Vol III, Issue 44

II Kanoon 26, 6747                   January 26, 1998

T H I S   W E E K   I N   Z E N D A

The Lighthouse Leaving Iraq
Good Morning 
Iraq Strike Likely in A Few Weeks 
Surfs Up "by far the best"
Surfers Corner Calling All Beta Testers For a New Assyrian Language Program
News Digest Emigration of Yizidi Population From Armenia
Assyrian Surfing Posts The Assyrian Dictionary Project
Pump up the Volume Reward & Inheritance
Back to the Future Babylonian Map & the Assyrian Army Commander Under Hulagu Khan
Literatus Let's Call it:  The Iraqi National Congress
This Week in History Surmi Khanum
Bravo The Dalton School's Assyrian Resources Page






This is a very short version of how I came to the United States of America.  I wrote this letter to Bob Simon, an American correspondent, after being captured during the Gulf War and jailed in an Iraqi prison for no reason.

After watching an episode of the "60 Minutes" I was saddened to hear of the ordeal that one of the news correspondents and his friends had to go through.  Whether you are a Jew, Muslim, Christian does not justify Saddam or his followers acts of torture.  I am saddened, but not surprised, to what happened to some of these people. I wish I could have talked to them before they had left for that part of the world.

I have been in a much worse situation than those folks. I was born and raised in Iraq.  I left the country when I was 26 years old.  Back in January 1969, when I was looking for a job in Kuwait, I received a letter from my brother in Baghdad that I had an offer to work in one of the ministries as part of my contract with the government after college graduation. I left to go to be with my wife.

One hour from my arrival in Baghdad, a military secret officer and two agents, knocked at my door.  In the beginning, I thought they were contractors who had brought some construction work for me.  When I approached the gate, they jumped on me and told me to go with them.  As I was in my pajamas, I requested to change into my suit.  They followed me to my room and then we all boarded their (Holden) car and went to the Defense Ministry.  It was about 6 p.m. when they took me to the ministry.  I was approached by a soldier who asked me if I had a handkerchief.  I did not know the purpose of that and thought he wanted to use it to clean his nose.  I gave it to him and he put it around my eyes.  He turned me around a few times, to lose my sense of direction and led me to a room.  I entered the room with my eyes blindfolded.  I was not aware of what was going on.  I just could not think of anything I could have done wrong.

In the room, an army officer picked up the telephone and said to the other person on the other line, "This is (Muqadam) Nafi, which meant Colonel or something similar, and that 'Case #21' is in."  After he hung up the phone, he started to interrogate me.  He asked me about my identity and my occupation.  I did not know how to answer his question, so I told him that I was an engineer and recently graduated from the Baghdad University.  He asked me to interpret a telegram, that he had in his
possession containing a secret code between the sender and me.  He would not take off my blindfold in order for me to view the telegram.  Instead, he started to read.  The telegram had no secret meaning, but they tried to manipulate the words to form one.  I tried to explain to him that the sender, an Iraqi, works in a Gulf state and, that he required some of my drawings for an engineering job.  The army officer did not believe my statement.  They reminded me that if I confessed, my punishment would be less severe.  It would be 20 years in prison, but no execution.  I told them again that there was no code or any secret information to be given to anybody.

After an hour, they prepared my papers and put me in a Volkswagen to be transferred to Qasr al-Nihaya- The End Palace.  This was a detention and torturing cell for anyone Saddam and his Baath party suspected.  When they took me to the End Palace, across the Tigris River, they asked me for my handkerchief again.  This time, I knew the purpose of the handkerchief.  Then, they turned me around a few times and then put me in a torturing room.  I could hear many people in that room.  This was the room where Saddam and his thugs would meet to decide the fate of the people in that Palace.  The first question I was asked was "What is your name?"  The next question was, "Who are you?"  I thought it would help to change my statement from that of  an engineer to saying "I was a Christian!"  The response I received was that I would see my Maker that night.  Within seconds, I received a punch in my face.  They hanged me with a rope from a ceiling fan.  Then they began torturing me by hitting me all over my body.  My hands were cuffed and my eyes were still blindfolded.  They accused me of being a spy to the United States of America and Israel; I fainted from the torture.  They brought me down and soon after, I regained my consciousness.  Again, they hung me from the ceiling fan and started to torture me and accusing me of the same crime.  After half-hour of torturing I was exhausted.  Their leader, who could have been Saddam or one of his officers, said, "Take him to the basement and pull his finger nails." Then, I was so fatigued that I did not care what they were doing to me. Because I was innocent, I was not afraid.  Besides that, everything was happening so fast that I did not have time to think of what could have happened to me.

