Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 24, 2015

“What are things like in America?” – Letters from Aleppo (Part 3 of 3)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on December 24, 2015


For some families it means listening for any noise suggesting homeland security raids have started, as Phil Palin posted earlier today:

The Department of Homeland Security has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation.

An emergingly ironic backdrop to the last of Jeff Kaliner’s three-part letters from Syria’s largest city, Aleppo



Dear Pen Pal:

The Russians have begun their air strikes. It’s not as easy as it used to be. Russian jets are faster, more accurate, and more deadly. My mother fled the country last week with my sister, they should be in Turkey but I haven’t heard anything back yet. Dad told me he has been in contact with them but won’t let me see any letters or talk to them.

Sleep and rest has become difficult as the regime is becoming more confident with Russian support. There isn’t much that can be done on our end. It doesn’t look like the U.S. is willing to increase their part in our liberation. Everyone says that we are winning the war. This war isn’t even close to over.


Mani Singh



Dear Pen Pal,

Today was a sad day in my town. More protesters have gone “missing” in the last three days. I don’t get why the government must take them away when all they are doing is singing peacefully not causing any trouble. But on the bright side the rebels have beaten the extremists in yet another battle. My father and brother were fighting in that battle and I was so scared that they would not be returning. But luckily they did return with just bumps and bruises.

I hope this war will end soon and there will be peace in the land. I wish everything would return to normal and the children would never fear of their parents disappearing or a sniper shooting them.

No one should have to go through this whether they are young like me or old like my father. We should be living in peace and harmony with no dictatorship or Islamic extremists.

No one should fear walking through the streets knowing a bomb could go off at any second.


Anali Ruiz



Dear Pen Pal –

Today in Aleppo we had many explosions nearby. This is normal for us now.

My family has lived here for my entire life however it has never been like this. My father worked every day at the local store. My mother stayed at home with us kids, my two brothers and I. We would always play in the street. Everything was normal.

Then the regime began making trouble. I wasn’t sure what it was. Our mother always told us that the explosions were just fireworks. Then one day we woke up to find the neighbor’s house decimated by an explosive. There were bodies in the street. There was blood everywhere.

After we saw this our mother told us what really was happening. She said to us we were being attacked. We asked why? We could see the blank stare. She didn’t know either. When our father walked in. He told us, “This is an attack by ISIS. They want to take control of our city’’.

Fortunately the explosions subsided. We could leave! But our father wanted to stay. We didn’t have anywhere to go. This was still our home. He said, “We must stay. We must fight. We can’t let these bullies take over our home.”

Now there is only my family and one other. Our life has changed. We will wait for the war to end, and everybody to return. We must survive.
Cory St. Pierre


Jeff Kaliner teaches a homeland security class at the Clark County Skills Center in Vancouver, WA. His students were asked to step into the shoes of a child living in Aleppo and write a letter to a pen pal, relative or friend in the United States. Specifically, Kaliner asked the students to describe what they saw, heard and felt. Thanks to his students for sharing how they look at the world.

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