"Ismail Ax" The VT Gunman's Final Message?

The Would-Be Clue Sends The Blogosphere Spinning

Hokies Search For Answers By Candlelight (AP)

"Ismail Ax." Eight letters scrawled in red ink across the inside arm of Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui; possibly the last thing he wrote before taking his own life. As soon as police revealed that detail, search engines flew into a frenzy as bloggers hunted every inch of the world wide web for some meaning. The phrase surged into Technorati's top ten most popular searches by yesterday afternoon and soon conspiracy theories began popping up as fast as goosebumps on windy April day.

Boing Boing led the charge with a measured explanation: "Ismail is an Islamic prophet. AX may also stand for the Alpha Chi Omega women's fraternity."

But comments followed which began converting "Ismail" to "Ibrahim" a Muslim prophet who according to the Koran entered an idolater temple and "with his axe he destroyed all the statues except one." Though some bloggers jumped on the Islam terror bandwagon, others pointed out that Cho had never given any signs of being Muslim. Another theory changed the spelling again this time to read "Ishmael's Ax" which has connections to the novel Ishmael by E.D.E.N. Southworth about a poor kid growing up outside of what is now DC, just like Cho. Check out this line from it: "as the sound of Ishmael's ax fell upon his ears. Hannah arose and followed Gray to the door, and there before it stood Ishmael, chopping away at random, upon the pile of wood, his cheeks flushed with fever and his eyes wild with excitement." The similarities are tempting and Cho after all was an English major.

Still others suggested that perhaps he was referencing Moby Dick, which tells the tale of Ishmael's fateful battle against a giant whale. One far fetched entry proposed that police might have misread the final two letters confusing AX for YK. Ismail YK just happens to be the name of a fairly famous Turkish rapper, but beyond the name they seem to have little in common.

The idea which seemed most promising to me was that "Ismail AX" was possibly his screen name or maybe an anagram. I began playing around with the eight letters and reading through Cho's creative writing for some other clues. On of his plays, "Mr. Brownstone" reference a Guns and Roses song by the same name. The lead singer of GNR was Axl Rose, so perhaps his online identity might be "Axl is I am"? (You never know!)

Then I stumbled on a blog suggesting "Ismail Ax" could be his online identity for the first-person-shooter video game "Counterstrike." That seemed to fit the profile of a loner who honed his shooting skills playing violent computer games. So I joined the fray hunting through Counterstrike chatrooms to find out if anyone had heard of or seen an "Ismail Ax" aka "Ishmael's Axe," aka "Axl Is I Am". The closest thing I could find was this tempting link at conspiracytheorycentral asking "Has anyone heard from Ismail Ax lately?" But it seemed to be yet another dead end. Finally a search spat out this cryptic document from Carnegie Mellon's School of Computer Science which contained both the words "counterstrike" and "Ismail Ax." I scanned it top to bottom hoping to find some hidden meaning or maybe a motive or at least a hint where to look next. And though I can't say for sure it isn't related somehow to Cho's final message, it looks more likely to be a language program for translating English and Dutch.

At that point, stumped and nearly blind from squinting through computer code I was ready to give up. But then I remembered "Citizen Kane" and the concluding line of Jerry Thompson, the reporter hunting for Rosebud: "I don't think that any word can explain a man's life." And there it was! We bloggers spent yesterday searching high and low for Cho's Rosebud as if finding it would be some kind of poetic closure for the pain, or at least a clue as to why he committed this horrific crime. But the bottom line is that no 8 letters can explain the method of any human's madness and no explanation can bring back the 33 people who died as a result of it. "Ismail Ax" is instead a reason for us to examine this young man's life and the world it briefly inhabited, in the hopes that we can learn how to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again.

-- Emil Steiner

By Emil Steiner |  April 17, 2007; 9:32 PM ET  | Category:  Opinion
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This might be a theory, but it sounds like very good research. Follow me on this... ISmail is a configuration for creating web addresses, so the ismail is blank at first (cause you have to create a website name) So, then I looked up AX.com to see if it was anything,no, a women's online shoe store,nothing. So then I looked up ax.com for emails, and I found that you can send emails talking about a british band named Marillion at "freaks@ax.com" (or you could send emails their but now its something like, request_freaks@ax.com. So, thinking that our shooter might have been a heavy metal fan (just a guess) found out that indeed the group Marillion is a "hard rock" group. I then looked up the group and the first cd I came to "The Best of Marillion", track 2 is named "Assassing" and the lyrics go..."I am the assassin, with tongue forged from eloquence I am the assassin". Pretty interesting if you ask me.

Posted by: jparker | April 18, 2007 11:31 AM

Track 15 on the cd I mentioned "Alone Again in the Lap of Luxury", Cho felt like he despised the rich.

Posted by: jparker | April 18, 2007 11:34 AM

I have another theory which hits closer to home. There's a poet named Ismail who wrote a lot of poetry about love. He's listed on wikipedia. Since Cho was an English major, Ismail Ax probably had more of a literary meaning than a religious one. Here is one of Ismail's poems as taken from Wikipedia which seems to correlate appropriately with Monday's incident:
I know the Truth as my supreme guide,
I would sacrifice myself in his way,
I was born yesterday, I will die today,
Come, whoever would die, here is the arena.
source: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ismail_I

Posted by: smcgunia | April 18, 2007 12:55 PM

Could the name Ismail be a reference from the charactor Ismail from the novel and movie, House of Sand and Fog. Ismail is an innocent persian boy, whos family fled from Iran to the United States for better opportunities. Tragicly, Ismail is whot by police officials. What do you think?

