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Yesterday we took an Uber, here in London. I asked the driver where he was from – he said he was Iraqi. We got to chatting, because I am always interested in people. I asked how long he had been in the UK… and he had a story to tell!
A Shia Muslim, he used to live on Karbalah road in their city in Iraq, meaning “Jewish bath road”, or Mikvah road. His mother used to tell of living together with the Jews in their city, and how the Jewish neighbors helped his mother when she was pregnant with his sister.
He left Iraq for Jordan, and then when the King of Jordan expelled Iraqis, he ended up in the Sudan. He did not like the Sudan much, so in 1996 he and six friends decided to leave.
As he put it, “I got to London with a Hijack.” I wondered if I had misheard, so I asked him to repeat himself, and then tell the story!
He said, “We needed to leave Sudan, so why not?” He and his friends hijacked a plane (they waited until it cleared Sudanese airspace, since they had been told the pilot would have not been allowed to leave Sudan), so they waited until over Egyptian airspace, then started the operation. They refueled in Cyprus, and flew to Stansted in London.
He was incarcerated for 2.5 years and then a Jewish judge freed him, ruling that since they would have been killed by Saddam, their actions were not criminal. So he was freed.
Now he is married (to an Iraqi woman) and he has two children. I asked if he still travels by air, and he said, “sure.” He is visiting Iraq this autumn, where he still has a brother. There seems to be no problem allowing him on aircraft.
Here is the story in the news.
This wins the prize for the most interesting Uber driver I have ever had… such fun!Published in