Ali Abbas lost his arms and his family when Blair invaded Iraq

Now he wants answers


When he was 12, Ali Abbas’ home was hit by an American missile when the Iraq war started in 2003. Both his parents and his brother were killed and Ali had to have both his arms amputated. The attack left him with burns to 60 per cent of his body and having to adjust and lead a new life without his arms.

Following the Chilcot report, Ali, now 25 and living in the UK for a decade, in a candid interview he told the Daily Mail how the blast killed his whole family.

“Life was changed when the Iraq war was invaded’ and how he feels ‘terribly sad that a life as I know it was taken from me that night.

“My mother was putting me to bed, my father was killed too, my arms were placed in their grave.”

ali abbas

Ali came to Britain in 2003 after the tragic event speaking very little English. He has a verbal reasoning IQ of 140 and a headmaster of a private school in South London gave him a place at the school for free. This is where he integrated well into British life and began adjusting. Ali refers to Britain as his home – he is now looking for a job and believes there is one out there for him. He said: “I lack so much confidence because I don’t have arms.”

Despite having prosthetics available to use, it seems Ali has adapted extremely well to using his feet in everyday life and seems to use them in favour over his prosthetic arms. He is able to use them for his computer and phone, brushing his teeth, and painting, however he finds them heavy and prefers to go without.

The Chilcot Report highlights how the UK were forced into going to war by the US, however Tony Blair has said that he stands by his 2003 decision to go to war. Ali asks: “Does he think people should view him as a war hero? Is that what he wants? More like a war criminal I think.

“An apology from Bush and Blair would be nice but I can’t see that happening and it won’t bring back my parents or my arms. My focus needs to be on the future now.”

Back in 2003, the UK entered the Iraq war with soldiers unprepared and not trained to the best they could have been. It seems Blair has admitted that it was a mistake to send in Troops, there were other options he could have explored as the threat from Saddam Hussein wasn’t as thought, as there were no weapons of mass destruction. Ali discusses how the country of Iraq was invaded for economic reasons, saying “the British people were told lies, not the situation is much worse.”

Saddam Hussein was a dictator and the people of Iraq were being controlled in a way that did not appear to show the citizens having a good future under his leadership. Ali mentions how a lot of Iraqi people would say that although their lives weren’t good under his control, destroying Saddam Hussein himself and starting the Iraq war and left them worse off.

This photo of Ali went global after the bombs landed

Ali, a British citizen, was nearly brought to tears by at the UK border when returning on the Eurostar in April. He told the Independent:

He said: “I was telling my friend I was so happy to come back home. Because Britain is my home now. And then the security man stopped only us – because we were the ones who looked not British. This person brought tears into my eyes. He didn’t give me any chance to say anything. He took our British passports and said ‘Why don’t you go back to your country? Why are you living here?’

“I told him this is what happened to us and Britain brought us here. He could clearly see I had no arms. This is what happened to me because of the war. It is only because of the war that I am in Britain. But he was shaking his head as he looked at my passport. He said: ‘It’s a British Government decision, but I’m not happy with it.’

“I was so upset, so shocked.”

Last week Iraq suffered a car bomb attack leaving a deal toll of more than 281 people dead. This explosion was the worst attack since the US lead the 2003 invasion. “Everyone I know has a friend or a relative that has been killed. Funerals are a normal part of life now.” Thirteen years after his home was bombed on the 11th day of the Iraq war,  Ali tells of how “I miss my family and the memories that get cloudier everyday as time goes on.”

Ali Abbas became a memorable symbol of the turmoil the Iraq war caused for the people of the country, with pictures of his young injured body bought evidence of the destruction that the decision to invade created. Ali looks to the future and continues to look for a job.