April 8, 2006

Dogfight In the O.K. Mosque

Hatched by Sachi

"Sectarian" (meaning "al-Qaeda") violence kills scores!

That's what newspaper headlines scream. But wait; something seems a little peculiar about this specific mosque attack:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Three suicide bombers dressed as women killed at least 71 people at a Shi'ite mosque on Friday, the bloodiest attack in Iraq for at least three months.

At least 140 people were also wounded in the attack in north Baghdad, the latest proof of how Iraq's leaders have been unable to tackle sectarian violence as they struggle to form a government.

But why assume the violence is "sectarian" (Shia vs. Sunni)? There's no evidence of that; and there is a simpler explanation the Reuters story fails even to consider. (Good thing the mainstream media don't have a bias.)

What's odd is that this mosque is not one of the million or so "holiest sites in all of Iraq," not like the Golden al-Askariya Mosque in Samara. It is, nevertheless, an important gathering place, though more for political than religious reasons: imporant to the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to be specific. This mosque is one of the SCIRI's headquarters.

The SCIRI is the largest Shiite party in the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA); they are rivals of the Islamic Dawa Party, whose candidate, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, is the appointed prime minister and is running for election under the new, permanent government.

We've had a thing or two to say about Jaafari before:

Iraq the Model explains the connection:

But that's not the most important thing because this mosque is of considerable political significance, the preacher in this mosque is Jalal Addin al-Sagheer, a cleric from the SCIRI who was the first SCIRI member to publicly urge Ibrahim al-Jafari to withdraw his nomination for office.

This mosque is one of the headquarters of the SCIRI and its clerical wing in Baghdad, even that Abdul Aziz al-Hakeem's son Ammar al-Hakkem preaches occasionally in this mosque when sheikh Jalal is not available.

Well, taking that into consideration, we cannot simply assume the culprits are al-Qaeda. It looks like there might be a stronger suspect. Consider the way the attacks were organized (again from Iraq the Model):

Let's also take a look at the planning for the attack that is very well studied too, the suicide bombers did not start striking during Friday prayers when the place is usually heavily guarded and security personnel are at high alert but the first strike came more than 15 minutes later when an attack is less expected and after guards felt they accomplished their mission in protecting the worshippers during the main ceremony to be followed by the other two bombings that took advantage of the state of panic created by the first bombing. This in addition to the use of disguise has of course made the breach easier to make.

It seems that the killers, those who organized the bombings, knew entirely too much about the practices and procedures of a Shiite mosque. They knew just when the guards would relax, allowing them to strike for maximal damages.

We cannot say for sure, of course; but if we had to guess who really is responsible for this attack, renegade Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr actually stands to gain more from an attack on SCIRI headquarters than does Musab Zarqawi, still the military head of al-Qaeda In Mesopotamia (Iraq). Sadr, and his sock-puppet Jaafari, have openly threatened the groups which did not support Jaafari, especially the SCIRI. Could this be a message that they're deadly serious about this power struggle? “Don’t oppose Jaafari!”

But if this is true, this is all the more reason not to confirm Jaafari. If his method of running for office includes killing off the opposition, we can guess how he would rule the country. Iraqis and Americans cannot afford to have this man to become full prime minister.

The Iraqi authorities must vigorously investigate who is behind this attack; if it turns out to be the Mahdi Militia, not al-Qaeda, it would help Iraqis understand that Sadr ain't nothing but a pooch for Iran -- and Jaafari is just Sadr’s lap dog.

Call this case the dogfight at the O.K. mosque

Hatched by Sachi on this day, April 8, 2006, at the time of 11:53 PM

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