Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Professor Juan Cole utterly demolishes the story about the Fedayeen Saddam guy who supposedly attended an Al Qaeda conference in Kuala Lumpur:

The family name (here, nisba) of the al-Qaeda guy in Malaysia is Azzawi.

The family name of the guy in Iraqi intelligence is Ahmad.

Do you notice how they are not the same?

The personal or first name of the al-Qaeda guy is Ahmad.

The personal or first name of the Iraqi intelligence agent is Hikmat.

Do you notice how it is not the same?

So, Ahmad Azzawi is not Hikmat Ahmad. See how easy that is?

...Azzawi is a nisbah, a form of last name having to do with a place or occupation or tribe. I'm not sure, but an `azzaw might be someone who specialized in consoling family members over the death of a loved one. It is being used as a family name.

Lt. Col. Ahmad's last name could also be used as a first name. It may well be his father's first name. Some Arab families use a system like that in Scandinavia. Thus, the father is Thor Odinsson and the son is Loki Thorsson. There isn't a stable family name in that case. In the old style, he might be Hikmat ibn Ahmad or the son of Ahmad, but a lot of people drop the ibn nowadays. Most families either have a nisba type family name or they don't. If a guy's last name is Azzawi, that would certainly be in the government records. Lt. Col. Ahmad did not have Azzawi as a family name....

There's more at the link, if you're still not convinced.

(Juan Cole link via Billmon.)

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