Small Iraqi villages targets for terrorist recruiting
June 22, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq -- Nestled away in the sandy dunes of northern Iraq is the small village of Zalla Al Sabaee. With a population of approximately 500 people, it is one of thousands of small Iraqi villages that most people have probably never heard of.
However, this village and many others play a vital role in the overall stability of the country, which is why a platoon of Soldiers accompanied by the Daquq, Iraq Police traveled there, May 31.
1st Lt. Christopher Minter and Sgt. 1st Class Miguel Casarez are platoon leader and platoon sergeant respectively, in C Troop, 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Their platoon, along with Lt. Abbas of the Daquq IP and several of his officers travelled to Zalla Al Sabaee to conduct an assessment of the village's needs and meet with the village leader, Mukhtar Mohammad Muslih Shhab.
According to Minter, it is villages like Zalla Al Sabaee that are targeted by insurgent and terrorist recruiting efforts and which is why these assessments are important.
"Often the young men are recruited in these small villages by terrorists and insurgents due to the lack of essential services and employment," Minter said. "Without employment the prospect of being paid by anyone to support their families becomes an enticing offer."
Minter and Abbas met with Mohammad and were invited into the mukhtar's home for customary tea and conversation. After exchanged pleasantries, the men got down to business and discussed security, essential services, and other shortcomings the village might have.
"We must travel to Daquq for medical treatment since we have no clinic in our village," Mohammad informed the gathered men. "We also have no water well to provide water for our people and our young men must travel to Kirkuk city, Iraq, to work because there are no jobs here."
This struck right at the purpose of the meeting for Minter and Abbas.
"We want to make sure the information that is provided here gets relayed to the Daquq district council member responsible for this area," Minter said.
Abbas also informed Mohammad their representative on the Daquq council had an open door policy and any shayhk or mukhtar could stop by and discuss any concerns they may have.
This was also the first time since 2007 that Coalition forces had travelled to this village, although the Iraqi army had been in the area within the past several weeks which, according to Mohammad, was uneventful and cordial.
"We also want to know how interaction with the Iraqi army is going to make sure they are doing their part in securing the countryside and looking out for the people's best interests," Minter said.
According to Minter, a large-scale project planned in the area is to build a paved road so residents will have an easier time navigating from village to village and traveling to nearby Daquq to use facilities there.
Following the meeting Abbas returned to the Daquq IP station while Minter and his Soldiers returned to FOB Warrior.
"Overall, the mission was a success," Minter said. "We can provide an accurate assessment of the village's needs to their district council member so that he can address those needs at the next meeting."
According to Minter, the Iraqi army and IP along with Coalition forces will continue to conduct assessments like this with follow-ups in the numerous villages within their area of responsibility to make sure concerns are addressed and measures are implemented to ensure the younger generation of Iraqis is less likely to fall victim to the recruiting efforts of insurgents or terrorists.