The Iraqi man, Ra'ad Ali Abdul-Aziz, kidnapped along with the Italian girls is a longtime friend of many people from Voices in the Wilderness. Here is an article he wrote on star gazing
. One benefit of blackouts and powercuts during the Iran-Iraq war was that Ra'ad as a boy was able to watch the stars without light polution! "I forgot the wars and the battles and I just thought about astronomy." Ed Kinane from Voices writes
: "My most vivid picture of Raad was at his office. A friend had brought him a large box of books from overseas and I watched as Raad unpacked that box. He removed each book slowly, as if doing so were a kind of sacrament. With each new book he examined, his face shone with delight. With each book he exclaimed which of his friends or which of his students – he taught at the University – he would share it with." atold Democracy Now: "One thing I noticed is that almost every person that traveled over to Iraq who met him would want to come back to the United States telling stories about this extraordinary person.
His life and interests has made it so accessible to better understand that Iraqis are ordinary people with loves and interests very similar to ours. The first time I met Raad, showing me a picture of a Frank Lloyd Wright building and asking me, do you know about this building, by any chance? It was one near our home here in Chicago."