Sunday, January 03, 2010


Henri Al Jamil’s beginnings are shrouded in mystery. According to his official biography, he was sold as an infant to a traveling band of Hayam tribesmen by an Indian woman living on the outskirts of Abalta in 1879. According to Al Jamil's adopted family, the woman had named the infant "Henri." Many have speculated that this woman probably worked as a prostitute in Abalta’s thriving sex industry, but that is purely conjecture. The woman’s identity and livelihood remain unknown to this day. Nothing is known of Al Jamil's father.

In 1901, Al Jamil, age 22, married Afifah Basha’ir, age 15. The young couple settled near Dimah northwest of Abalta where Al Jamil managed a number of olive groves for a wealthy Frenchman named Guillaume Tourine. In that same year Al Jamil was selected to join a delegation from the Hayam to present a list of grievances to the colonial government at Le Mur.

Although the Hayam delegation failed to accomplish anything of consequence, the visit to Le Mur would have a profound and lasting impact on Al Jamil who was appalled by what he witnessed there. Under the growing influence of the Edenist cult the drug-addled city of Le Mur was fast gaining a deserved reputation for debauchery and hedonism, which offended Al Jamil- a devout Muslim. Following a visit to Le Mur In 1904, Canadian missionary, Jonathan Till, commented, “That foul den of iniquity [Le Mur] has outdone Sodom, if it is possible, in the business of sin. They embrace, and, indeed, publicly celebrate the most wicked and perverse inclinations of fallen man.”

In the decade that followed, Al Jamil would emerge as an outspoken and effective critic of the colonial Government. In April of 1911, he was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting violence following a speech at the soccer stadium in Sihel which drew a crowd of more than 20,000. For nine months Al Jamil was held in the prison at Le Mur, during which time he came to believe that the Edenists were right about the identity of the Jogues Valley- that it truly was the lost Garden of Eden- but unlike the Edenists, he described the valley as “the home of evil,” and, from that time forward, he saw it as his duty to return the valley to isolation thus removing it and it’s corrupting influences from mankind forever. In 1912, Al Jamil was released from prison and fled with his wife and family into the fastness of the Taresh-Dafare desert where he began planning and organizing the coming revolution.

During World War I, Al Jamil successfully built a coalition between the various tribes that live in the Taresh-Dafare desert, and, through force and diplomacy established himself as their leader. Believing further negotiations with the French contrary to the will of Allah, Al Jamil announced the beginning of the revolution on January 11, 1919 by destroying the vulnerable and unprotected Trans Taresh-Dafare railway at several points east and west of Le Mur thus effectively cutting the Jogues Valley off from the rest of the world. Communication with the valley would remain impossible from that time until after Al Jamil's death in 1971.

The French Colonial Government was woefully unprepared for the revolution which came seemingly out of nowhere and which swept across the colony overnight. What little resistance the French offered up was ultimately futile as Al Jamil and his numerous supporters routed the weakened and outnumbered French military in every engagement. The cash-strapped and war-weary French were not inclined to commit to a lengthy and expensive effort to retake the colony, but even so it was not until 1932 that the French officially recognized Taresh-Dafare as an independent nation. Henri Al Jamil declared victory over the French on February 1, 1919. He gave himself the title “Lord Protector of Taresh-Dafare,” and ruled as dictator until his death on November 3, 1971.

On April 2, 1972, his son, Ayman, who had succeeded to the office of Lord Protector upon his father’s death, granted a request from the French government to send a party of medical staff and government representatives back to Le Mur to discover what had become of the nearly 3,000 souls who had been abandoned there 53 years earlier.

1 comment:

lisa d said...

i read this!