22 Kanoon II 6754
11 January 2005
Z I N D A M A G A Z I N E
The Rise & Fall of the Froggy Boss
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A Zinda Magazine Special Investigative Report
David Tiglath Chibo
The Karl Suleman phenomenon reached its zenith during the dinner for the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton in September, 2001 before it collapsed. Some of the diners seated at Suleman's table at the Westmead benefit included Rabbi Pincus Woolstone, Nati Stoliar, Suzy David, and the Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East, Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia . Three weeks after the dinner, Stoliar and Suleman would apparently commit to funding a $US80 million ($154 million) Hollywood movie, Godfathers, Popes and Presidents, in which Clinton was to appear . The links between some of the diners were clearly more than just social as this investigative report will clearly show.
When Karl Suleman Enterprizes (KSE) crashed on 4 November, 2001 the trusting heart of the Assyrian community was literally ripped out. The effects have continued to reverberate throughout Australia’s Assyrian community up to this very day.
Over three years later and using various archives, the biggest financial swindle against the Assyrian community in modern history is finally pieced together showing how this scheme took place and who the main people responsible for its implementation were.
Rumors have it that it all began when Karl Suleman, then a businesses man, owning a small-time trolley collection business decided to network and see if he could “strike it rich” by learning from others. Suleman took on a Jewish persona and adopted the Jewish name of Soloman, a name which according to newspaper reports he was to use during the visit of former president George Bush Sr. to Melbourne in October 2001. Karl Suleman became Karl Solomon in what may have been an attempt to imply he was of Jewish descent. According to his personal assistant, Nadia Stephen, Suleman was at the time an active member of the Freemasons, a male-only secretive organisation which had a network of like-minded business men.
Could it have been in the brotherhood of the Freemasons, or through their networking connections, that Karl Suleman eventually came to meet Jewish business people such as Nati Stoliar and gem prospector Pnina Feldman, her husband rabbi Pinchus Feldman, rabbi Pinchus Woolstone as well as rabbi Nochum Schapiro?
Was he naive and easily manipulated or a shrewd swindler? Ambitious and wanting to get rich was Suleman manipulated into initiating a Ponzi scheme on the unsuspecting Assyrian community within Australia?
The Ponzi scheme takes its name from Charles Ponzi, whose Boston-based postal coupon enterprise was the talk of the East Coast of America in the summer of 1920. Before the investment bubble burst the financial wizard turned accomplished swindler had collected $9,500,000 from 10,000 investors by selling promissory notes paying fifty per cent profit in forty-five days.
Karl Suleman now had his get-rich quick scheme. Was, as has been alleged, his fellow businessman, Jewish Nati Stoliar, the mentor Suleman needed in order to ensure that the Ponzi scheme was successfully launched?
The Unholy Alliance
The initial strategy recommended to Suleman may have been to target the Assyrian community’s leaders, a common factor in Ponzi schemes which target people whom others trust. Sydney’s Assyrian community could only be swindled by first winning over the church and organisation leaders.
Suleman approached Suzy David, the former President of The Assyrian Australian Academic Society (TAAAS) and the current Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) in 1999 and may have gained her support for the scheme.
At the same time the, then married, Karl Suleman also claims to have fallen in love with Suzy David after Suzy David had asked him to show her over his boat, which was moored at Birkenhead Point. “After that Suzy and I gradually started seeing each other,” he claimed. “She used to call me and invite me to dinner and we’d go to the ANA hotel [now Shangri La], the Japanese restaurant there.” Suleman also claims: “I fell in love with her and my wife found out about it. That’s why my wife kicked me out of the house and I started living with Suzy in her apartment.”
Is it possible that Suzy David, Suleman’s legal advisor and alleged lover, was totally ignorant about the Ponzi scheme which she was to help establish and orchestrate?
Suleman may have then lobbied the Bishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in Australia and New Zealand , [Mar] Meelis Zaia through Suzy David who had a good working relationship with him.
Whether Mar Meelis Zaia was totally aware of the illegality of the scheme or not, evidence clearly shows that he gave his tacit approval for the scheme. During court questioning it was revealed that [Bishop] Mar Meelis Zaia was the one to come up with the name “Froggy,” apparently because he thought Suleman’s eyes looked like a frog, and he received 5% of Froggy’s shares for his trouble . Besides Bishop Zaia being a 5 per cent shareholder in Suleman's Froggy Holdings he was also known as a warm supporter of Suleman's enterprises and efforts to support the Assyrian community .
Media interviews with Mar Meelis Zaia later explained this away by claiming that because the St. Hurmizd Primary school was not registered at the time, Mr. Suleman had registered the donated shares in the name of the Bishop in trust for the school. However considering that the non-profit Assyrian Church of the East was fully registered in Australia and would receive preferential tax treatment it is, in this writer’s opinion, illogical to claim that the 5% of shares allocated to Mar Meelis Zaia were being held in trust, by Mar Meelis, for the school when they could have easily been registered in the Church’s name. Apparently there was also a delay in transferring the shareholdings, by the Assyrian Church of the East’s “pro-bono” lawyer, Fred David, brother of Suzy David, who “didn’t have the time,” to transfer over the shareholdings.
When it came to property, unlike the 5% shareholdings for Froggy, Mar Meelis Zaia may have learnt to put property in the name of others after he had been caught in the past co-purchasing a house with Eva Robin George, the ex-wife of the Assyrian entertainer Raad Zaya, in Cecil Hills Sydney.
When the scheme had first begun Mar Meelis's brother, David Zaia, who resides in California , owned a property in Liverpool , NSW which he sold and invested with the KSE scheme around July 2001. Two months before the KSE scheme collapsed he suddenly decided he wanted to “cash up” the contract around August 2001, and co-incidentally, followed Karl Suleman’s advice when Suleman suggested to David Zaia and [Mar] Meelis Zaia that the money be reinvested in a unit on 11 Bunn Street, Pyrmont (Sydney). In court proceedings property developer, Mr. Waitsman gave evidence in relation to Nati Stoliar in relation to property developments and investment options and the sale of units in Bunn St, Pyrmont to Mr. Suleman, and to Bishop Zaia or his brother, David. The units were being developed by a Joint Venture between 2 companies: Metro Apartments and Kimberley Securities, of whom Nati Stoliar is a director. Karl Suleman personally gave the money to Nati Stoliar for the purpose of David Zaia purchasing the unit. The title however was never transferred to David Zaia and given that the investment contract was “cashed up” the liquidators placed a caveat on the unit, and Mar Meelis Zaia, David Zaia’s representative in Australia , has not yet made an application to remove it.
Encouraged by the head of the Assyrian Church of the East in Australia, a priest from the Assyrian Church of the East, Fr. Ashur Lazar also got involved, personally investing and actively promoting the scheme as well as showing unwavering public support for Karl Suleman. The greed was palpable and he was even rumored to promote the scheme at church functions he presided over, including funerals! “I noticed that even the priests’ brothers were involved and they were making good money,” said Eddie David after borrowing $150,000 to invest in the scheme.
A Family Affair
With Suzy David acting as one of Karl Suleman’s chief advisors she ensured that her family would also financially benefit from the illegal scheme. She brought in her brother, Fred David, who according to Professor Collin Tats, had once been caught by him cheating on a final year Law paper. Professor Tats had only reluctantly allowed Fred David to resubmit his work and pass his final year of Law after big sister Suzy David had threatened Macquarie University with an expensive lawsuit.
After he was brought in on the scheme Fred David revealed during examinations that he along with Suzy David (through their companies) owned the intellectual property rights to the "Froggy" name and (through their companies) had owned a total of 90% of the shares in Froggy Music Pty. Ltd., of which they were both co-directors with Karl Suleman. In addition Fred David was also a director of Suleman Investments Limited .
As well as being a KSE agent, Suzy David’s other family members were also deeply involved in the scheme. They included Fred David’s wife, Sabrina Jajoo, who admitted in court that she had been a financial advisor for clients wishing to invest in KSE .
With the Froggy name selected, Suzy David’s company Holographics Pty. Ltd., registered and owned the intellectual property rights to the "Froggy" name on behalf of Suleman. It was also revealed during court deliberations that two of the principals of the law firm Dominic David Stamfords are Fred David and Suzy David, who are both directors of companies in Karl Suleman’s Froggy Group .
According to documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission the registered office of Karl Suleman Enterprizes was Level 1, 343 Harris Street, Fairfield which is the office of the law firm Dominic David Stamfords.
Along with the name various registered logos for Karl Suleman’s Froggy Group were also owned by Holographic. The sole director of Holographic of course was Suzy David . Suzy David also claims that Holographic paid the approximately $30,000 in registration on behalf of Froggy Music, and that this $30,000 debt held against Holographic by Froggy Music was later waived by Holographic.
Evidence of just how intertwined Suzy and Fred David had become in the scheme was revealed during court examinations made with Mrs. Maria Azar who invested $25,000 AUS in KSE but after discussions with Richard Azar decided to cancel the investment and was repaid not by a KSE account but drawn on an account of Dominic David Stamfords . More evidence was revealed in May 2002 when the KSE liquidator also revealed it had recovered $890,000 from a trust fund controlled by law firm Dominic David Stamfords .
But behind the scenes there were others who would also handsomely profit from the scheme. Suleman had given Chabad House a 10 per cent stake in Froggy.com . Was Suleman ensuring that his Jewish mentors were also given their fair share of the profits when he gave somewhat of a Jewish tithe to Chabad House in St Ives, a Jewish outreach centre run by Rabbi Nachum Schapiro?
