• My New Name: Staff writer Dan Murphy caught up again with Adnan Abbas, the Monitor's former driver in Baghdad, in Amman, Jordan, a few days before Adnan was to leave with his family for the United States (see story) – and found that Adnan's sense of humor was still intact despite a difficult year.
The joke goes back several years. Just after the fall of Baghdad in 2003, Scott Peterson, another Monitor staff writer, took to teasing Adnan by calling him Adnan al-Tikriti, a name that implied he was from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, a center of major Baathist support for the early insurgency in Iraq. As time went by and Fallujah emerged as a major center of Sunni Islamist insurgents, the nickname became Adnan al-Falluji.
When Dan first arrived last week in Amman, Adnan knew he was off to the States, but didn't know where yet. After a meeting to find out that information, he called Dan and said, "They gave me a new name." Dan says that he reacted immediately. "I said 'What? They can't do that.' " Adnan paused for dramatic effect. "Adnan al-Lansingi," he said, and told Dan that the family was off to Lansing, Michigan.
• Sheikh al-Fahdawi: During an April meeting in which Sunni tribal leaders committed to fighting Al Qaeda in Iraq, correspondent Sam Dagher sat next to Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Zeben al-Fahdawi – one of 12 killed in a suicide bombing Monday (see story).
"He looked like a very proud man," says Sam. "He only interfered in the proceedings when he felt the discussion was going off track or was becoming so heated that it might threaten the unity of the tribe, which was reeling from the fact that many of its members had joined Al Qaeda and were killing their own kinsmen."
– Amelia Newcomb
Deputy World editor