Rahmah ibn Jabir Al Jalhami

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Rahmah ibn Jabir Al Jalhami
Full Name: Rahmah ibn Jabir ibn Adhbi Al Jalhami
Origin: Kuwait
Occupation: Pirate captain
Goals: Remain the most powerful tribal leader in Qatar (failed)

Help the Omanis to invade Bahrain (failed)
Help the British to defeat the Al-Qasimi (succeeded)

Crimes: Piracy

Murder (including child murder)

Type of Villain: Pirate

When asked by one of the English gentlemen present, with a tone of encouragement and familiarity, whether he could not still dispatch an enemy with his boneless arm, he drew a crooked dagger, or yambeah, from the girdle round his shirt, and placing his left hand, which was sound, to support the elbow of the right, which was the one that was wounded, he grasped the dagger firmly with his clenched fist, and drew it backward and forward, twirling it at the same time, and saying, that he desired nothing better than to have the cutting of as many throats as he could effectually open with this lame hand! Instead of being shocked at the utterance of such a brutal wish, and such a savage triumph at still possessing the power to murder unoffending victims, I know not how to describe my feeling of shame and sorrow, when a loud burst of laughter, instead of execration, escaped from nearly the whole assembly, when I ventured to express my dissent from the general feeling of admiration for such a man.
~ James Silk Buckingham, an English author, about Jalhami.

Rahmah ibn Jabir ibn Adhbi Al Jalhami (1760 - 1826) was an Arabic ruler in the Persian Gulf, and was described by the author James Silk Buckingham as "the most generally tolerated pirate that ever infested any sea." It is reported that he wore an eyepatch after losing his eye in battle.

Al Jalhami fought alongside the Al Khalifa during the Bahrain unrest of 1783. However, his tribe was left unsatified with their reward after the Al Khalifa annexed Bahrain, and subsequently took up piracy. Rahmah was able to emerge as leader, and established dominion over most of Qatar, as the relocation of the Al Khalifa to Bahrain had left the region without any centralised authority.

Rahmah formed an alliance with the Saudis and convinced them to invade Bahrain; while he did engage in piracy during this time, he never actively committed any war crimes. His influence with the Saudis strengthened his position as the most powerful tribal leader in Qatar, until the Al Khalifa and the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman defeated the Saudis.

In 1816, he broke his alliance with the Saudis and helped the Omanis in their invasion of Bahrain, which failed. The Saudis then destroyed his fort in Dammam and he fled for two years before returning.

Rahmah assisted the British forces in the Persian Gulf campaign of 1819 against the Al-Qasimi of Ras Al Khaimah. The operation was carried out after repeated incidents of piracy perpetrated against British-flagged vessels by the Al-Qasimi.

In January 1820, he and his crew were in preparation to launch a naval invasion on Bahrain from Qatif's port but aborted their plans after being warned by the British. The next month, he travelled to Shiraz with three vessels to proffer his assistance to the prince of Shiraz in his planned expedition of Bahrain. His hostilities against Bahrain continued throughout 1821 and 1822; he and his crew went on to capture 7 Bahraini vessels and kill 20 men. He settled in Bushehr from November 1822 until February 1824, whereupon he returned to his residence in Dammam. He went to Muscat at the beginning of 1825 and lent his assistance to Sheikh Tahnoon Bin Shakhbout in his expedition against the Qasimi tribe of Ras Al Khaimah. Near the end of that year, he commenced a series of predatory attacks on Qatif as punishment for the non-payment of the protection tax owed to him. The British decided not to interfere with his actions if his attacks remained confined to the people of Qatif.

Rahmah raided a ship belonging to the Al-Khalifa in 1826. In revenge they attacked his ship to get the stolen goods back. The pursuing ship, captained by Rahmah's nephew, defeated him and killed his slave Tarar. Taking his eight-year-old son with him, Rahmah locked himself in the magazine and blew up several barrels of gunpowder, killing himself and his entire crew as well as those boarding his ship.