Abood al-Khafajee and his family settled in Brooklyn, N.Y., in June. They had to leave Iraq after al-Khafajee, who had worked as an interpreter for the U.S. Marines, was threatened with death.
Back in Iraq, he was warned that Americans hate Muslims. But in Brooklyn, he found friendly neighbors. What he failed to find were other Iraqis. He is one of the few allowed to resettle in the United States. And he doesn't quite believe it yet.
"Even my wife sometimes [says], 'Don't tell our families there that we are in America because maybe they will envy us," he says.
So how did al-Khafajee escape the threats of Baghdad? You could say he was rescued — by the Marine captain he once worked for in Iraq.
Capt. Zack Iscol told a Senate hearing that without al-Khafajee's help, his Marines were as good as deaf and dumb on the battlefield. Six months later, al-Khafajee and his family were allowed into the United States.
"For that, I consider myself very, very lucky," al-Khafajee says.
His wife, Batul, wonders why Americans allow other nationalities to settle in this country but Iraqis who helped the Americans have to wait.
Shaima, one of their daughters, adds that Americans should try to help not just the thousands of Iraqi interpreters like her father, but all the Iraqis who have fled the country — more than 2 million of them.