I didn’t know him well. But from my few conversations with the man, I gathered he was a true Iraqi Patriot and that he loved wearing suits and he kind of reminded me of Bill Cosby... I could just picture him in front of his grandchildren daring them to pull his finger. Of course, it’s considered an insult in Iraq to fart on somebody, but still he just had an avuncular quality to him. Gen. Waleed Kashmoula was the anti-corruption director in Mosul. He was killed this past week by insurgents. At his funeral, insurgents attacked the mourners. Can you imagine us attacking an enemy’s funeral? Just think of how much media coverage that would receive. But, this particular attack barely even made the typical “elsewhere in Iraq” paragraph at the bottom of the daily wrap-up story. Still the question lingers… what type of people attack a funeral? Well, it’s people who have no regard for human life. Waleed was a man who believed in Iraq and his death is truly tragic. It pains me, but I know his efforts in rebuilding the country and stopping terrorism will lead to a free and Democratic Iraq. But for now, I just want to share a few stories of this fine man.
Many people in my unit were close to Waleed. He invited us over to his place for dinner once. And although I wasn’t able to go, my colonel and two captains attended. They feasted with his entire family and were the guests of honor. A family man, Waleed would bring his children and grandchildren to the palace to meet us. His grandkids hugged us like we were family. And Waleed asked us atypical questions like… did you talk to your mom? You should talk to your mom. She misses you.
But what I’ll remember most about the man was the way he dressed. He wore silk suits every day and shiny shoes. He had huge ears. I, too, have dumbo ears so any time I meet another big-eared fellow we hit it off right off the bat. He was bald and had these few hairs that he’d comb over kind of like Homer Simpson. A very educated man, he spoke perfect English.
I’m sure he’ll be remembered by most for his awesome dedication to the Iraqi people. He was largely the reason Mosul opened one of the largest Iraqi Joint Command Centers (JCC), where leaders from all Iraqi security forces coordinate and work together. He also helped the governor of Ninevah make important security decisions. And he was one of the first people dignitaries wanted to meet with, including General Casey and Donald Rumsfeld. And now the man we, the Americans, trusted and believed in is gone. But I believe there will be others like him.
Just normal everyday citizens are taking their arms and fighting insurgents, foiling the evildoers plan to plant a roadside bomb here or there. And little kids are providing the coalition with tangible intelligence on insurgent training camps and the homes of terrorists. It’s almost as if the Iraqis are saying “enough is enough.” And they know we’ll be there to support them as their country only grows stronger. As each day passes, it’s apparent that Iraqis are growing more confident and the insurgents are becoming weaker. The new government will succeed and Iraqi will truly be free.
I just wish the Iraqis like Samir and Waleed were there to witness it. At least, their children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy freedom one day. Knowing Samir and Waleed, that fact would put a smile on their face.