An Iraqi Interpreter’s Story

August 11th, 2007  

Topic: An Iraqi Interpreter’s Story

Michael J. Totten interviews an Iraqi translator for US forces, in another of his must-read reports from the ground in Iraq: Michael J. Totten: An Iraqi Interpreter’s Story.
MJT: Why do you work with Americans?
Hammer: When I was 14 years old all I liked was American cars and American movies. America was my dream. It was a dream come true when the United States Army came to Iraq. It was a nightmare in 1991 when they left again.
Maybe someone will think I’m lying, that I’m just saying this. If my friends say something like Russian weapons are the best or German cars are the best I say, no, Americans are. Everyone who knows me knows this about me.
If anyone says Arabs will win against the U.S. they are wrong. The leaders don’t want to be like Saddam. But if the US leaves Iraq it will be a big failure, especially for me. I don’t want to see this. Never.
MJT: Do you like working with Americans?
Hammer: A lot. Especially when I go outside the wire. I feel like a stranger here. When I go back inside I’m home. I have no friends outside, only family. When I go home I stay in my house. I don’t go out on the streets.
MJT: Why don’t you have any friends?
Hammer: I don’t feel like I belong to this society. They think like each other, but they don’t think like me. I can’t continue with them.
I like to know something about everything, to learn as much as I can. In Iraq if you know too much they will laugh and call you a liar.
When I was 20 I liked American music. They don’t like it. (Laughs.)
I don’t like Saddam. I hate his family.
MJT: Why do you have to cover your face?
Hammer: To protect my family. My family lives in Iraq. If they go to the U.S. I won’t have to do it. But I don’t want anyone to know me, to follow me and see where I live and kill my wife and son.
MJT: How did you feel when the U.S. invaded Iraq?
Hammer: Happy. It was like I was living in a jail and somebody set me free. I don’t want Saddam ruling me. Never. I was just waiting and waiting for this moment.
MJT: What do you think about the possibility of Americans leaving?
Hammer: It is like bad dream. Very bad dream. A nightmare. Worse than that. Like sending me back to jail. Like they set me free for four years then sent me back to jail or gave me a death sentence.
August 12th, 2007  
We will take Iraqi interpreters, says Polish defense minister
Created: Saturday, August 11. 2007
In an interview with Polish Radio this morning, Polish defense minister, Aleksander Szczyglo, said that the government would be happy to give safe sanctuary to Iraqis who worked for the Polish army.

He also said that a decision as to how long Polish troops would remain in Iraq would be taken in the autumn.

This week the UK government announced that it was reviewing its policy of not giving asylum to Iraqis working for the coalition forces.

The U.S. government is offering 1,000 special immigration visas over the next two years for Iraqis and Afghans working with American forces. (photo:

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