Shia Altman

I hope you’re not qualified

So a week or so back, I was watching the news and there were two items that caught my attention.  One was about the Saudi Arabian government looking for executioners, beheaders, or if that is not yet a word, those who are accomplished in the field of beheading. For whatever reason, the Saudis are beheading more people, including women, as never before.  The year isn’t half over yet, and already about as many people have lost their heads, about 90, as in all of last year.

Half of those executed were Saudis, the rest were foreigners unlucky enough to be in the “mecca” of women’s and gay rights proponents when they committed whatever offense caused this judgement.  (Hey, get it?  Mecca?  Because mecca means a place that attracts others, and Mecca, Islam’s holiest city, is located in Saudi Arabia.  See?  Being sarcastic, I was using a word that could be interpreted in more than one way.  See, it… oh never mind.)

By the way, for anyone interested, the position is at the lower end of the Saudi Arabian civil service pay scale. For that?  Sheesh.  But one of the perks is that successful applicants get to perform amputations as well, on those whose offenses don’t warrant death.  Ah, Saudi Arabia, so lovely in the spring.

The other news item that piqued my interest was about recently released documents from the United States Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  Dubbed “Bin Laden’s Bookshelf,” the documents include personal correspondence from Osama Bin Laden as well as news articles and maps, and as bizarre as it may seem, an al Qaeda job application!

That’s right, an application to be a martyr for Osama.  Martyrs for Osama.  Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

In any event, I took a look at the application and thought I would answer some of the questions.  I won’t apply of course – don’t worry my dear readers, but I always like to hone my writing skills, in whatever venue. So here goes, and these are actual questions from the application.

There are six instructions ahead of the questions.  Here are two:

  1. Please answer the required information accurately and truthfully.

And what if I don’t?  Huh?  What if I don’t?  What will you do? Oh, right.

  1. Please write clearly and legibly.

OK, no worries.  A good terrorist is a legible terrorist and vice versa.  I get it.

The personal information includes this item:


I was thinking of two.  First, The Absolutely Best Damn Writer in the Whole Wide World, Ever.  And second, Joe.

Date of your arrival in the land of Jihad:

Honestly, I don’t think I will be visiting the land of Jihad.  And that question is so ambiguous.  I mean, where is that?  That could be anywhere really, considering you guys want to wage Jihad all over the place.  I am thinking that you obviously mean in your neighborhood of the world, but still, this land of Jihad could be anywhere in the Middle East.  You really should be more specific.

Education Level:

I have an MBA.  But that stands for Masters in Business Administration, not Master of Bomb Acuity.  Does it matter?

Now to answer a handful of the 30 or so application questions.

Which shaykhs do you listen to or read often?

I don’t really listen to or read any shaykhs, but my name is Shia, as in Shaya, and my cousin Moishe calls me Shayka or Shayku.  Also, I know there are people who listen to me and/or read my columns, so maybe I am a shaykh?

Have you invented or researched anything in any domain?

If you mean internet domain names, then yes, plenty, and I am pretty good at it, thank you.

Any hobbies or pastimes?

I am a really good gardener, and I am a fan of America’s national pastime, baseball.

List the countries to which you have traveled and the purpose of the trip(s):

Let’s see.  I have been to Canada a couple times to visit family and to see Niagra Falls from the Canadian side.  Really spectacular.  Also, Mexico.  Tijuana and Cancun to be specific.  For tourism reasons.  Cancun was so hot!  And I can burn easily so I am just saying.  Oh, and Israel a bunch of times.  Does that disqualify me?

What is your favorite material: science or literature?

Hmm, I am thinking you want a science guy, right?  Well…

List the experience or expertise that you have in any area:

Well, writing of course.  And I can confidently say I am an excellent Bar and Bat Mitzvah tutor.  And I can make a great cholent.

Do any of your family or friends work with the government?  If so, would he/she be willing to cooperate with or help us?

Again with the ambiguity?  Which government?  And no, anyway.

How many trips have you taken to Pakistan and for what reason(s)?

I have never been to Pakistan or any other country ending in “stan.”  I used to have a friend named Stanley when I was a little kid.  Stan and I would pretend we were firemen and run up and down Park Heights Avenue going ooooooo-eeeeeee, ooooooo-eeeeeee, ooooooo-eeeeeee.  Oh, wait, our objective was to put out fires, not make them.

Have you ever joined the Afghanistan theater?  If so, what year and which group?  Are any of your relatives or friends in the jihad theater?

Can’t say that I have, and no relatives or friends either.  But when I was in college I did take a theater course and even thought about auditioning for plays.  But there always seemed to be some kind of close-to or mild nudity involved, and for the production of Hair for example, I did not want to show anyone my tushy.

What objectives would you would like to accomplish on your jihad path?

Well, I hope to end hunger, cure all diseases and bring peace to the world.

Who should we contact in case you became a martyr?

I would have felt better had you just asked for next of kin.

So there you have it.  The inhuman and barbaric are also the absurd and nonsensical.  The world has indeed gone mad.

About the Author
Shia Altman who hails from Baltimore, MD, now lives in Los Angeles. His Jewish studies, aerospace, and business and marketing background includes a BA from the University of Maryland and an MBA from the University of Baltimore. When not dabbling in Internet Marketing, Shia tutors Bar and Bat Mitzvah, and Judaic and Biblical Studies to both young and old.
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