DEARBORN (AP) – While celebrating the apparent collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government, Iraqi native Hachem Al Swaychet says there’s more work to be done – by people like him as well as coalition forces.

The 40-year-old, who left Iraq seven years ago, said he had two brothers killed by the regime.

The Detroit resident now works in the automotive supply industry but wants to return to Iraq to help rebuild the war-torn nation.

“The regime did not take care of the old people,” said Al Swaychet, who was watching Arabic broadcasts about the war on a big-screen TV at Karbalaa Islamic Education Center yesterday.

“And the children need to learn how to live.”

Al Swaychet is among those who say they plan to return to visit family and friends, live or rebuild following Saddam’s fall.

Some of the dozen men gathered at the center in this Detroit suburb before early-afternoon prayer shared his desire to play a role in a new Iraq.

“I was a teacher there and I have a lot of ideas,” said Adel Aljaberi, 35, of Detroit, who currently works at an area gas station. “I could do a lot of jobs. I would like to go, but would like to come back later to the United States.”

Aljaberi, who left Iraq eight years ago, says the United States needs to follow through on its promise to support a free Iraq.

But he added that any new government needs to be one of the Iraqi people, not just hand-picked by Americans.

“For the American government, I ask them to pay more attention and don’t think the war is finished,” Aljaberi said. “You have to stick with it. But I thank President Bush for his help.”

Detroit and Dearborn contain one of the nation’s largest concentrations of people with roots in the Middle East, including an Iraqi community of Chaldeans, Arabs and Kurds.

An estimated 300,000 Arab-Americans live in southeastern Michigan.

The area is home to several groups dedicated to rebuilding or promoting a post-Saddam Iraq. Maha Hussain, president of the Iraqi Forum for Democracy, said interest is growing following the American military’s progress.

“There are all kinds of people who want to go back to help out or to stay,” Hussain said. “This will happen gradually, and as things settle down, we’ll find more people going.”

But even the fall of Baghdad sparked interest in returning among area’s Iraqi community. At Manera Travel Agency, Kamillia Marogy said calls came in this week from people wondering when they might be able to fly to Iraq.

“They are interested in going,” Marogy said. “They have some family and they would like to be there with the other people, just to see them and celebrate with them.”

Celebrations in Iraq were echoed on the streets of Dearborn, where hundreds gathered Wednesday at Hemlock Park and people were seen flying both Iraqi and American flags from their cars yesterday. But the joy was muted as fighting continued.

Al Swaychet wrote a letter to Bush thanking him for his efforts to “free the Iraqi people from the killer.”

But Aljaberi noted that Iraqis are cautious because the United States didn’t fully support their uprising during the first Gulf War.

“They say they want freedom for Iraq, but I’m not sure what kind of freedom they want,” Aljaberi said. “It doesn’t always look like freedom to me.”

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