Stamford, Conn. – The “Ultimate Severance” PR murder probe took a bizarre twist late Sunday when it was learned that a 32-year old Saudi gynecologist, Dr. Ali al-Aboukar aka Hamid al-Sammara, presently being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp on Cuba, is now being questioned by the FBI in connection with this evolving case.
Sources say that Dr. Ali has confessed to being the mastermind behind the cover up of the 2002 murders of Pasquel Valentine and Al Tate, principles of the high-level PR strategy consultancy Valentine-Tate, Inc. of Stamford Connecticut. It is now known that the firm had collected millions of dollars in fees from dubious clients served through cut-off subsidiary PR firms.
Ali entered the United States in 1996 after being hired by Rosen Family Health Associates, a public health clinic in Newark. Dr. Ali apparently never reported for work and dropped off the immigration watch screen until last year when he was taken into custody following a raid on Qusayr Amra, a Muslim bath house in Hoboken. Sources have now confirmed that the bath house was a front for an Al-Qaeda terrorist cell.
After his arrest, authorities are reported to have found a “treasure trove” of leads on Dr. Ali’s laptop computer. Data is reported to include emails tying Dr. Ali to several of Valentine-Tate cut-off PR firms and cryptic text messages promising support to various mainstream Democratic political organizations.
Investigators continue to note the increasing number of parallels between the Valentine-Tate murders and the novel, “Ultimate Severance” by author James Baar. In the book, following the mob murder of two top PR executives, their global agency also appoints a certain Hamid al-Sammara as Senior Vice President of Media Relations. Contacted for comment, Baar insists his “Hamid” is purely fictional. “There are a lot of Hamids in the Baghdad phone book,” Baar said.
Ken Wolfson is an award-winning freelance investigative reporter.
STORY UPDATE 6:37 AM EDT
In related news...
-- Disclosure of Dr.Ali’s incarceration triggered an immediate announcement by anti-war activist Lydia McCoy, president of Free Muslims Now, of plans for a post-July 4 protest “Swim to Gitmo.” Ms. McCoy, a Wellesley ’69 classmate of presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, said swimmers would be ferried to within two miles of Gitmo where they would rendezvous with CNN and BBC crews before entering the water. She said the swimmers would be equipped with the new Apple iPhone to report on their progress.
-- Also, from the Associated Press: "The Pentagon said Friday it had appealed a decision by a military judge to dismiss the case of a Guantanamo Bay detainee accused of murdering an American soldier in Afghanistan. It is the first time that the appeals process has been used since it was created by Congress in late 2006 to handle cases involving Guantanamo detainees. Omar Ahmed Khadr, a Canadian citizen, is one of two detainees whose military trials fell apart because they were not identified as 'unlawful' enemy combatants. The other is Yemeni detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden. Prosecutors filed an appeal in Khadr's case with the Court of Military Commission Review on July 4, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Chito Peppler, a Pentagon spokesman. Peppler said both sides will be given an opportunity to file written briefs."
All week long I heard the coyote howl as the moon, a waning crescent, receded further. It is the season of the coyote, not just here in the Olympic Mountains, but throughout the land as Trickster reveals itself in many permutations. The Makah, on the coast of the Olympic Peninsula and the Colville east of the Cascades have their legends of Trickster and you can see its handiwork often on Strumpette and through those who practice public relations on a higher level. The coyote alerts us to its presence, teases us with illusions, and then disappears into the woods. Where will it pop up again? Trickster Makes This World, here we'll attempt to navigate through it.
There were some fireworks on Strumpette last week, beginning with the Weinberger vs. Keen intellectual brawl that seemed oddly like a breakthrough and sparked its own brawl between Amanda and Jeff as to meaning, intonations, words, intent and the disruptive forces we live with. Growing up in public relations meant suspension of critical thinking, suspension of opinion, as we become empty vessels to be filled by client’s billable hours. Open, intellectual sparring is new to this profession and threatens the ad and marketing guys for primacy in the discussion about communications. PR is still the poor step child in the communications mix – we don’t get that money on the table being allocated for ‘new media’ or Internet-based strategies. But at least we are driving the dialogue.
Speaking of dialogue, MWW CEO Michael Kempner has not posted on his blog “Straight Talk,” for over five weeks. Aedhmar Hynes, CEO of Text 100 International, has not met a Monday deadline for her blog “Monday Morning” since May 3. A scan around for PR firm CEOs shows little or no blogging activity, except for Richard Edelman who has been a consistent blogger since he launched almost three years ago. You see mostly bland statements, constricted, safe analysis, and repetitive PR for PR. The top PR firms went on a blog binge and then realized they had nothing to say. Or, as in the case of Kempner, you wondered why anybody led them to believe they had something to say in the first place. A brief tour around the PR blogosphere:
- Harold Burson on his blog is troubled by the notion of “great results with a ridiculously low budget.” Really? Is he more comfortable with no results for an absurdly inflated budget?
- Fleishman-Hillard titillates us with this oh-so-sexy come-on: “The FH Kansas City and FH D.C. Digital Communications teams united during tax season 2006 to plan and execute a digital strategy to compliment H&R Block's first annual National Tax Advice Day (NTAD).” Oh behave, you wild people at F-H. Is it true that the account team on this worked in the nude to feel the raw power of this cataclysmic story?
- At Weber Shandwick we see that the big message is “Today, we’re putting advocacy at the heart of everything we do,” meaning that yesterday they were not your advocates and tomorrow, well, you’re on your own. We heard from unreliable sources that Weber Shandwick CEO Harris Diamond bitch slapped MWW’s Michael Kempner when he advocated too heartily for Hillary Clinton on his blog, so this may be mere smokescreen. Client advocacy may be a radical notion at Weber Shandwick. They need time to get used to the idea slowly.
- B.L. Ochman, occupying a paranormal black hole, offered that we should re-read the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July. Get it – July 4th, independence? Anyway, we are sorry to hear that B.L.’s cat, Blogola, had to be euthanized when its tongue caught fire after licking the hot Nikon D80 camera as it was attempting to take a self-portrait. We have not received the copy of the report MWW reputedly issued to Nikon claiming this as a “hit,” complete with a blurry close-up of sizzled cat tongue.
- And it was reported here last week by Amanda Chapel that Burson-Marsteller CEO Mark Penn has been accused of illegal wiretapping. Penn’s bio on the B-M site states: “Mark has been called "Master of the Message" by Time Magazine; "The king of polls" by the London Times; and an "incandescent intellect" by the New York Times.” We heard that PR Wreck is contemplating naming Penn “King of Bull,” but the competition is stiff.
Lastly, we heard that Penn’s defense is that he has an ability to intuit messages telepathically and to transmit them wirelessly through Bluetooth devices, and this actually qualifies him to be his own branch of government (not that new branch currently occupied by Dick Cheney). If Penn kills himself it will naturally be assumed that it was because he was having an affair with Hillary Clinton.
We should not jump to conclusions. It could just be the baying of the Trickster.
Mark Rose is founder and CEO of RosePR/new media, offering best-of-breed digital communications strategies and resources. He is also editor of PRBlogNews , a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]