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Iraqi women visit U.S. CENTCOM to say thank you

by Army Sgt. Alexander L. Gago
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

Wallace Army Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, Plans and Policy Directorate deputy director, discusses his experience overseas with Taqhreed al-Quaraghouli (center) and Surood Ahmad (right). The two Iraqi women visited Central Command Aug. 25 to thank American troops.

Photo by Army Capt. Angela R.

Two months ago Taqhreed al-Quaraghouli and Surood Ahmad embarked on an eight-week trip to the United States. They paid a visit to U.S. Central Command Headquarters Aug. 25 to simply say thanks to the American troops for liberating them and the Iraqi people.

The two women spoke with Army Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt, plans and policy directorate deputy director, and Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey W. Foley, Command and Control, Communications and Computer Systems director. They gathered together sharing tea, and conveying their thanks to the troops and their families for their sacrifice.

Before the liberation of Iraq by American troops, the two women endured hardship and tragedy. Ms. Ahmad, a Kurd from Kirkuk, and her family fled Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's regime, but were ambushed by Saddam's army. Ms. Ahmad and her father survived. Her other family members did not.

Ms. Ahmad clutched her teacup and said, "They killed six people in our car: My mother, my sister, my aunt and three of our neighbors. They shot me twice and my father three times. Our lives (were) unbearable," said Ms. Ahmad. "At least I'm free. We will be able to create a peaceful society."

Taqhreed and her family went into hiding. "I was forced into hiding for two years. We had to give officials bribe money for me to complete my studies."

She is from Baghdad and often speaks of completing her master's degree in America.

General Kimmitt asked what key things of America she would take back home. Ms. al-Quaraghouli said, "Many, many things. Democracy is wonderful. Every people (sic) has the same right. Government for the people is wonderful. People rule themselves in America."

Both are activists of women's rights in Iraq and came to the United States in mid-July. "We want to bring a message of thanks to the American soldier and to their families for their sacrifices," said Taqhreed.

As she finished her cup of tea she said, "We need democracy. It's the new Iraq. In a thank-you message to American (troops), their mothers, their families, thank you."

General Foley, sharing his gratitude, said, "Let me thank you on behalf of the American people for visiting with us. You are both making a difference on behalf of all Iraq citizens."




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