The legacy of Iraqi Information Minister Mohamed Said Al-Sahhaf keeps growing and has drawn considerable attention within the Arab world.

“The man himself remains mysteriously absent, memories of his gung-ho statements live on, providing material for an endless stream of jokes and cartoons in both Arabic and English, reports Al-Ahram Weekly.

The man with the mouth that drew a “cult-following” not only has his own website created by his devoted fans, but has developed quite a following within the Arab world too.

Arabs had a somewhat different view of the minister though, at least at the beginning of the war.

One Arab journalist explained, “I believed him because, like all Arabs, I wanted to believe what he said.”

However, in the end the columnist admits Al-Sahhaf became synonymous with the “brainwashing tactics of the Iraqi regime.”

Mocked as the “minister of misinformation,” Al-Sahhaf’s invective became infectious.

As Baghdad fell he claimed Americans were “committing suicide by the hundreds at the gates of Baghdad.” And added the now famous quip that then “their stomachs grilled in hell.”

He later stated at one of his last press conferences, “We made them drink poison last night, and Saddam Hussein’s soldiers and great forces gave the Americans a lesson which will not be forgotten by history. Honestly.”

The next day the regime was gone, including the good minister often called “comical Ali.”

But a cult following soon sprang up around Al-Sahhaf, which now fatuously attributes him with an array of statements on almost every subject.

“Comical Ali” is credited with saying, “Surgery? Child abuse? Never! Michael Jackson is the most normal person on this planet. It’s you who are twisted. What you remember Michael looked like was a conspiracy of the media.”

And this observation, “Global warming…[is a] myth invented by eco-criminal infidels.”

Talk show host David Letterman recently offered one-liners from the “minister of misinformation” to titillate his late night audience.

As he showed photos of Saddam’s statues being pulled down Al-Sahhaf supposedly says this is a “cleaning project” and elaborates that only the dictator’s “doubles” are being removed.

Though the legend of “comical Ali” lives on, no one knows for sure where the man actually is.

But Al-Sahhaf’s son who lives in Ireland insists that his father is amongst the living.

Some say he may have fled to Iran.

Perhaps the former Iraqi minister can become an Iranian spokesman promoting “the land of religious freedom.”

It appears doubtful that Al-Sahhaf will be charged with war crimes. After all, it’s not a crime to make jokes, whether they are intentional or not.

However, if prosecuted and convicted, “comical Ali” certainly has the potential as a great stand-up act to entertain almost any prison population.


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