Sunday, July 02, 2006

Interview With An Iraqi General

I wrote a story for Michael Yon’s Frontline Forum a week ago about the town I am stationed in right now named Qayyarah. Qayyarah is a model for other Iraqi cities because it was once a haven for terrorists but is now safe enough for anyone to travel around in without fear of terrorists. The main reason for the safety of Qayyarah lies with one man: General Ali. He is a myth-like figure around our base and everyone knows his name. He is a strict military man but is the type of man Iraq needs so desperately right now. I hope people the world over will read this interview and learn just what kind of men are in Iraq right now willing to take control of their own country. What follows is the truth. It comes directly from the mouth of a man who knows intimately what is going on in Iraq and knows where Iraq has come from and where it needs to go. I intend to post the interview in two installments due to the length and urge everyone to bookmark this page and come back for the rest of the interview.

General Ali in his office

How long have you been in the military?

General Ali: I first went to the army in 1976, I became a staff brigade general in 1997. In 2001 I left the army because there were many problems between my tribe and Saddam’s regime. He fired many of the officers and put some of them in jail. I am one of the officers who was put in jail for ten months and afterwards I was put out of the army. When the coalition forces came to Iraq in 2003 I worked with the 101st (Airborne American army unit) in Qayyarah (*the town I am in now and where he lives) as an advisor. In 2004 the terrorists destroyed all of the Iraqi police stations and in that time the terrorists controlled all of this area. They controlled Mosul, south Mosul, and 40 km from where we are now. In that time no one came to help. All of the people and soldiers were scared and went home. I came to help and the Americans invited me to come command this battalion. The name of this battalion was the 102nd ING before they changed the name to the 1st battalion 3 brigade Iraqi army. At that time I only had eight soldiers with my battalion. They could not go out in their uniforms because they were scared of the terrorists. If they went out on a mission with the coalition they wore facemasks because if the terrorists saw them they would kill them. First time I started training my soldiers I made 1000 soldiers in my unit. After one month I went out on a mission with them and captured all of the terrorists leaders.

At this point I asked kind of jokingly, kind of seriously “Really, on the first time out?” He replied in all seriousness:

Yes the first time.

I worked day and night, 24 hours 7 days a week to clean my area because my area at that time was very dangerous. No one could move at that time, no market, no police, no Iraqi army. We continue to work with the Americans, we captured many bad guys, more than 800. We found caches we found mortars, many weapons. They attacked my house many times. They did not send messages to me but instead sent car bombs and mortars to my family. But I did not stop my mission. I encouraged my family but I did not go home. For three months I did not see my family, I stayed with the coalition to serve my country because my country needed me.

I was in this same position as battalion commander in 1987 during the war between Iraq and Iran which started in 1980-88. In that war I was injured 7 times and have 17 medals for courage. I did not go to Kuwait in 1991 because I did not believe in the old regime and also my tribe did not believe the old regime. He killed many people in my tribe from the military. But now that all the people believe me they work with me and help me.

As two local Sheiks sit across the room from us listening in on our conversation General Ali turns the conversation to them for a minute.

You see those two sheiks? They came to thank me because I made their area secure. They are very happy when they see the work being done in their area. When they see people working at night, people driving. Basra and Baghdad are dangerous but my area now is very safe. In my area the security is excellent. Now I can guarantee that you can go by yourself in your uniform with no armor, no helmet, no weapon, and I’ll give you my vehicle so that you can go to Qayyarah to shop in the market and come back to here and you will be safe. This happened because before the terrorists were in control there was no trust between the Iraqi army and the people. They just believed the terrorists but when I came I controlled this area and I had a meeting with all the sheiks and all the people and all the doctors and I made clear to them that all the terrorists and all the criminals were killers against Islam and they believed me and helped me. They gave me information and even caught terrorists and brought them to me. This is excellent. I told them that it was their job, that it was their country. All Iraqi people must fight the terrorists because it was not just the job of the Iraqi army. The terrorists were killing civilians and because of it the people believed me and they came to work with me.

How did Saddam treat you since you were in a different tribe than him?

General Ali: He was a bad guy against all of the Iraqi people not just my tribe.

Have you liked working with the American soldiers?

