Friday, May 02, 2008 

I am leaving..

has been such a long time since I posted “No, Not My Daughters!” on my Blog; I stayed away from “I was there..”, because I was not there! I was straying, looking for a way to save my family and containing the catastrophes we were facing.

I thank all my friends who sent me e-mails asking about me; they were so worried because I disappeared all of the sudden.

I am back again to “I was there..”

I want to talk about my own suffering, since “No, Not My Daughters!”, because I was forced to displace and leave my home, my relatives, my friends and my country, which is just an example of how displaced Iraqis are feeling now.

I was forced to displace with my family after the threats we had faced in Iraq.

Working as a journalist in Iraq now is a big threat for the journalist’s life and for his family; the Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ, called the war in Iraq “the deadliest conflict for journalists in recent history," with a total of 127 journalists and 50 media support workers killed since 2003

The Committee to Protect Journalists said 105 of the 127 journalists were Iraqis; 51 journalists have been kidnapped in Iraq since 2004, with 12 of those killed.

Moreover, working for an American organization in Iraq will add more threats to the life of the Iraqi journalist and to his family.

This is what I faced in Iraq, within two weeks, right after posting “No, Not My Daughters!”:

- When the armed men failed to kidnap one of my daughters, they kidnapped my nephew who lives close to my house.

- My wife’s brother killed by armed men in police uniforms when he was in his way to my house to lend me some money, which I needed to get my daughters out of Iraq.

I displaced my family to Jordan, left them there, and returned to Iraq; I stayed in the office because I was afraid to go back to my house.

I was shot at two times in two different incidents later on, which means that we can never return to Iraq, so I decided to apply for the UNHCR, who puts us into a resettlement program to be resettled in the US, just like many other Iraqis.

We went through number of interviews at the UNHCR and the IOM, the International Organization for Migration, and finally they accepted our case but it is pending the completion of the security review.

The IOM people advised us to prepare ourselves for immediate leave upon their call, because we will not have time then to sell our furniture and get ready to leave.

The hardest and the most difficult part is when I started selling my furniture to get ready to leave Iraq and resettle at the US.

All that furniture that took me years to buy; now I have to sell in three days.

All this furniture that I have memories in every part of it; those beds that my daughters used to agglutinate to, in the morning, refusing to wake up and go to school; the paintings that my wife bought in the Christmas; I have to sell for low prices, because who cares for the memories I have in every piece of furniture.

The Air-conditioning units no one wants to buy them because the electricity is no good in Iraq, no one can operates them, so no one needs them.

It took years and thousands of dollars to buy all this furniture and now it does not make more than 4000 dollars at the maximum.

Many things I just cannot sell, because they mean a lot to me or to my family, but where to leave them?

I have to sell everything within three days and I am tight in time, while I am thinking of the new life in the US, in case they will accept my case; I have to leave as soon as they will call me.

Some friends told me that the organization at the US, which will receive us the minute we arrive there, would pay a rent for only one month at the US so I have to get a survival job to pay for my rent and my bills; I am so worried and afraid that I am taking the wrong decision.

I am talking to my family trying to make them accept the idea of moving to the US but if I will get a non-respectable job there, my daughters will ask me, “Why did you bring us here”, they will not be happy to go to the US and I do not want to put them in such a condition.

I did not think that it is going to be so difficult; if I will not succeed in there I will have to go back to Jordan and then I have to start from scratch.

I am torn between selling all furniture that means a lot to me, and the fears from the new life in the US.

I do not think that it is only me, but every Iraqi who is leaving the country feels the same.

When I called my wife and told her that I sold my car, she started crying, “You loved this car,” she said.

The people are paying for how much my furniture worth and not for how much this furniture means to me.

I am a type of man who likes to save everything and do not like to get rid of anything; I am still keeping my elementary school’s notebooks, and now I have to get rid of all this; all my books and everything I kept and was taking care of, keeping it in a nice place where I can show them to my friends who used to visit me at my house, all this must be thrown away.

This is my history that I am selling, after selling everything I will end up a man with no history.

I wish that I would not regret this decision in the future.

I know that all Iraqis who is leaving Iraq feel the same way because,

I was there..

Sunday, April 30, 2006 

No, Not My Daughters!

While the marionettes were throwing political balls into each other courts and wooing the US ambassador at Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s residence, gangsters broke into my house looking for my daughters.

My wife called me around 2 pm last Wednesday while I was working in my office and said with miff, “Your daughters just called me asking if I have sent some one to the house; three men opened the house door and took two cocking gas cylinders as Um ‘Y’ our next door neighbor said, but I did not send any body.”

