Late March, 2003. I’m travelling within Germany on business and get into a taxi. I notice by his accent the driver isn’t a German national. Because there’s kind of a bond between ex-pats, we start talking. I ask him where he’s from.
“Iraq. What about you?”
“I’m an American.”
The anti-war sentiment in Germany is high during this time, so we start slowly. But soon the words come tumbling out as he tells me his story.
He spent many years in Saddam’s Army and fought in the never-ending and bloody war with Iran. But when the order came to invade Kuwait, he’d had enough. He left the country and made his way to Germany, hoping to send for his wife and two children once he was settled.
His wife and children were “disappeared”.
He becomes increasingly emotional, gesturing and saying if he could only find Saddam, he’d kill him with his bare hands.
I ask him about his children; their names, how old they’d be now. He tells me.
Then, suddenly, he pulls the taxi over, puts his head on the steering wheel, and starts sobbing uncontrollably.
“Nobody cared”, he says with tears running down his face. “Nobody cared about us – except George Bush and America."