(Reuters) – Born in Germany, Blerim Heta moved to his parents’ native Kosovo as a 10-year-old boy in the wake of a NATO air war in 1999 to save the territory’s ethnic Albanians from Serbian repression.
They settled in Urosevac, where U.S. soldiers – greeted as heroes for leading the intervention – were building a military base, a guarantor of protection for the aspiring statelet and a source of jobs for Albanians trying to rebuild their lives.
After finishing school, Heta spent 18 months at Camp Bondsteel, tending to the sports fields where American soldiers would let off steam.
“He never had a bad word for the Americans,” said his mother, Minire.
“And who would have a bad word for them? They saved our lives,” she said, trying to make sense of how her son killed himself in Iraq, detonating a bomb in March on behalf of Islamist insurgents sworn to fight the West. Dozens of Iraqis were killed…