BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- I first met Abu Wissam at the foot of his son's shallow grave. Never will he be able to erase the last image he has of his son's body.
"He was cut to pieces," he said. "His hands and feet were chopped off. And he was decapitated."
For a long time, Iraqis would say that it was "outsiders" that were carrying out such atrocities. The truth that is so hard to accept for many is that that often was not the case.
Iraqis turned on each other, neighbors slaughtered neighbors, friends betrayed one another. It was the sheer degradation of society on a shocking and utterly petrifying scale.
Abu Wissam's son Raed was a 25-year-old business school student. His fiance says that one day he got a phone call from a college friend asking to meet him. Little did she know that it was a plot to lure him out of the house and that it would be their last goodbye.
They were childhood sweethearts. She says they knew that they would get married from the time they were six. "All I do now is cry," she sobs.
Raed's mother can barely form a coherent sentence. Her voice shakes with every word, uncontrollable tears pour down her face. Her hands tremble holding Raed's worn-out photograph. From time to time she caresses the image, the face that she will never touch again.
"I don't sleep." She stutters. "I take pills ... I live on pills."
"Nights aren't nights anymore, days aren't days. They cut his hands off, they cut his head off."
As the last words leave her mouth she can no longer speak, only cry.
The political and military leadership speak in positive overtones. We're watching U.S. troops fulfill a timeline to "end the war," so desperate is America for some sort of ending.
But it is not over. For Iraqis it's far from over. In many ways it is just beginning.
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