They took me down to a basement blindfolded.  I was asked to go through a door that happened to have a three-foot-high header.  As I was blindfolded, I was not aware of this and hit my head on the reinforced concrete.  I started to bleed.  The guard warned me that if I do not cooperate with them, I will be executed because I was a spy!  He then hit me in the presence of the other prisoners, so he could intimidate them as well.

They pushed me through another basement with my eyes blindfolded and my hands tied.  I could feel the pungent smell of urine on the floor.  I could also smell the waste that was left there by people before me.  I was too tired from the beating to move; that probably would have resulted in harm to myself anyway.

I stayed in that cell for twelve days.  I could only go to the bathroom once a day, so this limited my eating to one meal per day and to consume solid food like bread and not fluids.  They used psychological methods on me every day to get me to "confess."  They sent prisoners to talk to me and convince me that if I confess, I will be saved like them and I would not be executed.  I was lucky to stay strong and to pray to God and Mary ( I am Catholic). After twelve days, they called my name.  I thought I was going to be free because I had done nothing wrong.  Instead, I was sent to another cell on the same site underneath an auditorium they had built with over 200 rooms, each 4 feet by 7 feet. They put me in one of the rooms with an Army General from the previous regime.  Across from him, I saw my 65- year-old wealthy uncle with his two sons.

For the next five months, there were many psychological tortures.  For six months, my wife, brothers and sisters, did not know about my whereabouts. I slept on a concrete floor in my suit for about four months using my shoes as a pillow.  I now suffer from a rare form of arthritis in my ribs.  Two months before leaving the cell, a guard came and asked all detainees if they would like to get something from home. This was my only chance to communicate with my family and to tell them that I was alive, I thought.  I asked the guard to get me a bed spread and some money to buy cigarettes.  The spread came with no money.  I was able to sleep with the spread instead of sleeping on concrete floor, with no heating system from January through April.  I wanted to say my Rosary using something other than my fingers.  I picked a thread from my spread and I gutted the dough from the food they gave us daily to eat and I mixed the dough with the tea mixed with sugar.  I made small beads and put those around the threads before it hardened.  I used match sticks as a cross and tied them with the threads and I had a homemade Rosary.  I started to pray daily.  My uncle, who was kept across from my cell, wanted a Rosary made for him too. I mixed burned Kleenex tissues with the dough to make it dark.  His Rosary was black.  He kept it with him until he died a few years after his release. I brought mine to the United States and it was intact for many years after my departure from Iraq.  [I left all my belongings and wedding pictures in Iraq except that rosary.] Two months after that, and after hundreds of executions in the Square of Baghdad, the regime decided to release some people and I was one of the lucky ones.

When I left, I did not dare to look at the place I was in.  I had become very scared now, whereas six months before that I was not scared at all because I thought justice would prevail.  I did not know how vicious Saddam and his gang were.  When they interrogated me two days before my release, they used the same tactics.  They told me that if I confessed I would not be executed.  I had this feeling deep within me that it was over, that my execution was coming.  Images passed through my mind.  I knew my wife was pregnant.  I thought that my child would be born without me around.  I cried several times.  I prayed to God that if that was His wish, then I would obey and accept it gracefully. God was with me and with my family.  After the interrogation, the killers sent me to my room for physical torture. The next day,  another officer who was known to be a kinder person, called me to office.  He asked if I had seen the telegram that came from my friend.  He showed it to me.  The telegram was clear and it was in Arabic.  It stated, "Please send me the plans that you have designed so I can get you an engineering job."  The next day, I was given the news of my release.  Three months after my release, my wife, daughter, and I left for Syria and from there went to Lebanon.  We had our visas ready to come to the United States of America and so we came to Detroit, Michigan.   I was scared to say anything about my ordeal even though I was living in this country. I started to work as a draftsman.  Then, as a project engineer.  Now I hold a good position with a big outfit as team leader.  I am proud of being American from a Chaldean-Iraqi heritage.  I feel sad for those who have suffered and are still suffering and for all the innocent people who suffered from the Gulf War crisis: the Kuwaitis, Saudis, Jews, Americans, Arabs, and the innocent Iraqis. It is disgusting to see that Saddam is still in power with his Baath Party in existence.

Some might think that I hate Iraq.  I say, "No" to those.  "Then You must hate Saddam!", they say.   I say, "No,  I don't hate him, that is against my beliefs."  I want him to be punished, whatever the punishment might be.  He is criminal.  He doesn't deserve to be alive, but again, I am not the one to judge that.  I believe, one day, that God will take vengeance on him and his gangs.  If not here on earth, it will be done somewhere else.

