Monday, May 31, 2004

Another Jeffrey Holmes Mystery: The Strange Case of Asmar Ahmad

One day about two weeks ago, as Watson and I were doing research for one of our recent joint assignments from Scotland Yard and the CIA, we came across a message on an Iraqi Bloggers comments page from a person requesting that we visit his weblog. He said it was a personal weblog written in French by an Iraqi gentleman. My curiosity was piqued by the unusual prospect of being able to read about the experiences of an Iraqi written in the language of Stendhal and Baudelaire. Watson read the url to me as I typed and up popped a blog by the name of Brulure de Bagdad. As Watson struggled with the French – sorry to report that he had trouble with his A levels, poor lad -- I glanced over the text and realized immediately that it was, in fact, a translation of that doleful dame of Baghdad – yes, Riverbend.

Watson and I proceeded to compare the two weblogs and my hunch was confirmed. I went back and posted a general “charlatan warning” on the original comments page where I had first espied the deceitful invitation.

Then, a few days later, as I was scrolling down the comments pages at Iraq the Model, I came across this:

I am so sad , i don't have any visitors
I am a good photgrapher that take photos in Baghdad
Please link to me ...and tell ppl to visit me ...It makes me cry ...
faiza | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 10:39 am | #

Of course, for those of us familiar with Madame Faiza Jarrar’s style and manner of presenting herself, this could only be but a simple fabrication. Then, to my surprise, during our inspection of the message, I clicked on the email slot and Watson and I were presented with . . .! I heard Watson guffaw over my shoulder. It was indeed a moment of levity between the two of us, staring at this childish attempt at deceit. Since I was also busy at that time matching 3rd-level fingerprint profiles in the lab, I allowed Watson to warn the frequent guests at Iraq the Model. Watson wrote:

Imposter Alert!!!

I am so sad , i don't have any visitors
I am a good photgrapher that take photos in Baghdad
Please link to me ...and tell ppl to visit me ...It makes me cry ...
faiza | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 10:39 am | #

This is a guy named Ahmad who a few days ago began impersonating Riverbend by putting up a blog that he said was his own but was just her blog translated into French! Anyone who reads French could tell at first glance. I called him on it and he ran away.

Now he's trying to channel Faiza. Don't be fooled, people. It's just Ahmad.

Hey Ahmad, still taking your meds?
Watson -- New York | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 11:24 am | #

Please disregard any of Watson’s boorish asides. I have been trying for years to inject any degree of felicity into his prose style and general attitude toward others. Alas.

Let me continue. A few minutes later, Watson received a reply on the comments page:

"Imposter Alert!!!"

Good catch, Watson. I suspected it wasn't Faiza. It didn't sound like her, but I didn't have the technical skills to prove it.
ken | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 11:49 am | #

Watson, whose head was now fairly swimming in Ken's praise of our discovery, quickly typed his response:


Thanks. A few days ago, when Ahmad announced that he had started an Iraqi blog in French, I was actually excited, thinking that it would provide an interesting contrast to the English-language Bloggers. But when I clicked on his link, I got smacked in the face with Riverbend's Extended Misery in French. Wow! Anyway, I posted the Fake Warning immediately.

And then today, here he comes again. Actually it's kind of funny. I wish he would show his real face. In fact, I would prefer that he start a blog if he is in fact an Iraqi. That would be fine. Must be a Frenchman, though, right?
Watson -- New York | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 12:01 pm | #

I am ashamed to admit that I secretly had a good laugh behind Watson’s back when he then received this message from a certain Michael in the United States:

Must be a Frenchman, though, right?

Hmm, I don't know, Watson. Frenchmen have a reputation for speaking French. The faux Riverbend is just raw output of a machine translation system. I especially liked "casier Ladin d'Ossama" (casier... bin.. get it?)
Michael, US | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 12:31 pm | #

Watson, somewhat chastened now, replied:

Michael US,

Yeah, you're probably right. I only read a few lines before I realized it was a translation of Riverbend. I did notice in my scan of the blog a few places where the English word had been retained.
Watson -- New York | Email | Homepage | 05.20.04 - 12:41 pm |

As it turns out, this tale is still current. The Mysterious Asmar Ahmad continues to work his way into the Iraqosphere. Just yesterday Watson and I exchanged a smile when we came across this on Faiza Jarrar’s blog.

Sunday, May30 ,2004
Dear Faiza

But "asmar ahmad" is passing off your pictures of your children, even,
as his own! That's terrible. Talk about parasitical!

Kind regards

please send him comments...
telling him he is a theif..

Yes, dear Faiza, Mr. Asmar Ahmad appears to be a very prolific and fortunately for us a very simple “theif.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a true story. You can check the posts. They are all legitimate. The author of this piece, however, requested that his role in the events that are here narrated be bifurcated and then assigned to two separate individuals to avoid shame among his colleagues. We objected at first but his request prevailed in the end. Blogger no longer supports Brulure de Bagdad.
Baghdad Pictures is now attributed to Faiza. The mystery continues. Can anyone help?

ANOTHER JEFFREY HOLMES UPDATE: Watson burst into my study this morning while I was reading a passage from Tacitus. He could barely contain himself as he handed me a printout from the latest blog of Madame Jarrar. The "theif" Asmar, it appears, has announced himself to Faiza Jarrar. On today's blog Faiza posts this most peculiar email she received from Mr. Ahmad.

I am the one that you called Theif !
ok let me tell you what this "Theif" did !
I think you should aplogize me and even thank me !

I didn't steal your photos in my name ! I just collected the nice photos ! in your Own name !
and also I e-mail to all of the newspapers and blogs . and made them to see this nice photos ! I tried to change world's think about iraq , and made them to see them !

the thing that you never did it ! I earned 3000 visitor ! and asked many places to see it !

I designed a nice template and a nice appearance for the blog !

well now please tell me ! Am I a thief ?
If you want , I can delete the blog ! but you will loose a lot of ppl that see the photos !
I earned a lot of visitors for your photos !

waiting for your answer

Curiouser and curiouser, as one of my old friends used to say.

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