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Iraqi man awaits dream of becoming US citizen

Iraqi man awaits dream of becoming US citizen



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As the 4th of July gets closer, one Iraqi man dreams of becoming a U.S. citizen. But it's a dream he has to turn down for now.

Ever since he was little, Mohammed Al Ambky has been fascinated with English and the American culture.

"There is a sitcom over there called ‘Friends.' I love it too much," he said.

Even though he lives in southern Iraq, he loves to listen to country singers Alan Jackson and Kenny Chesney. As a matter of fact, it almost got him in serious trouble before the Iraq war.

"I was about to be arrested by the Saddam Hussein regime guys when I was the first student in my college listening to American music," he said.

During the war, he went to a nearby clinic to get insulin for his diabetic sister. American soldiers were blown away by how well he speaks English.

"They asked me if I can, you know, help them translate for those patients, the Iraqi patients," he explained.

Army National Guard Col. Edward Willis says being a translator in southern Iraq wasn't as dangerous as in other cities when the war started, but still, it had its share of danger.

"A number of interpreters have been killed. A number of interpreters have been wounded," Willis said.

The same fate almost happened to Mohammed. Roughly two years ago, several men with guns opened fire on him.

"They shot me, like nine times, in my arm, my leg and very close to my mouth also," he said.

After losing his leg helping U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Mohammed was offered citizenship, which is a dream he's had for a long time. "I thought, you know, all of my family, also, they would come with me," he said.

But, when he went to Kuwait for his immigration interview, he was told he would have to leave his sisters and his mother behind.

Col. Willis said, "With the environment as it is right there, he's just not comfortable leaving them behind without somebody there to take care of them. So, he's pretty much had to put his immigration on hold as a result."

Mohammed still wants to move to the U.S., with his family, but he'll have to wait for the visa applications to be approved. He, along with Col. Willis, is trying to raise the funds needed to cover expenses. Meanwhile, Mohammed waits in southern Iraq, and he doesn't regret the events that led to the loss of his leg.

"I did my job in the correct way to help my brothers in America. I did not consider them, you know, just my boss and my friends in war. No. They are my brothers," he said.

And, all Col. Willis can do is wait and worry.

"The last big uprising of the Shiite militia there, in Nasiriyah, he was inside his house with the door blocked and basically huddling with his family underneath a stairwell while there was a gunfight going," he said.

Willis has set up an account for donations at Mountain America Credit Union called the Mohammed Al Ambky Immigration Fund.

E-mail: pnelson@ksl.com

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