Zahir al Anzar al Abbas, also known as Saladin or Pooh Bear, is a Sergeant in the United Arab Emirates's special forces. He is also a member of the Coalition of Minnows team.
Born as the second son to the powerful Sheik Anzar al Abbas, Zahir grew up in a luxurious lifestyle. Even so, he often felt overshadowed by his older brother Rashid, whom his father seemed to favour more. Unlike his brother, however, Zahir maintained a proper respect for his religion and was more tolerant of most other cultures.
Some time after turning 18, Zahir joined the UAE's armed forces, becoming an expert in heavy munitions and explosives, and was soon given the call-sign Saladin, and later became the commander of a First Commando Regiment. During this time he came to hide a piece of C4 in his beard ring, feeling that it was a good precaution for if he was caught in a bad situation.
Before Seven Ancient WondersEdit
In 1996, Saladin accompanied his father as they went to represent the United Arab Emirates in a meeting of small nations to discuss uniting to restore the Golden Capstone in order to avert the destruction threatened by the Tartarus sunspot. Once Skeik Abbas agreed to the multi-national mission, he volunteered Saladin to help guard Lily until she was old enough to begin translating the clues leading to the hiding places within the seven Ancient Wonders.
Once the meeting was over, the chosen team members took different routes to the team's base in Kenya, and Saladin accompanied Epper at one stage, who told Saladin about the disastrous consequences of the Tararus sunspot causing global flooding and the team's options in using the Capstone to prevent the disaster and keep their enemies from achieving an apparent unrivaled power. Saladin noted that the last option, simply keeping one Piece of the Capstone so that no one could perform the ritual of power, involved allowing the global flooding to occur, to which Epper posed to him if it was the lesser of two evils.
Over the next few years at Victoria Station, Saladin assisted in raising Lily, however, at one point when she was young, Saladin became exasperated and embarrassed when Lily began asking questions about his faith and how it seemed he may not have had respect for the burqa-less Zoe Kissane. Later she would rechristen Saladin's call-sign as Pooh Bear, a nickname he would hold with pride. As the team members became closer, Jack suggested that Pooh Bear and the others write a letter or email to be read by him should something happen and they die, which they all agreed to do.
Seven years after the assignment started, the team was approached by the Mossad agent Benjamin Cohen, whom the Mossad wanted added to the Coalition's team or else they would expose the Coalition to their rivals. Jack agreed, and while the rest of the team would come to accept Cohen, Pooh Bear had reservations towards him, in part due to Cohen's Jewish faith.
When Lily turned ten, she managed to decipher the first part of the Callimachus text, and soon afterwards Jack West Jr led Pooh Bear and the rest of the team to the Sudan to locate the Colossus of Rhodes Piece.
As the team made their way into the ancient mine, Pooh Bear struggled to keep up through the trap-laden mine. After the team was forced to race to the Third Gate ahead of a sliding stone, Pooh Bear failed to make it in time and was cut off from the others. While they assumed he had been killed, Pooh Bear managed to outrun the stone long enough for him to take cover in a spiked pit and let it pass overhead. As the team was fleeing back down the slipway, Pooh Bear covered them by firing at the European soldiers pursuing them. Unfortunately, once they made it back outside, the team was surrounded by Cal Kallis's CIEF team and forced to hand over the Capstone Piece, but luckily the team still managed to escape on the Halicarnassus.
The team began preparing their next move to recover the Alexandria Lighthouse Piece, and soon Jack located Hamilcar's Refuge in a concealed inlet. They were forced to race against Kallis and Judah's teams through the trap systems to the Refuge, and Pooh Bear bickered with Stretch along the way. He helped to provide cover fire for Jack, Zoe and Lily as they entered the Refuge and hold Judah's team off to give them a head start. Unfortunately Zoe and Lily were unable to retrieve the Piece, and so while Jack pursued the CIEF, Pooh Bear helped to fend their enemies off until Lily suggested he use one of his demolition charges to provide them with an escape route back to the surface.
In the wake of their failures, Jack called a team meeting to discuss the difficulties they were having with the clues for the Statue of Zeus and Temple of Artemis Pieces, during which he berated Stretch for his lack of faith in Jack and Epper's ability to solve the issue. Soon, Jack reluctantly decided they needed to liberate Mustapha Zaeed, an expert on the Capstone, from Guantanamo Bay to help them identify the location of the Zeus Piece, a decision Pooh Bear was surprised by given his awareness of Zaeed's deeds.
