Around midnight, seven cars roared down his [Abu Omar] street. One of the vehicles, a Toyota Landcruiser, burst through his front gate while men with rifles, grenades, and black masks poured into his yard, breaking the windows in his car and at the front of his house with their rifle butts, shouting "where's Omar, where's Omar,'' the name of his 18-year-old son.
Omar scrambled over a back fence and found safety in a neighbor's house, while his father was taken away for five hours of interrogation. "They told me that they were from the Mahdi Army and I thought these were my last moments on earth,'' he says. "But after a while they got a call, and decided to let me go. But they also told me they'd kill my son when they got him."
Abu Omar says the men told them they were killing all young men named Omar and Bakar - popular Sunni names borrowed from early Islamic caliphs hated by Shiites. They said they would be back for his son.