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An Iraqi's Journey From Surgeon To Hostage To Refugee

Courtesy Faried Alani
Dr. Alani (center), before leaving Iraq.

This story originally aired on April 30, 2016.

As an orthopedic surgeon in Iraq, Dr. Faried Alani had a highly successful career working at a hospital and a prosperous, happy life with his wife and two daughters. Many of the people he operated on were victims of bombs and bullets, but he forced himself to keep the violence at a distance emotionally, in order to do his job more effectively. 

But that changed one evening, as Alani was leaving work. 

"I usually go back to my home by my car and that day, I remember very well, I cannot forget it, that two cars ... following me," Alani remembered. "They dropped me out of the car and they beat me. They kept me tied, eyes and hands and legs."

Alani was kidnapped and held ransom for three days. He says he spent every moment of those days in fear, both for his own life and for the safety of his daughters.

"I expect anytime that one bullet would come directly to my head," he said. 

After the captors got their money and Alani was released, he and his family decided to leave Iraq. They fled to Jordan for a year and finally settled in Seattle with the help of the International Rescue Committee.

He talked with Sound Effect's Gabriel Spitzer about coming face to face with war, and about learning to savor the moments of peace he now enjoys in America. 

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.