During the attack on Guantanamo, Pooh Bear helped man the plane's turrets and fired rubber bullets at the defending Marines to distract them while Jack and Zoe retrieved the terrorist. In the subsequent discussion with Zaeed, the terrorist initially mistook Pooh Bear for his older brother, which Pooh Bear corrected. Soon Zaeed revealed that the Zeus Piece was kept unknowingly in the Louvre, and later spoke with his fellow Muslim, sharing his distrust of the Israeli's presence and suggesting that fellow brethren of Allah should stand together. While he did not respond to Zaeed's words, Pooh Bear could not help but mull them over.
Pooh Bear was a part of the team that deployed to Paris to retrieve the Zeus Piece, first helping to procure an escape route through the catacombs and then stealing a double-decker bus to aid their escape. Once the Piece was obtained and the measurements from the Paris obelisk noted, Pooh Bear helped to fend off the pursuing French Army vehicles until they managed to evade their enemies by crashing the bus and swimming into the maze of catacombs.
Later, after they had landed back at Victoria Station, Pooh Bear and Stretch were in the middle of escorting Zaeed off the Halicarnassus when they suddenly came under fire from the Judah's men, and so the pair took cover on the air-stairs. After Big Ears sacrificed himself to get Lily closer to the air-stairs, Pooh Bear and Stretch both reacted with the same intention to protect Lily by simultaneously breaking cover and firing back at the Americans as they dropped their guard, grabbing Lily and getting themselves onto the Halicarnassus so that they could escape.
With the loss of Big Ears and the Capstone Piece distressing everyone, and the additional revelation that the rest of their team had been captured by the Europeans, Pooh Bear couldn't help but accuse Stretch of selling them out. Before tensions could escalate, Jack ordered them to stop and, rather than give up, decided that they had to locate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and retrieve its Piece. They soon managed to determine the Gardens' location, however Pooh Bear and Jack noticed an Israeli chopper closing in on them. Shortly after they got past the first trap they were confronted by a group of Sayaret Matkal, and Pooh Bear sarcastically congratulated Stretch for selling them out at their lowest ebb.
While being forced to escort the Israeli's through the Garden's traps, Pooh Bear grated at Avenger's threatening of Lily to force their cooperation, and after he and Jack retrieved the Piece for Avenger, the pair were left hanging from the ceiling. Even as the rotund Pooh Bear struggled to maintain his grip, he couldn't help but lament that he had actually begun to trust Stretch. Luckily Jack managed to get them to safety by swinging them onto the giant stalactite using an American chopper, but were too late to intercept Avenger's team and made their escape through the Priests' entrance as the Americans destroyed the Gardens.
Soon after returning to the Halicarnassus, Pooh Bear watched as Jack checked them all for tracking bugs and was surprised when Jack himself failed. After disabling it, Jack, Pooh Bear and Sky Monster made their way to Giza to stop the Americans from performing the ceremony of power on top of the Great Pyramid. Once Sky Monster initiated the plane's hovering system, Pooh Bear was freely able to fire at the CIEF soldiers and choppers from one of the turrets. He was happily surprised when he was joined in the assault by his fellow teammates in a Black Hawk, Stretch among them. After the battle was over, Pooh Bear joined in the reunion of the team, and after hearing how Stretch had betrayed his countrymen to keep Lily safe, the Arabian made up his quarrel with the Israeli, affirming their new friendship.
In the following weeks after the battle, Pooh Bear assisted Jack in retrieving the Pillar from the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus and Mirror from the Lighthouse of Alexandria from Hamilcar's Refuge.
Between Seven Ancient Wonders and The Six Sacred StonesEdit
Some time after the mission was completed, Pooh Bear returned to the United Arab Emirates to resume his regular duties, while occasionally being asked to go over some details of the Capstone mission. Pooh Bear began spending much time working as an instructor at a special forces training facility, teaching the soldiers there many of the tactics that he himself had learned from Jack over the ten-year mission.