I would like to leave you with this thought:  there are many more good people around the world than evil.  God bless all those for being patient and with a strong will.  Even today, when I talk about my ordeal, I weep.  When I saw one of the newscasters on "60 Minutes" I wept for him, because it reminded me of my torture many years ago.  God bless the United States of America. I am lucky to be here in the USA.  I appreciate this country a lot.  It gave me the freedom to be productive and a part of this free society.  I have been working as a professional in my field and a contributor to this culture.  I still maintain my culture and I respect my heritage. I have lived here for almost thirty years and I am proud to be an American citizen.  I am proud of my past culture and history.  Unfortunately, I am not proud that Saddam and his thugs are from Iraq, the land of Mesopotamia, the land of Sumer, Babylon and the Chaldeans and the Assyrians. The majority of people in Iraq are Moslem and are very decent people.  In fact a majority of my friends, were and are still from the Moslem faith.  God bless America and God be with the poor people of Iraq, the children, the elderly and the poor.  May God give them patience and strength to endure.

Detroit, Michigan

To protect the well-being of his family in Baghdad, ZENDA has decided not to reveal the author's true identity.  In 1968 Saddam Hussein became Deputy Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) in charge of the Internal Security.  He was elected President of Iraq in June 1979, five months after the return of Ayatollah Khomeini from Paris to Tehran, Iran. In September 1980 Iraq and Iran entered the 8-year war in which as many as 40,000 Assyrians were killed on both sides.




(ZNUP:  Washington)  President Clinton and his senior national security advisers have hinted that a military strike against Iraq is likely in the next few weeks unless Iraqi President Saddam Hussein stops interfering with the progress of U.N. weapons inspectors.  Months of diplomatic efforts between U.N. and Iraqi officials have not yielded results satisfactory to the U.N. Security Council, which has maintained the Baghdad government is deliberately holding up the progress of weapons inspectors in Iraq.  A military attack on Iraq remains a sensitive issue as U.N. Security Council members Russia, China and France still strongly oppose any use of force.

Iraq's official press said Saturday that US President Bill Clinton may order a military strike against Iraq to divert domestic flak over his alleged affair Monica Lewinski.  "To detract attention from his sexual scandals, it is possible that President Clinton may commit a new military folly against Iraq," said Babil, an Iraqi newspaper run by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's son Uday.
"Superpowers like France, Russia and China categorically reject the military option," said the paper.  China and Russia are firmly opposed to military action.


"I would like to say that of all Assyrian printings out there Zenda is by far the best. Keep up the great work.  May God guide your hands."

Ninus Aziz Michael

"It is really a pleasure to read Zenda...I am interested in the materials you publish so much. Pushun b-sheina."

Nicholas N. Seleznyov
Moscow, Russia




To All ZENDA Readers Using Macintosh Systems:

XenoType Technologies is currently looking for beta testers and other interested parties to preview a demo release of the Assyrian Language Kit. This release does not contain full support for vowels at this time but is intended to foster interest and support for its continued development. Based on interest, the first public release of the product could be available as early
as the end of March 1998.

What is the Assyrian Language Kit?
The Assyrian Language Kit works at the system level of virtually any Macintosh to provide a more natural interface for the use of the Assyrian language. It is not a separate application but instead works with your system and is compatible with any application that adheres to Apple's guidelines.

After installing the Assyrian Language Kit, your Macintosh will understand how to manipulate the language intelligently. There is no need to think about the correct form of any letter because the Assyrian Language Kit has this intelligence built into it. Ligatures, like TAW+ALAP will form automatically and vowels will automatically shift up or over to accommodate the base letter.

Advanced features will also support alphabetic sorting and automatic word selection and line breaking as well as justification (by means of 'kashidas').

Beta Testing Requirements
For this initial release you will need access to a Macintosh and the following components:

Beta Testing Responsibilities
There are no explicit responsibilities for people who choose to become beta testers for this product. This initial beta is to determine interest only so if you'd like to see a more complete version, you should send your comments to the email address listed in the documentation included with the Assyrian Language Kit.

Subsequent releases may require more time on your part and access to more sophisticated applications. You may discontinue the beta testing process at any time but you should notify us so that you do not receive unnecessary emails from us.

The most important benefit is your ability to directly affect the availability and features of the Assyrian Language Kit. This is your opportunity to help shape the product by offering your comments and feedback.

