- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014
Ky. town remembers family killed in fire

GREENVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Dan Pentimone wandered through a blanket of snow around the remains of a friend’s home, trying to make sense of what happened to nine people who died in a fire there. Pentimone took photos of what used to be the home of Chad and LaRae “NikkiWatson and their nine children in the Depoy community near Greenville, Ky., on Saturday before heading a few miles to the funeral for Nikki Watson and eight of her kids.

“If she needed to, she would have died for those children,” said Pentimone, pastor of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City, where the Watsons attended services while living in the city about five years ago.

Relatives and friends echoed Pentimone’s sentiment during a 90-minute service in a packed gymnasium at Muhlenberg County High School about 135 miles southwest of Louisville in Kentucky’s western coal fields.

Before the service started, a medley of music played as photos of the Watson family scrolled across a video screen - pictures of kids dancing, mugging for the camera, hunting and fishing. Inside the gymnasium, nine closed white caskets stood in a line. Propped up behind them were large photos of Nikki Watson and her children, 15-year-old Madison Watson, 14-year-old Kaitlyn Watson, 13-year-old Morgan Watson, 9-year-old Emily Watson, 8-year-old Samuel Watson, 6-year-old Raegan Watson and 4-year-old twin brothers Mark and Nathaniel Watson.

“It doesn’t look real, said Lisa West of Greenville, who attended the funeral.

The father, 36-year-old Chad Watson, and 11-year-old Kylie Watson, escaped the blaze and were at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

___

Imprisoned Iraqi defends insurgent activities

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An Iraqi man convicted of trying to ship arms and cash to Al-Qaida in Iraq doesn’t consider himself a terrorist for his time battling U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Instead, he compares himself to the Americans who fought for independence from British colonial rule in the 1770s.

In a letter to The Associated Press, Waad Ramandan Alwan, 33, also lashes out at President George W. Bush, who organized the multinational coalition that invaded Iraq in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein.

“There is a resistance in Iraq; they are not rebellions,” Alwan wrote from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind. “If what happened in Iraq had happened in America you would have done what I did in resisting the conquest.”

Alwan, who prosecutors described as an experienced terrorist, is serving a 40-year prison sentence. He and 26-year-old Mohanad Shareef Hammadi pleaded guilty in 2011 and 2012 to taking part in a plot to ship thousands of dollars in cash, machine guns, rifles, grenades and shoulder-fired missiles from Bowling Green, Ky., to al-Qaida in Iraq in 2010 and 2011. The pair was working with an FBI informant who squelched their plans and affected their arrests.

Hammadi is serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison in Florence, Colo. Hammadi did not respond to multiple letters from The Associated Press.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Louisville and Alwan’s public defender each declined to comment on the letter.


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