Newsday profiles Donny George

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The tipping point for Donny George came the day last summer his sister found a letter with a bullet in it in the driveway of their mother's home in Baghdad.

George, an antiquities expert recently recruited for the faculty of Stony Brook University, said the letter threatened to kidnap and behead his son Martin, 17, for allegedly "cursing Islam and teasing Muslim girls," unless he apologized and paid a $1,000 fine.

"The letter also mentioned his father was working with the Americans," said George.

George already was disenchanted with what he said was his diminishing authority as director general of the National Museum in Baghdad and president of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, so he decided it was time to leave. He retired in August from his positions, and he and his family fled to Damascus, Syria.

George, 56, accompanied by his wife, Najat Daniel Sarkees and Martin, his youngest son, has now settled in Port Jefferson Station. He will shortly assume his duties as a visiting professor at Stony Brook.

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