‘No greater love’: How American rescued Iraqi girl from ISIS

By Art Moore

See WND’s interview with David Eubank:

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The heart of ISIS toward children – exemplified by its systematic murder, torture and rape of the young and its propaganda video released Monday showing an 8-year-old executing a prisoner – contrasts sharply with a breathtaking act of selflessness by an American aid worker witnessed worldwide.

Iraqi families fleeing ISIS in Mosul. (Free Burma Rangers photo).
Iraqi families fleeing ISIS in Mosul. (Free Burma Rangers photo).

Video of 56-year-old David Eubank running amid a hail of ISIS bullets to snatch a 6-year-old girl hiding in a pile of dead bodies in Mosul earlier this month has been featured by CNN, “CBS Evening News,” the Washington Post and many other news outlets in the U.S. and around the world in recent days.

WND previously has reported the work of Eubank and his team among the displaced Yazidis under siege from ISIS and in civil-war ravaged Burma.

On a break in the United States from nine months in Iraq with the mission he founded, the Free Burma Rangers, WND spoke to Eubank about the motivation that took him, his wife, their three children, Burma-minority colleagues and other volunteers to the front line of the terror war.

On June 2, Eubank was on the western side of the Tigris River in Mosul, the ancient Ninevah, in the densely populated old city, where ISIS snipers and suicide bombers are embedded amid twisting streets and narrow alleys in a fight to the death to maintain the Islamic State’s first major conquest.

Eubank’s aid team learned there were signs of life amid the slaughter of an estimated 150 men, women and children attempting to flee.

“I looked at those kids, alive still among the dead bodies, hiding under their mother’s hijabs. I saw an older man waving at us. And I felt in my heart, ‘We’ve got to help these people,'” he told WND.

David Eubank rescues Iraqi child.
David Eubank rescues Iraqi child. (Free Burma Rangers photo)

The problem was that ISIS had the area staked out with anti-aircraft weapons in ground-plane mode, mortars, RPGs, machine gunners and snipers. ISIS already had destroyed Iraqi tanks, and anyone who tried to run for safety was shot.

ISIS had an estimated 200 fighters in the area, most of them from the Islamic state of Chechnya in Russia.

“Vicious. They’re the ones gunning kids down. Expert snipers,” Eubank said. “They’re shooting people sometimes from 500 to 700 meters away. They’re blowing up tanks with anti-tank systems. They know what they’re doing.

“So we prayed, ‘God help us help these people. How are we going to do it?'” Eubank recounted. “And I believe God gave us an answer.”

Eubank called on his U.S. military friends and Iraqi officers, and they coordinated a plan in which the Americans dropped a curtain of smoke while the Iraqis deployed a tank.

The girl had been hiding for two days in her dead mother’s hijab, surrounded by other dead bodies.

Amid a firefight between the Iraqi military and ISIS, Eubank, running behind the tank, moved to within meters of the girl.

“I remember thinking, ‘This is it. There’s not going to be a better time.’ And I prayed, and I remember thinking, ‘I think I’m going to die doing this. But my wife and kids will understand. They’ll cry, and they’ll miss me, but they’ll understand, because it’s to save the life of this little girl.'”

In just 12 heart-pounding seconds, Eubank, with cover fire and the wall of smoke, ran from behind the tank as bullets pinged, gathered the girl in his arms, stumbling twice, and returned.

See video of David Eubank rescuing Iraqi girl:

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He immediately telephoned his wife, Karen, who was stationed about one mile away at a center where the wounded were receiving treatment, informing her that the severely dehydrated and shaken, but otherwise uninjured, girl was on the way.

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Karen – who homeschooled the couple’s three children in a room above the medic station – held the girl in her arms on her lap, “and she just went to sleep,” Eubank said.

The Eubanks – who believe that if families are caught up in war zones, it’s reasonable for another family to be there to help – went to Sudan in 2014 when FBR responded to an invitation by the people of the Nuba Mountains under attack by the Islamic dictatorship in Khartoum. On the first day, a Sudan Armed Forces jet fighter dropped three 500-pound bombs near the team.

In the video interview with WND, Eubank told of another rescue in Mosul, the next day, deeper into ISIS territory, in which a woman who had been lying wounded in the oppressive heat for three days was saved.

“It was another miracle. After that one I felt like I wanted to cry. Something so beautiful had happened in the midst of war … that people who otherwise were going to die, had a life,” Eubank said.

“This is God’s intervention in the middle of a dark place.”

Eubank emphasized the importance of recognizing his weaknesses and limitations, and continually relying on God for guidance and strength.

“You have to say, ‘OK, God, I’m afraid. I’m not very competent, but send me,'” he told WND.

“Sometimes following God requires waiting,” he said, noting he had to wait a full day before coming up with a good plan to rescue the girl.

He said he’s often emailed words of encouragement by supporters, and a message that has arisen from time to time is, “Be bold.”

“When people go into danger, and are committed to go, don’t tell them to be careful,” he said. “That’s natural. Of course you’re going to be careful.

