Remembering Ayman Taha

This blog is dedicated to Ayman Abdel-Rahman Ali Taha, who died a soldier in Iraq on December 30, 2005. He was a loving father, husband, and son, beloved brother, nephew, cousin and friend whose loss we are heartbroken over. Rest in Peace, until we meet again. Please send comments for the blog to:

Saturday, January 28, 2006

New Years 2000

More Pictures of Ayman

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

To ALLAH we belong, and to him we must return

Well i don't know what i can say... when i heard the bad news about ayman i was surprised indeed, died in iraq?! And after a while i returned my mind to the past when i met him when he was in sudan and i was working with my uncle ahmed abdelrazag at mercedes benz and he used to come and say hi to me and we talked a lot about life and what is going there and we were both born in 1974... so i was just surprised by ayman indeed..he never showed me that he is proud or what ppl used to do when they got out and return to sudan to show us how they got a money and education... no he was great person... just simple and lovely and as his father said he can lead u to true friendship... wow life is short yeah i know but it's not fair and i just spend with him 3 days and when i heard he got married i was happy- finally he married and found someone to share his entire life with...
truly i just wished if God give us a long age to meet each other again but he died ..and of course Muslim like me will ask why he died there..? but i read all articles about him and what his father said... and i believe in one thing he is shaheed...he followed my eldest brother amir eldirdiri... yeah they left their life and died in an honorable way ..they believed in what they did and know exactly what they are doing...
i wished if i..but what we can say hope meet in the heaven with the messenger of ALLAH mohammed soon..
your sincerely,
omer eldirdiri

Saturday, January 21, 2006

More Pictures

Ayman and Hisham

Pictures of Ayman

Friday, January 20, 2006

Ayman Taha

To Mr. and Mrs. Taha and Ayman's wife and family:

Our deepest sympathy and prayers are with you.

We met Ayman only briefly about 10 years ago when he coached my son in a soccer tournament while Mohammed was unable to be there. I can't remember what the outcome of the tournament was, but I remember Ayman and the impression he left in just the brief time we were together. He treated the boys with respect and was every bit the role model Mohammed has been over the last 10 years for our son, Luke. I was struck by his quiet demeanor and confidence. I feel proud to have met such a fine young man and American hero. We have been blessed to have had Mohammed in our lives as well. Ayman will never be forgotten.

Matt Sassano
Sassano & Fleischer

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Seattle 1995

Monday, January 16, 2006


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Loved ones remember Ayman Taha, who studied economics before joining the Army Special Forces

Vienna Man Killed in Iraq
Loved ones remember Ayman Taha, who studied economics before joining the Army Special Forces.
By Mike DiCicco
January 11, 2006

Ayman Taha was close to earning his PhD in developmental economics because he was "interested in the world and in developing countries," said his father, Abdel-Rahman Taha, of Vienna. Three and a half years ago, he decided to put that interest into practice in a way that surprised his friends and family — he joined the Army Special Forces.
After serving for about a year in Iraq as a Special Forces engineer, Taha, 31, was killed on Dec. 30 when an enemy munitions cache he was preparing for demolition exploded, according to a Special Operations Command press release.
Those he left behind say they remember a young man with many interests, talents and friends.
"He combined the athletic, the intellectual and the literary," said his father. "So he was a very versatile person." He said his son played "almost every sport you can imagine," from basketball when he was young to baseball in high school to soccer, which he began coaching at the high school level while he was an undergraduate. He also trained in the martial arts, said his father.
"He was really into it for a while. He trained a lot," said Taha's friend Hisham Eissa, of his martial arts interest.
"He taught me everything I know about photography," he added. "Any interest I have in it came from him." Eissa said he had known Taha since such early childhood he could not remember meeting him.
Taha's father also mentioned that his son played the guitar and was "an avid reader of everything." He noted that while in Iraq, Taha managed to keep up with the U.S. newspapers.