With the tacit support of the major secular Assyrian organizations and Churches in Sydney secured, with the help of Suzy David and Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, the job of winning over the people would next begin.
Winning Over the People
With the rumored support of his Jewish mentors and in an alleged alliance with Suzy David and Mar Meelis Zaia, Suleman began what appears to have been a carefully co-ordinated and crafted campaign to donate money to Assyrian charities, churches and needy Assyrian individuals.
Suleman’s image of a successful Assyrian businessman and convert to Judaism was further strengthened when at The Assyrian Australian Academic Society’s (TAAAS) Annual Ball in 2000, Karl Suleman, along with two Rabbis, donated $5,000 each to the Society. A speech by one of the Rabbis told of how impressed he was of TAAAS’ work . Having planned it ahead of time the former TAAAS President, Suzy David told members of TAAAS, before the start of their Annual Ball, to clap and act surprised when an announcement was made for donations to TAAAS, which they promptly did.
According to another Assyrian witness as interviewed on The Daily Telegraph, “Once cashed up Suleman’s generosity in the community was well known. If an elderly woman needed a new television she would get one. There were many such acts and Assyrians would hear about them from the Bishop Joseph Mar Meelis Zaia, who was a strong supporter of Suleman.”
Another Assyrian community source was quoted as saying that the combination of Suleman’s overt wealth and associations with both a Bishop and rabbi plus Jewish business advisers impressed would-be-investors . The Assyrian community began signing up in droves.
In order to ensure that the pace of money coming into KSE exceeded the payments made to the investors, KSE agents were recruited into the perfidious scheme and used to entice as many investors from the Assyrian community as possible.
According to the liquidator’s investigations a group of about 30 so-called agents acted as Suleman’s representatives . As well as being one of the main architects of the scheme Suzy David was also among those examined as a KSE agent . Other agents of KSE were named by the liquidators in August 2002 as, “Jessie George, his nephew Zaia George,” in addition to his wife, “Elizabeth George.”
“Joining them are Sankho Sam Babanor and Robert Barkho.” Other agents named were, “Sargon [Adam] Oshana, Romil K[h]oshaba, David Varda, and accountants Roger Hyde and Graeme Sinden,” as well as, “Sargon’s wife, Eman Oshana, and Helen K[h]oshaba.  ”
In testimony provided by car dealer, Mr. Damelian, of Rick Damelian Sydney, Karl Suleman generously rewarded his architects and agents. Luxury vehicles were leased for Karl and Vivian Suleman, Roger Hyde, Graeme Sinden, Sam Babanour, Bishop [Mar Meelis] Zaia and Jessie and Romil Koshaba’s wife, Elizabeth George . As a possible reward for his tacit support Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia received a BMW 2000 model which he returned to the liquidators after the collapse of KSE.
Karl Suleman’s original Barrister, Mr. Tim Moore, explained how some of these agents had been unauthorised and had fraudulently obtained investment contracts . This is not surprising considering that some of the agents were well-known criminals. One of the key agents was none other than the notorious Jessie George who holds a criminal record and is well known by the Federal police for numerous accounts of fraud .
The scheme included a practice where 10 per cent of the amount invested would be repaid to the investors, like a rebate. But it also appears that some agents saw it as commission . In court and making further attempts to shift the responsibility for the debacle onto the agents, Mr. Suleman said the agents were apparently not supposed to keep the commissions paid to them for bringing in investors. “I was told the money was going to be given back to the investors as a discount.  ”
Coming to America
In July 2001, Terry Griffiths was brought in as a consultant and along with David Goldstein carried out feasibility studies on KSE. H e expressed his concern to Karl Suleman in July 2001 that KSE was a pyramid scheme on the verge of collapse and that $453 million would be required to pay out each of the contracts which KSE had signed with investors at that stage .
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) started investigating the scheme in July, 2001. This forced the architects of KSE to switch to a new method of raising funds in August. From late August, $53 million was raised from investors by a company known as PAL Holdings Pty Ltd, which ASIC records show was only registered on September 14, 2001 . In early September while researching an article for Nakosha Magazine I asked Suzy David if the scheme was legitimate and whether there had been any problems. Her response was that up to that point in time she had heard of no complaints, leading me in hindsight to conclude that she was either very ignorant of the KSE inner workings, or not telling me the truth.
In an attempt to export the scheme overseas the architects and staff of KSE arranged a trip to the Annual Assyrian Convention in the U.S. Here it was hoped they could find thousands of unsuspecting and affluent Assyrian-Americans to invest in KSE. According to Eshu Youkhana, one-time KSE loan application officer, at the end of August 2001 he, along with 20 other people, were flown to the US to attend the annual international Assyrian community convention in California courtesy of KSE .
Rumors have it that Karl Suleman went into action showing off and throwing money about, while Suzy David used her contacts established through TAAAS and the AUA to open doors for them with prominent Assyrian-Americans. Following closely on their heels were the agents promoting the scheme and securing even more unsuspecting investors.
Yet despite the new investors the rate of new investors participating in the scheme couldn’t keep up with the money needed to pay them out.
The Scheme Collapses
By September Suleman needed up to $20 million a month just to pay back the promised returns to his investors. The house of cards was about to come crashing down. Having exploited the scheme to the point of collapse ASIC received an anonymous tip-off that the scheme was unregistered. Then coincidently just days before ASIC took action, Mr. Suleman placed KSE into voluntary administration.
It all went according to plan because according to the liquidator and later administrator, Mr. Weston, “The companies had no ability at that point (when voluntary administrators were appointed) to pay all its investors and creditors.” According to the Australian Financial Review, “Technically, the company may never have been solvent.”
Was the vital evidence that could implicate Karl Suleman, his Jewish mentors, the Assyrian architects of the scheme and some of the agents quickly shredded, deleted or eliminated, before the liquidators could arrive? In all cases, Weston found few, if any, business records. “This is our biggest problem,” he says. “We have had to go to the bank records and other third-party sources and piece it all together. It is not uncommon for records to be lost or destroyed when a company fails, but it is rare to see it on this scale.”
After the collapse was a public relations campaign initiated to control the damage and buy the architects of the scheme enough time to launder and stash the money away? Karl Suleman was portrayed as an innocent businessman who had been blocked by government bureaucracy and now requested the patience and assistance of his faithful investors.
Following the ASIC raid, Dominic David Stamfords (DDS) received cheques from many parties wishing to contribute to Mr. Suleman's legal fund . It is also alleged that underworld figures that had invested and threatened Suleman, David and some of the agents with violence may have been quickly paid off. When KSE was placed into voluntary administration on November 7, Karl Suleman asked 10 friends including Khoshaba and Oshana to donate to the trust account, to “save Froggy.” But by early December, according to Khoshaba, Suleman was asking his pals if he could use the money to pay legal expenses. In court Barrister Jim Thompson, representing the liquidators, read from a document allegedly signed by Khoshaba on December 17, authorising payment of $125,000 of his and Oshana’s funds to four members of the same family. Khoshaba replied: “These people invested through Mr. Oshana and they were threatening him and his family”  .
Initial protests and outrage that had begun from the heads of some of the Assyrian community in Sydney suddenly became silent. Had the heads of the main Assyrian organizations in Sydney and various Assyrian friends that had invested and lost money in the scheme been paid off, and as has been alleged, in return made to sign a legal document demanding their silence?
Try as they might the scheme’s architects realised that they couldn’t buy off all the community. Panic gripped the unstable Suleman. Under questioning during May, 2002, [Jessie] George’s wife Elizabeth said in a public examination that Suleman had arrived at their home in his white Mercedes-Benz, wearing slippers, and warned them to leave the country and take their family with them .
Suleman was not the only one to panic. One of the agents, Sargon Oshana, spoke to Wilson Younan on an SBS radio program via telephone on June 21 , Sargon [Adam] Oshana told listeners that he had left the country after receiving death threats on his mobile phone .
The pressure was on. In July 2002 a vehicle parked at the Suleman residence was set alight by persons unknown. The car, which did not belong to the Suleman household, was badly damaged in the attack .
Meanwhile the investigation continued. In an attempt to track down the missing $65 million Mr. Weston uncovered a series of questionable overseas transactions and, he continued “After liaising with our lawyers, we have moved to secure worldwide asset freezing orders for the named parties.  ”
With the liquidators busy chasing after the agents of the scheme had the architects of the scheme arranged for much of the missing money to be smuggled into an Israeli bank account? According to one of Karl Suleman’s relatives, who did not wish to be identified, Suzy David left nothing to chance, ensuring that a Tontine contract was arranged for a secret signatory bank account in Israel. This is a legal arrangement in which subscribers to a common fund share an annuity with the benefit of survivorship and the shares of the survivors increase as the subscribers die, until the whole goes to the last survivor.
