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.
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.
Pooh Bear was able to reunite with the entire team as they celebrated the 2007 New Year at the Burj al Arab.
Between The Five Greatest Warriors and The Four Legendary KingdomsEdit
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 couldn't help but comment on his 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.