We thought that they were no more than normal thieves looking for $40 worth gas cylinder to sell them.

“You better come back home, I do not think that those men were after the cocking gas cylinders, they were in the house and asked Um ‘Y’ about our daughters”, my wife said that bitterly when she called me again from the house after she talked to my neighbor.

My daughters were not at home at that time because their minibus broke down at that day so they had to walk back home and this is why they were late, “They should be home by now”, one of the gangsters told my neighbor with an interjection when she told him that the girls still at school replying for his question about them.

My fear rushed with me to the house, it was striking hard on my head and making me so meager while it was growing and growing, it filled the car that I was driving in the dusk through the useless police checkpoints in a bumpy road that was not paved since Saddam era.

It took me 45 minutes in a 15-minute road to reach my house because of those police checkpoints and the 150-meter distance that we should maintain between our cars and the US military Hummers that were patrolling the street so slow, we can not pass them even if it was an emergency other wise they will shoot us so I was driving slowly following them while I was boiling deep inside trying to get home as fast as possible.

I can not call the police because I do not trust them and I can not ask for help to protect my daughters, what shall I do? I remembered what that guy said in his comment about Iraqis should help themselves and do not expect every thing from the Americans but how can I help myself in this case to protect my daughters.

The house was dark when I reached there because there was no electricity as it comes on for one hour and goes off for 8, and the public generator that supplies our block with electricity broke down two days ago and no one fixed it because its mechanic was killed last week because he was Shiite.

I walked inside the dark house stumbling with things on the floor that I couldn’t see because of the darkness; my wife and my daughters were all sitting in the living room motionless with awe.

I sat by my daughter who was squatting on the sofa and told them, “I am going to take you all outside Iraq, it is not the place that you can stay in any more, let us leave this country for those marionettes and the gangsters.”

My wife said, if they were after the cocking gas cylinders, we had six of them but they took only two; why didn’t they took the generator which was by the cylinders, it is more expensive; I do not think that they were thieves; even my neighbor said that they had a new good clean black car that they used to put the cylinders in; I do not think that whoever has a new car like this need to steel cocking gas cylinders.

My daughters were doing their pre-final exam so they did not want to leave before finishing it, “We will waste a whole school year if we will leave now, can’t we wait one more week?”, my oldest daughter said that with a sad tone.

At the same night, I changed the doors locks and reinforced the main gate; I even changed their driver with another more trusted one who lives just cross the street, and talked to my neighbors to keep eye on the house; more over, we decided to move them around from place to another every day.

I couldn’t sleep that night so does my family, I kept on staring to the roof in the house that was lightened by the dancing flame of the candles with AK47 gun by my head.

“That’s it”, I told my self; I will not be able to sit with them like before, laugh, yell, watching them teasing each other, who will be doing my Argela, to smoke, the way that my youngest daughter use to make for me every night; I will miss them, even though that they will stay alive by leaving the country but I will not be able to see them and live with them like now, “I lost them in any case”, that was the phrase that was tumbling in my head while I was writhing in my bed.

I kept asking my self the whole night, “Why they are after us?”

Most of the Iraqis now do not know why they are dieing or who is after them and I became one of them.

Next morning, I was leaving the house when two men took a picture of me while they were driving by the house and run away.

On the next day, my youngest daughter broke the house arrest rules, which were imposed on them by us, and went to her teacher, who lives one block from my house, for a privet lesson.

Two men in a black car chased her to her teacher house then when she finished the lesson they were still waiting for her there so she told her teacher and called her mother; the teacher kept her in her house until they left then she walked her home.

It bothered me that no one cared for what happened, no one offered a solution, except ‘J’ who works with me, all the others either gave me some impractical advices or did not care because what happened with me is an every day story in Iraq now.

What has happened to me was not something new, for instance, my neighbor was kidnapped then his father, both were kidnapped by men “wearing” police uniform, and the son of a friend of my wife was kidnapped too by some other group and the same thing happened with another friend of hers and another neighbor, all this kidnapping took place with in four months and in one area, we were the last but not least.

Iraqis are trying to leave the country, before it is too late, but which country will give visas for Iraqis now, and how much it will cost to live there, this is why only the rich families can leave now and the rest must stay and face death.

I just became a new scene in the Iraqi tragic play which the marionettes called it the new Iraq, but we will leave this new Iraq for them.

I don’t think that they will found many Iraqis who will accept to live in their new Iraq..