The architects of the KSE Ponzi scheme knew from the start that their scheme would eventually collapse and arranged for a fall guy to take the blame. The possible fall guy and would-be architect for the scheme was a solicitor named Mr. Phillip Pham, who had first made contact with Suleman in 1998. Under questioning in court Karl Suleman claimed, that his solicitor, Phillip Pham, had masterminded the investment scheme and had told him he did not need to register the scheme or hold a finance adviser’s licence. “The man behind the whole idea was Phillip Pham, the structure of the whole idea was Phillip Pham’s,” Mr. Suleman said. “I didn’t know about investors, it was Pham’s idea.  ”
Pham told a court hearing that in early 2000 when he had asked Mr. Suleman if he had a dealer’s licence for the activities of the [KSE] investment scheme that he was told there was nothing to worry about. He said that at the time he had no reason to doubt Mr. Suleman . “He looked me in the eye and said I’d got(sic) nothing to worry about, he had the licence,” Mr. Pham said. “Mr. Suleman said he had a friend at the law firm Mallesons who could fast-track everything.  ”
Ms. Lucy Robinson, a barrister, gave contradictory evidence in court that she had advised Mr. Pham, Suzy David and Mr. Suleman on different occasions that KSE was operating a managed investment scheme and that it was imperative that it be registered as required under the Corporations Act . Karl Suleman eventually admitted that he knew the scheme was unregistered and, “..that before KSE was shut down by the corporate regulator in November, 2001, he handed up to $13 million to the agents of the unregistered scheme.  ” Under continued questioning Suleman was eventually forced to admit that Pham was not the ring-leader of the scheme. Asked if he understood that, at the time, a dealer’s licence was required for KSE’s activities, Mr. Suleman answered “Yes .”
Suleman next shifted the blame for the KSE debacle from Pham to two of his overseas agents blaming them for the missing millions. Referring to Jessie George and Sargon Oshana Mr. Suleman explained how from about mid October, 2001 – as the investment began taking off – he said “two major players and a number of minor players involved” fraudulently diverted up to $30 million of the funds for their own use .
In May, 2002 Karl Suleman was banned for life from running a corporation. He and his wife were also banned from dealing with any of their assets. Of the $20 million in compensation, Mr. Suleman was ordered to pay KSE $17,463,839 for breaches of director's duties. Mrs Suleman is to pay KSE $2,571,022 and the two are jointly and severally liable to pay $2,412,070 of the combined compensation orders . Karl Suleman and his wife Vivian were ordered to pay more than $20 million in compensation, with the prospect of further damages to come. They quickly moved to declare themselves bankrupt.
Although he was a bankrupt Karl Suleman’s lifestyle suffered little or no obvious changes. Besides being caught gambling and featured on the television programme Today Tonight he also appears to have some money stashed away. In April 2002 he contacted the sky writing company that he had previously used to advertise Froggy.com and arranged a jet to fly “a couple of his mates” telling the proprietor, “And it would be money up front.  ”
According to the a Sydney Morning Herald reporter on the 24 May 2003 the failed entrepreneur Karl Suleman, also known as ‘King,’ was seen hopping out of a brand new Mercedes, worth at least $250,000, outside Doyles at Watsons Bay. She said the car was sporting the number plates King 1 .
Last December, when Suleman was spruiking his plans for a hamburger chain, his former employer, Italian-born businessman Joe Prestia, gave him $120,000 to settle on a couple of business purchases.
But Suleman was already in debt and being chased by the corporate cops, so he did what came naturally – he went to a Brisbane casino and allegedly began gambling the money away. Horwath Accountants discovered the Brisbane bank account, owned by Prestia but operated by Suleman, and immediately froze it. Prestia says that all but $15,000 was recovered and he had written the money and the experience off. When questioned by the liquidators Prestia claims that he had no knowledge of Suleman’s scheme when he gave him the $120,000.
Further questioning revealed that Prestia had authorised Suleman to act on the account - as he didn't trust his two children to leave it to them - as he was going away. The liquidators informed him that Suleman,was bankrupt and was required to disclose the funds to the bankrupt estate, which he had not done. Although Prestia claimed that he hadn't authorised Karl to spend the money he has not taken the matter further with police .
Suleman was eventually found guilty of fraud, for statements used by him to obtain finance for his luxury vehicles, and sentenced to 21 months in jail. Throughout his civil trial his former legal advisor and alleged lover, Suzy David, was seen by his side. Suleman is currently serving a 21 months prison sentence in the minimum security Bathurst jail, where he receives daily medication for depression.
In addition to acting as Suleman’s legal advisor, David and her brother, Fred David were also both directors of Froggy Group companies. Both are awaiting a judgment following a NSW Supreme Court hearing into whether they breached their duty of care when arranging for clients to invest in the Karl Suleman Enterprizes investment scheme, which has since been found to be illegal .
According to the latest reports from the liquidators Stoliar has agreed to repay $350,000 from the claimed $700,000 he took from KSE in order to avoid a protracted and expensive court case.
Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia
Referring to people who had received money from the KSE investment scheme, the Daily Telegraph on 11 April, 2002 reported, “One such individual is the bishop of the Holy Apostolic Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Meelis Zaia. Apparently there’s some cash in an account that’s attracted a letter from the liquidator.  ”
The Bishop and his board of trustees have already spent $248,000 donated to the Assyrian School Building Fund, and have advised Howarth’s they are looking at refinancing so they can pay the money back. However these previously agreed upon repayments from the Assyrian Church of the East, which had been promised by Mar Meelis Zaia, have not been repaid to liquidators. According to the liquidators the Assyrian Church of the East alleges that their members cannot afford to make donations to the church and therefore, the church can't afford to repay the donation.
Meanwhile in a surprise revelation Karl Suleman’s former employee, Joe Prestia, is coincidently also Bishop Mar Meelis's advisor in relation to David Zaia’s transaction. Apparently, Joe Prestia has been assisting Mar Meelis Zaia with some refinancing or purchase deal for the Assyrian Church of the East and the Bishop, when he heard of this transaction and decided to “help out” Mar Meelis Zaia.
Using his company, Western Network Services, to finance and to invest the money with KSE, Jessie George did financially very well. In May 2002 Horwath said that it believed no more than $10 million had been taken out of the country by former Suleman associates Jessie George and Sargon Oshana . In the end, George agreed that the money in one of his bank accounts had ‘probably’ come from KSE. On November 7, 2001 (the day ASIC raided KSE), there was a balance remaining of $469,000. By the end of November it was all gone.  ”
In court examinations, “…former KSE agent Jessie George said he’d withdrawn $96,000 on November 14, 2001 and $200,000 three days later.  ” Jessie George quickly repaid the mortgage on their house of about $220,000.00. He then transferred his interest in the house to Mrs. George for $1.00 .
George also moved to deposit his share of the loot into the U.S. bank accounts of his father and other relatives. During further courtroom testimony the wife of Jessie George, Elizabeth George recalled an account containing $600,000 with Bank of West in Fremont, California, where she lived with her two sons until recently .
Other methods of transferring Jessie George’s money overseas and away from the reach of the liquidators included a trip to California by Zaia George in November 2001, shortly after the collapse, where he took American Express travelers cheques in the amount of US$100,000.00 given to him by Jessie George. He cashed all of the cheques, and gave them to Jessie when he arrived in the U.S.
Fearing for their safety, Mrs. George left Australia for the U.S. , following her children who had left one week earlier. She and her children stayed at her parents-in-law house in California . Jessie George followed Mr. Suleman’s request that he leave the country and flew to California 2 weeks later to join his wife and children.
Before leaving Jessie George even had time to pay-off his mistress, Esther Tower, who was also examined in relation to the transfer of funds from the George family in the United States to her account in June 2002, approximating $70,000. Of that, $50,000 was allegedly withdrawn within a one week period. Ms. Tower told the court that she needed the money in order to buy a business or “to make ends meet”, and spent the money on various things, including furniture, clothes, entertainment and payment of bills .
According to the liquidators’ latest reports they have pursued Jessie George’s brother, Ninos George through the USA where they have frozen approximately US$280,000 held in his bank account. Ninos initially claimed they were his funds then admitted that they were fraudulently obtained (Jessie was sending money from Australia to the U.S. ). The IRS holds the funds (after significant non-action and delay by the U.S. Attorney) and now the U.S. Attorney (on behalf of the IRS) has offered to settle the dispute between the liquidator here as the liquidator has argued that he has been put to much expense, including legal fees, in tracing these assets all the way to U.S. The liquidator has requested that the amount should all come back to Australia to form the pool of funds available for distribution to worldwide investors. Weston confirmed that he is also now battling the U.S. Attorney’s Office in California, which wants the $US280,000 ($400,000) seized there to be paid to American creditors in Suleman’s scheme – not into a general pool .
Jessie George has since returned to Australia and is known to be living in Sydney’s northern suburbs.
In court proceedings it was revealed that “Mr. Suleman said he gave Mr. Oshana between $1 million and $1.5 million.” Sargon’s wife, Oman Oshana had, “…difficulty explaining to the court how a total of $5 million was deposited in various bank accounts including her own between May 2001 and November 2001.” In court Mrs. Oshana of course conveniently claimed that she had no knowledge of her husband’s business, or the source of deposits by her of large sums of money handed to her by her husband .
Apart from using his wife, Sargon Oshana also held a joint bank account with another female named Maria Warren, or Maria Corrugo, in which, “$2.2 million had been deposited.  ”
Awad Loufty El-Gamal, KSE Accountant
KSE former accountant, Awad Loufty El-Gamal, was also caught profiting from the scheme when he recalled during questioning, “….a sum of $400,000,” which he, “..undertook to pay….to Horwath and also promised not to withdraw any money from a certain National Bank account, currently in credit to the tune of $917,388.19c.  ”
PAL Holdings generated around $63 million from investors. Until November 12, 2001 Mr. Pham was Secretary of PAL Holdings Pty Ltd which occupied offices at Suite 5, 161 George St. Liverpool, the same address as Mr. Suleman’s Froggy Internet Services. Acting as an intermediary between KSE and a group of investors and pulling more than $2 million a fortnight out of the KSE scheme in repayments it also collected a 2% commission on each payment .
