Wolfowitz Meets Boy Who Survived Assault by Hussein's Troops as an Infant
By Rudi Williams
American Forces Press Service
DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 26, 2003 A horrible, barbarous thing happened to Ahsan Alwatan when he was about a year old.
Saddam Hussein's troops physically assaulted him after storming into his parent's house during the 1991 uprisings to look for his father, uncle and other relatives members of the opposition.
Ahsan Alwatan (center), 13, was introduced to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (left) by his father (right) during the deputy's visit to Dearborn, Mich., Feb. 23, 2003. Ahsan's uncle "Dave" Alwatan, behind Ahsan, said the boy suffered brain damage when he was kicked in the head 12 years ago by Saddam Hussein's soldiers. Photo by Rudi Williams.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
A dozen years later, Ahsan's father brought him to the stage to introduce him to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz during the town hall meeting in the Dearborn Civic Center on Feb. 23.
Earlier, when Wolfowitz delivered his keynote address to nearly 300 members of the Iraqi-American community, he described Hussein as "one of the most evil rulers" of the past 100 years.
He said he called Hussein one of the worst dictators in the last 100 years because he has dealt with other dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos, who is called the "most infamous president of the Philippines."
"Even a lot of pretty vicious ones do not torture children in order to make their parents talk," Wolfowitz noted.
Ahsan's uncle, who now calls himself "Dave" Alwatan, recalled the details of the 1991 incident. "Saddam's regime went to my house and my brother's house looking for us and my other brother and my sister. They found just my brother's wife and her little boy, who was 1-year-old. They asked about us and she said they're not here."
They asked, "Where are they?"
She said, "I don't know! They left!"
"They said they did revolutions against our regime and we need to talk to them," Alwatan noted. "They asked for my brother and me.
"They saw the little boy and said, 'Who is that child?'"
"My sister-in-law said, 'That's my child.'"
Alwatan said the men were wearing soldier's clothes and combat boots. "They kicked him the little baby - in the face trying to make her give information," he said. "He got knocked out and was bleeding all over, and my sister-in-law picked him up and ran away from the house."
He said the child suffered brain damage from the kicks in the head.
Alwatan said Saddam's henchmen were looking for all of his family "because we cooked food in our house for the people who were fighting against Saddam. So they don't like our houses. I have several cousins in Saddam's prisons and about five cousins and two uncles were killed by Saddam's regime."
Noting that he and his brothers, sister and cousins participated in the 1991 uprising, Alwatan said, "We ran away from Iraq to Saudi Arabia with the American Army to protect us." He added that his father and sister were jailed.
Alwatan said about 50 of his relatives escaped and came to Dearborn, the largest Iraqi community outside Iraq. The Detroit suburb is also the home to the nation's largest Arab-American population.