Thursday, May 05, 2005

anti semitism

Anti-American notes found in pack of Wellington GI accused of deserting Army

Associated Press

May 5, 2005, 12:50 PM EDT

WELLINGTON -- An Army sergeant who left his Georgia post six months ago was tracked down at his parents' home after a notebook with anti-American and anti-Semitic writings was found in his discarded backpack.

Karim Iraq, 25, was arrested as a deserter and is being held without bail at the Palm Beach County Jail, sheriff's officials said.

His father said the soldier fled Fort Stewart after the Army extended his enlistment because he had soured on the U.S. military mission in Iraq. The father said the soldier was also harassed over his Palestinian heritage.

``He was feeling rejected or discriminated against for the last year or so.... He said he'd been made fun of all of the time. He never fit in. They made fun of his name. They always looked at him like he's an outsider,'' Zayed Iraq said.

Karim Iraq was arrested Tuesday, a day after the backpack was found Monday at a gas station within miles of his parents' home in this West Palm Beach suburb. The father said the bag was probably left there by a burglar who had broken into the soldier's truck days earlier.

Authorities said a notebook inside the backpack contained handwritten notes cursing the military, freedom and the United States. A message reading ``Die you know who you are!!!'' appears with an image of the Star of David in a circle with a line through it.

``He's a dangerous guy with anti-American slogans and a deserter. It's someone we want to get off the street immediately,'' sheriff's Capt. Gregory Richter said.

Zayed Iraq said his Detroit-born son was proud of his service in Iraq and Kuwait on two previous tours but had become disenchanted and did not want to go back to the Middle East for a third time.

``It's not like he hates the U.S. He's been here all his life. It's the only country he ever knew. Half the country doesn't agree with the president,'' Zayed Iraq said.

Iraq's commander will determine whether he faces administrative punishment or a court-martial.

For administrative purposes, the Army classifies a soldier as a deserter if he fails to report for duty for more than 30 days. However, that doesn't necessarily mean criminal charges of desertion will be brought.

Military law defines desertion as fleeing military service with no intention to return or to ``avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service.''

If he is court-martialed, the maximum penalty under normal circumstances is up to five years in prison. During war, the maximum penalty is death, but no U.S. deserters have been executed since World War II.

Judy Orihuela, spokeswoman for the FBI's Miami office, said the matter was being handled by the military.
Copyright © 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel


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