Roger Hyde, Accountant
Former KSE accountant, Roger Hyde, also became an agent and skimmed a monthly commission from all referred clients. According to the Daily Telegraph on 28 March, 2002, “..on an investment of $100,000 over five years, clients of Sinden Hyde & Associates received $4,000 a month. An additional $1,000 was paid to Sinden Hyde.” Whereas, “...investors in Mr. Suleman’s failed Ponzi scheme who invested direct on the same terms would’ve received $5,000 a fortnight.  ”
Another KSE agent, Robert Barkho, testified that he had single-handedly collected $1.4 million from investors as well as investing $150,000 of the $500,000 he had made working for KSE back into the investment scheme . At the time of the KSE collapse Karl Suleman had also asked Mr. Barkho – at the time in the US – to take his wife and children out of Australia for a while “until everything settled down here”, Mr. Barkho told the court .
From the $138 million involved in the scheme, $91 million was returned to investors, $5 million spent on property and luxury cars and other monies taken as cash and allegedly gambled. The claims of the creditors, mostly from Sydney’s Assyrian community, are worth $48 million. A dividend of 2.5 cents has already been paid.
Unlike the architects of the scheme, who were sophisticated enough to cover most of their tracks, the agents left a paper trail that could connect them to the scheme and have been the main parties pursued by the liquidators.
The liquidators remain in a quandary. Although they could pursue the ring-leaders of this scheme in expensive and delayed court trials and bring them to account for their perfidious actions, the liquidators must also balance justice against the wishes of the majority of investors who want the 15-20 cents in the dollar, recovered by the liquidators, thus far, paid back to them.
The justice awaited by the Assyrian community will most likely never be achieved. The architects of the scheme appear to have orchestrated the perfect crime. These unscrupulous agents preyed on trusted relationships in social, ethnic and religious groups. And they got away with ripping the Assyrian people off because the victims are still unwilling to continue legal action. In the Assyrian community this mindset coupled with the fact that two of the alleged instigators are considered “sacred cows” explains why most of the victims continue to remain silent on this crime.
The very same members of the Assyrian Church of the East who donated their time and money to build St. Hurmizd Assyrian Primary school - the first Assyrian school in the West - were swindled. The very same people who helped organize the Sydney Genocide conference in 2000 were deceived by Karl Suleman through Mar Meelis Zaia and Suzy David. In November 2001, after the scheme had collapsed, I personally interviewed Mar Meelis Zaia, for Nakosha Magazine, and asked him about the rumored involvement of Fr. Ashur Lazar in the scheme. Mar Meelis guaranteed me that if evidence ever emerged that Fr. Ashur Lazar or any other member of the Assyrian Church of the East had been involved in the scheme then he would personally remove them from the church.
With Karl Suleman serving a 21 month prison sentence in Bathurst jail the onus remains upon the Assyrian community to continue through all legal avenues to ensure that all the architects and agents of this scheme are eventually brought to justice.
(ZNDA: Baghdad) According to the Arabic version of CNN, the beheaded bodies of a Christian couple were found in Baghdad. The husband was identified as Joseph Tooma. No other information was released at press time.
Christians Flee Genocide as Fear Sweeps Iraq
Courtesy of The Telegraph
(ZNDA: Mosul) One of the most ancient monasteries in the world, St Matthew's, stands on a barren mountainside in northern Iraq, its last inhabitant a crusty old Syrian Orthodox priest. Nestled between sandstone crags with views of the hills around ancient Nineveh, now called Mosul, it looks like the final redoubt of the Christian world.
Seven thousand monks used to worship here; now there is just one, Father Ada Qadr al-Kars.
St Matthew's Syrian Orthodox Monastery was founded in the fourth century AD
This thinning of the ranks has taken centuries, he said, but in the valleys Iraq's Christian community, targeted with especial ferocity by Islamic extremists for the past year, is disappearing rapidly.
Churches have been bombed, priests kidnapped and Christian neighbourhoods subjected to random shootings, the terrorists' revenge for the community's shared religion with the "Christian" invaders.
According to Church leaders, some 300,000 Christians - roughly a quarter of the population - have fled their homes since the US-led invasion.
It is too early to speak of a humanitarian crisis, with many from the community, one of Iraq's more affluent, able to leave the country in civilised fashion or find shelter in the Kurdish-controlled north. But in the minds of Church leaders there is little doubt as to the nature of the exodus.
"It's genocide. You can see it with your own eyes," said Bishop Putres Harbori, head of the Christian community in Dohuk, near the Turkish border, where 350 families have found sanctuary.
Many fear that Iraq's ancient Christian community is leaving for ever, some nostalgic for better times under Saddam Hussein. Life was good when the Ba'athists were in charge, said Paula Sliwa, 71, one of 60,000 Christians to flee Mosul in recent months.
He belongs to the Assyrian Church, one of several sects in the city tracing their history to Job preaching to the ungodly. He, his wife and five children used to live with 100 other families near the Shaleeka Cunta church on the western bank of the Euphrates.
Iraq's small Christian community has a history of collaboration with the powers-that-be in Baghdad, first with the British in the 1920s, then with Saddam's regime, which boasted the Christian Tariq Aziz as one of its most powerful leaders. Christians often worked in the luxury business, selling alcohol and running beauty parlours.
"I have a large house and two cars," said Mr Sliwa, formerly a well paid government official. "We never had any trouble." But the Christian community in Mosul has been shaken by a wave of vicious attacks, including five car bombs detonated outside churches, killing more than 20, in one month.
Anti-Christian graffiti was daubed on church walls and inflammatory CDs sold in the market. Regular gun attacks began in Christian areas of the city, with several priests kidnapped and told that, as Christians, they were on the side of the American invaders.
"We were used to living in hell," said Mr Sliwa. Then a neighbour told him that his two sons had been killed by the latest attack. "My son's car was 300 metres away. They were slumped in their seats, covered in blood," he said. "The terrorists had shot at any car in the neighbourhood, knowing they would kill Christians."
Mr Sliwa and the rest of his family fled to Angkawr, one of a number of Christian communities in the Kurdish-protected north. That evening his house in Mosul was broken into and ransacked.
Stories like his are common in Angkawr, where 150 families shelter from the oppression and fear that forced them to flee homes in Mosul, Baghdad and Basra.
They say a new breed of al-Qa'eda-inspired terrorists, rather than the former Ba'athists, are behind the attacks. Iraqi police are powerless to protect the community, say families, and US forces rarely intervene, not wanting to be seen to be siding with Christians and thereby exposing the troops to more violence.
For their part, Christian leaders in Iraq oscillate between calling the attacks "ethnic cleansing" and stressing that Christians are suffering along with others in Iraq.
Angkawr, a town of 35,000 people, is defended by guards and concrete barriers. Residents, along with the refugees, want to leave the country as fast as possible, with Syria, Jordan, Europe and America the popular destinations.
Saed Alexis, a local business leader, said: "There is not a person who wouldn't leave Iraq if they could. In five years there will be no one left."
Turkey Encouraging Displaced Christians to Return
Courtesy of the Christian Post
(ZNDA: Diarbakir) Turkey is encouraging thousands of Assyrian Christians to return to their spiritual heartland, as the predominantly Muslim nation faces European pressure to return displaced villagers to its southeastern region and to grant more rights to minorities.
According to the Associated Press, a sharp decrease in fighting and Turkey's focus on democracy and human rights as it seeks to join the European Union, are boosting hopes that one of the world's oldest Christian communities can rebuild itself in its spiritual heartland.
"We're here to live in solidarity with the other villagers," one returning villager told AP. He is one of the dozens of Assyrians who have reportedly returned so far.
For Assyrians, the clashes of the 1980s and 1990s were the most recent in a series of challenges to a community that traces itself to the pre-Christian Assyrian Empire. Just a few years ago when the tiny Christian community in southeastern Turkey was caught in the middle of fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels, the calm that is currently present in the ancient village would have been inconceivable.
Even in October, an EU report stated that "very few" Assyrians had returned due to harassment by pro-government Kurdish militiamen and paramilitary police.
Although the Assyrians have mostly sought to stay neutral between the government and the Kurdish rebels, neutrality has sometimes made their loyalties suspect on both sides, AP reported. That and a lack of jobs have pushed many of them to emigrate, reducing the number of Christians in the region to an estimated 4,000 at most. One man who returned after leaving 20 years ago with his family told AP that around 75 families lived in the village of Haberli in southeastern Turkey 30 years ago. Now, about 20 families remain.
Human rights groups say soldiers forcibly emptied thousands of villages throughout the region to deprive the Kurdish rebels of local support.
According to tradition, Assyrians began adopting Christianity in the first century AD, 600 years before Arab Muslims conquered the region.
Turkey's Bid for EU Sparks Christian Rebirth in Turkey
Courtesy of the Associated Press
The politician's stop and the calm in the ancient village would have been inconceivable just a few years ago when the tiny Christian community in southeastern Turkey was caught in the middle of fighting between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels.
But a sharp decrease in fighting, and Turkey's focus on democracy and human rights as it seeks to join the European Union, are boosting hopes that one of the world's oldest Christian communities can rebuild itself in its spiritual heartland.
Turkey, which faces European pressure to return displaced villagers to the region and to grant more rights to minorities, is encouraging thousands of Assyrians to come back, and dozens have returned, Assyrians say.
Gov. Osman Gunes' visit to Assyrian towns and monasteries underlined the new spirit.