HE ALSO SHOWED a keen interest in his religion of Islam. "The majority of Muslims may know a few of the verses and prayers," said his father, "but, like everything else he does, he studied [the Koran] in both English and Arabic, and he really learned it."
Taha spoke several languages, partly because he lived in many cultures.
Born in Sudan, he arrived in the area with his family as a child and attended Kent Garden Elementary School in McLean, said his father. His secondary school years were spent in Kuwait and Britain, and he majored in economics at the University of California at Berkeley and earned his Master's in the subject at the University of Massachusetts.
He enjoyed traveling, his father said. He lived with Brazilian roommates at Berkeley, with whom he traveled to Brazil and put to use the Portuguese he had learned while minoring in the language as an undergraduate. He also stayed in Italy with an Italian friend and picked up some Italian.
"He loved to travel and meet new friends and new people," his father said.
His father also recalled that since childhood he had shown an interest in the military, from military toys to books and movies about war to wearing fatigues. "Somehow, the military was in him," he said.
Nonetheless, friends and family had a hard time understanding his decision to throw himself into this particular interest, although they know he considered himself specially qualified for the war in Iraq because of his knowledge of the Arabic language and culture. Indeed, this was why he was accepted directly into the Special Forces.
To his wife, Geraldine January, who did not meet him until after he was enlisted, the question seemed simpler.
"He always said, 'I want to make a change. I want to be someone who does something about it,'" she said. "He was a very positive person, and he took world affairs seriously. He believed he could change things and be a part of history."
So throw himself in he did.
"I talked to some of his colleagues, and they all said he was a first-class soldier and he did everything to perfection," said his father, pointing out that Taha had reached the rank of staff sergeant after only three and a half years. "His colleagues tell me it is a remarkable achievement," he said.
"He always talked about how much he loved his job, how much he loved his team, how much he loved the guys he worked with," said January.
His death, said Eissa's sister Nada, "is a little easier for all of us to accept because he was doing what he wanted to do."

"HE WAS A REMARKABLE man," said his father. "Even when he was young, he was very rational and calm. He never got into any trouble." He also said his son could "instantly strike a friendship" with anyone he met.
"I'll remember him like a brother," said Hisham. "He was a loyal, intelligent, very caring person." He said Taha had affected many lives.
"He has friends in all different parts of the world of all ages, and he managed to touch people's lives in all different ways," said Nada.
Taha and January met in May of 2004, and, she said, she knew immediately that he was someone special. "He was a very unassuming guy, very down-to-earth. He had a very humble spirit," she said. "But most of all, he was very intelligent and articulate. And he did everything with honor."
By August they were married.
She said she remembers him having "this brilliance and exuberance about him that touched everybody in a very special way" and "a very sensitive heart toward people's problems."
"He is a hero," she said, "and he put his life on the line for something he believed in."
Ayman Taha is also survived by his mother Amal, his sisters Rabah and Lubna, and his 8-month-old daughter, Sommer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

May God Strenghthen you in this time of Loss

To Bayt Taha,

Abu Ayman/Um Ayman,

Ayman and I were classmates at Berkeley in the late '90's. In fact he was my best friend. Since I am from Yemen and he from Al-Sudan, we were instant friends, he was a year younger than me but I used to tell him he was wise beyond his years. He was a mentor, scholar, athlete, positive thinker and a huge impact in my life. We share common life goals and the love of sweet music. He was my Hero, he was everything a Good Man should be. My family, who loved Ayman so, also extend their deep remorse. It is my deepest regret I could not be of any help to him in more recent years. If there is anything I can do please do not hesitiate to ask or call, I owe him so much and so I am at your service.

Respectfully Yours

Saif Shamsaldeen Ghaleb


i am profoundly sorrowful over the death of Ayman. And quite frankly, this comes as a surprise to me. i never knew, Ayman, and moreover, i do not recall that i ever knew of his existence on this earth.

But in the break room one morning as i turned through the Washington Post, my eyes were drawn to the picture of a handsome young man with such an engaging smile. i then read of his passing from this life to the next.

as i continued to the end of the news item, i was stunned and heartsick to learn Ayman was Rabah's brother. Rabah is someone i worked with for a short time, do not know well, but care for deeply. perhaps the Taha family characteristic is to effect the world around them in such a winsome way.

so Ayman has reached me in his patriotic sacrifice. his essence has touched one who would see the casuality numbers increase day by day and be saddened for the soldiers and their families on both sides of the water, but one who essentially was not personally invested or involved with the war in Iraq.

Ayman has changed this. 2180 is a number, but now it is also a reality in proportion of which i cannot adequately express. may God give strength and courage to the Taha family as we honor them in their loss.


Monday, January 09, 2006

UMASS Touched by death in Iraq

AMHERST - When he was a doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts, Ayman Taha dedicated himself to someday improving economic conditions in his native Africa.

That dream came to an end last Friday when Taha, 31, died in an explosion in Iraq, where he had gone to serve as a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces.

Although he left UMass in 2002, putting what he felt was his patriotic duty before his career, Taha was remembered yesterday as a peaceful man whose quiet demeanor masked his passion for both learning and teaching.

"He was one of my best students, a very energetic man," said Leonce Ndikumana, an associate professor of economics who taught a macro-economics course that Taha took.

"He wanted to do economic development and had a dedication to learn and practice it when he got out of school," Ndikumana said.

UMass Chancellor John Lombardi offered the university's condolences to Taha's family and friends.

"We received the news of Ayman Taha's tragic death with great sadness," Lombardi said in a prepared statement. "While large international events produce a wide range of opinion, the loss of one of our own unites us in sorrow."