I know about that because,

I was there..

Tuesday, April 11, 2006 

Any News?

Any news? And I replied, No news today, no one killed!!

I realized when I answered my colleague that I said it in a way just like I was saying ‘sorry, no one was killed today so there will be no news’, I felt bad and sad.

It is so difficult to work as a reporter for any newspaper when you have to cover a story of a car bomb or any violence that killed many of your people.

When you see all this Iraqi blood and peaces of flesh every where around you at the scene, how could your story be neutral and balanced?

Your readers could be Iraqis or non-Iraqis and you still have to put your feelings away when you write for them so your story will be neutral.

Every time I go out to cover these kind of stories which they are most of the stories in Iraq now, I remain quiet in the car all the way back to the office thinking of all those Iraqis dieing every day and I always feel that I will not be able to write any thing about it but when I look at it as how valuable those Iraqis were, dieing for no reason, it makes me write, and here when I have to be neutral to have a balanced story.

My father who was a military man and worked with politics until he was thrown in jail for some years and kicked out of the military, told me a story long time ago,

“There was a Bedouin who loved a woman for so many years; he couldn’t marry her because her family refused him, finely he did.

One day, a wolf came and killed her while she was sleeping in her tent,

When the Bedouin came back and saw her drowned in her own blood in the tent he didn’t know what to do and because he was a poet he made a poem and start wander the desert singing it then made another one and another and the people liked his songs and they cried when they listened to him; then people started calling him to their villages to tell them his story and sing for them, later, they started paying for his expenses to come to their places, then, they started paying him every time he sings about her.

He made a lot of many, but one day when he was sleeping in his tent, a wolf came, he woke up, left the money and run out of the tent.

Outside the tent he thought about the money and said, “This wolf made me rich because he ate my beloved one, or my beloved one made me rich because she was eaten by this wolf”.

He realized, later, how bad he was to become rich out of the death of his beloved one.”

So we have to cover the story as it is for those people who are dieing to make the whole world understand what is going on and why those Iraqis are dieing not to become famous out of it..

And to those who did not understand my point they can ask me,
I can tell them all about it because,

I was there..

Sunday, April 09, 2006 

It is April 9 again!!

Three years passed since the US-led Coalition Forces invaded Iraq to remove Saddam and the “Mass Distraction Weapons” and to make Iraq a new "Democratic country".

The young Iraqis, after three years are so disappointed and pessimistic; they missed those days when they use to have fun and go out partying or for picnics; they get sick and tired of the security situation and the car bombs.

Many of them get sick and tired of seeing all those religious men with turbans controlling their lives; at Rafidean University in Baghdad, the young men were not allowed to turn on the stereo at the university Cafeteria for more than 40 days for the death memorial of Hussein, Profit Muhammad Grand son, “We did not liked that but they told us that this was al-Saied order, (al-Said means Said Ammar al-Hakeem the son of Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem of SCIRI and the head of the Alliance Bloc at the parliament .

The young men started remembering the old days when they use to trust the Americans and like them but the curvature of love for the Americans start declining because of all the mistakes that their leaders did in Iraq and because they did not keep their promises.

Therefore, those young Iraqis start doing any thing remind them with the good days ‘from their point of view’ that they missed and one of those things was by putting Saddam pictures as a desktop on their mobile phones or using Saddam old songs as a ring tones for their phones.

“We did not like him but his picture remind us by all the good days we missed and how safe we use to feel”, H., a university student said.

Some of them found some pictures that no one saw before and start exchanging these pictures and songs through Bluetooth system from one phone to another; just like the one I put here in my blog.

Many Mobile shops found out that it is a good business so they prepared a lot of good pictures and songs for those young and you can find it in their shops.

“Many young men come every day and ask us to download some pictures for their mobile phones and a lot of them they ask for Saddam Pictures, we bring any thing the costumers want to make more money and we have to look for some thing new every day”, an owner of mobile phone shop said.

“I do not want you to use my name or the name of my shop because I afraid that some armed men ‘wearing police uniform in police cars’ will attack our shop for selling Saddam pictures”, another mobile shop owner said.

“The young men used to ask for American flags when the Americans invaded Baghdad, the demand on these desktops is not much any more the demand on Saddam desktops is much more, they did not gain from the Americans the things they were expecting”, another mobile shop owner said.

“These are the kind of pictures and ring tons you found among the university students, they are all about Saddam”, S., a university female student said.

