Detainee release in Tarmiyah offers fresh start
March 18, 2009
TARMIYAH, Iraq - A big blue bus rolled to a stop here, and Shaman Abdul Hadi stepped off, followed by 15 other men. Hadi hadn't been to Tarmiyah or seen his family for 17 months, and was ready for a fresh start.
The group returned home thanks to a detainee release facilitated by the 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry Regiment, 56th Stryker "Independence" Brigade Combat Team. As Coalition forces implement the Security Agreement, Hadi and many others are getting another chance to rejoin their communities.
"I'm now home with my family, and looking forward to seeing my four children," Hadi said, after greeting his father and a group of friends. "I plan to do factory work. Everything is set up."
The men were vetted through a rigorous process to ensure there were no warrants for their arrest or grievances for any crimes they may have committed. Their local sheiks and families also vouched for the men, and upon their return here they received a welcoming but stern speech from Sheik Sa'ed Jassim, a key tribal leader in the Tarmiyah area.
"God willing, these men will have a good life now. We talked to them, and advised them to work hard for their families," Jassim said. "I know many of their parents, and most come from good families."
After the men signed sworn oaths bearing allegiance to the Government of Iraq, they rejoined their friends and families - many of them smiling and laughing for the first time that day, and possibly for the first time in a very long time.
Although it's impossible to know if each individual will stay out of trouble, Jassim and the other sheiks involved were happy to see the men return home and seemed confident. Capt. Peter Muller, commander, Company C, 1-111th, shared that confidence and said the timing is right.
"With the transition to rule of law, it's important that we support the Iraqi judicial process," Muller explained. "If someone doesn't have a warrant, we are returning them to society. They've paid their debt to society, and I think most of them will listen to the sheik."
Before the men departed to be with their loved ones, Jassim was careful to explain to each one they'd be held accountable for their actions. Muller said Iraqi Security Forces and Sons of Iraq in the area would be watching, and his unit would be ready to assist them with whatever they needed to ensure security for the Iraqi people.
As Muller was leaving the hall with his men, he paused for a minute and reflected on what he perceived as a successful mission.
"Today's a good day. I'm glad these men are home. It makes me happy to see them smiling with their families."