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The Diary Of An Iraqi Girl

When she first met this young Iraqi girl, CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan says, she immediately thought of Ann Frank.

Frank kept a diary of her long days as a young Jewish girl hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam during World War II. The diary ends when the Frank family is found and sent to death camps where Ann ultimately perishes.

Nearly 60 years later in Baghdad, Logan met a young woman who also kept a diary in wartime, and has fortunately lived to tell about it.

The war may be over, but Baghdad is still a dangerous place to live. Thura Al-Windawi barely recognizes her city any more.

Like many young Iraqis, 19-year-old Thura is facing an uncertain future trying to make sense of an uneasy peace.

Thura says in perfect English, "You shouldn't be afraid that anyone is going to shoot at you." When asked if she would like to live under a democratic government, she says, "Of course, but from my people. My people will understand me better than a stranger."

It was so important to Thura for the outside world to understand this war that she kept a diary, hoping it would survive, even if she did not.

She reads from her diary: "March 19, 2003: Dear diary, Today was a long day. Suddenly I'm seeing things as I never saw them before. This is the hardest day of my life…"

Her family huddled in their home as the air strikes began.

She says, "I remember the house had shaken for five minutes. Five minutes you are just seeing the ceiling - maybe it's going to fall on your head. You don't know if you'll live or die."

In her diary, she writes, "People are saying goodbye to each other. We're like the Titanic going down, drowning in the ocean."

They joined thousands fleeing Baghdad for the relative safety of the countryside. It wasn't easy for a city girl.

Thura says, "I learned how to bake, I learned how to get eggs from the chicken and try to learn how to get milk from the cow. So this is a different life."

Life for all Iraqis changed forever when American tanks rolled into the heart of the capital and Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed.

Thura says, "This is impossible! It's like a movie you're looking at!" In her diary she writes, "We don't know what will happen to our lives now. Baghdad is something silent, like a ghost city."

As Baghdad rises from the ashes, Thura's father warns her not to trust the Americans. He tells her, "Keep away from them, they understand that. Don't go near them!"

But Thura's teenage curiosity gets the best of her. She says, "I won't deny that I saw a soldier. For me, he was handsome and he had nice glasses on his eyes."

And she wonders, "What's inside of him? Is he afraid of us? Does he think we want to harm him? These are questions I asked myself."

Thura has been able to track down her friends - thankful they are safe. But relief gives way to anger when she sees the damage at her cousin's home. And she asks, "What will you call all this? Is this freedom?"

Thura is still keeping her diary, still hopeful that a real understanding of war in Iraq will help bring lasting peace.

Thura says, "The Iraqi people - there's always in their heart the name of God first and their country, the second. So I don't think they'll stay cool for a long time. They want to free themselves forever."

Thura has since gone back to school, which was heavily damaged in the fighting. But she goes only a few days a week, accompanied by bodyguards. The streets of Baghdad are so dangerous no one in her family will go out after sundown.

Unfortunately, her father, who is a professor, has been unable to find work. Thura may have to put off her dreams of studying pharmacology abroad so she can help her family make ends meet.

It wouldn't be the first time she has lived abroad. She speaks English so well because the family lived in Britain for a few years when she was a girl.