From Time magazine, with thanks to Scaramouche:
Ra’ed al-Banna loved America. During his nearly two years in the U.S., al-Banna, a lawyer by training, made a living as a factory worker, a shuttle-bus driver and a pizza tosser. He went to the World Trade Center and the Golden Gate Bridge, grew his hair long and listened to Nirvana. He told his family back in Jordan about the honesty and kindness of Americans. “They respect anybody who is sincere,” he told his father. He said he had planned to marry an American woman until her parents demanded that the wedding take place in a Christian church. After a visit home in 2003, he set off again for the U.S., hoping to find a wife, have a family, settle down. “He was hoping for a job that earns a lot of money,” says Talal Naser, 25, who is engaged to one of Ra’ed’s sisters. “He loved life in America, compared to Arab countries. He wanted to stay there.”
He never got the chance. After he was denied entry at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for apparently falsifying details on his visa application, al-Banna’s life took a turn that led him down the path of radical Islam and ultimately to join the insurgency against the U.S. in Iraq. His odyssey ended on March 3 when al-Banna’s brother Ahmed received a call on his cell phone from a man identifying himself as “one of your brothers from the Arab peninsula”–the term radical Islamists use to signify the core of the Muslim world, centered on the holy city of Mecca. Al-Banna’s family says that as far as they knew, Ra’ed was in Saudi Arabia working at a new job. But the voice on the other end sounded Iraqi, Ahmed says. “Congratulations,” the caller told him. “Your brother has fallen a martyr.”…
In some respects, the Bannas resemble the many other families around the Arab world whose sons have gone to fight and die in Iraq. But the Bannas also express astonishment that Ra’ed joined the insurgency, insisting that he had never shown signs of Islamic extremism or hatred for the West.
No one ever does, apparently. Just once I’d like to see one of these stories quote a neighbor or friend saying, “Yes, he hated America. He was always taking about getting his chance to die a shahid.”
On the basis of accounts given by his family, friends and neighbors, Ra’ed apparently led a double life, professing affection for America while secretly preparing to join the holy war against the U.S. in Iraq. “Something went wrong with Ra’ed, and it is a deep mystery,” says his father Mansour, 56. “What happened to my son?”
Read it all.