CBS News correspondent Don Teague and his translator when he covered the Iraq war bonded so tightly that he helped her come to the United States and they co-authored a book about her survival.
Teague told Newsmax that working with Rafraf Barrak was such an eye-opening experience that it helped them bridge their social and cultural divide as an American and an Iraqi.
Working daily with Barrak for five weeks, Teague said he found her to be an intelligent young woman who longed for more than she could realize in her homeland.
Editor's Note: See the full Newsmax.TV interview below
Teague’s major turning point, detailed in their book, “Saved by Her Enemy,” came as they huddled together after an improvised explosive device blew up near them.
“It was a close call, but we survived,” Teague said during an interview with Newsmax.TV. “But I think it really galvanized my understanding of the situation, and it really made me realize that she wasn’t going to survive if she stayed there.
“She was actually being targeted by insurgents, and ultimately my wife and I decided we would work to get Rafraf out of the country and bring her here to the U.S. and ultimately make her part of our family, if we could pull it off.”
Barrak told Newsmax.TV that people remained mum during Saddam Hussein’s reign in Iraq because silence kept them safe. Those who dissented publicly found themselves imprisoned or killed.
“I said that’s not the way the world works, and she said: ‘Sure it is. You know if George Bush hears people say bad things about him, he’s going to kill them or at least throw them in prison,’” Teague said.
Teague assured Barrak that conditions are different in democracies, where people openly express their opinions by marching in the streets, which shocked her.
Moving to the United States and learning the culture reversed her negative views of her former enemies. What’s more, she said, conditions in her homeland have improved in recent years, and she worries that the Obama administration’s planned withdrawal could be a setback for Iraq’s reconstruction.
“Rafraf, she represents one Iraqi who was working with Americans, and she was targeted for death for doing so,” Teague said. “There are tens of thousands of Iraqis who have willingly gone to work for the U.S. military and companies, and American contractors, and they’re being targeted as well.”
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