On Aug. 2, Faisal Darweesh was running in front of an invading Iraqi soldier who was armed with a machine gun.
Two weeks later, he and Kimberly, his Utah-born wife, found themselves surrounded by sand - attempting to escape from the terror of life in a captured country where rape, looting, murder and bombing could be committed by the occupying troops at any time.Now he and his family are safe in Salt Lake City, having escaped through the desert to Saudi Arabia.
Life turned upside down for the Darweesh family on Aug. 2, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. They lived in Jabriya, Kuwait, about two miles from Kuwait City, the country's capital. In Jabriya, the 35-year-old Faisal was a news editor at a local radio station.
He is Kuwaiti. Kimberly Darweesh grew up in Salt Lake City and is an American citizen.
On the day of the invasion, Faisal Darweesh awoke at 5:30 a.m. and drove toward work, not knowing that the country had been invaded. "Before I got to work, just a half-mile, some soldier pulled me over. I thought he was a Kuwaiti army soldier; when I pulled over, I found he was Iraqi," he said.
The soldier ordered him to leave his car, and he had to abandon it in the middle of the freeway. "He was running behind me with his machine gun. I had to run about 1 kilometer," a little over half a mile.
Darweesh was herded into a downtown park, and as the roundup continued, soon there were about 1,000 other Kuwaitis held there. "I saw some wounded Kuwaiti policemen," he said.
"I was mostly scared about my wife and my children. . . . I was trying to get rid of my ID that says I'm an editor." He feared that Iraqis would mistreat his wife because she is an American.
"They held me from 5:30 to 9:30 in the morning. During that time, we heard a lot of bombing. I mean strong bombing." Smoke billowed up, and sometimes injured soldiers were carried past.
"About 9:30 they said, `OK, now you can go home,' and they started to shoot the machine gun over our heads. I just ran and lay down on the ground. . . . I saw some injured people, (hurt in) their foot and their shoulders, and I saw some people on the ground."
He found his car and managed to get it turned around in the midst of the jam on the freeway. "Finally when I got home I found out they were bombing by the emir's palace and by the military academy. They looted a lot of houses."
Bombing continued for a week or more, and Kuwaitis resisted the aggression. Meanwhile, the family heard that factions of Iraq's military were fighting among themselves.
Kimberly Darweesh said when she discovered Kuwait had been overrun, "I was terrified. My whole body froze. I didn't know what would happen. I had never been in a country under attack before. Where we were staying we heard quite a bit of bombing, and our building was shaking."
Food did not run short while they were there, but to avoid hoarding, people were restricted to buying no more than two of any item in the supermarkets.
"Everyone had been trying to telephone the U.S. Embassy, and no one had been able to contact them. Apparently the lines had been cut, and every time they connected a new line, it would be discovered and it would be cut."
A group of Americans formed a committee to contact Americans known to be in Kuwait. They passed along information from the embassy, such as what to take in case of an evacuation. Kimberly Darweesh told the man who called that the family was thinking about leaving for Saudi Arabia.
"He said if we had a guide, someone who knew the borders very well, then we should go ahead and try because the evacuation didn't look very promising at the moment." As a matter of fact, the caller said, he would like to get out himself, along with some others they knew.
The Darweesh family did know a man who was familiar with the des-ert border country, and quickly they organized a caravan. "We left everything. We brought with us two suitcases, and we filled the rest of the Jeep with water and food because we didn't know how long we'd be in the desert."
Because the banks were closed by the invasion, they lost all their money.
One man who joined them lived in a complex that Iraqi soldiers had raided. Two of his wife's friends, women from Thailand, lived in the apartment below his, and when the Iraqis stormed into the building they ran into his apartment.
But Iraqi soldiers "came to his apartment and they held him in the living room at gunpoint and they took the two Thai women into the bedroom and raped them," Kimberly Darweesh said.
Eight vehicles took off together, but one car was abandoned because it got stuck in deep sand. "We saw so many cars stranded in the desert. We saw hundreds of people . . . with the cars."
They couldn't stop. At times they had to drive fast because if they slowed, they'd sink in the soft sand. They learned that a speeding car had struck a pipeline under the sand, flipping and killing two in the vehicle.
"We would be traveling on a dirt road, and then we would hear that there were Iraqis ahead of us, and then we would veer off into the sand," she said. "There were no landmarks; just sand all around us."
Faisal Darweesh said some of the Iraqi soldiers had little heart for the invasion. Friends told him that when they got stuck in the sand trying to escape, Iraqis used a tank to pull their car out.
They were cursing Saddam Hussein and "giving instructions to our friends" about how to reach Saudi Arabia while avoiding other Iraqi units.
The caravan drove one hour to reach the Kuwait border, then another two hours through a stretch called the neutral zone.
Faisal Darweesh said the Iraqi patrols looked like Germans from World War II films, driving in vehicles like Nazi desert cars.
When they reached Saudi Arabia, they weren't sure where they were because there were no landmarks. "Actually we saw patrols, and I thought that they were Iraqis, too, and I almost fainted," said Kimberly Darweesh.
"But then - (the guide) told me they were Saudi patrols."
The Saudis were most hospitable, taking them to Riyadh, their capital. "I went straight to the American Em-bassy, and they housed us in a hotel."
The embassy helped the family complete paperwork, obtained passports for the children, sent telegrams to the United States.
After another two weeks, friends sent the family money, and they flew to Utah, where they have friends and relatives. They are currently staying with an Iraqi friend.