I feel sorry for those young people and I know how they feel because,

I was there,

Friday, April 07, 2006 

No More Newspapers

Iraqis are facing different threatens every day and the Insurgents are always looking for new ways to fight the new government and the Americans in Iraq; the newest target is the bookshops that sell newspapers.

Khalid Bookshop was the first target for the new insurgents’ strategy; it is the oldest bookshop at Rabi Street, west of Baghdad, it was set on fire around 9 pm on Monday, no casualties but every thing in the book shop was burned.

Khalid Book shop is one of the land marks of Rabi Street, “It was established 29 years ago” as Khalid Ani, the owner of the bookshop said.

Ani said that around 9 pm Monday, he received a phone call saying that his book shop was on fire, the metal shutter that locks the bookshop was blown out, the shop was all on fire and the fire was going out of the shop, “people said that they heard an explosion but I do not know what happened and why”, Ani added.

One of the bookshop costumers said, “It is all because of the newspapers, all the bookshops were threatened to stop selling newspapers because they are all ‘mouth peaces’ for the government”.

Ani said that he did not receive any threatens otherwise he would stop selling newspapers as he was one of the main distributors of newspapers west of Baghdad, many small bookshops get their newspapers from him.

The fire ate all the books, many Korans (Muslims Holly Book) were on the floor either burned or half burned, some workers were cleaning the shop, which the fire turned all its walls and roof into black; Khalid was standing in the middle of the shop, sad and scared, “I can not say any thing, I afraid to say any thing that will make every thing worse, thanks God that we are all alive and no one was hurt”, Ani said.

I drove with my friend for about 2 Miles to the west of Rabi Street to the dangerous Amiriyah Neighborhood, most of the shops on the main street were closed at the middle of the day, people there said that most of the shops here stopped opening their shops a week ago because of the dangerous situation at this area; Iraqi and American military forces were patrolling the area all the time; I felt unsafe and I was turning my to all directions to be sure that no armed men in the streets or no suspicious cars that could be car bombes specially when we passed by military checkpoints.

The Ministry of Interior Commandos set check points on the main street to Amiriyah to search the cars going to or from that area, “Hide your ID card, don’t you know where you are at”, one of the police commandoes at the check point told me when he was asking who were we and after we told him that we are a reporters.

A book Shop owner at Amiriyah, said, “the threaten letters were not distributed here to the bookshops but in the Newspapers Exchange Stock at Bab al- Muadham few days ago and since that we stopped bringing newspapers to our bookshop so did many others”
“We are going to close the bookshop, Even though that we do not have another source for living but it is better than being killed”, the bookshop owner added.

I did not see any of those people who sells newspapers at the traffic light intersection areas, but some bookshops were still selling newspapers and said that they did not hear about those threatens.

In a visit to a friend who works in an Iraqi newspaper he confirmed this news but he said that the main reason for these threatens was that few days ago all the newspapers had a contract to run a half page advertisement that had pictures for wanted insurgents with their full names including the tribal name.

This Iraqi journalist who works for an Iraqi paper told me that, the wanted insurgents names in this advertisement were all for Iraqis; there was another advertisement that run before, but it was for a wanted Arab insurgents from outside Iraq; no one threaten the newspapers at that time, they did not care but when the newspapers started putting the wanted Iraqi insurgents pictures and names advertisement in their papers they were threatened, some papers were threatened by exploding their headquarters or killing their dealers at the Newspapers Exchange Stock or by bombing any bookshop that sells those newspapers with this advertisement.

“This is how it started, the threatens was not for the newspapers it self but for the newspapers that runs this advertisement but later on the word separated that any one will deal with newspapers will be killed and because the people do not want to take chances they just stop dealing with newspapers”, the Iraqi journalist added.

When I was going back to my house I told my friend, “No mater what was the reason, do not buy any newspapers for the time being”.

“I do not think that the situation in Iraq will be better”, I told my friend in our way back, “I wish that it will stay like this and will not get worse”, my friend replay..

I agreed with him because,

I was there..

Tuesday, April 04, 2006 


Sadoun Street is one of the most important commercial streets in central Baghdad where most of the Travel and Tourism companies, cinemas and hotels are located.

There were many ‘Chambers’ popping up on both sides of the street and the ‘Chamber’ is a well known Arabic word in Iraq, it means ‘stand’ in English, and ‘Abu al-Chamber’ means the owner of the stand or the street vendor and this is why it is a well known word in Iraq because this is what some Iraqis do when they do not have a job; a lot of those street vendors are retired men or jobless university graduates; they mainly sell soft drinks and cigarettes.