"If there hadn't been peace, we wouldn't have returned," said Ninua's father, Erden, who left with his family for Switzerland more than 20 years ago and was back for his first Christmas in Haberli.
"We're here to live in solidarity with the other villagers," he said, as his wife Sara offered cookies to visitors sitting by a Christmas tree in their house.
Saliba said he easily secured Turkish permission to return and build a three-story house of stone that towers over the village. But he said Haberli suffers frequent power cuts and lacks a public sewage system.
Unlike officially recognized religious minorities such as Jews and Greek Orthodox Christians, schools aren't allowed to teach Syriac, a modern version of the Aramaic spoken in Jesus' time. So there's no suitable school for Saliba's three Swiss-raised children who speak Syriac, but not Turkish.
An EU report in October said "very few" Assyrians have returned due to harassment by pro-government Kurdish militiamen and paramilitary police.
The Assyrians encapsulate the complexities of a country that is mostly Muslim, professes strict secularism and shrinks from any recognition of ethnic pluralism. A sign at the entrance to Haberli proclaims that "THE MOTHERLAND IS A WHOLE AND CANNOT BE DIVIDED" - a tacit warning to Kurdish rebels and anyone else seeking separate status.
The Assyrians have mostly sought to stay neutral between the government and the Kurdish rebels, but neutrality has sometimes made their loyalties suspect on both sides. That, and a lack of jobs, have pushed many of them to emigrate, reducing the number of Christians in the region to an estimated 4,000 at most.
Saliba said that 30 years ago, around 75 families lived in Haberli. About 20 families remain.
Human rights groups say soldiers forcibly emptied thousands of villages throughout the region to deprive the Kurdish rebels of local support. Fikri Turan returned from Germany to the village of Sarikoy to find his house occupied by pro-government Kurdish militiamen who refused to leave until the governor personally intervened.
Turan spent Dec. 25 at the fourth century Mor Gabriel monastery, one of the world's oldest, where visitors from Europe attended early morning services and ate traditional Christmas meals of boiled meat with onion.
Courtesy of Detroit Free Press
(ZNDA: Detroit) "Through all this insanity, everything is on track," John Gattorn said of the Iraqi election effort in Michigan.
But through it all, John Gattorn -- the man in charge of Iraq's elections in Michigan -- is keeping calm. At least until his assistant approached and told him that some local Iraqis doubt elections will be held on time.
"No, no, no!" he blurted out while sticking his fingers in his ears like one of those hear-no-evil monkeys. "It's gonna happen, no matter what."
That fierce resolve is at the heart of Gattorn's effort in Michigan and for others at 35 sites across the world where Iraqi expatriates will soon take part in their motherland's first democratic elections.
It won't be easy.
With less than a week to go before registration starts, organizers from Detroit to Tehran, Iran, are still scrambling to find poll sites, educate potential voters and balance the concerns of a diverse array of ethnic and religious groups. Until late last week, Gattorn's office was his rented Chevy Trailblazer SUV that was "slashing through the snow like Santa, delivering democracy," he joked at his office Thursday.
"It was sort of embarrassing having to do job interviews in my car in a parking lot," the 35-year-old Grosse Pointe Shores native said. Gattorn, who got the job because of his election experience and familiarity with the Detroit area, isn't of Arab descent and is new to the local Iraqi community.
But despite the challenges, he has been able to assemble a team of 25 Iraqi-American election workers, set up a makeshift office on Michigan Avenue and gain the respect of community leaders. He will host a town hall meeting on Wednesday to clarify voting procedures for local Iraqis.
"Through all this insanity," Gattorn said, "everything is on track."
Still, there are challenges.
There is a fierce debate taking place over the correct numbers of particular groups within the Iraqi community and where the voting centers should be. Iraqis are a diverse people, with Sunnis, Shi'ites, Kurds, Turkomen and four Christian sects -- Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs and Armenians -- making up most of the population.
Iraqis in the United States can vote Jan. 28-30 in the Detroit area, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Nashville, Tennessee, according to guidelines set up by the Geneva, Switzerland-based International Organization for Migration (IOM). After Iran, the United States has the highest number of polling sites outside Iraq.
But Chaldeans say that San Diego -- where there is a large Chaldean community -- and not Los Angeles, should have been chosen. And Shi'ites say they have large numbers of their population in the West and South who won't be able to vote.
"What happens to the people here?" asked Sheikh Husham Al-Husainy inside his office at the Karbalaa Islamic Education Center in Dearborn on Saturday. A blue ruler in his hand, Al-Husainy pointed to a map of the United States mounted on an easel that lists the number of Iraqi Shi'ites in each state. He gestured toward Seattle, Texas and Florida. "There are Shi'ites ignored here," he said three times in a row as he pointed to the three areas. "I keep getting calls from them asking what to do." Al-Husainy said he is considering filing a suit against IOM over what he sees as the disenfranchisement of Shi'ites.
Gattorn said that he feels bad for Iraqis who will be unable to vote, but he stressed that IOM chose the sites in consultation with the Iraqi government. Moreover, the short time frame makes it difficult to change plans now.
Chaldeans, too, say they are concerned.
They say that in addition to San Diego being left out, they're worried that Chaldeans in metro Detroit will not have nearby centers to vote in. Chaldeans make up the majority of Iraqis in metro Detroit. On Friday, Detroit officials spoke with the U.S. State Department about the possibility of getting a voting center in the city near 7 Mile, where many Chaldeans live, said Martin Manna, who heads the Farmington Hills-based Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce.
According to U.S. census figures, there are about 35,000 Chaldeans in Michigan, and about 11,000 who claim Iraqi ancestry. Community leaders say the actual numbers are much higher.
"Everyone is grateful for the opportunity to vote," Manna, 31, of Bloomfield Township said. "But they feel there is a big bias in place" against Chaldeans. The community wants to make sure that every vote is counted because Chaldeans are a tiny minority in largely Muslim Iraq.
Nabil Roumayah, who heads the Southfield-based Iraqi Democratic Union and is working with IOM, acknowledges there are some problems. But he said that overall, things are going well.
"We're not naive," Roumayah said. "We know we will have a lot of problems. ... Iraq is like a baby being born: We're just crawling, so we'll take whatever we can and make it better next time."
For his part, Gattorn is putting in 18-hour days and gulping lots of coffee to keep himself on top of the election. Growing up in Michigan, he remembers being fascinated by books on ancient Egypt that his father, an avid traveler, brought home. After graduating with a master's degree in international communications from American University in Washington, he worked for the human rights group Amnesty International and traveled the world as a relief and election worker. He speaks some Arabic and helped oversee election operations in East Timor in Indonesia and Bosnia. Last year, he was in Iraq with the U.S. government doing relief work when he was asked to help organize Iraqi elections for IOM.
Speaking from his office last week, he reflected on where he's at now: "Not in a million years did I think I would work for an international organization setting up an international election in my hometown."
Assyrian Minister from Turlock Tells of His Visit to Baghdad
Courtesy of the Modesto Bee
(ZNDA: Turlock) George Shahbaz was leaving a church service in Iraq when a truckload of American soldiers ordered him to stop in his tracks.
"Do you have a weapon?" a soldier asked.
Shahbaz, a Turlock minister who was in the country working as a translator, had a ready reply.
"Of course," he said, holding up his Bible. "This is my weapon. The word of the Lord."
Shahbaz, former pastor of Turlock's Assyrian Presbyterian Church, told the story Sunday at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in Modesto. About 90 people listened to the talk, in which Shahbaz spoke of his experiences in the war-torn region.
Shahbaz, 60, was born in Iraq, but left the country when he was a young man to become a Christian minister. Shahbaz recently returned to his native country as a member of the Iraq Survey Group.
The group, often in the news, was charged with searching for weapons of mass destruction.
But Shahbaz's specialty isn't weaponry, it's languages — he speaks seven and was called on to translate documents from Arabic and other Middle Eastern languages into English.
When he wasn't translating, he was ministering. After hours, Shahbaz made it a point to talk to Iraqis, soldiers and others about his faith, which until recently had been outlawed in the Muslim country.
"It's the first time in my life that I can share Christ with a colonel, a soldier ... all kinds of people," he said.
Sleeping quarters in palace
Shahbaz and his fellow group members spent one month and four days in Baghdad, where they slept on the grounds of a palace that housed a private zoo established by Saddam Hussein's son Uday. They heard animals howling at night.
Shahbaz displayed his Bible and some religious tracts near his cot.
"It was like a little chapel," he said.
Most recently, Shahbaz was in Qatar, where U.S. Central Command facilities are located. He plans to return soon and expects to stay until May.
Congregation members applauded Shahbaz's talk, then prayed for him. David Zellman of Modesto said he was glad to hear good news coming out of a region that has become known for violence.
"I appreciate knowing there's a lot of good things happening there," he said.
The Reverend Canon Andrew White
Greetings and blessings from Coventry Cathedral and from the Iraqi Institute of Peace. It gives me great pleasure to be able to greet you the Diaspora ChaldoAssyrian Community.
I count it one of my great privileges in life that I have spent a substantial amount of time over the years in Iraq. Part of that privilege has been getting to know the ChaldoAssyrian Community. It is a community of faith, vision and hope. Now however we know that this community faces some of its greatest challenges in its thousands of years of history. Saddam may have gone but the suffering of the Iraqi Christians is reaching a new level.
I long to be back in Iraq with the people I love and respect. Among them are Mr Yonadam Kanna and my friends at Zowaa, The Assyrian Democratic Movement. This is a movement of vision and purpose. A body totally dedicated to the ChaldoAssyrian cause. You may not live in Iraq now but your people do and for their sakes I would urge you to register to vote. Place your vote for the Assyrian Democratic Movement so that the Christians of the great nation of Iraq may again have a voice that will care for, and protect them.
