Consumerist: GE13 – Whose Malaysia’s Comical Ali? In GE13 Information Spin?

  Dato Jacob George


Consumerist: GE13 – Whose Malaysia’s Comical Ali?

I am certain we all know Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, born 1940 is a former Iraqi diplomat and politician.

He came to wide prominence around the world during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, during which he was the Iraqi Information Minister under Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, acting as the mouthpiece for the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and Saddam’s regime.

He is best known for his grandiose and grossly unrealistic propaganda broadcasts prior to and during the war, extolling the invincibility of the Iraqi Army and the permanence of Saddam’s rule.

His announcements were intended for an Iraqi domestic audience subject to Saddam’s cult of personality and total state censorship, and were met with widespread derision and amusement by Western nationals and others with access to up-to-date information from international media organizations.

I was in the UK then but I loved him for his daily press briefings in Baghdad during the 2003 Iraq War.

His colorful appearances caused him to be nicknamed Baghdad Bob (in the style of previous propagandists with geographical aliases – some of them alliterative, such as “Hanoi Hannah” and “Seoul City Sue”) by commentators in the United States and Comical Ali (a wordplay allusion to Chemical Ali, the nickname of former Iraqi Defence Minister Ali Hassan al-Majid) by commentators in the United Kingdom; commentators in Italy similarly nicknamed him Alì il Comico.

Al-Sahhaf said that Americans and British were attacking civilians: “They bombed civilian neighborhoods and those cowards used cluster bombs.”

He denied that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which is consistent with what later investigations concluded.

His last public appearance as Information Minister was on April 8, 2003, when he said that the Americans “are going to surrender or be burned in their tanks. They will surrender, it is they who will surrender”.

He gained something of a cult following in the West, appearing on T-shirts, cartoons, and in internet phenomena.

In the UK, a DVD documentary was sold about his exploits and televised interviews, called “Comical Ali”.

I just wonder who will be Malaysia’s version of Comical Ali post GE13?