How to Apply
You can apply on-line by accessing the following website: http://www.nwlink.com/~bokai/BLKBetaForm.html

Once your application is approved (usually within 24 hours), you will receive notification and a separate e-mail containing a BinHexed file with all of the necessary components.

You can also email us directly at: bokai@nwlink.com to express your interest in helping but an electronic application must also be on file to receive the beta release.


Nineveh On Line & Xeno Technology of Seattle, Washington are offering  ZENDA readers a special discount towards the purchase of the full version of the Assyrian Language Kit for Macintosh systems.  If you are a current reader of ZENDA you can enjoy a 50% discount on the full version upon its future release.  For more information contact ZENDA.

Xeno Technology will be participating in the Assyrian Community Networking Conference '98 to be held during the Assyrian State Convention in California on May 23 and 24.  Xeno Technology President



(ZNDA:  Yerevan)  According to Aziz Tamoyan, Chairman of the World Yezids Union, as reported in the Noyan Tapan Daily Information Bulletin, there are about 7 million Yezids in the world, 5 million of whom have already assimilated and changed their religion and language. Mr. Tamoyan said that 1 of remaining two million Yezids live in Iraq. About 60,000 Yezids lived in Armenia. But, as noted by Aziz Tamoyan, in recent times many of them left Armenia and currently only half of them are still in the country. The main reason is the present heavy social-economic situation.  Yezids' sacred place is situated in Iraq where their religion was preserved. Their spiritual leader lives in Iraq. Yezids do not have a spiritual center in Armenia, but, there is a program to solve that problem through donations. He reported that Armenia is incapable of helping in solving this problem, but there are rich Yezids abroad who support that initiative. Aziz Tamoyan noted that his union should also deal with co-ordination of works: "It is necessary to create an alphabet to connect Yezids with each other. Branches of the Union will be opened in different countries, to get involved in the process of preservation of Yezids," Mr. Tamoyan said. He also reported that a "military headquarters" of the National Union of Yezids operates in Armenia and deals with collection of donations to help those families who lost their relatives in Karabakh. Headquarters Chairman Surike Isko always meets Yezids serving in the Armenian army and their parents. "It is the general work of our union, in order that young Yezids should serve and fulfill their duty before the homeland", Aziz Tamoyan said.  His Excellency Anwar Ismail is the leader of the 7 Million Yizidis in the world.  In the early 1990's, the late Muawiya Ismail who passed away in 1995, declared the Yizidis as a part of the greater Assyrian nation.  The Assyrian National Congress has since kept a close tie with the leadership of the Yizidis in Iraq. 








English       Modern Assyrian

                                                Reward            das/ta/na  or  khoo/ba/la      [F]

                                               Inheritance                    yaar/to/ta               [F]

                           F = Feminine    M = Masculine    P = Plural


BC (600)

A Mesopotamian map made about this time in Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia) shows Babylon as a rectangle intersected by two vertical lines representing the river Euphrates.  Small circles stand for surrounding kingdoms, and an ocean encircles the world.

National Geographic Magazine, February 1998

AD (1259)

Mongolian ruler, Hulagu, attacks Syria and Palestine.  The general who commanded in this invasion was an Assyrian by the name of Khitboga.  Under Khitboga, Hulagu was able to capture much of the areas occupied by the European forces.

The Assyrians & Their Neighbors,  Wigram




One of the first things the CIA did when it received President Bush's order to remove Saddam Hussein in May 1991 was hire public-relations specialist John Rendon.

Rendon is president of The Rendon Group, a political-consulting and public-relations firm based in Washington, D.C.  He got his start Democratic party politics in Massachusetts, worked on President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign and served as floor manager for Carter during the convention. He founded The Rendon Group in the early 1980s following a stint as executive director of the Democratic Party.

According to sources in the CIA, The Rendon Group was recruited by the Agency in 1989 to advise the Panamanian presidential campaign of U.S.-backed Guillermo Endara against Gen. Manuel Noreiga. Rendon’s efforts to portray Endara as the legitimate popular candidate, bravely confronting a ruthless dictator helped pave the way for American intervention in Panama later that year.

In 1991, the CIA again recruited Rendon, this time to develop a public-relations assault on Saddam Hussein. According to Rendon’s own budget documents, his firm spent $23,651,463 in the first year of the anti-Saddam campaign. With that money, the firm produced a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, videos and radio spots that ridiculed Saddam, and anti-Saddam comic books.

Rendon’s firm created the name for the opposition coalition government that formed in northern Iraq in 1992: The Iraqi National Congress.