I am not an Iraqi or a ChaldoAssyrian but I have learned to love this great people and for this reason I urge you to support the ADM in the coming election, possibly the most important in history. May God bless you and protect the ChaldoAssyrian Christians of Iraq.
Assyrians - Al Ashuryeen, Vote 139!
The single and most important function of the, to be elected Iraqi national assembly is the drafting of Iraqi's constitution. A constitution which, it must provide for the protection and the rights of all the people of Iraq. Whom in your opinion is best suited to speak and demand our national rights in the land of our forefathers? Those that have concocted new found names for our nation or those that have proudly chosen to call themselves Assyrian National Gathering (Assembly)? VOTE 139!
These elections are not intended to elect the leaders of the Assyrian nation at large, but to elect the representatives of a segment of our nation which is currently Iraqi citizen. Do all other Assyrians not holding such a citizenship papers, have a rights in their ancestral land? There are many and under various names that are trying to occupy these seats. However, there only seems to be one amongst the many, which has declared itself under its own and politically correct national name: The Assyrian National Gathering (Assembly). VOTE 139!
The Assyrian nation, one of the only few nations in this world still without a place which we can all call "the Assyrian homeland". Today the Assyrian nation at large has been afforded an opportunity to elect those true sons and daughters of our nation to speak on our behalves and to demand that Ashuryeen (Assyrian), the name by which we proudly call ourselves and regardless of our country of birth or current citizenship, be officially and constitutionally recognized as the most indigenous people of present day Iraq. Whom is the most qualified to demand such rights? A name under which most none Arabic speaking Assyrian can NOT even understand it's meaning? Or those that have proudly called themselves ASSYRIAN National Gathering (Assembly)? VOTE 139!
Al Ashuryeen (Assyrians) are you and us. Assyria is our common history, ancestral land, and our only hope for a justified political and legal future. Assyrians are the only justifiers and protectors of Iraq’s sovereignty and constitution.
The Assyrian identity (al qawmeeya al Ashurya) is not just a name. It is your national and political right.
Strategic Entertainment Inc.
Cost of Happiness is a feature-length dramatic film about a young Assyrian man, David (Adwin Khabeer), who is struggling to find happiness in his life. After the loss of his mother (Juliana Jindo), at an early age, David grows up trying to achieve the "American Dream" of prosperity, happiness, and love.
While working at a dead end job, David is faced with the challenge of dealing with his
unemployed and alcoholic father Showel (Zayya Maradkel). To ease his troubles, David
develops an obsession with making money quickly and at any cost. He meets local
entrepreneur and community outcast, Freydon (Sami Yako), who offers David a chance
In spite of all of David’s personal dilemmas, he continues to be an active member of his youth organization. He adopts a new task for his youth group, her name is Ator (Assyria Jendo), a young girl that is stricken with cancer and needs help. David persuades the members to pool money for the ailing child. David’s life reaches a turning point filled with critical decisions that involve alcoholism, deception, and his morality. This is when David must decide, what is the Cost of Happiness?
What is the purpose of an organization? Is it to survive as long as its founder is alive? How many times have Assyrians witnessed an entity that ended with the passing of its founder? Is that how successful founders envision the end of what they built?
What is the purpose of a political group? When can we consider a political group as legitimate? Is a political group legitimate when its presence is a mere issuing of a declaration every now and then; declarations that are used solely for the internal consumption purposes in order to stay in the public eyes? Is the purpose to open a club and have its members play cards and enjoy a chat over a cold beer or the popular Iraqi drink 'Araq? Is the purpose of a political group to ignore pursuing its own agendas (if it did have any that is) and to focus on attacking other Assyrian political groups? Why is it that many political groups among Assyrians continue to exist within a certain family, tribe, and with few cronies around them?
The Bet Nahrain Democratic Party (BNDP) was established in 1976; however, its members claim that it existed earlier in 1970 under the title of Bet-Nahrain Party. The BNDP of early days had its role in raising national awareness among Assyrians. However, one can hardly point to one serious political accomplishment in recent years. It is unfortunate that the modern BNDP leadership has allowed personal feelings, grudges, and as others describes it as envy, to dictate its path.The BNDP has been struggling for survival, underwent numerous splits, and has organized only six congresses during its 30 years of existence. The two most recent of such congresses were the 5th General Congress, which took place in the U.S. in 1998 and then the 6th congress of October 4-5, 2004 in Shaqlawa, Arbil, six years later (click here). This despite the fact that most of its leadership has been residing in the free democratic West. One wonders, why this lack of interest for leadership meetings? Are Assyrians and their political and national question in such a wonderful welfare state that its political groups can do without such congresses to address the ever-changing world scene? Or is it that these groups practice politics so casually that it is treated as a hobby and they decide to meet when they feel like it?
It is understandable to state that people change. It is also common that few individuals would leave and change their political affiliations. However, when a group shows so little activism and accomplishment in addition to this continuous desertion, one must wonder why. I am not going into the details of earlier splits that has confused every Assyrian out there as the majority does not understand today who is who in the BNDP, which group came from which, and who belongs where. Allow me to list the most recent of these inter-struggles and ultimate split within the BNDP.
According to Zinda Magazine, in the November 16, 2002 G8 meeting in London (eight Assyrian leaders get together), Mr. Shimun Khamo was hesitant about Dr. Sargon Dadesho’s participation. He blamed the Kurdish elements for the re-appearance of Dr. Dadesho, the chairman of the Assyrian National Congress (ANC), at these talks (Read Zinda December 16, 2002). Mr. Khamo, the Secretary General of BNDP at the time, seems to have chosen a new progressive path. However, he was sued by Dr. Sargon Dadesho, the founder of everything that is linked to the Bet-Nahrain Inc. in Ceres, the ANC, and much earlier the BNDP. Dr. Dadesho sued Mr. Khamo in courts for using the BNDP name. Mr. Khamo was inclined to change the name of his new group to Bet-Nahrain National Alliance. From the other hand, AssyriaSat and Dr. Dadesho seem to have continued to be in good terms with Mr. Romeo Hakkari of the BNDP in Iraq since the latter was interviewed by AssyriaSat on several occasions and nothing in those interviews reflected anything but praise and mutual courtesy.
However, things began to change. In an interview by Assyrian SBS Radio of Australia on 10/8/2004 with Mr. Hakkari, the new Secretary General of the BNDP (announced in the 6th congress of October 4-5, 2004 in Shaqlawa, Arbil), Mr. Hakkari stated that many members from throughout Iraq attended the congress, including Mrs. Soro Soro and Albert Oshana from Australia. However, none from the U.S. or Europe were unable to attend the congress due to some difficulties. When asked about the reason why the Australian delegation arrived without any difficulties but those from the United States did not, Mr. Hakkari dodged the question. The new leadership of Hakkari seems to have accepted the various terms of our people, i.e. Chaldean and Suryan (Syriac), and reversed his groups' connection with Dr. Dadesho's ANC. This seems to have turned the California based group against Hakkari.
On December 23, 2004, certain elements of the BNDP in Iraq, not associated with Mr. Hakkari and his group of the BNDP, met in conference in Baghdad. In that two days conference, they denounced the 6th BNDP congress of October 4-5, 2004 in Shaqlawa, Arbil, and its decisions. The participants in this new conference branded the decisions of the 6th congress as treasonous to the Assyrian national goals. The new conference declared a new Secretary General and leadership for the BNDP in Iraq under the leadership of Mr. Aprim Khoshaba Samano. Furthermore, the conference declared the freezing of the membership of Mrs. Romeo Nisan Kakkari, 'Aamir Nisan Hakkari, Zadoq Adam, and Soro Soro, who participated in the 6th congress.(click here & here). The new BNDP in Iraq added as well the title Assyrian to its name and is known as Bet-Nahrain Assyrian Democratic Party.
New Alliances Toward the Iraqi Elections
The BNDP and ANC, through AssyriaSat, strongly opposed the ChaldoAssyrian compound name used by the ADM that sought to unite the various denominations of the Syriac-speaking Christians in Iraq. One wonders if that stand was similar by the original BNDP group in Iraq. According to Zinda, Mr. Barkho Shimshon and members of the BNDP-Iraq visited with Mr. Abd al-Ahad Afram, the Secretary General of the Chaldean Democratic Union Party (CDUP) (Read Zinda Magazine, January 6, 2003. Also visit here). Interestingly, both Mr. Hakkari and Mr. Afram are associated with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Kurdish Barazani group.
The 6th congress of the BNDP has declared that all these names, whether Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac (Suryani) were our names. This change of strategy had reasons. The 6th congress seems to have made another strategic decision to join the Kurdish groups and their Kurdistani slate in the upcoming Iraqi elections scheduled for January 30, 2005. The KDP seems to have forced Mr. Hakkari to play its game by accepting the Chaldeans as a separate entity. By joining the Kurdistani slate, Mr. Hakkari guaranteed himself a seat somewhere whether in north of Iraq regional parliament or the Iraqi parliament since the majority of Kurds of northern Iraq will vote for the Kurdistani slate and the BNDP and Mr. Hakkari will win automatically and get a free ride for being part of the slate. The same applies with Mr. Afram (CDUP) and Mr. Nimrod Baito of the Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP). These groups understand very well that they have no support from common Assyrians (ChaldoAssyrians) in Iraq and the only way for them to get something in the Iraqi elections is by being part of the Kurdish coalition. It is for that reason that they did not form an independent and separate coalition under their own name.
