Ohioans are relieved Saddam is gone, concerned about rebuilding

By CARRIE SPENCER, Associated Press Writer

Like many Americans, Abid Al-Marayati was glued to his television in his Toledo home watching news of Saddam Hussein's capture. He also was wondering about his brother's family back in Iraq.

U.S. military forces found the former Iraqi leader in what Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez called a "spider hole" on a farm compound near his hometown of Tikrit.

Al-Marayati, 72, came to the United States from Iraq in 1953. The University of Toledo political science professor said he's watched Saddam "drag the people back and forth into one conflict after another."

Many Ohioans were relieved about the news Sunday, saying they hoped it would stop the resistance fighters still killing American troops since the fall of Iraq.

Al-Marayati wasn't so enthusiastic. Although he's glad to see a "tyrannical" regime toppled, he still questions U.S. motives in going to war and the upcoming rebuilding efforts.

"You have to bear in mind Saddam was supported by the United States and his power was enhanced by the United States," Al-Marayati said. "I'm apprehensive about whether the United States will really stand for democracy."

Capt. Kyle McFarland, 27, is an operations officer in the unit that staged the raid -- but he was home in Springfield on a two-week leave.

"It would have been cool to be a part of it," he told the Springfield News-Sun. "I'll take my two weeks whenever I can get them."

He said the 4th Infantry Division was so used to bogus tips on the dictator's location that soldiers called them "Elvis sightings."

Throwing snowballs with her two sons at the Easton Town Center shopping area in Columbus, Kristin Williams said she found it fitting that a man she thought of as a coward was found hiding in a hole in the sand.

"Still, it's sad to see someone in that state of affairs. He looked like a caged animal," said Williams, 36, of suburban New Albany. "Going to church, he was one of the people I prayed for, too."

Sushil Ahuja, 27, of Louisville, Ky., joined the snowball fight with friends from Columbus. He said he saw the news online before the group went shopping.

"We're glad he's caught," he said. "We come from India and we see what terrorism can do to a country."

Several said they were surprised, thinking Saddam would never be found.

"I wasn't even sure that he was still alive," said Brendan Nash, 32, a college soccer coach watching the NCAA men's soccer championship at Columbus Crew Stadium.

Jo Bolton, of Greenville in western Ohio, got tears in her eyes when she saw the report. Her son, a Marine, came home from Kuwait in July, but she still has a cousin in the Army in Baghdad. Bolton said she doesn't think the troops will come home any sooner, because the Iraqis need help establishing a government.

"There is danger ahead," she said, adding she was glad troops didn't kill Saddam. "He needs to be brought to justice."

Todd Hillman, 29, returned to the Cincinnati area from Iraq in June after a tour as a sergeant in the Marine reserves in which he was in Saddam's summer palace in Tikrit.

"It was worth our efforts to do this," Hillman said. "As many people who have lost their lives by his hand, he'll get what he deserves."

Lisa Copp, 40, heard the news after church and headed for the nearest TV, at a coffee shop on a mezzanine inside the main building at Easton.

"People had been putting Bush down," said the teacher from Centerville. "The whole reason we were there was to find him ... and stop terrorism and restore order.

"Now all they have to do is catch (Osama) bin Laden."

Despite news reports of celebrating Iraqis, Al-Marayati noted the footage didn't show many people.

"They're still afraid of him," he said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)