Michigan burial for last U.S. soldier missing in Iraq
By Peter Graff
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The family of the last U.S. soldier missing in Iraq will hold a funeral for him in Michigan, now that the army has recovered his remains more than five years after he vanished while secretly visiting his Iraqi wife in Baghdad.
Ahmed al-Taie, an Iraqi-born immigrant, joined the U.S. Army to serve as an Arabic interpreter after the invasion of his native land. He married a local woman and went missing in 2006 while visiting her in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian conflict.
"The family want him buried in Michigan. They gave the address and he is going to be buried in Michigan close to his family," al-Taie's uncle, Entifadh Qanbar, told Reuters by telephone from Dubai on Monday.
The body was identified by the U.S. military at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, he said. The family has yet to be given any details of the circumstances of how the body was found or how al-Taie died. He was 41 when he disappeared.
"We almost expected this outcome, but we always had hope, especially the father and the mother. It is a big loss for them. They are quite old and I am quite worried for them," said Qanbar, who lives in the region and is a former spokesman for Iraqi politician Ahmad Chalabi.
Qanbar said the family had heard nothing about al-Taie's whereabouts since 2008, when they received reports that he was sick and his captors were looking for medicine to treat him.
Al-Taie was the last U.S. service member listed as missing in Iraq, where nearly 4,500 U.S. troops died between the 2003 invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein and the withdrawal of American forces at the end of last year.