Born in Sudan, Taha was raised in northern Virginia by parents who both hold doctorates, according to The Washington Post, which reported Taha's death on Wednesday. Abdel-Rahman Taha, his father, worked for the World Bank.

Taha attended secondary school in England and earned his bachelor's degree at the University of California at Berkeley before doing his graduate work at UMass. He received his master's degree in economics from UMass and was working on his doctorate when he left the school. Taha spoke English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese.

Taha's hiatus from academia came after he was involved in a fatal accident involving another UMass student. Lisa Mantia, 19, was killed when the motorcycle on which she was a passenger collided with Taha's car on Route 116 in September 2000. Ndikumana said Taha spent hours talking to him about the incident.

"He was very disturbed by the accident," Ndikumana said. "Legally he was cleared, but he thought about it a lot and felt very sad that it happened."

According to the Pentagon, Taha was preparing a cache of munitions for demolition in the town of Balad Friday when the explosives detonated.

In addition to his studies, Taha was Ndikumana's teaching assistant for a course on finance and banking, earning the trust of respect of his class.

"The students liked him a lot because he was approachable and knew what he was doing," Ndikumana said.

The professor said he was surprised when Taha joined the Army.

"People don't usually join the military from Ph.D. programs," he said. "He was a very peaceful person."

The Republican
Friday, January 06, 2006

Alumnus Dedicated Life to Serving

The UMass Amherst alumni community is saddened by the tragic loss of Ayman Taha ’02 G. On December 30, Taha was killed by an explosion of munitions he was preparing for demolition in Balad, Iraq. Taha was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

"We received the news of Ayman Taha's tragic death in Iraq with great sadness,” said UMass Amherst chancellor John V. Lombardi. “While large international events produce a wide range of opinion, the loss of one of our own unites us in sorrow. We offer our condolences and support to Ayman Taha's family and friends."

An economics major, Taha earned his master’s degree from UMass Amherst in 2002. He was enrolled in the doctoral program until the end of fall semester 2003 when he withdrew to enlist with the Army and serve in the Special Forces. He had a keen interest in economic development and was dedicated to helping the people in the Middle East, according to an article in The Washington Post on January 4.

Taha lived and studied in many parts of the world. Born in the Sudan, his family moved to Virginia where he attended elementary school. His secondary school years were spent in England before attending the University of California at Berkeley. Multi-lingual, Taha spoke English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese. He leaves his wife, Geraldine, and child, Sommer.

"The Alumni Association extends its deepest condolences to the Taha family,” says Cristina Geso, executive director of the Alumni Association. “His dedication to his beliefs and to helping others, give us all pause for thought.”

Friday, January 06, 2006


Ayman and I met when we were 4 years old... He used to dread my visits to his house when we were kids as I was an unusually rowdy and energetic child who liked to play a little rougher than most.... We remained very close ever since and ultimately; I cut down on the high sugar intake...

Ayman touched the soul of just about every person he came across throughout his lifetime. He was truly special and unique, always smiling, the giver of good advice, and he managed to fit in wherever he went... As hard as it has been to process and digest the news of his passing, I will be forever grateful for the time I was able to spend with him, not to mention the ideas, people and places he introduced me to... Ayman was an exemplary role model and he will always hold a very special place in my heart....

Until we meet again dear friend...


Omar Elwaleed Taha

All Is Well By Rosamunde Pilcher

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Nothing has happened.
Everything remains exactly as it was.
I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference in your tone.
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever was.
There is absolute and unbroken continuity.
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well.

Thursday, January 05, 2006


What can I say? The guy was like a brother to me.

I met Ayman during his sophomore year at UC Berkeley through a mutual friend, Mauro Tanikawa. Soon thereafter I found out that Ayman also lived with my good friend from my high school, Chadi Depelchin. Something deeper than pure coincidence brought him into my life. We then became inseparable during his time at Berkeley.

Man, the guy was cool. He spoke Portuguese with his Sudanese and international laid-back style, accentuating commas and not stopping at the periods. He talked forever about any subject to anyone. He never showed his strengths. The subtle samurai warrior spoke softly and consolidated peace instead of dividing and conquering through war. An elegantly rugged statesman who constantly searched for new situations and stimuli to immerse himself into.

