Posted By: Rebecca A., working with CIVIC’s Erica in Afghanistan
Karim, sits in his salon fingering photographs of his son, Abdul. The love-worn pictures show a striking 18-year-old, his arms thrown around the shoulders of friends, both Afghan and U.S. military. On February 27, 2007, the day of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s visit to Bagram Air Base, Abdul was assigned to translate for a foreign civilian woman accompanying the U.S. military. A waiting suicide bomber spotted them in front of Bagram’s gates. The suicide bomber ran up, hugged the woman, and detonated himself. Twenty-three people were killed in the explosion, Abdul among them.
“My son was standing with the woman [who was targeted],” Karim said. “His head, body parts…everything was blown to pieces. All detached from his body…I could only recognize that it was him by the clothes he wore, by his hair, and by his boots.”
No one from the U.S. military offered condolences; no one even assisted in the transport of Abdul’s body. Instead, neighbors and friends collected the remains and brought them to Karim. The violence of the explosion destroyed almost any resemblance to his beloved son.
Abdul was engaged to be married, but now the family began planning his funeral. Having lost its primary breadwinner, they could barely cover funeral expenses. Karim worried about how to feed his family. Too old to work himself, and with one son already married with his own children, Karim saw caring for the three daughters and two sons still at home as almost impossible.