Posted by: xplicitmami1 | April 19, 2007 02:44 PM

There is something about the Videos he made that dosent sit well. IF he was that psychotic, why did he write out what he was going to say and read from it on his vidoes. Most Psychotics cant organize their thoughts that well and generally their rantings are very incoherent.
His video does compare to the Videos the Islamic extremists make before a suicide mission. He shaved his head in the same manner, railed against "debauchery, rich kids and hedonisim" , main focal points that Jihadists fume about the USA.
I think they need to check out the last 5 years of his life and see who he has associated with. This fruit cake was ripe for conversion and exploitation. He used those guns rather well too for someone who just bought them a few weeks prior. I would not be surprised to find out that he had a handler and this goes much deeper then just a "disturbed" young man who was insane. He was EVIL, thats for sure but I dont think he was as crazy as people think.

Posted by: PresaDog666 | April 19, 2007 08:09 PM

HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE TO DIE BEFORE THE REAL MESSAGE GETS OUT THERE. EVERYONE MISSES THE POINT. IT'S NOT CRYPTIC. WE HAVE TO END OUR HATE! SCHOOL SHOOTINGS WILL CONTINUE UNTIL THE BULLY'S OF THIS WORLD LEARN THAT THEY CAUSE A PERSON TO BREAK. IF YOU DON'T KNOW SOMEONE DON'T JUDGE THEM ITS NOT YOUR RIGHT! IF ONE PERSON SAID MONDAY THAT THEY WOULD STOP TREATING ANOTHER PERSON LIKE CRAP THAN CHO'S VICTIMS DID NOT DIE IN VEIN!!!!! TREAT OTHERS WITH RESPECT. WHEN I WAS IN SCHOOL I THOUGHT OVER A HUNDRED TIMES HOW I WOULD LOVE TO MAKE MY BULLY'S PAY I NEVER ASKED FOR THERE ANTICS I WAS BORN FAT AND UGLY SO I HAD TO SUFFER RIDICULE. YOU KNOW ALL I EVER HEARD WAS DEAL WITH IT GUESS WHAT? SOMETIMES DEALING ISN'T EASY WHEN YOUR CONSTANTLY REMINDED HOW USELESS YOU ARE. CHO ISN'T SO USELESS ANYMORE NOW EVERYONE KNOWS HIS NAME. I DON'T EVEN KNOW THE VICTIMS NAMES BUT I KNOW WHO KILLED THEM AND MANY PEOPLE WON'T SOON FORGET HIM. IMAGINE IF SOMEONE COULD HAVE OPENED THERE MIND TO HIS THOUGHTS WE MIGHT HAVE NEVER KNOWN HIS NAME. MY PRAYERS AREN'T JUST WITH THE FAMILY'S THERE WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD STOP THE HATE. MORE KIDS WILL LASH OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: tank | April 19, 2007 10:51 PM

Compassion is stronger than Anger.
Fundamentalist Islam refuses to accept Way. VT has just suffered a terrorist attack from the Ayatola of Iran.

Posted by: ifcj | April 19, 2007 11:39 PM

PresaDog Gets an "A"

Posted by: ifcj | April 19, 2007 11:52 PM

By the Way
I am not celebratng Hitlers Birthday Today.

Posted by: ifcj | April 20, 2007 09:28 AM

I know you don't know me but the other night after watching all the news about the tragedy at VA TECH I was sadly inspired. So I wrote a song for ( the families ,friends and victims ) I was hoping you would listen and get it to anybody you think it would help. Thank you. And I am so sorry this has happened. My hearts and prayers are with all of you. I hope this helps somehow..it's all I know how to do ...It's all I can do.


www.myspace.com/jaredsagal

Posted by: jaredsagal | April 20, 2007 12:29 PM


Right before he stepped out to shoot the 32 people, and create such a tragedy that will go down in history, he was on a psychiatrict drug - Corzine - which was administered to him by the real killer, the psychiatrist.

Psyichiatrists are behind all these irratic and unexplainable killings. They electroshock, torture and derange people all under the guise of "mental health"

EVERYONE! Wake up to the fact that psychiatrists are killing us slowly. Please see that they are the ones that are creating all this violence and injustice around world.

Cho Seung-Hui was just made worse with the drugs he was taking....While we suffer from all these incidents, the "healers of our mental disorders" are pulling in all the dough. They are the only ones that benefit from these mournful events.

-NP

Posted by: boxer925 | April 21, 2007 11:59 AM

Regarding the possible connection of Cho's Ismail and Moby Dick. I just happen to be reading it and just came across this quote:

"All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale's white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart's shell upon it."

So Cho, like Ahab, saw all the evil in the world as personified in the 'whale' of other students in general and sought his insanely single-minded revenge on them even as it destroyed himself.

Posted by: cbuerkle | April 22, 2007 02:19 PM

Google
9/11 was an inside job
virginia school shooting government black op?

http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/april2007/160407blackop.htm

It is well documented that disturbing questions remain over the incident at Columbine. It is clear that authorities had prior knowledge of what was going to happen. Observers were in the area hours before the shooting took place. Articles from the Associated Press stated that ballistics from Columbine show that six of the thirteen victims were possibly shot and killed by Jefferson County SWAT.

9/11 was an inside job
this was a psy op - to induce fear and panic
OKC 9/11 amish school killings katrina vt shootings - NO ONE WILL STOP THEM - WAKE UP AMERICA!!

INFOWARS.COM
Prisonplanet.com

Posted by: rugbekoa | April 25, 2007 05:41 PM

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