Seems like a lot of people are wondering what the enigmatic words “Ismail Ax” found on gunman Cho Seung Hui meant. Blogs, websites and listservs cranked out multiple theories. Here’s an update of sorts:
This is from the ABC News website:
“One "Nightline" viewer recognized "Ismail-Ax" from a poem he had read by Drum Hadley, the 1960s beat poet. The poem is called the "The Goat Ranchers" and in it Hadley, under the pseudonym Yonder Ridgeline, writes about "Ishmael's Ax." Here's the excerpt:
Went where they'd herded goats when they were kids,
Went where they were lovers,
Went where they were married here, those fifty years ago.
Traces of Ishmael's ax on the scarred trunks of the cedar trees,
Crossing the canyons and winding arroyos.
According to Strong's Dictionary, the name "Ishmael" literally translates as "God will hear."
Someone even suggested the name Ismail Ax was really Ismail YK, the name of a Turkish singer. Cho may have been batshit crazy and angry, but even he could have known the difference between the letters a, x, y and k.
Cho mailed a package to NBC containing multiple videos, photographs and a rambling manifesto. In that material, Cho rants against rich kids and Christianity and sees himself a martyr, comparing himself to Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the sicko gunmen from Columbine High School. Here’s the most tantalizing bit: The return address on the package was “Ismail.” NBC News President Steve Capus described the package as having the name “Ismail” on it.
A photo of the package is on the NBC News site. The return address lists the name as “A. Iihmael”.
It seems that Ismail or Ishmael was the name Cho had for himself, that there wasn’t a link to Islam, poetry or literature. Maybe the meaning of this name will be name clearer as authorities release more information.