(Media sources are divided on whether to refer to him as Mr. Finjan or Mr. al-Hamami, so I went with the British press’s choice. His first name is also transliterated as Kazim.)
Reporters on the scene were stunned into silence, and some speculated that they were afraid to contradict a government official.
Finjan went on to offer his thoughts on angels, which he seemed happy to describe in terms at odds with his professed belief in Islam. Finjan claimed that all angels derive from Sumerian winged beings, a key claim of the ancient astronaut theory, which identifies such beings as the so-called Anunnaki space gods. The Anunnaki were the collective, mostly anonymous gods of heaven and the underworld.
According to media accounts, Finjan cited his claims to Samuel Kramer, the Russo-American Assyriologist who wrote a series of books about the Sumerians in the middle twentieth century. Needless to say, Kramer never provided any of those claims in his books. But—and this is perhaps the true source—Kramer’s books were the key source for Zecharia Sitchin, who did make those claims. It would be easy enough for Finjan to mistake the source Sitchin manipulated for the origin point of the claims.
Indeed, we know this must be the case because Finjan, misunderstanding his source, identified Pluto as the “twelfth planet,” the very name of Sitchin’s most famous book. He seems to have confused Pluto with the hypothesized Nibiru. Sitchin did, however, claim that the Sumerians had observed Pluto and that they believed it to be a former moon that escaped from Saturn’s orbit in historical times. He claimed that Pluto was named Gaga in Sumerian texts.
Fortunately, Iraqis are much smarter than cable television producers, so instead of pretending to give respect to alternative history they immediately and roundly mocked Finjan with a vitriol we rarely see here in the United States, except, perhaps, when Ben Carson said something so utterly ridiculous about the pyramids that even national news reporters realized it was counterfactual. Compare, for example, the relatively restrained treatment given to Hillary Clinton’s professed interest in alien abduction.
Al Jazeera journalist Amer al-Kubaisi, an Iraqi national, tweeted his disdain: “Can you believe that this imbecile is the current Iraqi transportation minister? I thank Allah for the blessing of a brain.”