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Monday, August 04, 2008

Rahman Al Jaber and Wikipedia

Update (Sept 9th 2008): the article on Al Jaber has now been tided up - and you can also read our article on the subject: Al Jaber : Scourge of the Pirate Coast.

Scanning through the internet for links for our Qatar knol, I was suprised to see Wikipedia's page on Jasim bin Jabir was both sparse and factually incorrect.

"Jasim had his base at Udaid, and attacked British ships in the Persian Gulf."

In fact this fascinating man, who carried on a long grudge war against his many enemies (who included the Khalifas) was far too astute to attack the British. This did not stop the British from considering an attack on Jasim, who certainly disrupted the peaceful seas the British craved. However, after considering the difficulties that would entail attacking Jasim's well defended base they decided against it.

Jamim maintained relations with the British during his long life time, attracting admiration from some and revulsion from others for his ferocity. Both his appearance and death was related by a British writer who had met him in the Pirate's own book. His death took place during a sea battle, when he was battling his long-time enemies the Khalifas:

...when at last, Rahmah, being informed (for he had been long blind) that his men were falling fast around him, mustered the remainder of the crew, and issued orders to close and grapple with his opponent. When this was effected, and after embracing his son, he was led with a lighted torch to the magazine, which instantly exploded, blowing his own boat to atoms and setting fire to the Sheikh's, which immediately afterwards shared the same fate. Sheikh Ahmed and a few of his followers escaped to the other boats; but only one of Rahmah's brave crew was saved; and it is supposed that upwards of three hundred men were killed in this heroic contest.

The history of Rahmah is best dealt with by Habibur Rahamn in Qatar: the Turbulent Years. When we return from our holidays to Qatar and have access to all our sources, we will do a more detailed page on Rahmen Ak Jaber - and clean up that Wikipedia article!

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