General Ali: Yes, yes, yes. They believe me and I believe them. All the soldiers that have worked here know General Ali. I invite them to my house to eat with me and to train with me. I know they came to help the Iraqi people. That is why I work with them, that is why I tell my people the truth about the coalition. Before they might have disliked the US army because they did not have the real picture of the soldiers. I told the people though how the US army fought for us and also how they did projects for us. They fixed the schools, made roads, and made many things for the people of Iraq. The people see how we caught the terrorists, how we made it safe, they see that is more comfortable then under Saddam’s regime.

Do you have a different picture of Americans now then before we came?

General Ali: It is the same for me because I know exactly why the soldiers came to Iraq. I am not a small officer (*Just incase: Brigadier General is a high rank in any army). I work with the soldiers day and night. If you work with people for three years you get to know them. You see them more than your family. You work with them more than your brother. I believe and like the soldiers. If they make mistakes I tell them because they are my friends. If they don’t know about the Iraqi people I tell them. I am a soldier and an advisor. Sometimes the soldiers did not know about the Iraqi people. I also told my friends about the soldiers: how they speak, how they shake hands, how they sit down with them. Which subject they speak on because I know the US army soldiers read before they came over here. When they came to help though they needed advisors. If there were other good advisors like me then there wouldn’t be terrorists. My people help me because they believe in me and like me. And when the terrorists came they did not believe the terrorists, they fought against the terrorists. When the terrorists came from Mosul, Ramadi, and from any other town the people would call me on my cell phone and tell me about them.

At this time in the conversation I mentioned to General Ali about the day before when I saw him coming in the main gate to our base with three terrorists in the back of a truck. He laughed and told me he received a tip from some locals and he and his men dropped everything they were doing and went out to catch the men. They were assisted by an American helicopter in the capture, which made it a combined effort. He explained to me that those same sequences of events happen often and exuded confidence in the efforts of his men and of his fellow townspeople.

The rest of the interview will be posted on Wednesday. In the second part of the interview General Ali shares his feelings about the American media, the future of the Iraqi army, and shares some words for the American people. Please spread the word about this interview. I believe what General Ali has to say needs to be heard by the whole world.


MissBirdlegs in AL said...

Thank you for this post, Tim. I agree that it's something all of us should read. Also, my great thanks to General Ali for stepping up for his country. Both of you are appreciated more than you'll ever know.

Happy 4th of July!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service, Tim, and for sharing with us an authentic Iraqi patriot.


Anonymous said...

To have a great country you have to have great leaders. We wish General Ali well for his work and for his example to his own people. We are greatful to people like you, Sgt. Boggs, for making it possible for Iraq to develop those new leaders. May they have the wisdom to take advantage of the opportunity they now have. We hope there are many more like General Ali in that land who will follow his brave example. Great interview. Might make a news reporter out of you yet! Ha! Maybe it will help when you run for President.

Anonymous said...

All the terrorists in just one day?? WOW - -General Ali! You sound like you're from Texas!

Theway2k said...

Thanks for reporting something you will not find in the MSM.

If we all listened to the MSM and the Democratic Party one would think America and the democratic elected government of Iraq are in a state of defeat and disarray.

Mike O said...

One of the true heroes of the Iraqi war; thanks for sharing his story said...

WELL I AM A WWI-lKOREA VET A FTR ACE IN wwi (p-38'S) and consider myself a patroit and love my country and hate the american press which lost us vietnam and is trying to loos us Irag. WHAT A SHAME THIS INFORMTION CANNOT BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. THIS SERGEANT IS A HERO.
Nial Castle Major USAF (R)

Anonymous said...

Fox News has some good war correspondents. They tie their hands though and won't let them do real interviews like Tim did with the general. It would take more than a 3 minute spot on the tube. Maybe we should all flood Fox with emails and calls and get them to realize what we, the American people, really want and need. Fox News is about our only hope though. They have the dedicated men and the talent to do it if we pressure them just a little - -well okay - maybe a lot. You are doing a fantastic job Sgt. Boggs. Thank you General Ali for coming to the aid of your country. Our thoughts are with you and those like you.

Patrick L. McHargue said...

Sgt. Boggs;

Thank you for posting this interview.

I certainly hope that someone in the 'news' system availae themselves of what you know, but I'm not holding my breath either.

Good luck to you & your compatriots in the months ahead. I appreciate what you're doing, as do those around me.

Patrick L. McHargue

ledger said...

