9/11 Hate-Crime Victim Seeks To Save His Attacker Rais Bhuiyan was shot in the face by Mark Stroman in 2001. Stroman was on a shooting spree, targeting people who appeared to be Muslim or of Middle Eastern descent. Stroman is due to be executed July 20 — and Bhuiyan, the only survivor of the attacks, is fighting to save his life.
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9/11 Hate-Crime Victim Seeks To Save His Attacker

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9/11 Hate-Crime Victim Seeks To Save His Attacker

9/11 Hate-Crime Victim Seeks To Save His Attacker

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LAURA SULLIVAN, host: When Rais Bhuiyan was in his mid-20s, he thought he hit the jackpot. He was living in Bangladesh, and had put his name in an annual U.S. State Department visa lottery - and he won. He moved to Dallas, Texas; enrolled in school; took a job at a mini-mart. He thought it was the beginning of a new life. Then 10 days after 9/11, a man named Mark Stroman walked into the store and shot him in the face with a double-barreled shotgun. It was part of a spree that left two other Muslim men dead.

Now the state of Texas says it's Mark Stroman's turn to die, in a few weeks by lethal injection. But there's a twist: Rais Bhuiyan is now fighting to save the life of the man who tried to take his. Rais Bhuiyan joins us now from Dallas. Welcome to the program.

RAIS BHUIYAN: Thank you very much for having me.

SULLIVAN: Describe for me what happened on Friday, September 21, 2001.

BHUIYAN: I was working in a gas station. One gunman entered the store, and he came to the station with a gun pointing towards me. I opened the cash register and offered him the cash - and requested him not to shoot me, and take the money. In reply, he asked me: Where are you from? And the question seemed strange to ask during a robbery. And I said, excuse me? And as soon as I spoke, I felt the sensation of a million bees stinging my face, and then heard an explosion.

Images of my mother, my father, other siblings and my fianc�e appeared before my eyes. I did not know if I was still alive. I looked down at the floor and saw blood was pouring like an open faucet from the right side of my head. And I pressed both my hands on my face, thinking that I had to keep my brain from spilling out.

And I remember I heard myself screaming, Mom. I was crying, and I was asking God, give me a second chance. I don't want to die today. And I promise if you give me a second chance, I will dedicate my life for others, and I will do the best I can. I was reciting from Quran all the verses I have memorized in my childhood. I was reciting very fast, and I was asking God, please give me a chance, please.

SULLIVAN: You were shot in the right side of your face, and you were left nearly blind by the bullets. What was the recovery process like? How many surgeries did you have?

BHUIYAN: Well, I had to go through several surgeries. And finally, the doctor could save the eye, but the vision is gone. And I'm still carrying more than 35 pellets on the right side of my face. Once I touch my face, my skull, I can feel it's all bumpy. It took several years to go through all these painful surgeries, one after other one.

SULLIVAN: Was it hard - when you think about what had happened and how traumatic this was for you and your family, how did you find a sense of forgiveness for the man that shot you?

BHUIYAN: According to my faith, in Islam, there is no hate, no killing. It doesn't allow anything like that. Yes, Mark Stroman did a horrible thing, and he brought a lot of pain and disaster, sufferings in my life. But in return, I never hated him. And by hating him, it's not going to bring any good solution to the society. But if he's forgiven, who knows?

SULLIVAN: And now you're trying to save his life.

BHUIYAN: God will save his life. I'm just doing my part and the best I can, because I strongly believe executing him is not a solution. We will just simply lose a human life without dealing with the root cause, which is hate crime.

SULLIVAN: I'm wondering if you think about the idea that Stroman targeted you because you're Muslim, yet it's your faith that's propelling you to try to save his life, in many ways. Do you see it that way?

BHUIYAN: The Islamic principle, the Islamic teaching is that there is no hate, no killing, because in Islam it says: Saving one human life is the same as saving the entire mankind. Since I forgave him, all this principle encouraged me to go even more farther and stop this execution and save another human life.

SULLIVAN: I spoke with Mark Stroman's attorney to see if Stroman was aware that you were trying to save his life. And she said that when she first told him, he broke down crying. And he said: This is the first act of kindness that I've ever known. She also said that he wants you to know that he is deeply and truly sorry. How do you feel about that?

BHUIYAN: There is no doubt about - he did a heinous crime. Mentally, he died many times. He is just there to die physically through this execution. I strongly believe he already took his lesson and he changed his heart, and it just bring tears in my eyes.

SULLIVAN: That's Rais Bhuiyan, who was shot at point-blank range two weeks after 9/11 and is now fighting to save the life of the man who tried to kill him.

Rais, thank you so much for being here.

BHUIYAN: Thank you very much. It was my pleasure to be here today.

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