Compassionate Hero Killed by Terrorists in Iraq

I saw the CNN broadcast on this woman. She found 5,000 civilians that had in some way, either physically or their property, been injured by the US war fighters in Iraq. Not on purpose but accidentally. She went to their homes, reached out, put her arms around the widows and orphans. She told them that the United States was sorry and had not meant to hurt them. Then she and the US Army tried to help them rebuild. She got medical attention for burn victims and was a wonderful example of the United States people. And of course, she was martyred for that. Her last words before the car burned up were " I am alive".

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An American founder of a humanitarian group for Iraqi civilian war casualties has been killed in a car bomb blast, a Western official in Baghdad said Sunday.
Marla Ruzicka, founder of Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), was traveling near Baghdad International Airport on Saturday when a car bomb exploded, killing her and her driver, the official said.

The U.S. Embassy is investigating the incident and is not yet able to determine whether the attack was a suicide mission or if the bomb was remotely detonated, the official said.
It's also unknown whether the vehicle Ruzicka was riding in was associated with a three-car convoy of an American nongovernmental organization that was traveling along the same road, the official added. That convoy may have been the target of the attack.

A Czech employee of a security firm hired to drive the convoy also was killed in the attack, said Les Campbell, regional director of the organization, the nonprofit National Democratic Institute. No NDI employees were in the convoy cars at the time of the blast, he said.

Ruzicka's family in California has been told of her death, the Western official said.

Ruzicka, 29, founded CIVIC in 2003, according to the group's Web site. Its mission is to "mitigate the impact of the conflict and its aftermath on the people of Iraq by ensuring that timely and effective life-saving assistance is provided to those in need."

She began a door-to-door survey of Iraqi civilian casualties the day after a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, the Web site said.
"Marla took her first report to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, who sponsored legislation to provide U.S. aid to innocent Iraqis who were harmed in the military operations," the CIVIC site said.

Former colleagues Kevin Danaher and Medea Benjamin, leaders of the human rights organization Global Exchange, said Ruzicka "loved big challenges, and she took them on with a radiant smile that could melt the coldest heart."
"We are somewhat consoled by the fact that Marla died doing what she really wanted to do: help people less fortunate than herself," Danaher and Benjamin said in a written statement. "Many of us believe that character trait to be the most beautiful quality a human being can possess. And Marla had an abundance of it."

Ruzicka began working with Global Exchange when she was in high school, traveling to Zimbabwe, the Middle East and Nicaragua.
"She was a quick study and took to the work with a passion and energy that were inspiring to us older activists," Danaher and Benjamin said.

In a related story:

The U.S. military reported Saturday that a CBS News stringer detained after a gunbattle between U.S. forces and insurgents this month "tested positive for explosive residue." "Multinational forces continue to investigate potential collaboration between the stringer and terrorists, and allegations the stringer had knowledge of future terrorist attacks," said Sgt. John Franzen of Task Force Freedom in Mosul. (Full story)
CNN's Ayman Mohyeldin, Aneesh Raman, Kevin Flower and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.


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