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April 09, 2003

Hurt and Disillusioned, Some Arab Fighters Go Home

At least Hessian soldiers were paid. These lossers seem to go anywhere where there are Westerners to be killed but reality bites and they are learning that there's no place like home
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Salaam went to Iraq to do battle with Americans and die a martyr. He returned home with shrapnel wounds and tales of fighting U.S. military might with a rifle.

From a Baghdad hotel he moved to a training camp where volunteers practiced shooting and trench warfare. Then Salaam, 24 years old and unemployed, was sent to war.

"I was sleeping behind mounds of sand and firing from Kalashnikovs on helicopters. It was craziness," he said.

"We stayed at the front five days and we didn't eat anything. I saw two dead bodies shot in the head."

Thousands of volunteers from across the Arab world are thought to be in Iraq to fight advancing U.S. and British forces. On Wednesday, jubilant Iraqis welcomed U.S. troops in Baghdad.

Salaam, a Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim, said he was unprepared for the hostility of some Iraqis to volunteers like himself.

"I went there to be a martyr, not to be murdered by a brother," he told Reuters. "We went there to help them liberate their country, and all they did was shoot us in the back."

"I am not afraid of the Americans. On the contrary I want to fight them. But I was scared of the Iraqis, specifically those who call themselves the Iraqi opposition," he said.

In Lebanon hundreds requested visas to enter Iraq via Syria. Others like Salaam, whose name means peace, went on their own.[more]