Man sought by Saddam's regime comes out of hiding after 21 years

Man sought by Saddam's regime comes out of hiding after 21 years

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(26 May 2003)

APTN
Jobah Village (180 kms south of Baghdad) - May 25 2003
1. Wide of village where Jawad Amir lives
2. Neighbours greet Jawad
3. Various of Jawad showing where he hid out during Saddam Hussein's regime
4. Jawad in his hiding place, behind a fake wall entered through a trap door, putting on headphones to listen to radio and stay in touch with events in the outside world
5. Tilt down of personal items inside his hideaway
6. Various of Jawad getting water from a hole in the floor and pouring into container
7. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Jawad Amir, former fugitive:
"When I felt the danger I escaped to my parent's house, then I prepared my hiding place to keep away from the people so no one could report me to the regime. In this place I prepared everything I needed to survive."
8. Jawad showing pictures of himself as a young man before he went in hiding
9. Close-up of the pictures
10. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Jawad Amir, former fugitive:
"I was in a serene mood because I believed I was in the right and my companion was the holy Koran."
11. Jawad reading the Koran
12. Close-up of his face
13. Jawad showing his teeth kept in a box
14. Various of Jawad showing his peephole
15. Shot of what he could see through it
16. Various of Jawad coming out of his hiding place
17. Jawad's family coming out of the house
18. Close-up of Jawad's nephew
19. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Ramsya Haddi, Jawad's mother:
"I feel as if I had just given birth to him again"
20. Wide of Jawad with his family.

STORYLINE:

An Iraqi man who has been in hiding from Saddam Hussein's regime for more than two decades has finally emerged back into the real world.

Neighbours and friends have been welcoming Jawad Amir back into their small Iraqi community after an absence of 21 years.

But Amir hasn't been living in another town, nor exiled to a foreign country - he's been living in a tiny hidden room, sandwiched between two walls in his family home, with only a radio and the Koran for company.

The 49-year-old only dared come out after Saddam Hussein's statue fell in Baghdad, marking the end of the regime.

Amir says he went into hiding after Saddam's regime put an execution order on him while he was a young devotee of an outspoken Shi'ite cleric. At the time he was serving in the military.

He fled to his parent's home and created this tunnel dwelling in between two walls of his family home.

Amir says he only ever went as far as the entrance to the trap door and he never ventured into the outside world, a place he could still see through a tiny peephole in the wall.

Only his closest family members - the people who were hiding him - knew he was there. Even the neighbours thought he had disappeared two decades earlier.

He would listen to the BBC Arabic service on his radio and passed his time studying the Koran and doing calligraphy.

In his small cell he kept just a few personal items including pictures of himself before he went into hiding and the teeth he lost during his confinement. He drank river water from a small well.

Amir says he feels well and is optimistic about the future and credits the US for saving him.

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