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Iraqi Officials Say Former Insurgents Learning Trades

A member of an Awakening Council, a Sunni movement including many ex-insurgents
BAGHDAD -- Local Iraqi leaders say that dozens of former insurgents who turned against Al-Qaeda and joined the U.S.-funded Awakening Councils movement in Salahuddin Province are receiving vocational training, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Bahir al-Bandar, head of the municipal council of Al-Dujail district, told RFI that in his locality alone, some 75 members of the Awakening Councils have completed a six-month training program that qualifies them as carpenters, bricklayers, road builders, welders, or other professions.

Al-Bandar added that he hopes the Awakening Council members will use their newly acquired skills to help build a new Iraq.

Sheikh Hassan Ibrahim, the local Awakening Council leader, told RFI that his group was created in mid-2007 with support from multinational forces. He said that as a result of improved security since early 2008, he has been able to send increasing numbers of his men to the vocational courses.

Graduates from the training courses told RFI that they will appeal to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his government to help them find jobs.