After the 9/11 attacks, Iraqi immigrant Khuder Al-Emeri’s life was falling apart.
Business plummeted that fall at his restaurant, Rosemary Mediterranean, on Aurora Avenue North in Seattle. He had opened it after years of working in a dry-cleaning business and as a cook.
He was never sure why customers stopped coming: Was it the economy, or backlash against a Muslim-owned business? He abandoned the venture — and looked for work.
In the winter of 2003 came new opportunity: He was hired as an interpreter for U.S. Marines invading his homeland.
This conflict marked a dramatic turn in what President George W. Bush called a war on terror, targeting Iraq as part of an “axis of evil” that included Iran and North Korea. These nations sought weapons of mass destruction, and thus — Bush argued in a 2002 State of the Union speech — posed a “grave and growing danger.”
I spent time with Al-Emeri as he resettled in his hometown of Qal’at Sukkar less than a year after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown by U.S. forces. The visit was part of a series of reporting assignments for The Seattle Times that stretched over more than a decade. My reporting took me from Algeria to Southern Oregon to Iraq and finally — twice — to Afghanistan, tracing some of the Pacific Northwest’s connections to the U.S. response to 9/11.
I can share in these sentiments. Still, I find this is a time for reflection, on what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, and how our nation’s response changed so many lives here and around the world.
Read the full piece here.