We took a couple of historic trips. The first to Seattle during the first Thanksgiving after meeting one another. Never had I laughed for five days straight. Next was Los Angeles to scalp sixteen tickets at a Mexico-US soccer final. Being Brazilian, I bet that Brazil was going to make it to the final of that competition, so I handed Ayman all of the money to buy tickets for a bus-load of compatriots that wanted to go to the final. Fortunately, Brazil lost to the United States for the first time in 40 years. Although his money was not at stake, he went with me to sell the tickets. F'in Ayman left my car's window completely open when we parked at East LA's hoody Coliseum; however, during three hours no one touched the leather jackets, backpacks, and laptops that were left at the auto! Nothing was gone thanks to Ayman's strong saint or luck, whatever explanation you prefer. Finally, I took the Brazo-Sudanese to see his homeland from a past life -- Brazil. The trip started with a bang and never ended. He then understood why he studied Portuguese as a Minor at Cal and it turned out that he knew more about Brazil than most of the people he met on the trip! Luckily for us, we went during the World Cup so we celebrated Brazil's victories and lamented its defeat in the final. He returned to California traumatized. When I came out of my room, the samurai quickly gathered himself as he was on the verge of crying to my mother as he remembered the love he felt while he was there.

Ayman is the perfect integration of mind, body, and spirit that I have ever seen in an individual. How often do you meet a PhD. student that can out run and out dribble you on the soccer field, kick your ass in a fight with Bruce Lee-style Kung-Fu punches and kicks, conquer anyone?s love, analyze and clearly discuss the most complex theoretical concepts, and do everything better than most people do one single thing. The living multiplicity of life. He always has and always will serve as an example to all of us.

The other day I saw something and automatically thought, just like I had in the past, "I have to show this to Ayman!" Only then did I realize that Ayman is now more than ever a part of me as well as to each one of you. My deepest condolences go out to the family and to all who knew him. We all need to support each other and celebrate Ayman's life. He has given us so much and would expect us to continue pushing forward, honestly searching for the truth. Never settling for anything less.

I love you very much Ayman. You are the brother that I always wanted to have, and God/Allah/life/chance/destiny made us cross paths.

Only Ayman to have me write my first blog.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Washington Post article

Serving Was Soldier's Mission
Sudan Native Killed in Iraq Did 'Good Deeds'

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 4, 2006; A13

Ayman Taha, a Berkeley graduate who was described as athletic, a speaker of many languages, and a friend to all who met him, had only to write his dissertation to earn his PhD, his father said.

But three years ago, Taha, a budding economist and the son of a Northern Virginia couple, Abdel-Rahman and Amal Taha, joined the Army to serve in the Special Forces. About a year ago, he was sent to Iraq.

On Friday, as Staff Sgt. Ayman Taha, 31, was preparing a cache of munitions for demolition in the town of Balad, the explosives detonated and he was killed, the Pentagon said yesterday.

It is "a very terrible thing," Abdel-Rahman Taha said. "He was a son, and a very special son."

The father added: "If you believe in God and you realize that this is God's will . . . it makes it a lot easier."

There is also consolation, the father said, in feeling that "this is something Ayman wanted to do."

A family friend, Nada Eissa, agreed. "No, he didn't have to do it," she said. "This is something he wanted to do."

Ayman Taha was born in Sudan, into an academically accomplished international family. Both parents hold doctorates. When his father worked for the World Bank, Ayman attended elementary school in McLean. He went to secondary school in England, then received a bachelor's degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a master's in economics from the University of Massachusetts, where he was working toward a PhD.

"He lived in many cultures," his father said, and spoke English, Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese. More important, his father said, were his personality and character.

"If he has a five-minute conversation with you, that would be the beginning of a lifetime relationship," the father said. "I never heard anybody who ever complained that Ayman did something wrong to him.

"He was just that type of character," the father said.

About three years ago, Ayman Taha told his father, "Dad, I have been going to school since I was 5 years old. I want to take a break."

The father said he suggested that his son "try something in the World Bank . . . or Merrill Lynch." But one day, "out of the blue," his son told him that he had signed the papers that would take him into the Special Forces.

He said his son was "definitely" patriotic and believed "in the mission."

"He strongly agreed that what they were doing is good and that they were helping people in the Middle East to get out of the . . . historic bottleneck" that had confined them.

Since boyhood, those who knew him recalled, Ayman Taha had taken an interest in military matters, which showed itself in the books he read and the toys he played with.

Joining the Special Forces was "something he felt compelled to do," said a friend, Hisham Eissa, who lives in Los Angeles and is Nada Eissa's brother.

In economics, Taha's interest was in development. "He felt very strongly about making a difference," and "I think he felt that people like him" were needed for it, Eissa said.

"Everyone whose life he touched loved this guy," Hisham Eissa said. "There isn't a single person who knew him who isn't torn up about this."

The Pentagon said Taha was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Campbell, KY.

His wife, Geraldine, and child Sommer live near the base. One sister, Rabah, is a special education teacher in Fairfax County, and another, Lubna, attends Marymount University.

His father said Taha was a devout Muslim who believed that "the message of Islam is very simple . . . to believe in God and do good deeds."

"He believed that what he was doing were the good deeds Islam is asking for."

The Washington Post