During his time off, he would regularly visit Jack and Lily at the Great-Sandy Desert farm, and since Stretch was now persona non grata in Israel, Pooh Bear allowed him to stay with him on occasion. Though the absence of most of her former guardians, including Pooh Bear, was hard on Lily at first, she in turn took to visiting them in their home nation whenever possible, usually staying at the Burj al Arab in Dubai whenever she visited Pooh Bear. Since he and Stretch had become good friends, Pooh Bear ammended his Message from the Other Side letter so that Stretch would get one written especially for him.
Pooh Bear was able to reunite with the entire team as they celebrated the 2007 New Year at the Burj al Arab.
In December 2007, Pooh Bear was informed by his father that Jack's farm had been invaded by hostile Chinese forces and was on his way to the Burj al Arab, and so Pooh Bear began making his way to meet them, reuniting with Stretch along the way. Upon arriving at the Burj, Pooh Bear greeted Lily warmly, asking about her studies and teasing her friend Alby Calvin about his intentions with her. Shortly before the new meeting of nations began, Scimitar arrived to join them, and only Lily noticed Zahir's emotional hurt when their father greeted him warmly.
Pooh Bear listened as Jack revealed what he had learned from Wizard's notes; a zero-point field referred to as the Dark Star was due to enter the solar system, and unless it was repelled, then its deadly energy would destroy all life on Earth. To this end, they needed to gather six oblong diamonds called Pillars and set them at various locations around the world to rebuild an ancient machine. In order to find the Pillars and Vertices, determine when each Pillar had to be set and cleanse them, they would need to find the Six Sacred Stones.
Because Wizard was been held prisoner by the Chinese at Xintan prison, Pooh Bear joined most of the team in preparing to liberate him and Tank. Hiding in the nearby snow banks until the prison's Hind gunship landed nearby, Pooh Bear helped to take their chopper so that the team could use it to make their way to Witch Mountain. Upon their arrival, Pooh Bear remained on the Hind to see to Tank's injuries while the rest of the team made their way through Laozi's trap system to retrieve the Philosopher's Stone.
Reuniting with Zoe, Lily, Alby and Julius and Lachlan Adamson at Mortimer Island, Pooh Bear joined the procession as they identified the location of the First Vertex at Abu Simbel, learned the Pillar-laying dates from the Killing Stone of the Maya, and cleansed the two Pillars they had with the Philosopher's Stone. With the first components they needed in hand, Stretch joined the rest of the team as they headed out to lay the first Pillar.
After the team arrived at Abu Simbel and located the entrance to the Vertex, Pooh Bear baulked at the Jack's suggestion to crawl by the Nile crocodiles in the entryway since they would be too sluggish to move, and so Jack assured him that he didn't have to join them. Instead Pooh Bear remained up on the zodiac with Lily, Alby, Astro, and Iolanthe Compton-Jones, but once Jack laid the Pillar Iolanthe betrayed them and had her SAS surround them. Handcuffed to the zodiac, Pooh Bear could do nothing as Iolanthe took Lily, Wizard and the Pillar and left the inflatable to sink. Pooh Bear did his best to defend Alby from the crocodiles, and though he wore himself out luckily Jack and Zoe arrived to rescue them.
Wizard then radioed to report that Iolanthe's group had been blindsided by suicide bombers, and was now fleeing with Lily and the Pillar. However, Sky Monster then reported that a convoy of enemy vehicles were approaching, and so the team rushed to catch up with the Halicarnassus. In the course of the ensuing chase, Pooh Bear helped to fight off their assailants, but was soon forced to jump from their bus to take down some of their assailants, allowing Zoe and Alby were able to get onboard. Having used his enemies to shield his fall, Pooh Bear came out relatively unscathed, but was soon captured by the enemy.
Along with the rest of his captured teammates, Pooh Bear was taken to an Ethiopian mine run by Jack's father Wolf, who was leading their opposition, and imprisoned in a cage above a pool of arsenic. When he spotted Scimitar approaching, Pooh Bear beseeched his brother to free him, however Scimitar revealed he and Vulture were aligned with Wolf and scoffed at Pooh Bear's allegiance to the Coalition before leaving him to the guards for sacrifice.
