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Iraqi Who Led U.S. to POW Gets Asylum

From Associated Press

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

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

“Americans are grateful for [Rehaief’s] bravery and for his compassion,” Ridge said at the National Press Club.

Lynch, an Army supply clerk from Palestine, W.Va., was captured March 23 after her 507th Ordnance Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed near the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. She was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in the city April 1 after U.S. Marines received a tip. Ridge said Rehaief put his life and the lives of his family members at risk by telling U.S. forces where Lynch was.

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Shortly after the rescue, Rehaief told reporters that he had looked through a window at the hospital, where his wife worked as a nurse, and seen Lynch being slapped by an Iraqi security agent. He said he decided he had to tell U.S. troops where to find her.

Lynch suffered a head wound, a spinal injury and fractures to her right arm, both legs and her right foot and ankle. She is being treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

After Lynch was rescued, Rehaief, 33, and his family stayed at a refugee camp in Iraq until U.S. officials worked out a way for them to come to the U.S., bureau spokesman Bill Strassberger said. The family arrived in the Washington area April 10.

The family can remain in the United States indefinitely.

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