Alan Parrot with falcon in Maine
The theory that bin Ladin is being sheltered by Iran is not impossible to believe, and stories of nefarious meetings between Middle Eastern sheikhs and terrorist leaders occurring in the desert at falconry camps has considerable romantic appeal.
The sole informant behind all of this however, is “one of the world’s foremost falconers:” a fellow named Alan Parrot (pronounced “Per -oh”), the son of a leading Bangor, Maine physician and Middlesex preppie, who ran off to the Middle East instead of attending college, where he learned Arabic, allegedly “served as the royal falconer for various Arab leaders for two decades,” and became a Sikh.
Despite his intimacy with various Middle Eastern ruling families, his chauffer-driven Mercedes, and the honor of having been admitted the inner circles of Arabic falconry, Parrot broke with his sponsors and employers to found a conservation organization devoted to a) enforcing international trade restrictions on the traffic in raptors, and b) banning captive breeding and use of captive bred falcons.
If falconers are to be permitted neither to purchase or use wild-caught birds or domestically-bred birds, it seems to me that this is bound to have a serious negative impact on falconry.
By 2006, despite describing himself as having been treated like a son by the president of the United Arab Emirates, Parrot was offering the same storyline about clandestine meetings between al Qaeda and Arab financiers of terrorism at falconry hunting camps with the UAE, instead of Iran, at the center of the story. This was back at the time when Dubai Port World, a UAE company, was attempting to purchase port management businesses in six US ports.
February 24, 2006 Big Story with John Gibson interview with Alan Parrot 4:43 video
Stephen Colbert (ashes from Ash Wednesday Roman Catholic ceremonies on his forehead) mocks John Gibson’s interview with Alan Parrot video
Front Page, May, 18, 2006 article on Parrot accusations focused on UAE.
The most prominent falconers I know seem to be skeptical of Parrot’s claims to rank among the world’s foremost practitioners of the sport. With good reason, he has written no book on falconry that I’m aware of.
Press coverage of “Feathered Cocaine” provoked an indignant outburst from some unclear combination of Matt Mullenix and Steve Bodio.
They know all about Parrot, and mention that in US falconry circles he is commonly referred to jocularly as “Hari Ha Ha,” in a take off of his adopted Sikh name: Hari Har Singh Khalsa (Note comments).
Bodio/Mullenix have big problems with the kinds of figures for falcon purchases being thrown around.
$5000 is HIGH these days (except possibly– the story goes–for four or five individual unusual–for reasons more superstitious than scientific– smuggled birds a year that seem to go to certain Arabian families again and again). And six figures would be an unlikely high figure for even these.
From his reputation in falconry circles and his extravagant personal claims, it seems only too evident that Mr. Parrot (or Mr. Khalsa) is not a very credible source.
In press accounts, for instance, he is described as a resident of Iran and of Kuwait, while this profile says he has lived in Hancock, Maine since 1991.
Last year, we learned on Huffington Post, that the ever intrepid Parrot was still hot on Osama’s trail:
Encouraged by president-elect Barack Obama’s statement on January 14, in an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, that his “preference obviously would be to capture or kill him [Bin Laden]”, Parrot sent a letter to the Rewards for Justice program at the State Department detailing his efforts to track Bin Laden and providing information of bin Laden’s whereabouts. Parrot also noted that he had discussed the matter with Iranian officials and that “a negotiated and political (i.e. not-military) solution is available” with the Iranian leadership. The letter was sent on January 20, but Parrot has yet to hear from Washington.
Parrot claims that he has negotiated with Iranian officials the transfer of bin Laden from Iran “to the custody of the Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Saud al Faisal, whom I know personally,” he said.
Extravagant, messianic claims on the part of a drop-out claiming a personal mission to protect charismatic wildlife, over which he unilaterally asserts personal responsibility, while operating his own private “conservation organization” and soliciting contributions from concerned animal lovers, sound familiar? What we have here is essentially the Timothy Treadwell of falconry.