Rendon would not comment when ABC NEWS anchor Peter Jennings asked whether this covert PR campaign was intended to oust the dictator or merely irritate him.

Mark Atkinson
Special to ABCNEWS.com


 January 27, 1883:  born, Surmi Khanum, the sister of Mar Shimun Benyamin, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church who was murdered by a Kurdish rebel leader in 1918.  Surmi Khanum was instrumental in the progress of peace and settlement talks with the western powers after the First World War.



Do you have a 6th grader at home asking you questions about the ancient Assyrians, Mesopotamia, and the people who built the greatest ancient civilization?  Then you should point your browser to the Dalton School's Assyrian Resources page.  This website was specifically designed and developed by Neil Goldberg and Eileen Gumport for the Assyrian history studies at Dalton.  Mr. Goldberg is an Archaeologist in Residence at the Dalton School. The 6th grade students are introduced to the study of Assyria through a computerized archaeological simulation developed at Dalton known as Archaeotype. Developed as a network-based multimedia alternative to the text-book bound sixth grade curriculum in the Ancient World, archaeotype provides students with a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment in which to uncover and interpret the past by presenting primary sources, both textual and artifactual,  as evidence for the students construction of history.  The students engage in a twelve week excavation of the Assyrian site of Kar Shalmanser on the Upper Euphrates (modern Tell Ahmar). Til Barsib, the ancient Aramaean name of Tell Ahmar, was an Aramaean city (capital of  Aramaean state of Bit Adini) that was conquered and then occupied by the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, who captured the city in 856 B.C. Renamed  Kar-Shulmanu-ashared meaning Port Shalmaneser, it remained a provincial capital of the Assyrian empire for some 250 years. Through their analysis of the structural features and artifacts recovered during the course of the excavation the students are able to develop a detailed understanding of both the material culture and history of  the Neo Assyrian period.

Archaeotype was developed during the 1990-91 school year as a network-based, multimedia alternative to the textbook-bound sixth grade curriculum on the ancient world. Besides enabling students to explore the Assyrian culture whose richness could not otherwise be so fully appreciated, Archaeotype uses high-resolution color images and dynamic zooms conveys visual information unavailable in version 1.0. A multi-user, network database of artifacts allows numerous students to explore simultaneously the on-line collections and libraries from the many workstations deployed around the school.

Visit:  http://www.dalton.org/groups/Assyria/




                                                      Moscow, Russia
                                                       Chicago, Illinois


This Week's Contributors:

Martin David Modesto, CA The Lighthouse
Mezin Enwiya Skokie, Illinois  Literatus
Neil Goldberg New York New York Bravo

Thank You For Referring ZENDA to a Friend:


ZENDA Magazine is published every Monday. Views expressed in ZENDA do not necessarily represent those of the ZENDA editors, or any of our associated staff. This publication reserves the right, at its sole discretion, not to publish comments or articles previously printed in or submitted to other journals. ZENDA also reserves the right to publish and republish your submission in any form or medium. All letters and messages require the name(s) of sender and/or author. All messages published in the SURFS UP! section must bear the name of the author(s). Distribution of material featured in ZENDA is not restricted, but permission from ZENDA is required. This service is meant for the exchange of information, analyses and news. To subscribe, send e-mail to: zenda@ix.netcom.com with the message body "subscribe ZENDA Firstname Lastname". To unsubscribe, send e-mail to the above address, with the message body "unsubscribe ZENDA".


P.O. Box 20278 San Jose, California 95160 U.S.A.

ZNAA (Assyrian Academic Society-Chicago)
ZNAD (Assyrian Democratic Organization)
ZNAF (Agence France-Presse)
ZNAM (Archeology Magazine)
ZNAP (Associated Press International)
ZNBN (Bet-Nahrain Inc/ KBSV-TV "AssyriaVision")
ZNCO (Compass)
ZNCN (ClariNews)
ZNIF (Iraq Foundation)
ZNDA (Zenda: zenda@ix.netcom.com)
ZNIN (Iraqi National Congress)
ZNLT (Los Angeles Times)
ZNMN (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNMW (Mideast Newswire)
ZNNQ (Nabu Quarterly)
ZNNV (Nineveh Magazine)
ZNQA (Qala Atouraya- Moscow)
ZNRU (Reuters)
ZNSH (Shotapouta Newsletter)
ZNSJ (San Jose Mercury News)
ZNSM (Shufimafi Lebanese News)
ZNTM (Time Magazine)
ZNUP (United Press International)
ZNUS (US News & World Report)