The Attorney Who Rescued Jessica Tells His Story

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, December 22, 2003.

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LINDA VESTER, GUEST HOST:  Who knows where POW Jessica Lynch (search) would be this holiday, had it not been for our next guest.

Earlier, I spoke with the Iraqi lawyer who led U.S. troops to Jessica.  Mohammed Al-Rehaief is his name.  His amazing story is in the brand-new book, Because Each Life Is Precious: Why an Iraqi Man Risked Everything for Private Jessica Lynch.

The tale begins with Mohammed visiting his wife who was working at Saddam Hospital in Iraq as the war raged all around them.  He finds upstairs two Fedayeen thugs guarding a door.  He sneaks inside.  And I asked him who he saw.


MOHAMMED AL-REHAIEF, LED U.S. TROOPS TO JESSICA LYNCH:  I saw Jessica Lynch.  I don't know her name the first time.

VESTER:  You didn't know then.

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes, I just saw POW in this -- in unit in this room, and I saw exactly the officer slap her twice in her face.  She was with three men.  One man -- one officer on one threat her, and the other one writing, and I saw this.

VESTER:  And, at another time, they pulled her up by her hair?

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes.  I don't see that.  My sister-in-law were -- with her friend -- she's doctor, too.

VESTER:  She told you that.

AL-REHAIEF:  She saw that.

VESTER:  So something in you made you decide to risk your life to go to the soldiers, and so you go to our Marines, and it's -- my God, it's a death run for you to get there.


VESTER:  But you get there.  And on page 150, you talked with a soldier named Corey, and he finally asks you what made you come here and risk your life?  And you said what are you doing here?  And he said this is my job.  What about you, Mohammed?  And you said this is not my job, this is my duty.  And he said, well, why would you help an American?

AL-REHAIEF:  It's my duty, yes, I tell him.

VESTER:  And you said because each life is precious.

AL-REHAIEF:  Each life is precious.  That's what I believe.

VESTER:  Really.

AL-REHAIEF:  Each life is precious because -- with -- without anything, without -- no difference, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, human being.  All of us are human being, and all of us child for one God.

VESTER:  But this was such a risk for you.  And when the Fedayeen found out at least you were up to something, they went to your house and they wanted to take your wife...

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes.  And my daughter.

VESTER:  ... and your daughter.

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes, yes.  It's very hard.  Do you know -- believe me, I am -- I am lucky.

VESTER:  You still went through it.  Almost crazy.

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes.  Do you know I -- my family tell me that, tell me this...

VESTER:  In Arabic, they say "Magnun (ph)."

AL-REHAIEF:  Magnun (ph), yes.  Good.  But do you know what I tell him when I tell him?  I do that to save a human being life.  They tell me it's worth it because this is true.

VESTER:  You got word that they were going to amputate her leg.  After you had gone to the Marines the first time, you went back.  They said you've got to go back to the hospital...


VESTER:  ... look at everything, find the exits, find out where she is, everything -- every detail, which is amazing that you did it, because it's dangerous.  So you went back.  You found out that she was scheduled to have her leg amputated.

AL-REHAIEF:  Exactly.

VESTER:  So -- but you wanted to, number one, stop that operation from happening, and, number two, you had to get in and see her one more time.


VESTER:  And you faked having heart palpitations?

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes, it's very hard.  Do you know I have to go inside her room and I know everything about the room, the design of the room, and if she attached to another machine, if she wake or not wake, conscious or not conscious.  Also, if I -- if she -- what she looks like and her name.  They asked me about...

VESTER:  You had to ask her?


VESTER:  And so?

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes,  But I don't ask her.  I read...

VESTER:  Oh, you read the chart?

AL-REHAIEF:  Exactly.  My sister-in-law was with me.  She's a doctor there.

VESTER:  Right.

AL-REHAIEF:  She helped me to go inside her room.

VESTER:  Yes, but then, you know, the -- then the Fedayeen find out where you're up -- they caught you.


VESTER:  And they're yelling at you and trying the stop you as you're running out of the hospital, and then you're still trying -- and you hop in a car, and you try to get your way to the Marines, and there's an attack, and you end up losing your eye.  And you still didn't give up.  Why?

AL-REHAIEF:  Do you know I believe I do the right thing.  It's very important.  It's very, very important.  Really, ma'am, if I don't do that, I will be a small man in my eye.


AL-REHAIEF:  It's very important.

VESTER:  So when they finally -- you were actually in the operations center...


VESTER:  ... when they got Jessica out, and you were able to -- they -- everybody -- you know, the people involved are on headsets, and you're seeing a Marine sitting next to you, and people are getting -- there's all sorts of excitement, and this guy takes off his headset, and he slams it on the table, and he says God bless you, God bless you.


VESTER:  The USA.  People are cheering and rushing at you.

AL-REHAIEF:  You know, thank you.  Remembering this moment, wow, it's very heavy.  I feel I'm born again.

VESTER:  Born again?

AL-REHAIEF:  Yes, it's -- do you know because I -- do you -- I know now just in this moment -- in this moment, I feel I don't loss my eye.  I don't loss my house, my -- everything -- everything I have, I -- because I now worth it because, when I saved her, it was worth it, but do you know if she -- if we can't save her, it would be very hard to me.

VESTER:  You have a lot of guts.  You really do.  Thank you very much.

AL-REHAIEF:  You are very well come.


VESTER:  And he still hasn't met Jessica Lynch. -- Mohammed Al-Rehaief.

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