Archive for Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Iraqi who aided Pfc. Lynch granted asylum

April 30, 2003

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— An Iraqi lawyer who helped U.S commandos locate and rescue prisoner of war Jessica Lynch has been granted asylum in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge announced Tuesday.

Lynch, a 20-year-old Army supply clerk from Palestine, W. Va., was captured March 23 after her 507th Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. She was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in the city on April 1 after U.S. forces received a tip about her whereabouts from a lawyer known only as "Mohammed."

Ridge identified the man as Mohammed Al Rehaief and said the lawyer and his wife and 5-year-old daughter arrived in the United States earlier this month after Homeland Security granted them "humanitarian parole." On Monday, the family was granted asylum by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

After Lynch was rescued, Al Rehaief, 33, and his family stayed at a refugee camp in Iraq until U.S. officials worked out a way for him to come to the United States, bureau spokesman Bill Strassberger said.

Ridge said Al Rehaief and his family hope to see Lynch, but the meeting has not been arranged. He said Al Rehaief should have no problem finding work in the United States, "given the man's profile, given his heroism, given the goodwill he has earned."

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