Source: The New York Times
It was late at night on March 7, 2016, when Ghazala Siddiqui heard the phone ring and hurriedly reached for it, eager to hear the voice of her son. An indecipherable torrent of words spewed from the breathless caller.
‘‘Raheel?’’ she said. The phone was dead. The call lasted less than five seconds. In her darkened living room in Taylor, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, Ghazala worried. The previous morning, Raheel, a 20-year-old Marine Corps recruit, left for boot camp on Parris Island, S.C. He had promised to call his parents when he arrived, and Ghazala and her husband, Masood, had been waiting by the phone. But the call, when it came, was strange, with an almost deafening noise in the background. Ghazala couldn’t be sure it was even him. In the morning, she phoned Raheel’s recruiter. ‘‘No one knows my son’s voice better than me,’’ she said. ‘‘That didn’t sound like my son.’’
The Siddiquis, who emigrated from Pakistan in the 1990s, hadn’t wanted their precious oldest child, and only boy, to join the Marines. Slender and unathletic, Raheel had always seemed most content designing video games on his computer. He graduated ninth in the class of 2014 from Taylor’s Harry S. Truman High School, a valedictorian with his pick of colleges, including a full academic scholarship to Michigan State. After months of deliberation, he decided on the University of Michigan’s Dearborn campus, where he enrolled in September 2014, lured by its new program in robotics engineering. But the following July, after his freshman year, Raheel drastically changed course, announcing to his family that he had decided to leave college and enlist in the Marines.