“Is it a dream, or a gift of God?” the mother asked.
The absolute silence was broken as the judge announced the lab results of the DNA study. She listened intently, hardly able to breathe…then Yes! fifty-eight year Fatima Mohammed Salih knew for sure it was her son who stood before them. Her son. Twenty-one year old Ali Pour, the only remaining one of her seven children; the others, along with her husband, having died on that horrific long-ago day. A lethal chemical attack by Saddam Hussein’s regime had wiped out the family…except for the mother and her infant son.
She recalled the day Halabja was attacked. The family was at home. There was utter panic. They first ran into the streets and then went back inside.
“We didn’t know where to go,” she said. “Zimnaku, the 4-month-old, was on my lap and suddenly my older son screamed saying, “Mother, I feel like I’m burning.’ I tried to help him and my other sons, too. But it was in vain. I saw them dying in front of me. I collapsed and the next thing I remember is lying in a hospital bed in Tehran.”
The reunion Friday in Iraq’s northern Kurdish region was the rarest of artifacts from Halabja: a moment of joy from the day the city became an open cemetery for an estimated 5,600 people killed when lethal gas was dropped by Saddam’s military.
It was part of Saddam’s brutal 1987-88 campaign to crush a Kurdish rebellion. Nearly 200,000 people died in Baghdad’s scorched-earth offensive.
Source: AP Fox News
And now for the first time in more than two decades, the two people embraced, 21-year-old Ali Pour comforting his weeping mother. And then she repeated her son’s birth name: Zimnaku Mohammed Saleh.
Later, through translators, Ali told what he knew of his story, and the bits and pieces were fitted together for a final picture. The infant Ali had somehow survived the initial attack, and was found three days later by Iranian military who took him to a hospital from where he was adopted. When he was six years old his wonderful adoptive mother told Ali his history, making him aware that he had been born in the Kurdish part of the country, and suggesting that once he was grown, he might want to find his relatives. Four months later, she was killed in an automobile accident.
As an adult, Pour contacted Iranian officials, and through painstaking study, perusals of records, and finally of a DNA examination, Ali was reunited with his mother.
From across the world, from a unique perspective, from another mother’s heart, and with truth, I believe I can answer this precious mother who stammered the question: “Is it a dream, or a gift of God?”
It is a gift of God, dear friend, dear mother. It is a gift of God.
And what a season for us to know your story, the beautiful, poignant account of a mother whose family, in a heinous evil act, was snatched from her, but who, through the persistence of a loving son, and through the grace and mercy of a loving God, has allowed this remarkable reunion…