"I'm sorry," he tells me. No need to apologize.
I had asked the 58-year-old Iraqi refugee and married father of two from Spring Lake Park moments earlier whether he ever saw himself returning to his war-torn homeland. In this case, it is almost like asking someone if they will ever see their deceased beloved mother again.
Ali, then a Baghdad-based general manager for UPS, fled with his family to Jordan in 2005 after two colleagues were gunned down by insurgents targeting civilians who either were cooperating with or working for American interests. He suspected he would be next.
"The hope is getting too far away," said Ali, who relocated here in 2009 with his wife and two grown children. "I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Ali is one of the countless little-known casualties of war that followed the U.S. invasion in 2003. The recent Islamic State insurgency has further fanned the flames of chaos following the ouster of Saddam Hussein. Estimates place the number of Iraqis who were internally displaced by the conflict or sought refuge in neighboring Middle Eastern countries at nearly 5 million and counting.
Ali is also among a handful of Iraqi refugees selected by Minnesota filmmaker Nathan Fisher to share their stories of struggles and aspirations in a series of short films that will have their official debut at 7 p.