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Hartselle Enquirer

Angels among us…Even in Iraq

By By Beth Chapman, Guest columnist
Two years ago I met a woman named Dr. Diane Hassan, a native of Dothan. She was speaking at a ladies luncheon I was attending in Montgomery. She told a portion of her life story which captivated our audience and kept us spellbound for the same hour that often keeps one bored at such familiar rubber chicken luncheons. We were not bored at that particular one though I can assure you. We all left with a spirit of pride in our state and country. Most of us had tears in our eyes.
Since that day two years ago I have had the privilege of corresponding with Dr. Hassan and encouraged her, as have so many others to share her story. Her story is now a 334-page paperback book that is well worth the read. It is a great story of survival, courage, faith in God and love of family and country. She tells of experiences most of us could never even imagine - stories of hope, of fear, torture, murder and even an assassination attempt ordered on her husband by Saddam Hussein himself.
Being born and raised in Dothan, life eventually led Diane to love and marry a native of Iraq. He was an oral surgeon having worked at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry where they first met. The book details Diane’s marriage, the birth of her only child who is now a Dentist in Dothan and the years of her life split between two countries – her body and home in one and her heart and soul in the other.
Dianne tells the truth of life under the leadership or rather dictatorship of Saddam Hussein.
She and her husband tell of things the media has often known but never told us. She shares of their water supply being cut off, food being rationed; murders that occurred, executions ordered, the intimidation tactics used and yes, even the assassination attempt of her husband ordered by Hussein.
Diane’s husband was a prominent member of Saddam Hussein’s political party hierarchy during Desert Storm. After Hussein’s rise to power and his Hitler-like behavior Diane’s husband started questioning Saddam’s decisions and paid the ultimate price for it - serving two years untrained and unprepared as a soldier on the front lines of the war with the intent for him to be killed there. When he survived – an assassination was ordered on his life not once, but twice.
The book is predominantly about “angels” in Iraq that came to Diane’s rescue. One such angel was a fellow medical student who covered Diane’s body from a spray of bullets at a “peaceful” demonstration where Saddam’s soldiers fired into the crowd and said it was the Iranians. Another was a young man who was a border guard that allowed her passage because she had let him visit the hospital months earlier to see his father that she had operated on - angels.
The book addresses issues that we suspected but have not ever had confirmed: the development of weapons of mass destruction, rages by Uday and Kusay Hussein, staged “trials” that occurred, mass executions, false arrests, power and water supplies cut off, nightly bombing blitzes, random blacklists developed and Saddam’s ultimate reign of terror.
Diane worked her way through the Iraq culture though everyone knew she was an American which at times made it very hard on her.
She had great courage and overcame tremendous obstacle to complete her medical degrees - a B.S. Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and her medical degree from the University of Baghdad College of Medicine.
Diane shares the ambivalent truth of how Iraq was a beautiful place with beautiful people, but fell into the hands of horrific leadership which spiraled out of control. Ultimately everyone paid a price for the type of leadership they lived under for all those years. Saddam Hussein’s tentacles spread deep in their country and his venom and vengeance were deadly.
Odd to me how a place known as the original Garden of Eden could now be a war-torn country of poverty, fear and terror. It provokes you to deep thought of the true story of the fall of man (and woman), in the Garden of Eden. To this day people still pay for that original sin - even in the actual area where the Garden of Eden is believed to have been. Yet, there are angles even in Iraq.
If you read Diane’s book you will see just how many angels there are and how they all worked together to help this woman and her family survive long enough to find refuge in our great country and her home - America. It is a greater honor that it is specifically Alabama that was and is presently is home to Diane and her family.
This book will not only make you proud to be an American to live in the freedom we are all so accustomed to, but it will make you feel great sorrow and fear for those that have never known such freedom too. It is an eye-opening account of things we have never known and I pray to God that we will never know. It makes you realize that no matter what problems our country may face and no matter how weak any of our leaders can be - we are a great nation of freedom, opportunity and inevitable greatness. The book is a 334-page paperback and can be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Target or Wal-Mart.

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