NPR

In Fallujah, A Young Amputee Dreams Of Returning To The U.S.

Mustafa Abed lost his leg as a baby during the battle of Fallujah. A nonprofit arranged medical treatment for him in Oregon but then lost touch. With help from NPR's Jane Arraf, they have reconnected.
Mustafa Ahmed walks near home on the outskirts of Fallujah. As a baby, he was severely injured during the battle to liberate Fallujah from al-Qaida. His leg was amputated and he later received medical treatment in Portland, Oregon. Source: Jane Arraf

Mustafa Ahmed Abed has a few words of English left from his time as a young child in the United States. These days, he doesn't have anyone to practice them with, so he repeats words to himself over and over as he walks home from school in Fallujah. With one leg, the journey on crutches takes him an hour.

Mustafa, now almost 15, was two years old at the start of the battle for Fallujah in November 2004. As the U.S. shelled al-Qaida fighters in a nearby neighborhood, he and his mother were hit by shrapnel.

"I was carrying him, and all of a sudden, Mustafa flew out of my arms," his mother Nidhal Aswad recalls. "My arm was badly injured and my side was injured ... He was on the ground ... All I could see of him were his intestines all over the place."

Aswad crawled to her baby in the deserted street. His left leg had nearly been severed. When relatives got them to a hospital, making their way through

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR2 min read
3 Are Dead And 4 Hospitalized From Drug Overdoses, Pittsburgh Police Say
All the victims were wearing orange wristbands and are believed to have attended the same event Saturday night, but authorities say they overdosed afterward at a private residence.
NPR4 min read
A Boy And A Pup Come To One Another's Rescue In 'The Dog Who Lost His Bark'
The Dog Who Lost His Bark is a story in two halves, says author Eoin Colfer: "In the first half the boy heals the dog, and in the second half the dog heals the boy." It's illustrated by P.J. Lynch.
NPR2 min readScience
Hundreds Attend Funeral For Pizol, A Disappearing Glacier
On Sunday, more than 200 people paid their respects at a ceremony to mark the "death" of the glacier in the Swiss Alps. Researchers say it's disappearing due to rising temperatures.