System Of A Down guitarist Daron Malakian found watching TV coverage of the Iraq war to be a harrowing experience - because he knew 40 of his relatives were fighting for survival in Baghdad.

The heavy metal star had to endure the torment attached to not knowing whether his family - including his elderly grandmother - were dead or alive. Fortunately, they all escaped the conflict unharmed.

Malakan, who lives in Los Angeles, says, "For about a month and a half I had no idea if my family was dead or alive. Then I learned that they were all OK, and now I'm breathing easier, but we're still waiting to see what happens. The situation is still not good."

But the rocker is pleased his celebrity status has helped his cousins build up a relationship with American troops in the war torn country.

He adds, "Some of my cousins went up to the American soldiers and said, 'Hey, have you heard of System of a Down?' And the Americans were like, 'What the hell? You're an Iraqi. How the hell do you know what System of a Down is?' And he went, 'He's my cousin, man.' And he showed them a picture of me at his house, because I went to Iraq when I was 14 years old."

12/08/2003 20:57