Highlands & Islands

9/11: 'No-one thought there would be repercussions'

US marine covers the face of Saddam Hussein with an American flag Image copyright AP
Image caption A US marine covers the face of Saddam Hussein with an American flag

For Dr Mohammed Nemat coming to Scotland fulfilled a long-held ambition - he is a huge fan of the film Braveheart.

Earlier this year, the heart specialist arrived in Glasgow to undertake some further studies and training before returning home to Iraq.

Like Braveheart director and star Mel Gibson's William Wallace, freedom in Dr Nemat's homeland has come at a cost.

As of 9 September, there had been between 102,416 and 111,937 Iraqi civilian deaths through violence since March 2003, according to the organisation Iraq Body Count.

US and UK fatalities since military operations began that year have been recorded by the Department of Defense (DoD) and Ministry of Defence (MoD).

There were 4,421 American loses during Operation Iraqi Freedom and 56 in its successor Operation New Dawn, according to DoD figures.

The total number of UK personnel killed in operations in Iraq reached 179 after a soldier died from a gunshot wound in Basra on 12 February 2009. Almost twice that number have died in Afghanistan.

Here, in the latest in our series on 11 September 2001, Dr Nemat recalls how he learned of the attacks on New York and, for him, its unexpected consequences.

"I still remember the day of 9/11 as if it was a few days ago, simply because it was a shocking experience.

I was at home watching TV on a channel which was directed by one of Saddam's sons.

"At that time there were just two TV channels in Iraq.

The breaking news was taken from Aljazeera TV.

It showed one tower smoking and the news said it was suspected to have been caused by an accidental crash of an airplane into the building.

The incident was not reported as an intentional act until later when another airplane hit the other tower.

It was shocking and painful to watch because it meant that terrorists could do whatever they wanted. This was a terrifying feeling.

The Iraqi media did not try to show condolence, but neither did they show they were happy with it.

'Bitter-sweet freedom'

No-one wanted the US as an enemy at that time, despite the bad relations between the Iraqi government and the USA.

And no-one thought the attacks on the US would have repercussions for Iraq.

The operation led by the US to topple Saddam was one of the main consequences of that day.

Our freedom from dictatorship has been bitter-sweet.

It has caused us all this pain and losses in the lives of friends and loved ones.

Yet, unfortunately, losses were inevitable. The path to freedom is paved with blood and suffering."

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