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Samir - Someone You Should Know

Did you ever wonder who that guy was holding Saddam on the ground?


Well, KSDK TV (NBC) in St. Louis, Missouri, found him. His name is Samir and he was a translator for the Army during the quest to capture Saddam.

EXCLUSIVE: Local Man Tells Of Helping Capture Saddam

By Deanne Lane

(KSDK) -- It's a world famous photograph, showing a man wearing military camouflage holding Saddam Hussein down on the ground. What few people knew, until now, that man lives in the St. Louis area.

"I just told myself it can't be, no way," says 34 year old Samir. He's asked us not to use his last name, or identify exactly where he lives.

Samir worked with the military as an interpreter. He was at the remote farm on December 13th, when U.S. forces discovered a secret hiding place. The next few minutes will feel like a lifetime for Samir.

"We saw the hole for the bunker but it hard to believe someone live in that hole. It was really small," Samir remembers. "They shot in there and he started yelling, "Don't shoot, don't shoot, don't kill me.'" So I had to talk to him. I was the translator. I said, 'Just come out.' He kept saying, 'Don't shoot. Don't kill me.'"

In Arabic Samir said he continued to pursuade Saddam to come out. He was about to come face to face with the tyrant who killed his loved ones. Saddam was the reason he fled Iraq in 1991 and eventually moved to St. Louis.

Samir says, "I was like, 'I got him.'" We all reached him and pulled him out. And we say Saddam Hussein he looks really old. He looks disgusting." There was also anger. "You want to beat the crap out of him. He destroyed millions in Iraq. I'm one. I left my family 13 years ago because of him."

Saddam couldn't fight back, but he did speak out. "He called me a spy. He called me a traitor. I had to punch him in face. They had to hold me back. I got so angry I almost lost my mind. I didn't know what to do. Choke him to death. That's really not good enough."

For Samir, this was sweet justice. One of Iraq's own, now a U.S. citizen, helping arrest one of the world's most wanted fugitives. "I said 'Who are you? What's your name?' He replied, 'I'm Saddam.' Saddam what, I asked. He said, 'Don't yell. I'm Saddam Hussein."

Now, many months later, Samir had another emotional moment in store. He would meet the leader of the free world, when President Bush attended a campaign rally in St. Charles. Samir says, "I told him I'm the one who had to talk to Saddam and the first one who grabbed him."

Samir says he spoke from the heart. "This is the message from Iraqis and my family. They want to thank you to free Iraqis from Saddam. And he said, 'You're welcome.'"

During their meeting, Mr. Bush received a photo from Samir, and special beads that Samir's parents gave him for protection. "It's like a blessing. It's important to me and I want you to have it. He tapped me on shoulder and said, 'Great work.'"

Soon, Samir will return overseas for more work as an interpreter. He says he's glad to do it for the country he now calls home. "I don't call myself hero. I call it lucky. A lot of people helped but I was there at the right time."

Thanks to John Wolff, Executive News Producer at KSDK, for letting me know about the story.

[Read about more people "that you should know" - here]