Man makes long, tense trip back to Charlotte after visiting family in Baghdad

Charlotte man struggles to get back from Middle East

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Ahmed Albadri is relieved to be back in Charlotte.

“When I got inside my apartment, I felt like finally, I am safe,” he says.

But for weeks, “safe” was the furthest feeling for him.

He originally left his home of Iraq six years ago, after working with an American company put him in danger. He received threats.

“One day they tried to kidnap me,” he says. “I don’t know who, but I was very close to dying. But for this reason, my family said it’s not safe to stay here.”

Recently, he risked his safety to visit friends and family in Baghdad, and he proposed to his now fiancée.

“I had a lot of friends I couldn’t meet then, because it was really dangerous for me to go and look around,” he says.

Then, the airstrike happened, killing top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

“Most of the Iraqi people feel happy,” Albadri says. “Not because they killed this guy, because he is the leader of everything. And someone needed to stop him.”

But, the airstrike meant things were now too unsafe there for Albadri, an American. It took him a full week, six airports, to get back to Charlotte.

“My brothers, my fiancée, she told me it’s not safe to use [my] American passport,” he says. “Because I don’t know who will stop me in the airport, and there’s no office, or there’s no officer I can ask to help if there’s anything wrong.”

He says though things are unsafe for him in his home Baghdad, it is hard to be without his loved ones.

“You just remember everything over there,” he says, through tears. “I remember my dad, my mom, my friends, my neighbors. It’s really hard when you cannot stay in the same place.”

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