Sgt. Boggs that was a fantastic post.

Gen. Ali sounds like a man to cares for his country and its citizens. And, he shows it by putting his life on the line. That's important.

For Iraq to prosper, it needs more men like Gen. Ali.

Terrorism and criminal acts destroy human lives and make business and government functions impossible. Terrorism must be eliminated using any and all means.

Iraqis like Gen. Ali know the people and the terrain. Iraqis know how to find terrorists and eliminate them. The quicker the terrorists are taken down the quicker Iraq can become a prosperous country.

Sgt. Boggs, keep the good work and keep those great posts coming.

Pontificating Weasel said...

You know, looking at General Ali's picture and reading what he has to say, my reaction is: this is a great guy, the kind of guy I'd be honored to entertain in my home. I would consider it a blessing if his family and mine became intertwined with bonds of friendship. I wish such a thing were possible. That's how peace happens.

The Ugly American said...

Tim; I was already more proud of you than words can express. You may have just become the best milblogger around.

Not to mention the fine soldier you are. When this war is won. It will be because of men like you and General Ali.

It seems the most appropriate thing to say is Thank You.

Alexandra said...

Tim, (h/t to Rick) for pointing this out to me. Fantastic work, an interview you can really be proud of. I will put it into my next Iraqi post, and let you know.

All the best, and thank you for this post. We all wish the General and his generosity of spirit to find its way into the deaf dumb and blind MSM, but we don't hold our breath...

Terry Ott said...

I wonder if General Ali is ready to turn over his command to an understudy and go elsewhere in Iraq to replicate what he has done. He strikes me as the epitome of a "turnaround executive".

Thanks for the post. Keep them coming.

Kathryn M said...

yes, thank's Tim! this is great.

tanksis said...

Awesome interview, Sgt.

General Ali has much to be proud of in himself and his fellow countrymen, and of course, in our armed forces, too.

Couldn't ask for a better representative than the one we have in you (no pressure here). I for one am glad the General knows what side we are on and is not afraid to SPEAK HIS TRUTH.

Looking forward to part 2. Happy 4th to you and all those serving now, as well as those who have worn the uniform in the past. We think of you all every day, but "Independence Day" is made all the more special when we remember those of you who lay it all on the line.

Draftee said...

Great interview, Tim!
We need some General Officers in the US Armed Forces like Gen. Ali!!!
I guess some politicians with some cojones wouldn't hurt either.

Melinda said...

Can't wait to read Part 2. Interviews like this are so important so that those who rely on the MSM can see that there ARE people in Iraq working hard for their own country & who DO care about their future and its possible freedoms.
Thanks for this interview, SGT Boggs, and thanks to General Ali for all his work & determination.

Anonymous said...

Nice post - very interesting - good to see alternative views of the whole Iraq issue written by somebody on the spot.

Anonymous said...

It is encouraging to hear that there are people like General Ali in Iraq who understand that we Americans can help but the Iraqi's need to step up, like this hero, and take control of their country. His attitude is amazing. He makes me believe there is hope for Iraq. American definitely needs to hear this man's story. Thanks Tim for sharing it with us. Happy July 4th, I am so proud of you and all serving in the military!

DagneyT said...

Thank you, Sgt. Boggs. This interview brought a smile, and hope for the future of Iraq. God bless you for bringing it to us. Can the General please go help out the misguided folks in Baghdad who should be putting al Sadr on trial for the murder he is lawfully accused of, instead of playing chicken with him?

Give the general our heartfelt love and gratitude! I wish we could clone him.

Antediluvia said...

I thought your letter to the NYT was your best yet, but this is awesome. I always enjoy your interviews, and this time it is with a General. Here is more proof that the Iraqis did want us there and all the great deeds both armies are doing on a daily basis. I look forward to part II.

dj elliott said...

Slightly OT:
I heard that IA 2nd Div was being loaned uparmored HMMWVs. I also saw LTC Dempsey's brief where he said the IA is getting 2797 of them. I have also seen reporting of DZIK3, OTOKAR, Cougar, Akrep and Reva wheeled APCs being purchased.

How well equipped is IA 2nd Div with armor?

DonSurber said...

Good stuff!

TallDave said...

Great post, thanks for sharing.

Unfortunately, this is not an American soldier accused of an atrocity or a critical national security secret so it will get little press.

