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:

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


  • At 5/1/06 7:03 PM, Anonymous Aires said…

    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.


  • At 6/1/06 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    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.


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