In response to “Taking a Powder” (6/29): The cover story was uproariously awful, even dementedas is the insinuation that Isa Abdullah Ali, the former Madam’s Organ bouncer, is an informant or spy for the FBI or CIA. This idea is as extreme and erroneous as the allegation that Ali is a terrorist. Author Patrick Tracey’s exit from D.C. was as self-preserving as his story is self-serving, and he did no favors to Ali.
As the man’s wife for the past 22 years, I can attest that up until our July 1995 separation, all Ali’s travelsGod be our witnesswere never sponsored by the United States or any foreign state. He went as a volunteer fighter, not a mercenary, to assist defenseless Muslim civilian populations under siege: in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iran, and Bosnia.
Questions as to how and why these seemingly unusual, crazed missions and extraordinary adventures were possible would have been answered by the publication of his manuscript, which was already complete upon his return from Bosnia in April 1998. It had been begun here with the working title Kiss Me Today, Kill Me Tomorrow, which spoke to Ali’s daily anxiety surviving in Beirut from 1980 to 1982, when he was released after imprisonment and torture as a prisoner of war, and 1984 to 1986, after which he left after being riddled with bullets.
Clearly, there is a greater force at work here than any feared government agency’s power, and any believer’s conclusion would be that Isa Ali is blessed. His story merely needed some polishing, with Tracey’s journalistic input. But the specter of a sinister lifestyle involving reliance on self-medication by drinking and drugging nixed the project. Along with, of course, the heavy hand of the FBI, as Tracey alleges.