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Back in Baghdad



Last fall, Metro Times told the story of Teresa and Lateef Al-Saraji, and how the couple and their various family members were being touched by the war in Iraq (“Road to Baghdad,” Oct. 22, 2003). Lateef, an Iraqi native, lives with wife Teresa in Erie, Mich., just north of Toledo. Teresa’s daughter by a previous marriage, Kristin Cruikshank, is an Army sergeant stationed in Baghdad, where much of Lateef’s family still lives. Several family members, in fact, had set up a store at the post where Kristin is stationed.

Two weeks ago, this story took a tragic turn when one of Lateef’s brothers was gunned down near his home in Baghdad.

According to Teresa, Sadoon Al-Saraji was in his early 40s and had seven children, all under the age of 9. He was shot five times in the back and head. Lateef, who just flew to Iraq to be with his family, reports back to Teresa that they are all “barricaded” in their home. Witnesses have identified two of the killers, but so far no arrests have been made. Along with the family’s work with the U.S. military, Sadoon had been working with the British doing bridge construction in southern Iraq. He had also provided information that led to the capture of one of the “most wanted” Iraqis the United States pictured on playing cards. Given the level of cooperation, the family had hoped the American military would help catch the suspects. That hasn’t happened.

“The Army is not doing shit!” writes Teresa in an e-mail.

“They helped the Army so much since they came to Baghdad, but now they [the United States] are not helping them get the killers.”

Because he is an Iraqi, she says, “No one cares.”

“There is no law there,” says Teresa. “I wish to tell everyone that. That is why the Iraqis are angry. … If we were in their shoes we would be angry also!”

“Now,” she writes, “my husband is over there investigating and grieving and in danger. Will I ever see him alive again?”

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