Abu Ghraib Prison Notorious prison complex in Iraq that was built by the British in the early 1960s and became known as the place where Saddam Hussein's government tortured and executed dissidents. Joanna's brother was imprisoned there. The prison gained worldwide notoriety when it became the site known to be used by U.S. forces to torture Iraqis.
Ahwaz Iranian city located on the banks of the Karun River. It was a place of some of the most vicious battles during the Iran-Iraq War. Joanna's brother Sa'ad fought in the Iraqi trenches outside of Ahwaz for many months and was nearly killed there.
Al-Dawa Party Formed in Iraq in the late 1950s by a group of Shiite leaders to combat Baathist socialism, secularism, and communism. It became more prominent in the 1970s and waged armed combat against the Baath government.
Al-Askari, Jafar Pasha (1895–1936) Paternal great-uncle of Joanna al-Askari. Jafar al-Askari was from a prominent Baghdad family. During World War I, he served with Prince Faisal and Lawrence of Arabia in command of the Hijaz regular troops. After World War I ended, he served King Faisal I and King Ghazi I, both of Iraq, in many government posts, including minister to Great Britain, minister of defense, and prime minister of Iraq. Jafar was the uncle who arranged for Joanna's father to be educated in France. Jafar was assassinated in 1936.
Al-Majid, Ali Hassan (1941– ) Iraqi Arab, a first cousin of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. He led the violent repression to quash the Shiite and Kurdish rebellions against Saddam Hussein's Baath government. He was given the name Chemical Ali for his role in the Anfal Campaign against Iraqi Kurds, including Joanna. At the time this book was written, he was being tried for that war crime and for others he is accused of committing.
Arab Linguistic group of approximately 270 million people that originated in Saudi Arabia.
Arabic language A written language since the early fourth century, Arabic belongs to the Semitic language family with its sisters Hebrew and Aramaic. Arabic is written from right to left.
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (1900–1989) Religious leader of the Shiite Muslim sect who was instrumental in overthrowing the shah of Iran in 1979. He led Iran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq War.
Baath The Arab Baath Socialist Resurrection Party was formed on April 7, 1947, by Michel Aflaq and Salah ad-Din al-Bitar, two Syrian university students. The tenets of the Baath Party include adherence to socialism, political freedom, and pan-Arab unity. The Baath Party still rules in Syria. The Baath Party in Iraq was toppled in 2003 when Coalition forces overthrew Saddam Hussein's government.
Baath Socialist Party, Iraq Formed secretly in 1950. The party increased in size and overthrew the Iraqi government in 1963. Out of power only nine months later, the Baathists came back in 1968 and remained in power until 2003.
Baghdad Capital city of Iraq, with a population of approximately 5.8 million. The city is situated by the Tigris River. Baghdad was once considered the heart of the Arab empire and was second only to Constantinople in terms of size and splendor during the city's golden age from 638 to 1100, when Baghdad flourished as a center of learning, philosophy, and commerce.
Bakir, Hassan (1914–1982) Baathist president of Iraq from 1968 to 1979 and a cousin to his second-in-command, Saddam Hussein, who succeeded him in 1979.
Barzani, Mullah Mustafa (1903–1979) Kurdish nationalist leader and president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. He was a legendary ruler and was committed to the struggle for Kurdish causes. He was a hero in the minds of Joanna and her brother Ra'ad.
Barzinji, Sheik Mahmud (?–1956) Revered Kurdish leader who opposed the British by declaring himself king of Kurdistan and taking over Sulaimaniya and the surrounding area.
Halabja A Kurdish town in the northern province of Sulaimaniya located approximately 260 kilometers northeast of Baghdad and approximately 11 kilometers from the Iranian border. Halabja became famous after the March 16, 1988, chemical attack, the largest-scale chemical weapons attack against a civilian population in modern times, that left five thousand men, women, and children dead of poison gas. The town was later destroyed by Saddam's forces but has since been rebuilt.
Hussein, Saddam (1937–2006) The son of a landless peasant who died before his birth, Saddam was raised by his uncle, rose to power through the Baath Party, and became the president of Iraq in 1979. Saddam led a reign of terror over all Iraqis and attacked his neighbors Iran and Kuwait, creating war in the region. During the Iran-Iraq War (1980–1988), Saddam waged extensive military campaigns against the Kurds in northern Iraq, ordering the use of chemical weapons in 1987 and 1988, which forced Joanna to flee her country. At the time this book was written, Saddam was on trial in Baghdad for atrocities committed in Iraq, including the Kurdish massacres of 1987 and 1988. During the Kurdish trial proceedings, an Iraqi special tribunal convicted Saddam of crimes against humanity for the execution of 148 men and boys from the Shiite town of Dujail, 35 miles north of Baghdad. Saddam was put to death by hanging in December 2006.
