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New sheik takes stand against AQI

SITCHER, Iraq (July 24, 2008) – Marines and Iraqi tribal and security officials gathered near the Sitcher Iraqi Police Station to celebrate the inauguration of a new local sheik July 24.

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Story by Cpl. Chadwick deBree

Amar Abdullah Husain al-Jumaili received his official appointment as a sheik, replacing his uncle, Sheik Ahmed Sarham, who was killed along with 20 other sheiks and three Marines after a suicide bombing at a meeting in Karma.

Marines of 2nd Platoon, Company G, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, attended the ceremony to pay their respects.

“Sheik (Amar) is a great man and a great leader, and I’m confident he’ll do good things here,” said 1st Lt. Hussein Yaghnam, platoon commander, 2nd Platoon, Company G, Task Force 2/3.

Sheik Sarham lost his life while working to promote progress and peace, a mission the Marines are confident will be continued.

“(The community) is still in mourning because they lost a great leader,” Yaghnam said. “But they’re still pushing through and moving forward. That’s why this event is so significant; because it shows that the Iraqi people are determined to push through no matter what al-Qaida in Iraq throws at them. Regardless of what they do, AQI is loosing their foothold in the area.”

Before being appointed as a sheik, Amar was a captain and assistant to the station chief at the Sitcher IP Station, putting him in a position to already know everyone in the area, know what the area needs and to provide a bridge between Coalition forces and IP.

“Since working with Marines, a lot has been accomplished,” Amar said. “First the station was made, then it was made bigger. (The Marines) started to train us on how to stand post, how to police call, how to search houses, how to patrol and they supplied us with radios. Most of all they taught us the basics of human rights. They taught us that if we go into a house we have to respect the people living there and their property. They taught us not to detain anyone unless we have the evidence against them and they taught us to respect women.

“All these things are helping us get along with the people we protect,” said Amar. “Before, this area was a stronghold for terrorists, but with the police learning (from the Marines), all the terrorists are gone.”

Through IP efforts, along with the help of the Marines with Task Force 2/3, the area is returning to a stable state.

“We have our foot in the door and we’re not pulling it out,” Yaghnam said. “We’re going to keep giving the Iraqi people the support that we can, to complete our mission and their mission, and that mission is Iraqi self-governance.”

Amar, along with Sheik Rabia Abd Suliman al-Jumaili, the head sheik of the area, has already assisted with projects to help better the community, and he plans to continue the progress.

“Things have been very good in the area,” Rabia said. “We’ve fixed two schools and mosques, cleaned the canals, built bridges over the canals and gave out about 500 food bags to poor families. Now we want to concentrate on building a (medical) clinic here to help the people that are sick.”