Credit: Courtesy Of Saman Kareem Ahmad Photo
By way of Michael Totten:
Saman Kareem Ahmad is an Iraqi Kurd who worked as a translator with the Marines in Iraq’s Anbar Province. He was one of the few selected translators who was granted asylum in the U.S. because he and his family were singled out for destruction by insurgents for “collaboration.” He wants to return to Iraq as an American citizen and a Marine, and has already been awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter and General David Petraeus wrote notes for his file and recommended he be given a Green Card, but the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) declined his application and called him a “terrorist.”
The INS says Ahmad “conducted full-scale armed attacks and helped incite rebellions against Hussein’s regime, most notably during the Iran-Iraq war, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom” while a member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
He was brought to the U.S. on a Visa with some fifty other persons who had assisted the U.S. in Iraq in the “war on terrorism.” In the case of Mr. Ahmed, he had served our country for four years as a translator for the military, risking his life and very likely the lives of family and friends. The top U.S. military officials have said that Mr. Ahmad’s service was invaluable.
Isn’t it great how the INS is protecting America by preventing criminal elements from getting into this great country of ours? What great incentive, too, to help those risking their lives and the lives of their family members by helping the United States of America.
It’s hard to imagine a refugee from Iraqi Kurdistan more deserving of residence in the United States than Saman Kareem Ahmad. The 38-year-old Kurd lost his family during Saddam Hussein’s genocidal chemical attack against his home town of Halabja in 1988; for the last several years, his de facto family has been the U.S. Marine Corps, for which he bravely served as a translator in Fallujah. Driven out of Iraq by death threats in 2006, he was admitted to the United States under a special visa program for translators and granted asylum. He now provides instruction for Marines headed to Iraq from the base in Quantico.~~~
The deputy director of Citizenship and Immigration Services, Jonathan “Jock” Scharfen, acknowledges that his agency’s decision “does not appear to make much common sense.” Until recently, language in the Immigration and Nationality Act virtually compelled a finding that the KDP and similarly pro-American organizations were “terrorists”; legislation allowing such groups to be cleared was passed in December, but a review of the KDP has not been completed. In the meantime, Mr. Scharfen said, the case of Mr. Ahmad is “on hold.” But the homeland security secretary is empowered to grant waivers to individuals; Secretary Michael Chertoff should act immediately in this instance.
The larger story here concerns the Bush administration’s shoddy treatment of Iraqis who have put their lives on the line to support U.S. forces during the last five years. Only 50 visas per year for Iraqi and Afghan translators were allocated beginning in 2006; the number was increased to 500 for this fiscal year, but will revert to 50 in 2009, even though 648 translators had applications pending as of December. Not every Iraqi who has helped the United States needs to be admitted to this country or be granted a green card. But cases such as that of Mr. Ahmad shame this country.
A former fetus, the “wordsmith from nantucket” was born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1968. Adopted at birth, wordsmith grew up a military brat. He achieved his B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles (graduating in the top 97% of his class), where he also competed rings for the UCLA mens gymnastics team. The events of 9/11 woke him from his political slumber and malaise. Currently a personal trainer and gymnastics coach.
The wordsmith has never been to Nantucket.