By Staff Sgt. Samantha M. StrykerNovember 14, 2006
TAL AFAR, Iraq, Nov. 14, 2006 - The story goes that on Oct. 9 an Iraqi police patrolman noticed a suspicious vehicle driving toward his patrol base in Tal Afar. When attempts to stop the vehicle failed, he shot the driver.
Unfortunately the driver was able to detonate a bomb that killed him, the patrolman and injured two other patrolmen.
Despite this tragic story, the local Iraqi police who witnessed the event and the hundreds that serve in the city's security force see this as a bittersweet story of courage and sacrifice. To them the patrolman's bravery symbolizes the struggle to regain control of their city from insurgents and fear.
This heroic deed is not lost to a local leader. The sacrifice made by one man has inspired the city's mayor, Najim Abdullah Al-Jibouri.
Najim has put his life at risk serving as a town leader and working with coalition forces. He is willing to take that risk for Tal Afar and its people so that together they can help keep the city free from the grips of insurgents.
Najim, a former officer in Saddam Hussein's army, is from Dahuk, a Kurdish town north of Tal Afar. The provincial police chief in Mosul appointed him a brigadier general last summer to replace the local police chief. He was later promoted to mayor of Tal Afar, prior to the establishment of the democratic republic government.
"Tal Afar is the first place [Iraqi and coalition forces were able] to get it right," Najim said about how the cooperation between the coalition was able to drive Al Qaeda members out of the city.
"Not only is it important for me, [Tal Afar] is important for the American forces and all of Iraq," he said.
Since arriving in 2005, Najim has worked with Col. H.R. McMaster, the commander of 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and Lt. Col. John Tien, commander of 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, to help secure the city. He is currently working with Lt. Col. Malcolm Frost, commander of 3rd Squadron, 4th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, to return the city to a safe place where "children can be seen playing in the streets."
Despite the danger to him, his family and his staff, Najim is relentless in his stance against insurgents and sectarian violence. During his tenure, coalition forces and ISF opened a Joint Communication Center in the city.
Iraqi police, Iraqi Army and coalition forces work together at the JCC to monitor the city's police frequencies, coordinate response teams and respond to telephone calls. Members of the JCC also monitor the status of electricity and other utilities to keep the city running smoothly.
Najim's continued cooperation with coalition forces has brought back a sense of security and a rebirth in businesses.
During a recent foot patrol in the city, Sgt. 1st Class Clint MacMiller, a platoon sergeant in Troop C, 3-4 Cav. Regt., noticed a new business had opened in town.
"Today we stopped by a shop; there was a little shoe shop where we were handing out toys and stuff. It is a brand new shop. It opened this week," he said.
"Business is booming. People are coming back into town," MacMiller added.
Mayor Najim could be compared to New York's Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who in the late 1990s took a hard approach to crime by increasing the police force and empowering taskforces to take down crime rings and restore the people's faith in the city's police force. Giuliani, along with his police commissioner Bill Bratton, are credited with cleaning up the Big Apple.
Najim wants the same for Tal Afar.
It was early meetings with McMaster that impressed Najim and convinced him the United States was here to help, and with cooperation from the city, they could rid the town of insurgents.
The city's success has not gone unnoticed.
President Bush mentioned Najim and the city of Tal Afar in an address last March in Cleveland, Ohio. The president stated, "The confidence that has been restored to the people of Tal Afar is crucial to their efforts to rebuild their city."
He said that Najim was a key part of this effort and that, "we're proud to have allies like Mayor Najim on our side in the fight for freedom."
He was later honored in Washington, D. C., for his outstanding courage and leadership in taking back his town from insurgents.