One guy bought a taxi. He didn’t drive a day in his life. He hit and killed my eldest son, who was 12. He was killed by Saddam’s friends.”
After 23 years of teaching, Taha gave it up and paid $45,000 to escape to Turkey. From there he left his family behind and started a new life in Minnesota. He returned to his homeland after Operation Iraqi Freedom began.
Mohommad Doski, a translator from Dahuk, Iraq, who now resides in upstate New York, was in his office doing some translations Dec. 14 when he heard some shooting in downtown Kirkuk. He tuned his radio to the local radio station looking for news. He was quite surprised at what he heard.
“The local news was announcing to the people, ‘We have some good news. Saddam is captured,’” he said. “This was around 10 a.m. They also told people not to shoot bullets because they were coming down in the city.”
At 3 p.m. he watched the press conference from Baghdad. He said he was surprised to see the images on television.
“We saw the real face of Saddam. He was captured. I was so happy to see the nightmare come to an end,” Doski said. “I saw the Iraqis in the conference. When they saw the pictures they were saying, ‘long life for Iraq,’ and ‘down with Saddam,’ I was in the same mode.
“Today is a very historical day,” he said. “It’s a very historical moment for everybody.
“I wish the people (who) were killed had stayed alive to see this moment and to enjoy this … like my father. He didn’t stay alive to see this moment,” Doski said. “Thousands of Iraqi’s were killed and hurt by this regime over the last 35 years.”
Doski said he is very optimistic about the future of his homeland.
“I hope this moment will bring all Iraqis together to bring them to reconciliation,” Doski said. “Between the Kurds, Arabs and Turkmens, I hope they will start a new life with the support of the United States and the coalition friendly countries.”