Internet scribe Salam Pax has been offline since 24 March, but not before providing news from Baghdad that at times scooped professional sources and caused a media sensation.
Pax (whose net name means peace in Arabic and Latin) writes in a web diary or blog -“ short for weblog. Although his identity has not been officially confirmed, the accuracy of his postings made Pax’s site popular with international journalists. Technology writer for Slate and Wired magazines Paul Boutin concluded, however, that Pax’s internet connection is provided by an Iraqi service provider.
Much is known about him from his own writings, but nothing is confirmed. He speaks English, German and Arabic and seems well educated. Among the lesser discussed facts is that Pax is gay.
Pax’s observations are both personal and political, critiquing both Bush and Hussein, and they provided a ground-level account of the first three days of the war.
Today my father and brother went out to see what [is] happening in the city, they say that it does look that the hits were very precise but when the missiles and bombs explode they wreck havoc in the neighborhood where they fall, wrote Pax on 22 March.
Houses near al-salam palace -¦ have had all their windows broke, doors blown in and in one case a roof has caved in. I guess that is what is called -˜collateral damage’ and that makes it OK?
In a posting on 23 March, Pax wrote:
If Um Qasar is so difficult to control what will happen when they get to Baghdad? It will turn uglier and this is very worrying. People (and I bet -˜allied forces’) were expecting things to be mush [sic] easier. There are no waving masses of people welcoming the Americans nor are they surrendering by the thousands.
Archived postings at his site reveal a relationship with a wealthy partner called Raed with whom Pax eventually loses contact. The site, now titled Where Is Raed?, has Pax referring to himself as an ugly-fat-balding fag and correcting postings about his character.
Neither I nor Raed are -˜regular joes’ -¦ posted Pax in September. The regular joe would be more inclined to beat the shit out of us infidels, oh did I mention that I am a pervert as well? The way I look at men makes them feel uncomfortable.
Journalist Beth Gillen of the Philadelphia Enquirer has been investigating the Pax story, and although writing that the truth is almost impossible to verify, writes of Pax in very real terms.
Gillen told Sydney Star Observer that his web silence is troubling.
Probably I would guess all the internet access is gone, Gillen said. The worst thing to imagine is that the government found out about him and went and got him. But other than that I don’t know.
He was the only one known to be posting right from Baghdad. That’s one of the many odd things about him.
Pax’s website is located at