The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Jessica snubs Iraqi saviour

New York, Oct. 29: A journey to the home town of Jessica Lynch by the Iraqi lawyer who helped to free the young American soldier ended in embarrassment for all concerned when she snubbed him.

Lynch, portrayed as a heroine of our times for her courage while a prisoner of war, was too busy to receive the visitor, her family’s lawyer said. Her saviour, Mohammed al-Rehaief, was outwardly understanding of her failure to appear during his trip. “I know she had a very difficult time in Iraq and she takes rest,” he said.

However, Al-Rehaief, who has been granted asylum in the US for fear of revenge attacks in Iraq, was reported to be disappointed by her failure to meet him on his visit to Palestine, West Virginia.

The Lynchs’ lawyer, Stephen Goodwin, denied that rivalry between the 20-year-old former soldier and her Iraqi benefactor over competing media projects was to blame for her absence. “Absolutely not,” he said. Lynch’s book, I Am a Soldier, Too, the fruit of a £600,000 publishing deal, will be released next month and the countdown to her first television interview in two weeks’ time has already begun.

But she has been beaten into print by Al-Rehaief, whose own work, Because Each Life is Precious, was published earlier this month.

In it he describes how he braved bullets to reach the advancing American military and tip them off about the young female private lying wounded in a hospital in the city of Nasiriyah.

She was rescued by Special Forces a week after beinginjured and captured in an ambush. Her ordeal briefly overshadowed the army's march on Baghdad as the story of the war.

Mr al-Rehaief was given a hero's welcome during histrip to Palestine and named an honorary West Virginian.

But the misunderstandings were not confined to Miss Lynch's refusal to attend any of the ceremonies. Local people laid on an impressive spread at a reception to greet the al-Rehaiefs, only to discover that the family was fasting for Ramadan.

Even if the guests had been hungry they would have been unlikely, as Muslims, to tuck into the ham sandwiches on offer.

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