Iran Islamic Republic of Iran, also known as Persia. Iran is located in southwest Asia and has always been an enemy of Iraq.
Iraq, Republic of Middle Eastern country encompassing most of Mesopotamia, the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, and the eastern part of the Syrian desert. The country was made up by combining the Ottoman provinces of Baghdad, Basra, and Mosul. Iraq shares borders with Iran to the east, Turkey to the north, Syria to the northwest, Jordan to the west, and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to the south. Modernday Iraq was created in 1923 at a European convention led by the British and French governments.
Islam Religion founded by the prophet Muhammad. The emphasis in Islam is on submission to the will of a single god.
Jafati Valley Mountainous region in northeast Iraq where the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) located its command center. It was one of the first places where Saddam Hussein's army unleashed chemical gases. The Jafati Valley was the location of Bergalou, the place where the PUK radio station was located and the little village Joanna called home.
Jahsh Kurdish informers who worked for the Iraqi government to spy on their Kurdish neighbors.
Kandil Mountain Highest mountain in Iraq.
King Faisal I (1885–1933) The third son of the first king of Hijaz (modern-day Saudi Arabia), King Hussein bin Ali. Faisal was born in Taif, educated in Constantinople, and aligned with Great Britain's T. E. Lawrence, popularly known as Lawrence of Arabia, to fight against the Ottoman Empire. Faisal became the king of both Syria and Iraq after the defeat of the Ottomans in World War I. He was very close to the al-Askari family.
King Faisal II (1935–1958) The only son of King Ghazi I. He was only four years old when his father died in an automobile accident. Faisal II was murdered in the revolution that occurred on the morning of July 14, 1958, the revolution that caused the destruction of the furniture factory owned by Joanna's father.
King Ghazi I (1912–1939) The only son of King Faisal I. He ruled Iraq for only six years and was killed in an automobile accident on the palace grounds.
Koran Islamic holy book. The paramount authority of the Muslim community, the Koran is the ultimate source of Islam. It is composed of the divine revelations received by the prophet Muhammad over the last twenty years of his life.
Kurds A group distinct from the Arabs, Turks, and Persians. They are estimated to number thirty million and inhabit areas in Syria, Iran, Turkey, and Iraq.
Kurdistan Literally meaning “the land of the Kurds.” It is an area of northern Iraq, southern Turkey, western Iran, and northeast Syria. After World War I, Western powers promised Kurds they would have an independent state, but it did not happen. Since that time, Kurdish nationals have continued to seek independence, but their cries for freedom have been repeatedly rejected. Today, the Kurds of Iraq enjoy almost complete autonomy, and the Kurdish region of Iraq is prospering.
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Kurdish political party and military tribal group formed in 1946 and led by Massoud Barzani. It was the first Kurdish political party formed for and by a Kurd. Later in the 1970s, a member of the KDP, Jalal Talabani, would break off and form a rival party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Mesopotamia Greek term meaning “the land between the rivers,” including the area between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Early civilization emerged in this area, which is known today as Iraq.
Mosque Islamic place of worship.
Muslim Adherent of the religion known as Islam.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Founded in 1975 by Jalal Talabani, who became the president of Iraq in 2005. The PUK is a principal Kurdish and Iraqi political movement with a large following among the Kurdish people. It is a rival group to the KDP.
Peshmerga Literally meaning “those who face death.” The Peshmerga were armed Kurdish fighters who were affiliated to political parties such as the PUK in Iraq. Joanna's husband, Sarbast, was a PUK member. As of January 2005, it is estimated that there are still eighty thousand Iraqi Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq. They are the only militia not prohibited by the Iraqi government.
Shatt al Arab Waterway created by the joining of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The Shatt al Arab flows into the Persian Gulf.
Shiite Islamic sect at odds with the Sunni sect over the successor to the Prophet Muhammad. In Iraq, the Shiite are in the majority.
Sulaimaniya Kurdish city in northern Iraq. Joanna's mother was born there.
Sunni Leading Islamic sect in terms of numbers. In Iraq, the Sunnis are in the minority. Joanna's family was Sunni Muslim.
Tigris One of two main rivers in Iraq. The Tigris flows through Baghdad.