When the US Marines entered town, they brought along as an interpreter a local hero who had fled to the States after the '91 uprising.
...by noon it was apparent that the townspeople considered [the Marines] liberators. Much of the reason, apparently, was the marines' choice of translator.
The unit's interpreter, Khuder al-Emiri, is a local hero, a guerrilla leader who was forced to flee this town in April 1991 after leading a failed uprising against Saddam Hussein. It was a serious miscalculation. Thousands were killed, and Mr. Emiri escaped to the United States. and opened a restaurant in Seattle, much of the time spent waiting for this day.
...The drama began later, out on the street in the public square. Mr. Emiri's cousin recognized him and shouted his name. A crowd began to gather.
"Your brother is dead," his cousin told him. He slumped. Then Mr. Emiri's son, Ali, was produced and the man wept uncontrollably. He did not recognize the young man who was a boy when he fled. He did not recognize his other brothers, or his sister.
Word of Mr. Emiri's arrival spread through town by way of children's feet. Their hero was with the Americans and the crowd believed the marines' intentions were good. They began to chant in English. "Stay! Stay! U.S.A.!"
The euphoria nearly spilled over into a riot. Children pulled at the marines, jumped on their trucks, wanting to shake their hands, touch their cheeks. A single chicken hung in the butcher's window and still the residents wanted to give the Americans something, anything. Cigarette? Money?
"You are owed a favor from the Iraqis," said Ibrahim Shouqyk, a clean and remarkably well-dressed man, considering the abject poverty here. "We dedicate our loyalty to the Americans and the British. We are friends."
The marines burned a portrait of Mr. Hussein that hung at the Baath Party headquarters. A young marine from Livonia, Mich., could only smile. "This feels good," he said.