This path was not new for these groups who have been historically associated with the Barazani KDP group. Earlier in February 16, 2004, Azzaman newspaper (Issue 1734 of February 17, 2004) reported that five groups, among them BNDP (Hakkari), CDUP (Afram), APP (Baito) have been meeting and cooperating in search of better representation for their groups (read also AsiaNews of February 16, 2004). This in fact was only a move to weaken the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), which was originally represented in the Iraqi Governing Council and in Interim Government as the only legitimate Assyrian group on the Iraqi scene. It seems that the KDP has been behind these groups to divide the Assyrian united representation and weaken that representation.
The Deception of the BNDP and AssyriaSat
The BNDP has gained certain grounds since the establishment of AssyriaSat satellite TV station in Ceres, California, through Bet-Nahrain Inc. The BNDP has used this media source in the most negative manner imaginable. AssyriaSat uses some of the most unprofessional hosts to present its programming. Many consider the language used by certain of these hosts towards other Assyrian leaders, particularly the leadership of the ADM, as vulgar. Assyrians in the Diaspora should not be involved in such means that undermine the Assyrians in Iraq in these crucial moments by using international Assyrian media. AssyriaSat presents the opinions of BNDP and ANC. It does not give equal opportunity for those it criticizes to present their point of view. However, AssyriaSat claims that it has repeatedly invited the other sides to present their opinion, however, the situation has reached a point where these other sides refuses to enter AssyriaSat studio. In other occasions, AssyriaSat disconnects those who call the station live in order to correct certain false or misleading information.
The deceptive and unhealthy practices of AssyriaSat and BNDP have been destructive to Assyrian national movement. When AssyriaSat attacks the ADM and its leadership in Iraq, it is in fact weakening the Assyrians of Iraq and thus indirectly benefiting the Kurds. For example, Zinda Magazine reported that in a written letter published on the popular Arabic Internet bulletin board “kitabat.com,” Mr. Barkho Shimon – a former representative of the BNDP – has accused Dr. Dadesho of deceitful conduct. In his letter dated January 17, 2004, Mr. Barkho explains that four years ago the Assyrian Relief Fund in Australia sent financial aid to needy Assyrians living in the villages of northern Iraq. He notes: “At the time, we distributed the monies and recorded the whole process of distributing this financial aid on video.” Mr. Barkho then writes: “Those videotapes were broadcast on Dadesho's AssyriaSat as aid from BNDP when it was not the case. He lied to the common people and deceived them in order to get more contributions for his TV station.”
The Ceres, California, based Bet Nahrain group piggybacks on the activities of others. In June 24, 2003, the California Assembly issued Joint Resolution AJR31 about the Assyrians in Iraq. The resolution asked, among other things, to recognize the Assyrians during the negotiations in post-conflict restructuring in Iraq. This resolution was the efforts of Assembly member Aghazarian and the contribution and assistance of Albert Gabriel, Wilfred Bet-Alkhas, and Fred Aprim. AssyriaSat claimed that it was behind this resolution, which was not the case (Read Zinda Magazine, Issue 44, February 2, 2004).
For some time now, many Assyrian activists, Assyrian Academic Society, and other groups have been working hard to assure that polling centers or mobile polling units are available in Modesto-Turlock, San Diego, San Jose/San Francisco areas. AssyriaSat through its propaganda is implying that they are behind such efforts simply because they issued a statement and post it on their site in that regard. The Bet Nahrain group called for a meeting this past weekend at the Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center and established a committee to look into the subject with only one week left to the registration process to start and then the elections to convene. I guess if such efforts were successful, it would be due to the activities of Bet Nahrain group in Ceres.
The Deception Continues Regarding the Iraqi Elections
The BNDP through AssyriaSat has been promoting the Assyrian National Assembly (ANA) of slate # 139 under the leadership of Mr. Odisho Malko for the Iraqi elections. Strangely, the 15 names under this slate are yet to be announced to the Assyrian people and the world because of security reasons, as Dr. Dadesho explains. If that is the case, one must salute slate # 204 of the ADM for publishing its names and being brave. On Friday, January 7, 2005, Dr. Dadesho on his program interviewed Mr. Odisho Malko via phone from Baghdad. Mr. Malko was reached, however, he asked that he need to speak to Dr. Dadesho in private first before he goes on the air. Dr. Dadesho took a short break before conducting the interview in order to converse with Mr. Malko in private.
Still, if one pays attention to what Mr. Malko stated during the interview, it becomes obvious that he is not really subscribing to what Dr. Dadesho is spreading on his TV. Before the interview, Dr. Dadesho claimed that there were no Assyrians on the ADM slate (al-Rafidayn National Slate # 204) and those who were Assyrians earlier have since denied their Assyrian name. He stated that only Professor of Archaeology Donny George was a real or true Assyrian but his name was in the slate, as implied, through some devious mean and that Prof. George was not aware that his name would be made public. Dr. Dadesho stated dimwittedly that the mission of slate # 204 is to clean the waters of the two rivers (referring to Tigris and Euphrates) from the dirt that is in them. He then claimed that most of the candidates on this slate are ex-Ba'athist. He added that there was no comparison between the al-Rafidayn National Slate (# 204) of ADM and that of ANA (# 139) since the latter consists of educated and patriotic people, notables, from families of martyrs, and includes representatives from all our churches' leaders.
It is so easy to refute Dr. Dadesho's false claims or those claims of other hosts on AssyriaSat programs because most of these claims are simply false. What AssyriaSat is involved in is dirty politics and simply unethical. Any claims out there that the candidates of slate # 204 are not Assyrians and that they are Arabs is pathetic. I am not sure how AssyriaSat is considering names such as Bihnam Zaia Polous, Hana' Emmanuel Giwargis, Sami Issac Shimun, Louis Francis Qlemis, Nasrin Dinkha David, Khoshaba Solaqa, Michael Shimshon Giwargis, Rustam Shimun Ishaya, Muna Yosip Sliwa, Gabriel Hanna Mamoka, Bernadet Mansour Michael, Sliwa Masius Sliwa, and Susan Toma Yousip as non-Assyrians or being Arabs. Even with the rest of the names, BNDP understands well that the Christians in Iraq have been oppressed and they began to use Arabic names to escape persecution and harassment. One might wonder, since when was the name of the person a measure for his/her ethnic background? What makes Bet Nahrain Inc. or BNDP officials Janet Shimun and William Dadesho Assyrians while Nasrin Dinkha or Muna Yousip non-Assyrians? Is Janet and William more Assyrian that Nasrin and Muna? Am I not an Assyrian because my name is Fred? On the other hand, does AssyriaSat know that many on slate # 204 have a B.Sc. degree in law and engineering? How can AssyriaSat imply that the candidates on slate # 204 are non-educated?
Does AssyriaSat consider slate # 139, which is mainly linked to one church (Ancient Church of the East or Church of the East - Old Calendar) a patriotic Assyrian slate? Fact is that ANA slate # 139 does not have representatives from the other churches as AssyriaSat claims. One must understand the definition of the word representative before passing judgment that an individual is representing a church in a certain campaign. I am a member of the Church of the East; however, if I ran in any U.S. election race, I would not be representing my church but myself only.
Recently, Mr. Ishaya Isho appeared as a guest on paltalk in ankawa.com room. It became obvious from his statements that the two strong supporters of slate # 139 (i.e. Dadesho and Isho) were giving conflicting information, thus, one was not telling the truth obviously. Mr. Isho stated that he has neither spoken nor met with Dr. Dadesho for 30 years. This is strange. Something must be in common between the two archrivals that make them both support slate # 139. This common denominator is that most of those, and not all of course, in the Diaspora who support slate # 139 have ill feelings for the ADM and its Secretary General Mr. Kanna and that they would have supported any other slate as long as it is not # 204. This is very unfortunate because we put personal feelings ahead of national benefits.
I want to ask: Why support slate # 139? If one, with one week to the registration date, does not yet know who the candidates are in this slate, how could he/she promote or vote for it so blindly? According to certain reports, the slate includes Mr. Ishaya Isho, the ex-member of AUA who established a new group for himself and his relatives and called it Assyrian National Organization (ANO). The group is a paper organization with no activities whatsoever. It includes as well Mr. Paul Yousip Khoshaba, the grandson of malik Khoshaba and son of Yousip Khoshaba. We all know who the last two individuals are and the damage they caused the Assyrian question in Iraq since 1921 until 2000. Furthermore, the Toronto based Assyrian Canadian Alliance is the other strong supporter of slate # 139. Interestingly, the Toronto based Assyrian Canadian Lobbying Committee have caused great damage to the credibility of this group with their misrepresentation when they issued a declaration on behalf of the 11 mostly mysterious organizations as being supportive of this slate. However, many of these 11 groups are fictitious while others have issued statements that they have not discussed elections nor approved any support for any particular list (Click here & read the statements of the Assyrian Democratic Movement – National Arm on December 14, 2004 here & the Assyrian Students and Youth Union on December 2004 under the same topic here.)
Last but not least, it is very sad that certain members of the family of ADM martyr Yousip Toma got involved in this cheap attack campaign due to personal ill feelings or disagreements with the ADM.
