Last night I received an instant message from my friend Andrew Breitbart. I asked him to post about it on here.
Al Qaeda Killed My Friend
On Thursday at 2:30pm PST while not particularly paying attention to the AM talk radio feed that is my background noise, the ABC News reader droned on about the hotel terror bombings that hit Amman, Jordan the day before. I am inured to escalating death count suicide bomb followup news reports.
The man — whose voice is a staple in my life and whose name I now can’t remember — revealed that 59 had died and over 100 were injured. My brain unconsciously processed the information: Statistics from half a world away… Thank God I don’t know anyone over there… Are there any Diet Cokes in the refrigerator?
But in my daily AM-induced trance I was shocked into sharp focus when the newsman reported that the lone American death, at the time, was “34-year old Rima Akkad”. In that instant I knew it was my friend, the beautiful and jovial younger sister of my high school classmate Malek, who I think saved me (at least from something) by getting me over the Mexican border in a wheelbarrow after a drunken night in Tijuana in 1985.
I listened to the end of the report intently yet numb: Rima’s father, Mustapha, the film producer behind and the “The Lion of the Desert” and “Halloween” movies, was critically wounded. [He later died.]
I didn’t know Rima lived in the Middle East until a few months ago when I ran into Malek at a party at a Wilshire Corridor high-rise apartment building and over margaritas I asked how she was. He told me that she is happily married with two kids and living in Lebanon. He said she and her husband met while she was attending graduate school in Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Beirut.
At that moment it struck me that in all the years I knew Malek, Rima and their older brother Tarik, I never really thought about their family’s obvious ethnic or religious background. I just remember Malek loved Led Zeppelin. Tarik worked the counter at Maria’s Italian Kitchen while I delivered pizza. And Rima was cooler than most of the girls her age and had a most brilliant smile. She even played polo! Who plays polo? At the time, and in retrospect, the Akkads were to Islam what many more of us at Brentwood School were to Judaism, highly secular, typical Americans. And, to say the least, we all got along.
I’m not sure where Rima Akkad Monla stood on the War on Terror, Iraq, the right of the state of Israel to exist, on suicide bombings — the unimaginable way in which she and her father died. Even if we disagreed, I bet we’d have stayed friends. The only sign that good can come from this is that the Jordanian people seem to have taken offense to this senseless attack and are protesting in the streets. It’s a start. Perhaps in Rima’s death the message being sent throughout the entire Islamic world is that instead of cultivating the best of its own Al Qaeda kills them. Unfortunately, I’m not optimistic.
Rima, you will be missed.