Yesterday, I drove by Sadoun Street, and I noticed that the number of ‘Chambers’, which were on both side of the Street were reduced because of all the violence that took place in that street; some people who work there are calling Sadoun Street now ‘The Death Road’, because of all the car bombs that took place there, which targeted the main three hotels in that street, the Palestine, Ishtar and Baghdad hotels, and many contractors and foreign security convoys which they were either leaving or coming back to those hotels; the last attack at Sadoun Street killed at least 20 people and wounded 40 on Monday, October 24, 2005, when three car bombs exploded near the fortified Palestine, Ishtar hotel complex used by foreigners; Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said, at that time, the attack - which appeared well planned - was a "very clear" effort to take over the hotel and take foreign and Arab journalists as hostages.

When I noticed yesterday that the number of ‘Chambers’ were reduced, I decided to stop there and ask why.

Abbas, was one of the street vendors but now he works as a messenger at one of the companies at the same street, said, “The 'Chamber' business is not as good as it was before because not that many people are walking on this street now, this is why I quiet and worked at this company”.

Abbas said that all the cinemas are closed now and some companies reduced the number of employees because they lost business due to many reasons, like the high concrete blocks that runs along half of the street which obstruct the vision so no one can see those companies, and because of that they lost many costumers, or because of the security guards of Baghdad Hotel, which they block the road many times during the day; all those reasons were behind reducing the number of people which they use to buy a lot of cigarettes or soft drinks from us.

I gave my 'Chamber' to my nephew, he is a little kid who has no job and what is he making out of the 'Chamber' is enough for him because he is not married and supporting him self only, but it will not be enough for a person like me who has a family.

Jasim was another one who has a stand that sells tea, said that he took this stand from his uncle, Abu Ali, who bought a small cheap car that he takes it to a gas station and wait in the long line to fill it up with fuel then he sells it in the black market, it is easy, less danger job and he makes better money than the tea stand; me my self I do not open very often because if the police cars will get use to drink tea from me they will start coming regularly while they are patrolling and I do not want that to happen then some one will send a car bomb to target them here and then I will get killed, “I know that I am losing money but it is better than losing my life”, Jasim said.

When I was driving out of the street I remembered that there was one female street vendor at Sadoun Street, she was very famous in that street, her name was Uroba; she wasn’t really a street vendor, in fact she was a female pimp and she use to sell soft drinks sitting by her cool box with her black 'Abayah' (Cloak) and when some one came to her and asked her for a soft drink she used to reply, “Do you want some thing cold or ‘Hot’” so if he will understand what did she mean or if he came for that he will say, “Yes, I want some thing ‘Hot’”, if he will say yes, she will show him some women pictures so he can chose one of them and then she will send him to a near by hotel that she knew; I remembered her and laughed, that was more than three years ago, she used to sit their in the street for a week and disappeared for months and when we use to ask about her, when we do not see her, the people will say that the police arrested her; I looked at the place where she use to sit and told my self, “She is also gone, I do not think that she will be able to go back again because of those Islamic Militias who they are attacking all Alcohol, CD’s and even barber shops; They will definitely kill her", but while I was thinking of her I saw her on the other side of the street so I stoped the car and crossed the street to ask her what is she doing now, she told me that her husband divorced her and took her daughter with him, she does not have a place to stay now so she is sleeping in the streets, "I am going to die soon if not by the militias it will be by starvation", Uroba said with a voice fill with sadness...

I know about that because,

I was there..

Monday, April 03, 2006 


One of my friends sent me this ‘jock’; I thought about putting it in my blog because I liked it, so read it and it is up to you if you want to laugh about it or cry…

Three men were competing to see who was the most cruel.
The first one attacked a woman, beat her until her teeth fell off and she bled from her nose and ears.
He beat her so savagely that she fainted. He turned to the others and said, "I am the worst one of all".
The second man stepped up, raped her and beat her further until she was almost dead.

He turned to the others and said, "No one can be worse than me".
The third one stepped up, smiled coldly, and said, "No, I am the worst one because I just stood by and watched. This woman is my sister".

The woman is IRAQ

The first man is SADDAM

The second is the WEST

The third is the ARAB WORLD

I agree about that because,

I was there..

About me

  • I'm I was there..
  • From Baghdad, Iraq
  • I'm a pilot and an Aircraft Engineer who born in Iraq and spent half of his life flying to every country in the world but the Invasion of my country at 2003 turned me to a journalist who is sharing the others in writing the History of Iraq..
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