“People would come to me and say ‘Your mother’s a terrorist. You’re going to the Middle East and meeting terrorists.’ They said they were from the police. I grew up in a Christian family and we were very close. I knew they were lying. I’m the only Christian in my family. My mother’s the only Christian in my school. All of our school friends were Muslims. So we started looking for the truth.”
In 2006, a car bomb killed him and four others when they left a music festival in Iraq. He went to collect his brother-in-law. It was four o’clock in the morning and he was asleep.
“I was sitting on the floor next to him when all of a sudden I felt this huge explosion and I was thrown onto the ground. In front of me was a bus filled with people who worked for my company. We were all on the floor in different positions. My body was very heavy because of all the injuries that I received.
“Everybody is just calling me crazy. I was never considering that people were shooting us at random. This was the real war. I didn’t want to believe that the people in the United States were helping these people. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a really big joke.”
This is an extract from They Twice Gave Up Everything to Flee Iraq. Visit BBC Books to read the whole extract. Available from 13th June 2018