RealNews

Saddam's Hometown Gets Unrestricted Web

The first words Ahmed Abdullah typed in the Google search engine were “George Bush.” The 19-year-old wanted to access the president’s Web site, something he couldn’t do under restricted and tightly controlled Internet service during Saddam Hussein’s rule. On Saturday, Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit got its first postwar Internet cafe, where residents could browse any site without fear of being monitored or blocked. “I like it. It’s beautiful. There is so much information I can get,” Abdullah said, surrounded by U.S. soldiers and commanders who crammed the one-room Internet cafe they had helped set up with $24,000 from the 4th Infantry Division’s budget. The owner, Hashim Hassan, 33, ran a similar cafe for two years before the war. But in those times, “any political sites, opposition or sex pages, were blocked. Now there are no restrictions.” Still, the risks of cooperating with American troops in a region that is a hotbed of Saddam loyalists and resistance to U.S. occupation are high. Last week, in the main street where Hassan’s cafe sits, just around the corner from the 4th Infantry’s sprawling headquarters, Iraqi guerrillas killed a U.S. interpreter and wounded two soldiers in an ambush. Full Story

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