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"My Son Is a Murderer" -- The Gut-Wrenching Realities Facing Military Moms

Author Susan Galleymore shares her dramatic encounters with mothers living in Mid-East war zones and American military moms.

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We need to hear what's happening to these people. There are up to a million people that have died in Iraq. In Iraq. We're not talking about Afghanistan here. We need to know that, because we're responsible for that.

RA: Talk about another mother you met in Iraq.

SG: Aglame lives right near the other side of the Tigris. She has 10 kids. We went to her place, a very small place. She welcomed us in and offered to feed us. They were so hospitable to us. It's very humbling to come from the richest country in the world where you're bombarding people like this.

It must've been completely weird to them. I show up and say my kid is in the military, and I want to know more about what their life is like. It went on and on like that in Iraq. In every other country I went to, it was the same thing. I always started off by telling them that my son was in the military so there was no pretense. I never once was turned away. No one was ever hostile to me. They were so gracious and so hospitable.

RA: That's what struck me. I learned more from a three-page interview with a mother than I'll ever learn on the Sunday shows. You had to hire a driver and a translator. You funded the trips on your own. How did you find people to interview?

GS: At some level, these people were presented to me. A lot of people in the Bay Area, for example, connected me with voices in Israel and the West Bank. And then things just happened.

I didn't know about this woman, Tali Fahima, who is a Mizrahi Jew -- North African and very right-wing at the time. Then out of the blue, she wants to find out what this terrorism thing is all about. What is this occupation thing? So she went to one of the refugee camps in Jenin. She was struck. She stayed there for three days and was eventually arrested by the IDF [Israeli Defense Forces].

I happened to be there the day she was having her final trial. I had learned Hebrew when I lived in Israel, but it's been 25 years. She spoke English. I was able to sit and talk with her.

She said, "I had to know. Now that I know, I can never go back to being the same person that I was. I can't keep my mouth shut about this. I don't care if they put me in jail." They were threatening her with 30 years in jail.

RA: Why?

GS: Because they said that she had passed a map on to the quote-unquote terrorists, when in fact the map dropped out of the pocket of an IDF trooper. It was convenient, and there she was. They also accused her of having an affair with a terrorist. My point is these events and these people just presented themselves. The same thing happened in Lebanon. I never felt like I had to work tremendously hard. And I wasn't up against resistance to get these stories.

RA: Who did you meet in the West Bank?

SG: One woman's father was in jail for resistance. Her husband was in jail for resistance. And her son is currently in jail for resistance. He went in when he was 15. He'll be there for eight years. In this case, he was throwing stones.

She describes the devastating effect this had had on the family, especially the youngest boy, who adored his brother, and now he knows the Israelis have taken him, whatever that means, and he wants to kill all Israelis. When we talk about the effects of war, we have to understand that kids don't miss out on this.