But at least we'll know.

God bless all freedom-loving patriots, American and Iraqi.

seadog said...

Thanks for sharing........hats off to the general!!!!

Lisa Gilliam said...

Great job Sargent,it is too bad that the left in this country are too chicken to do the stories you do,in fact your writing is a lot better than anything most of them put out!Thank you for your service and I like General Ali,it seems that the Iraqi's have their own version of Patton.Also,have a good Independence day!

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Thanks for the interview and posting this up...and for your service!

Papa Ray said...

Hey Warriors,

Keep it wound up and tight.

We are going to have a great 4th and my Grandkids are going to have a wonderful life because of Warriors like you and your buds.

Tell them all how much we appriciate it. Even my 5 y/o Sweet Sarah knows that our "Warriors" protect us from the bad guys.

Just remember her and all the millions more like her when the days are long, hot and deadly.

Also, be sure and tell your loved ones we know and appriciate their hardships and devotion. In some ways, they give the most.

Don't forget to tell the Iraqi Soldiers that we admire and appriciate their efforts for their Country.

Continue the Mission.

Papa Ray
West Texas

Anonymous said...

Going to have a glorious 4th here in Louisville, KY because of men like you and the General.

Have a good 4th over in Iraq.

Pass along our thanks to the Iraqi patriots and your fellow US servicemen.

Be safe.

Greg--Kansas City said...

Tim, your interview with General Ali best animates the inspirational reality of a "Band of Brothers" waging war against a brutal and implacable enemy, which we will, together, defeat. Thank you for bringing us this timely 4th of July rememberance. Greg.

CERDIP said...

It's fantastic to read about the efforts of Iraqis like General Ali.

>>>WELL I AM A WWI-lKOREA VET A FTR ACE IN wwi (p-38'S) and consider myself a patroit and love my country and hate the american press which lost us vietnam and is trying to loos us Irag. WHAT A SHAME THIS INFORMTION CANNOT BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC. THIS SERGEANT IS A HERO.
Nial Castle Major USAF (R)

It's also fantastic and wonderful to see a blog comment by someone as accomplished as Major Castle. One of a select few. My hat's off to you, sir!

Anonymous said...

Tim, First I want to thank you and your fellow soldiers for your continued sacrifice and service in Iraq and across the world. It is a great comfort knowing you are out there. I really enjoyed this interview! What a man!! I have forwarded the interview on to my mom who I know will forward it on. Looking forward to the rest of the interview. Thanks again for your service!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Is General Ali Shia or Sunni?
The 800? "terrorists" were they foreigners allowed to enter the country or local Iraqis fighting the occupation or rival tribes?

Jane in Kentucky said...

God Bless All Who Give So Much For Our Freedom !!!!

DoubleTap said...

TF - I know I'm commenting on a very old post, but I'd thought you'd want to know that General Ali was eventually kicked out of the IA for corruption.

I was at Q-West Base Complex roughly the same time you were and I met Ali often. I worked for the Mayor Cell at QWBC and we ran across Ali regularly. He was known to shake down workers coming onto the FOB for "taxes" just to work there. Also, there were many rumors that Ali was arresting people on his own whims, just if they were folks he didn't like. There were still other rumors of murders he condoned or ordered.

I know you thought highly of him, but I knew a side of Ali that wasn't so pleasant.

BTW, I have my own blog at Feel free to come by some time and check it out.

Nial Castle said...

I don't seen any year dates. I have not been back here for a long time today is Oct. 31 2008 Halloween of course. It's a great blog let us hope there are more comments. Now we are into the election for our President. Obama or McCain and the ads and infighting politically over "color" is rampant. My fear is that if Obama is elected that there might be an assassination coming up by the "white Supremist"? or who knows some nut. What interesting times we have. At 88 I might not live to see the full 4 year term but I am fascinated for sure. Nial Castle in San Diego
Nial Castle Major USAF (R) at 88yrs old.

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Anonymous said...

my unit worked hand and hand with general ali , i spent plenty of time with him and eat regularly at his house, man what a feast ,i miss them....anyhow ali is truly an honorable man. . wanna say thanks to the reporter ,your covering a true hero sgt lewis

sammy said...

WOW........Damn interesting...Great job! This one is an instant classic!This is the first article I’ve read since finding this site…and what an article!!! I’m hooked.

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