“We need to be told, be bold. Bold in the things of Jesus, humble in the things of ourselves.

“When it’s really dangerous. You need to say, ‘Is that the right thing to do?’

“Then be bold with all your might and with all your faith and go. That’s what we need to tell each other.”

Ultimately, he said, it’s the love of God that motivates him, citing the words of Jesus: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

See the “CBS Evening News” report on the Eubank family:

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Hundreds of thousands of Mosul residents have been displaced since October in the campaign by Iraqi and coalition forces to retake the city from ISIS. The east bank was liberated in January, and the current effort on the western side began in mid-February. But on Sunday, the London Telegraph reported, hundreds fled two liberated neighborhoods on the western side as ISIS sleeper cells attacked Iraqi forces and burned houses.

Eubank said the Iraqi military is fighting hard to defeat ISIS, and the U.S. military, with its air support, is careful to minimize civilian casualties. He’s seen more 30 of his Iraqi military friends die in the last month, including three senior commanders, two of whom died next to him.

Uniquely prepared

Born in Texas, Eubank grew up the son of missionaries in Thailand and served for a decade as an U.S. Army Ranger and Special Forces officer before founding the Free Burma Rangers, which aids ethnic groups that have been under attack for some 70 years by the Burma Army.

FBR’s motto is: “Love each other. Unite and work for freedom, justice, and peace. Forgive and don’t hate each other. Pray with faith, act with courage, never surrender.”

David and Karen Eubank with daughters (from left) Suuzane, 14, Sahale, 16, and son, Peter, 11. (Free Burma Rangers photo)
David and Karen Eubank with daughters (from left) Suuzane, 14, Sahale, 16, and son, Peter, 11. (Free Burma Rangers photo)

Accepting an invitation, he and his wife and three children, along with a team of Burma minority colleagues have been providing humanitarian assistance in Iraq since February 2015. They worked first with the Kurds, including in Syria. Last November, they began assisting Iraqis in Mosul with food, water, hygiene materials, shoes, clothes and medical supplies.

Along with providing medical help at casualty collection points, Karen and the children lead a “Good News” program for Iraqi children that provides spiritual encouragement.

Meanwhile, Eubank and the Burma medics and other volunteers accompany the Iraqi Army to the front to give immediate medical care and other help.

His background suited him for the work.

“I grew up in Thailand, in and out of the jungle, hunting, going to boarding school, riding horses, living an outdoor life. Boy Scouts there. And then later in the (U.S. Army) Rangers and then Special Forces,” Eubank told WND.

Those experiences he said helped him learn to “trust God,” understand and appreciate people from different cultures and religions, and “move and survive in a fight in a war zone.”

In Burma, he leads the training of mobile squads of members of minority groups that work in the ethnic states on the country’s edges from east to west. Although there have been political reforms in Burma, the army is still waging war against some of the ethnic groups. The teams typically include a medic, communications specialist and pastor to meet the needs of villagers under siege.

The Burma medics accompanying him in Iraq have as much as 30 years of experience in war zones, he pointed out, which has proved invaluable in Iraq.

“With no hospitals, you’ve got to do all the treatment right there,” Eubank said. “If someone steps on a landmine in Burma, you might carry them two weeks. They might never go to a hospital. You might have to do the stump right there, by yourself, and form it properly … and then later you’ll make a bamboo prosthesis to stick on.

“Sometimes it’s like that, so the medics are phenomenal from Burma. ”

‘You make us stronger’

Eubank recalled, during the siege of Al Salam Hospital in Mosul in January, being holed up in a house with 10 Iraqi soldiers, surrounded by ISIS.

David Eubank and a member of the Iraqi Police carry a civilian to safety. (Free Burma Rangers photo)
David Eubank and a member of the Iraqi Police carry a civilian to safety. (Free Burma Rangers photo)

At night, he heard the chanting of ISIS mullahs calling on “all faithful to come and slaughter the infidels.”

“We will make this a second ‘Black Hawk Down,’ a second Mogadishu,” they declared.

Eubank has bonded with many Iraqi soldiers, including the leader of the January campaign, Brig. Gen. Mustafa Sabah, commander of Iraq’s 36th Brigade of the 9th Armored Division.

The 6-year-old girl, in fact, is now in the care of Sabah, and if no relatives are found, he will adopt her.

Eubank recounted to WND a conversation with the general just before leaving for the U.S. this month.

“I know you don’t want to go back to America. We want you to stay with us forever,” Sabah told him.

Eubank replied: “No, we don’t do that much.”

Sabah, according to Eubank, replied: “No, you make us stronger. You make us stronger. You love us, you share danger with us. You bring us food and medicine for the civilians who are set free. You help us feed them, you treat our wounded. You’ve been wounded yourself … and you’re with us completely.”

Sabah asked Eubank to pass on a message to people in the U.S.

“Tell them, we love America, and we need help. And we’re fighting this war not just for us but for everybody.”

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