Later, as the guards prepared to sacrifice Pooh Bear by dunking his cage in the arsenic pool, Jack managed to free the Jewish slave miners, who overran their oppressors and allowed Jack the chance to free his friend. As he and Jack discussed the situation, Pooh Bear informed Jack about Wolf preparing to hand Stretch over to the Mossad, Scimitar's betrayal, and suggested that Astro may not have been a plant as Wolf suggested. After the leader of the Jewish Ethiopians then gave them the Stones Wolf had them digging for, the Twin Tablets of Thuthmosis, as thanks for freeing them, the pair began making their way back to Victoria Station to plan their next move.
Surprised to be met with the Adamsons at their old farm, Pooh Bear helped Jack to recover as the twins explained the Japanese Blood Brothehood's plans to sabotage the Machine-restoration mission, leading Jack to determine they needed to find a way to the second Vertex beneath Table Mountain. Once they arrived at the airport, however, Pooh Bear, knowing that Stretch needed help, informed Jack of his decision to rescue their friend. Understanding, Jack gave Pooh Bear his wristwatch and told him to activate its GPS if he needed help, and with that Pooh Bear headed off on his own.
After leaving Jack an the others, Pooh Bear began making his way back to the Emirates, intending to alert his father to Scimitar's treachery. However, a friend in the intelligence services warned him that Sheik Abbas had disappeared after being summoned to the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh and that Scimitar's friends were currently running things. Instead, Pooh Bear began using his contacts and resources to find out what Israel did to people like Stretch, finding out he had been categorised a Category 5 Enemies of the State of Israel, but was unable to determine where such prisoners were taken.
After a week, Pooh Bear decided his best option was to find another Category 5 Enemy of Israel and use them to find out where Stretch had been taken. Picking Wolfgang Linstricht, Pooh Bear located the former Nazi in Rio, and during the New Year's fireworks he caught Linstrict mid-coitus with a prostitute and knocked him unconscious. After forcing Linstricht to swallow a GPS transponder, Pooh Bear tipped off the Mossad, and over the next few days tracked the transponder until it stopped at the Dimona Nuclear Research Centre in the Negev desert. Covering himself with a camouflage thermal blanket, Pooh Bear made a slow approach towards Dimona's fence-line and waited and watched for an opportunity to break in.
Following the arrival of a uranium shipment, Pooh Bear made his move, and followed Linstricht's transponder to a set of ruins containing a bunker filled of tanks of formaldehyde containing people. Finding Stretch entombed in one of them, Pooh Bear prepared to free him, only to be hit by a sedative. Mordechai Muniz taunted the Arabian on his actions, having seen him on the base's monitors despite his efforts, and informed Stretch that he would get a rare event in watching his friend die. Fortunately, an explosion distracted Muniz, and moments later Jack arrived and got Pooh Bear back on his feet. As they released Stretch, Jack admitted the wristwatch he had given him was constantly revealing his location, and soon they and Zoe were enacting an escape plan out of Israel.
Once the whole team was reunited at Sea Ranger's base in Zanzibar to prepare their next move, Diane Cassidy suggested they focus their research on a prophecy in which five figures throughout history known as the Five Greatest Warriors would affect the Machine, the Pillars and the Vertices. As Cassidy explained, Moses, Jesus Christ, Genghis Khan and Napoléon Bonaparte all fit the descriptions in the prophecy, while the Fifth Warrior was unknown and set to be present during the Dark Star's return. Cassidy's suggestion turned out to be quite fruitful, and Pooh Bear and the rest of the team spent the next two months undergoing research to confirm the Five Warriors' connections to the Machine.
After Alby's investigations into Napoléon led him to discover that the final Sacred Stone, the Basin of Rameses II, was at the British Museum under a different name, Pooh Bear, Stretch, and then twins were dispatched to steal the Basin from the Museum. To obtain the Basin, Pooh Bear wandered around the museum before leaving his backpack with a beeping Nintendo DS in the food-court, knowing that security had been watching him with some suspicion and initiated an evacuation when they heard his beeping backpack. As the twins snuck the Basin out in the commotion, Pooh Bear was taken in by security until they realised what the beeping was and apologised to the Arabian profusely.
When they finally got in touch with the rest of the team, Pooh Bear and the others were saddened to hear of Wizard's death in Mongolia, and Jack set them the task of locating the Spring of the Black Poplar to obtain the water they needed in the Basin. During the collaboration, Vulture and Scimitar interupted the video-call and revealed they had kidnapped Alby and his mother, and Vulture was surprised to see Pooh Bear still alive after leaving him in the mine.
