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Iraqi Businessman Says His Country Appreciates Americans' Sacrifices

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2005 – Rubar S. Sandi, an Iraqi businessman, wants the American public to know U.S. troops killed in Iraq have not died in vain.

"Your sons, your husband," he said to the wife of Army Capt. Bill Jacobsen, who died in a suicide-bomb attack in Mosul, Iraq, "I don't call them dead; they live in every one of us.

"You all need to be proud of your sons and daughters," he said. "They are doing a terrific job. Their lives have definitely not been wasted. They are there because of you."

Sandi, an outspoken critic of Saddam Hussein, was a guest speaker at an April 27 luncheon sponsored by the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which aims to help families through the grief process.

Sandi, president and CEO of The Sandi Group, a security and logistics firm with headquarters in Washington and Baghdad, and one of the largest employers in Iraq, said that despite the violence in Iraq, the majority of Iraqis appreciate the sacrifice U.S. servicemembers have made for their country.

"The message (Iraqis) have for America is to please stay," he said.

Sandi explained that Iraqis see violence against Americans as a "horrible thing."

"If you ask the Iraqi people, the majority -- 95 percent -- will say they are happier," he said. "If you go through the streets of Baghdad you see restaurants and tea shops open until (2 or 3 a.m.).

"'If you asked them, 'Are you happy?' They will say, 'Absolutely,'" he said.

However, Sandi said, it is the stories of servicemembers dying in violent car-bomb attacks that grab media headlines. Such violence overshadows how happy Iraqis are about the tremendous progress being made "from health to education to electricity to clean water," he said.

"People have hope, that's the biggest progress that you can imagine," he explained. "During Saddam, people were dying for nothing, their lives were worthless."

Sandi told the group he understands the pain of Americans who have lost loved ones fighting for Iraq's freedom. He said several of his security personnel have been "killed and executed" by terrorists, and others have died defending against insurgent attacks on U.S. servicemembers.

"We are fighting side by side with your sons and daughters," he said. "We are fighting for the same cause.

"I do pray for President Bush, the Americans and specifically for the U.S. armed forces for their dedication and for them sacrificing their lives to defend freedom," he added. "Even if you don't believe in Iraq, you must believe in America."

Sandi also told the group that he believes peace will one day come to Iraq, but it will be a "long journey."

"We have to take it step by step," he said. "Things will get better."

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