The Diary of Amal Salman

Friday, September 2, 2005; 5:30 PM

Amal Salman is an Iraqi girl living in Baghdad who turned 14 during the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Washington Post staff writer Anthony Shadid first visited the Salman family in March 2003. During the war and the ensuing conflict, Amal recorded her family's experiences in her diary. She shared copies of her journal with Shadid. These are translated excerpts of Amal's diary.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

At 3:00, the news said Iraqis were attacking government buildings, stealing government equipment and appliances, that Saddam Husein and his family had fled but no one knows where. We are scared . . . At 5:00, I saw vehicles passing by the building, laden with government items, and at 6:00, the news reports said the Iraqi government will be replaced, and will be like the opposition -- that is, there will be an opposition government, led by an American or British general.

We don't [know] what's going to happen in the coming days. Looting, robberies and thievery continue while the fear over theft continues, too. Oh, God, why does this agony surround us. The Iraqis steal without any remorse or thought. What are the Americans going to do with us? God help us. . . .

Friday, April 11, 2003

On Friday, Iraqis usually go to the mosque to pray because the Friday prayer is very sacred. The prayer is held at 7:00, but the Iraqis are fast asleep. They will only wake up to steal from others. What is all this destruction that has befallen the Iraqis? At 12:00, the bakery is closed, and we don't know what the Americans are going to do to us. Will they torture us? We don't know. We used to have trust in President Saddam Hussein, but now we don't know whom we trust. At 2:00, Abu Saif came by and said Iraqis are breaking into the hospitals and looting them (and) . . . stealing and robbing the palaces and shops. At 3:00, three American tanks went by, carrying American soldiers.

The hospitals are being looted and no one is protesting! Why does St. Rafael Hospital have an American tank protecting it? Is it because it is a Christian hospital? What about the Alwiya Maternity Hospital? What about the pregnant women there? . . . Oh, God, what shall we do? Why all this destruction? Why has it befallen Iraqis? Wasn't it enough to loot government offices? Now the hospitals and even homes?

At 5:30, I saw another American tank, and later at 7:00, too. Every time American tanks pass, or I see them, I feel scared. Oh God, save us from this torment.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Today is Saturday. I woke up at 9:00, and at 10:05, my girlfriend came over and said the Sharqiya Secondary School for girls was looted, and also the boys' school. Mother said even the schools are being looted. God, what has happened! At 11:00, we wanted to listen to the news, but there is nothing in the news, and the electric power is out. When will we have electricity again? At 4:00, we heard the roar of airplanes and some said this is an American airplane show, as the planes were doing maneuvers and movements in the air.

At 5:30, an American tank came and stopped in front of the building. The people went down to say hello to the American soldiers. Each tank has 15 soldiers. Duaa and Hibba went to them, and the soldiers gave them chocolates. They knew that in some old garage, there was some resistance by 57 Iraqi tanks. They surrounded the place. Hibba tried to ask the soldier what was happening. He told her, "Go! Go!" But Hibba didn't understand the American language. Out of fear for Hibba, he carried her to our building. They are nice, but they are misled by Bush, the dangerous one.

Monday, April 14, 2003

At 9:00, we heard the airplanes flying in the skies, and they kept flying until 11:00. I kept asking, Why are they in the air? At 11:05, I went down the building to fill up water and finished, and then at 1:55, the twins came home and said they saw the Americans walking down the street, and that they wrote their names on the children's palms. Hibba's hand had names of Americans soldiers on it. Hibba and Duaa were very happy. They said the soldiers were very friendly and they were delighted with them. Is it true they are good? Who knows? Only God knows. God willing, they will be good and nice forever.

At 3:00, we heard the Americans called on the police, the security, the army and the Republican Guards to return to their jobs, everyone back doing what he used to do. At 5:00, we saw a police car with two American vehicles, and we were astonished. I said the news we heard is true, thank God. . . .

Many, many rumors. They say Iraqi President Saddam Hussein spoke on the radio on the second day after the fall of Baghdad. He said that wasn't what I had expected from you, you treacherous people. At 2:00, there was the speech, and at 10:10, we heard the sound of airplanes and at 10:20, it was over.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Today it is quiet, there is nothing, but we don't know what's going to happen after this. People are demonstrating every day to form a government, fair to all, a just democratic one that gives evenly to people, so that they will be satisfied. We want this to be as soon as possible, because the people have begun to revolt.

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