War on Terrorism

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grants Help Iraqi Business Owners Recover from Attack

By Army Sgt. Jerry Saslav
Special to American Forces Press Service

Nov. 19, 2008 - Iraqi restaurant owner Ziyad Kareem was talking to his chef in the kitchen on the morning of Nov. 10 when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's Adhamiyah district. Two of his customers and one of his workers were killed in the attack, Kareem said.

Two other civilians were killed and 37 injured that day. Kareem's restaurant was one of the businesses destroyed; many others were damaged.

Kareem, along with other business owners affected by the attack, requested a microgrant from Multinational Division Baghdad here yesterday to help them rebuild their businesses. The microgrant program, funded by coalition forces, provides up to $5,000 to local businesses in need.

"If we can help the businesses get back to normal, return a sense of normalcy to the population and help them get back on their feet after these cowards come and blew up their businesses, ... it will help improve the security here in Adhamiyah and progress here in Baghdad," said Army Capt. Patrick Soule, commander of the 10th Mountain Division's Company D, 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.

For 13 years, Abu Ahmed owned and operated a restaurant near Kareem's and employed 15 people. His restaurant also was destroyed by the blast. Ahmed said he intends to use the grant to help him rebuild his business.

"I have to," Ahmed said. "It's the only job [I have] to feed my family."

Ahmed's parents' house also was damaged in the attack.

"This attack, the terrorists did it. They destroyed our country, our people," Ahmed said. "The people work hard to make some money for his family."

When it was Kareem's turn to sign the paperwork, he was visibly grateful.

"[We] understand that you guys didn't have to do that," said Kareem, shaking Soule's hand. "We appreciate it,"

(Army Sgt. Jerry Saslav serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

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