Ahmed Salem was known as the "smallest sheikh in Islam." He made it into international news in June 1955 when he was able to walk into the office of Egyptian Prime Minister Nasser undetected because of his size. The AP ran this blurb, with the accompanying photos:
Egyptian Prime Minister Gamal Abdel Nasser lends an ear to the complaints of 62-year-old midget Ahmed Salem who was able to enter the premier's office without being seen because he's so little. He asked for help when his relatives stole his savings. Nasser promised to investigate.
Four months later, Salem was back in the news, but this time for taking other people's money. He tricked three U.S. senators into giving him a donation to help buy Russian weapons for the Egyptian army. (NY Times, Oct 19 1955
). Senator Saltonstall, one of the senators deceived, later offered this explanation:
"When we went to see Premier Nasser yesterday there were twenty or thirty people crowded onto the front steps. Among them was this dwarf pestering us, talking a blue streak in Arabic and jingling this tin box.
What were we going to do? The thought went through my mind that it was an Egyptian charity and that a polite way to get out of this difficulty was to drop some coins in the box. I did not have any coins but Senator Stennis had three coins in his hand.
Like a good Yankee, I did not take the biggest one and I did not take the littlest one. I took one plaster, worth 3 cents, and put it into the box and we went on in to see the Prime Minister.
When we came out, there must have been forty or fifty people crowding around and this dwarf was trying to get us to give some more and pushing into every picture. By then we knew what the dwarf wanted and none of us dropped a penny into the box."