Observers in Iraq assert that the ANA will not be able to receive the 30,000 to 35,000 votes in order to gain a seat in parliament. Therefore, the question is: Why is the ANA running? It seems to me that its goal to take away some votes from the ADM, no more no less. It is unfortunate that leaders of such an oppressed nation as that of the Assyrians be involved in such activities when they are expected to be supportive of each other since we have no one else but ourselves to depend on. There is simply no excuse for such recklessness.
No Vision and Dim Future
It is safe to say that the BNDP, and for all practical purposes, is a paper-like-existing political organization. Its presence is trivial and linked to some success of AssyriaSat. The branched tree of Assyrian National Congress (ANC), Bet-Nahrain Inc. (AssyriaSat, Bet-Nahrain Cultural Center, etc.), BNDP – California, are barely surviving through a thin root in the ground. This thin root is its strong motivator Dr. Dadesho. The tree is doomed to die because it does not have strong roots in the soil. This "organization" has no foundation and lacks serious grassroots support. I urge Dr. Dadesho to look deep at himself and honestly evaluate the condition of all these institutions that he has founded. It is very unfortunate that Dr. Dadesho's legacy will be that of a person who spent his life to serve his own self-image than the prosperity and well being of Assyrians as a whole, as many Assyrians assert.
The BNDP has failed to present a vision to the Assyrian people. The BNDP failed to present a meaningful political and national agenda, and most importantly follow up with that agenda. Meanwhile, the ANC is a star that does not shine; it reflects nothing, and that is the fact. The only somehow meaningful thing that Dr. Dadesho can claim to have done through his 30 years of activism is the publication of his book "The Assyrian National Question at the United Nations: A Historical Injustice Redressed." Still, the book does not offer a single reference or a bibliography. The other thing in Dr. Dadesho's hat must be AssyriaSat Satellite TV, which will prove to be a double-edged sword because he did not use it intelligently for the benefit of Assyrians, in my opinion.
Dr. Dadesho, kindly listen to the people!
In arithmetic, zero times 1 or any given figure equals zero.
An engagement with pedigree reinvigorates, whereas a deception vacillates.
Initiating the national movement based on non-extant nationality shall result in nullification of nationalism, altogether.
If there were spirits imbedded in the trees, the roots would form a league against the trunks for adorning themselves with the leaves, which keeps the sweet sun and air away from the roots. Yet, the trunks would form a league of their own against the roots for erecting more trees, thus, congesting the area. But, their struggle would be futile, because they are all members of one body.
It is disheartening to negate the activities of so many, especially, those that had worked and sacrificed so much for such a long time. Our predicament is to substantiate the brightest, or the darkest period in our modern history. The first, if we extol the fruits of the rebirth of our nation, even on an ephemeral plateau. The latter, if we obliterate the last resources at our disposal.
Our resources are not magnanimous, as a matter of fact they are meager. We are not many. We are not rich. We are not strong. We do not bank on our military might. We are not endowed to have gained many friends. We are not even recognized as a nation. Not an inch of territory in this whole wide world is registered or demarcated in our name. Our most sacred and logical step is none other, but national recognition as an ethnicity. Our forbearance has reached its zenith.
There are no choices left for us but to bang the drums of liberty, a dignified one, national, not ideological. We are not united. Or, Aren't we united? Well of course we are. We do not work in unison, but we are united in a most common of causes, and that is our ancestral genealogy to each other in the name of our nation.
There is a channel of communications that could be made available to all of us, but we do not know how to use it. Almost $50,000 every month after month, year after year are spent on such a channel of communications, and all it does, is lambasting all others, recite poems, show taped sermons by church laity, or play sheikhani tapes. Oh, yes, from time to time some of us make appearances, and proceed with our harangues, as well.
Thus, our sole tool of accomplishment lays, strictly in being Assyrians, portraying ourselves as Assyrians, and working as Assyrians.
Cause and Effect
'Sublata Causa, Tollitur Effectus.' (Remove the cause, and the effect disappears.) Once we abandon the formidable tool of our survival as Assyrians, we abandon all hope of continuity and preservation.
Theocracy or Nationalism
There are only two countries recognized as theocratic, The Vatican, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. The first is strictly an establishment of a religious order of its followers worldwide. The latter is a political body, established as a result of retinue of the harshness of the past regimes. This politically theocratic body is in tune of retaining the unity of its multitude of nationals, along with controlling its geographical boundaries.
Coercing our nationals to eschew theocratic denomination above the national nomenclature is malevolent, at best and conniving at worst.
The proponents of this exertion upon our national survival are either being naïve or are exalted in personal gains. No national shall befall for such a scheme. No national shall install the faith in such a falsity.
No nation has gained recognition or independence on the basis of theocratic dogma. And, no nation shall lower its standards, by supplanting theocracy with nationhood.
People are instilled with trust. That trust is expectation, interpretation and suspension. It is not available in dogmatic religious theories. It is only imbedded in nationalism and its attributes.
Among many divisions our nation faces, there are two predominant ones, that tear the whole nation apart. One is known as Chaldean, and the other as Assyrian.
The Chaldeans were strictly led by laity for many centuries, however, this leadership has been slowly placated and the new, more pragmatic, more intellectual and more audacious force has been taking over the reins of leadership.
The Assyrians, on the other hand, follow the pattern of nationalistically inhibited individuals, somewhat cognizant of their religious temperance.
The Chaldeans being in the shadow of the nationalism of Assyrians, have emerged as advocates of nationalism that was escaping them, if not for all of their ecclesiastic tenure, ever since the mid-sixteenth century, but at least during the most tumultuous era encroaching Assyrians since the fall of the Empire, the twentieth century, which gave birth to a country by the name of Iraq, at their expense.
The Chaldeans have achieved formidable venues in their culture, politics and unity. They spearheaded all others in education, business and industry. They deservedly yield a clout to be reckoned with. They are in no position to assimilate all that they have achieved into Assyria per se.
Chaldeans and Assyrians can both accomplish great feats, even functioning as two separate entities. They can always be helping hands to each other, instead of harnessing undue tirade and enmity.
The Assyrians, on the other hand, who have suffered most, battled most, lost most, migrated most, and are afflicted with a political disunity, mainly due to all of the above, and, migration and assimilation with alien cultures, sense the inferiority, due to the dwindling of their numbers in their indigenous country, Iraq, are either apologetic, or intrinsic for a small part. But, the majority are just indifferent, tolerant, docile, subdued, and, worst of all, silent.
Thus, one may envisage a throng of Assyrians for renouncing their genealogy, and a small minority resisting such a temptation. That is the dilemma. That is the predicament. That is the non-realistic approach to our stance.
The majority of Assyrians are appalled by the ecclesiastic nomenclature, but they do not portray indignation toward such an absurdity because they do not sense it might change the matters one way or the other. They are living comfortable in their new habitats in the world, with all the accoutrements of life and its ascriptions.
But, there are other Assyrians that espouse different faiths and go by different names, bestowed upon them eons ago. Hence the coalition in the name of Chaldoassyrian will eventually disenfranchise all others, and it even might transform our movements into a most tempestuous era in our history.
There is a wide belief that reshaping our nationalism into a mold of a religious entity has been formulated a long time ago in the think tanks of London, Washington, and a few other volatile halls, particularly in Beirut.
We must remain vigilant against such an onslaught. We must engage all our resources to inform our brethren of this most fatal pseudo-fact, for the time being, until it is proven otherwise.
(Next Week: 'Elections and Assyrians'.)
Assyriska Rises to Sweden's Promised Land
Courtesy of Reuters / FIFA
They have been called modern day churches, provided a sanctuary for the oppressed and an escape for the masses. But despite the religious likeness, few football stadiums can claim to house spectators speaking the language of the Lord - until now.
Aramaic, the tongue said to have been spoken by Jesus Christ, is regularly chanted by the faithful of Assyriska, a club in, of all places, Central Sweden. Last month, the team, founded in 1974 by descendants of the Assyrian people who had fled from the Ottoman Empire in 1914, gained promotion to the top flight of the domestic league for the very first time.
"Assyriska feels like a national team for the entire group," said club president Zeki Bisso. "For all of us who were oppressed in our home countries for many years ... this felt superb, it was something every Assyrian wanted to take pride in."
The very first Christian converts, the Assyrians, historically from the Mesopotamian region between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris in the Middle East, have never had a state of their own. After the beginning of the First World War, a great number dispersed across the globe with many of that diaspora ending up in Sweden. Since then, the club has provided a means of identity and unity not only for those living in Scandinavia but for close to two million Assyrians living throughout the world.
Assyriska, who had won the first leg of the play-off for promotion 2-1 at home in Sodertalje, fell to an extra time winner in the second leg. It seemed like more disappointment for a team that had failed at the final hurdle in the Swedish Cup the previous year.
"At that moment we just felt such enormous joy, I figured everybody in the world is Assyrian now, even God is Assyrian, or at least a supporter," said Robil Haidari, the club's marketing director.
Local resident Abraham Staifo could not contain his joy.
"It encouraged the young ones to feel pride in being what they are, and brought tears to the eyes of the elderly. It was so much more than just football," he gushed. "The Assyrian people have few opportunities to express themselves. We felt our hearts would shoot out from our chests. That is why the elderly cried."
Scattered across the globe from New Zealand to Brazil, calculations for the number of Assyrians vary from one to more than three million. In April, many will turn their gaze back to Sweden where Assyriska, now coached by Portugal's Jose Morais, will rub shoulders with the likes of Malmo, IFK Gothenburg and Halmstad when the new season kicks off. Who knows what 2005 will bring? But one thing is for sure - the Assyrians will never stop believing…
The following individuals contributed in the preparation of this week's issue:
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