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Former Mundelein woman killed in Iraq
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff

Nicole Suveges

 

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Published: 6/25/2008 4:15 PM | Updated: 6/26/2008 8:15 AM

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A political scientist with Lake County ties was among those killed in a bombing in Iraq, her family confirmed.

Nicole Suveges, 38, formerly of Mundelein, was among 10 people -- including four Americans -- killed Tuesday when a bomber struck at a building in Sadr City, Baghdad. She had been working for a private company with a Defense Department contract, said her sister, Michelle Mertins.

Mertins is an advertising supervisor with the Daily Herald's Lake County bureau. The sisters' parents live in Wauconda.

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In a statement, her parents, Ed and Rita Suveges, describe Nicole as "a very outgoing, friendly person who enjoyed people, had many friends and loved to talk. She was also very strong-minded and could debate with her husband or friends for hours."

They said their daughter always had a passion for reading, loved dogs and was a true academic who continued to go to school and was always interested in learning.

"She dedicated her life to school and work," they said.

The bomb that killed her went off inside a district councilman's office ahead of an election to choose a new council chairman.

The Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman suggested Iraqi officials -- not the Americans -- were the main target of the blast.

"The presence of the American forces and embassy employees was by chance," said Iraqi Defense spokesman Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari. "Chance played a role in the casualties among the Americans."

The council's acting head, Jawad al-Itabi, said American investigators were searching the building Wednesday along with sniffer dogs looking for clues. He said 12 people were detained for questioning, including 10 security guards.

In addition to Suveges, two of the U.S. dead were soldiers, the military said. The other was a State Department employee.

An Italian of Iraqi origin, who was working as an interpreter for the Americans, also was killed, according to the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Suveges worked for BAE Systems, a Maryland firm working in Iraq with the U.S. Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

She joined the firm in January, and had been in Iraq since April. She had worked in Iraq as a civilian contractor the previous year, according to a company news release.

Suveges' work involved helping Army commanders understand Iraqis and their culture and society, and to help them avoid inadvertently offending or misunderstanding the Iraqis, BAE said.

"She came to us to give freely of herself in an effort to make a better world," said Doug Belair, president of the company's Technology Solutions & Services line of business. "Nicole was a leading academic who studied for years on how to improve conditions for others."

She had also served as a U.S. Army reservist in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Earlier in her life, Suveges attended Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire and Mundelein High School.

She received degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and The George Washington University, and was working toward a doctoral degree in international relations at Johns Hopkins University.

She married her husband, Dave, in 1992.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Suveges was the 146th American from Illinois killed in Iraq since the war started. She was the first Illinois civilian to die in Iraq. She was the seventh Illinoisan to die there this year.

Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report