Pooh Bear and the others made their way to Loch Ness, where some research into Isaac Newton suggested the Spring resided. After nearly a week, they finally found the Spring of the Black Poplar and collected enough of its water to give the remaining Pillars their second cleansing. Despite the lack of word from Jack's team since the laying of the third Pillar, Pooh Bear and the others began making their way back to London. However, moments after Julius uncovered the fourth Vertex's location, their train was halted and Royal Marines moved in to surround Pooh Bear's team. When Iolanthe arrived, Pooh Bear offered to bargain the Vertec's location, but the British royal stated she was only there as a messenger.
After Iolanthe established a video-call to Siberia, Pooh Bear and his team were brought in on the Russian royal Carnivore's show of prisoners he had at his base, including Jack's team, Scimitar and their father. After calling out his brother for his treachery, Carnivore revealed his intention to take the Pillars and their rewards and manipulate everyone else into completing the Machine's restoration for him, offering Pooh Bear the chance to free his father if he and his team placed the fourth Pillar and gave it to his British relatives.
Reluctantly agreeing to Carnivore's demands, Pooh Bear and the others were escorted to Lundy Island by Iolanthe's Marines and made their way into the Vertex. However, as he and Stretch were figuring out the trap system, they got caught on a separate ledge and forced to guide Julius and Lachlan down to the inverted pyramid's peak. Once the Pillar was laid, Pooh Bear left the Vertex, and were surprised to find themselves being rescued by their Irish liaison Cieran Kincaid.
Establishing contact with Jack, they made plans to reunite and find the Tomb of Jesus Christ to recover the final Pillar before Scimitar, Vulture or Mao Gongli. Upon arrival in the Dead Sea, Pooh Bear and the others found the Halicarnassus and disabled the guards before he and Stretch made their way into the abandoned Roman salt mine. Following Jack's trail of glowsticks, they soon found their teammates at Vulture and Scimitar's mercy. After establishing that his brother would not back down, Pooh Bear engaged his brother in close-combat, but was outmatched and had his left eye cut out. Before Scimitar could deliver the final blow, Pooh Bear set some of his C4 on his knife and held it beneath his brother's throat, which detonated and fatally wounded him, and Pooh Bear used the distraction to throw his knife in Vulture's throat.
Jack, Lily and Iolanthe helped the injured Pooh Bear and Stretch depart the mine, only to find that Carnivore and his forces were waiting for them at the Halicarnassus, led their by Kincaid. In his injured state, Pooh Bear could do nothing to stop Carnivore from taking the final Pillar and Lily, and once Jack had patched up the team as best he could, opted to head to the final Vertex on Easter Island himself. Pooh Bear watched with the others as Jack took flight on the damaged Halicarnassus, and then they prepared to make their way back to civilisation.
After calling on his old regiment to help, Pooh Bear and the others went to Carnivore's base and released the captives from the Living Tombs, including his father. As Abbas recovered from the ordeal over the next few days, Pooh Bear told him about Scimitar's betrayal; though he was disheartened by his eldest son's treachery, Abbas took comfort in the fact that he had at least one son who remained noble.
A few weeks later, Pooh Bear was present to watch as Jack and Zoe got married in a small civil ceremony.
Between The Five Greatest Warriors and The Four Legendary KingdomsEdit
After the loss of his eye, Pooh Bear took to wearing an eye-patch over the wound.
During the course of the next eight years, the members of the Coalition team continued largely as they had before, returning to their home nation while making the odd visit to one another. At some point during this time, Pooh Bear met Jack's mother Mabel Merriweather, who whenever she saw him couldn't help but comment on Pooh Bear's lack of a girlfriend.
In 2016, after Jack's presence was requested at Pine Gap for his expertise in relation to something they had discovered through the Square Kilometer Array, Pooh Bear and Stretch agreed to meet Jack and the others there as soon as they could.
Zahir is a slightly chubby fellow, and operates for the UAE military, sometimes acting as a training instructor for special forces. Zahir is known for his knowledge of explosives.
- In Seven Ancient Wonders, his first name is Aziz. However, in The Six Sacred Stones and in subsequent novels, he has been renamed Zahir. Whether or not this was intentional on Matthew Reilly's part is unknown.