A Detroit man who once was jailed and tortured under Saddam Hussein’s regime has become the governor of the Iraq province of Najaf.
Adnan Alzurufi, a native of Najaf, was appointed last week by the Pentagon at a time when the United States is struggling to take control of the strategically important region and city of the same name. The southern city of Najaf is considered holy by Shi’ite Muslims.
In Detroit, Alzurufi’s wife and children said Friday they were glad to hear of his appointment.
“I feel very proud,” said his son Montadar, 16, one of Alzurufi’s seven children. “But I do worry about” his safety.
Alzurufi said that during the 1980s as a student in his homeland, he organized anti-Hussein groups in opposition to the Iran-Iraq war. The ruling Baath Party jailed him for five years in Najaf and Baghdad, where he said his captors whipped him and used electrical shocks on his leg and groin.
In 1991, he escaped and took part in an uprising against Hussein after the U.S. invasion of Iraq during the first Persian Gulf War.
Alzurufi fled Iraq for Detroit in 1994, part of a large number of Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims who came to Michigan after Hussein crushed the uprising. In 1997, Alzurufi formed the Iraqi Uprising Committee to mobilize local Iraqis. In April 2003, he was one of a dozen exiles flown by the Pentagon to Iraq as part of rebuilding efforts.