He called to say that he'd be murdered if he couldn't get out.
As an interpreter—my interpreter, actually—working for coalition forces in Iraq, Bandar had already lost several friends and colleagues, including his 15- and 10-year-old cousins, to insurgents determined to exact revenge on anyone perceived to be aiding an occupying military force. From 7,000 miles away, he phoned me to ask for help.
When he was a teenager, Bandar reconnected with an Uncle who had been an opposition leader against Saddam Hussein's authoritarian regime. After fleeing the country and spending nearly a decade in the United States as a political asylee, his uncle returned to Iraq."When my uncle came back in 2003, he told me all about America, and he supported my plan to work with the U.S. military," Bandar told me.
Bandar had always maintained an idealized vision of the United States, having consumed as a child whatever bootleg American movies and television he could get his hands on. (He believed then, as he does now, that The Tyra Banks Show is America's greatest export.) "I used to always dream that one day when I get older I'll go to America," he said.
In 2004, at age 17, Bandar became an interpreter, writes Joey Coon for Reason.
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